Have guitar, will travel Part III: Koh Tao

Unfortunately beautiful Koh Tao has become synonymous with the recent tragedy – but it is stunning- the surroundings are not spoilt but it is covered in guesthouses and restaurants from the end of Sairee to the end of Koh Tao.

This makes it however, a great tip for musicians – there are loads of places to play, but only one real jam – this is also where I suggest you go if you are interested in gigging on Koh Tao – or just to have a fantastic night jamming away in a rooftop venue.

Every Sunday, the RawArt Moovement get together for a jam upstairs in Moov bar – expat, visiting and Thai musicians gather to jam all night – it is really fun – it starts as more of an open stage, then disppears into impro land – the audience, owners and bar stuff are all beautiful and great funraw-art-moovment!
check out their events here

If you need some more reasons to go, here’s a music video I made there including footage from the boat and of some of the amazing firedancers at ACBar – the youngest is only 13 years old! Also – the sea crashing on the beach is seriously inspiring!

Have guitar, will travel – 7 weeks in Southeast Asia – Part II: Penang

Penang, Malaysia

As soon as I got out of the taxi in front of the Reggae Cafe at Lebuh Chulia, a guy saw my guitar and shouted: “Jam tonight, you coming right?”

A bit knackered from the trip from Bukit Lawang via Medan, I said I would try, and shouldered my backpack and guitar, and walked down Love Lane to Love Lane Inn…

When I arrived… I saw Mr Jojo, World Busker 🙂

He told me to drop my bags in my room and come and jam… (Of course – i don’t need asking!)
So… 5 minutes later I was downstairs – disheveled but happy – clutching my guitar and ready for jamalicious action… A backpacker called Heather was already there, singing along…



And this is what that looked like:

If you are a musician and come to Penang and would like to do some kind of ad hoc performance or jam – I highly suggest to visit the “Reggae Cafe” in Lebuh Chulia – A great vibe, people passing on the street stop to watch… and free drinks for musicians if the manager likes you 😉

P.S. Tip for travelling with music in Southeast Asia – bring your own cables and mic – the mics are usually pretty poor and the changing electricity voltage can mess up your pick-up – so think about if you bringing a cheaper equipment

P.P.S. Sightseeing
P.P.P.S Musical guesthouse in Batu Ferrenghi (North Penang) – Lazy Boys guesthouse – cheap, clean, cheerful and near to the beach and night market and the owner’s brother is a musician and has a music studio 🙂
P.P.P.P.S. Bit of fun modern culture? Go on a trail of Ernest Zacharevic’s interactive art

Have guitar, will travel – 7 weeks in Southeast Asia – Part I – Bukit Lawang

bukit smallBukit Lawang, Indonesia 

Bukit Lawang is a village about 3-4 hours by car from Medan, the capital of North Sumatra. It is a tourist destination due to its position on the boarders of the Gunung Leuser National Park, and home to the orangutan, as well as lots of other wildlife- gibbons, Thomas Leaf monkeys, the rafflesia, wild peacocks and Sumatran Tigers (but you need to trek for at least 5 days to catch a glimpse).

DSC_0197I love the laid back vibe, the fact that all the guys play guitar and sing, there impromptu jungle jams all over the place. You can chill next to the river or make a tubing excursion, or go on a trek in the jungle.


If you are a musician and want to jam or gig here:
Gigging – there aren’t really any “venues” as such to play, it’s more of a jamming vibe – big boisterous jams happen most nights at Sibayak and Bukit Lawang Indah (downstream).

The place to find most musicians is Indra Valley on a Saturday night – the only live music night at the moment- with covers band, who are really happy to welcome vocalists and musicians – especially bassists (seems to be a lack of those).

I had a home advantage here, because I used to live here, but the funny thing was, I ended up hooking up with two musicians, John Retno and Harry Affandi, who I didn’t really talk to before, and ended up rearranging two songs to music –

 For more info about Bukit Lawang, music, trekking and accomodation – send me an email: pandorasdiary@gmail.com

Gibbon small

Smell the Roses Gallery

KtoK Radio ft. Kate Thomas and The Dream Souls

KTOK Radio presents Pandora’s Living Room
Tune in to KtoK Radio from 2pm this afternoon.

This time featuring the fabulous jazzy folkstress, Kate Thomas.
Experienced vocalist, semi-finalist at Battle of the Bands Canary Wharf 2013, Kate Thomas, writes punchy lyrics for her guitar and deliciously smooth jazzy vocals and will be joining me on KtoK to talk about her newest solo project. In case you can’t wait for her live set…
Here’s a little taster:

Also joining me on the waves, Shaun Cronin, bassist/songwriter for international trippy experimental soul group, who will be performing at The Good Ship in Kilburn TONIGHT!

The gig is tonight the 14th of May at the Good Ship, doors at 7.30pm.
Link for tickets and information here.

Day 12 A song a day for the month of May

It’s day 12 of the National Songwriting Month (http://nasowrimo.blogspot.co.uk/) 2014! 10270592_493294784131093_7202605928281894558_n
I’ve been spending around 1 and a half hours a day writing songs – some more complete than others.
It’s not easy, and the results are very mixed.
But it’s great on so many levels – I am experimenting with collaboration, with alternative tunings and genres, trying to write something new and different to what I’ve written previously.

Recording Smell the Roses –

A year ago I wrote smell the roses

10003601_10152354403236383_609580464_oas part of the national songwriting month challenge- a challenge to write a song a day for a month. The bonus is it’s supportive founder and community who actually spend time listening to each other’s daily offerings.

The song featured a lot of hastily recorded layering and since then the song has developed into a kind of group anthem with the audience providing backing vocals throughout.
As you might know, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with two fantastically talented musicians, David Naylor and flautist Maya Curry. For th

e recording I wanted to feature a group chant and backing vocals and invited a number of friends who had expressed interest in the project.


We had a joyous 2 hours at Tigersonic recording in groups, shouting “stop at the tops of our voices ” and some beautiful angelic harmony parts provided by Gilly Spencer, James, Christie and Annee Patrice.
I hope even more people will join us in a flash mob to celebrate staying in the moment and enjoying the blessings around us.
The results will be used in a music video for “smell the roses.
We will be holding flash mobs in April in Holborn during rush hour and in Oxford circus during shopping madness. Exact dates and times will be announce via email/text/pm
If you fancy sharing joy with passers by and featuring in a music video, you can email pandorasdiary.com or send an SMS to 07411982461

Smart Woman and Kick Ass Producer of the Year – Felix Xfile

Diary Entry: 15/03/2014
Today I’m on the tube on the way to finish recording “smell the roses” with a group of amazing people at Tigersonic Studio.

Smart Women’s Recording Club
Well, if you’re a musician it’s time you get acquainted with this kick-ass producer, bassist and mentor.
I first found Felix through meetup- I was looking for a way to get back into music after and 6 year hiatus. I wanted get into songwriting and performing with an all-female band.1655374_532977643482812_2059177650_o I found the Smart Women’s Recording Club
– or maybe it find me- so curious, I attended a Networking Meetup.
I was a bit worried that I wasn’t really


a musician, I was just starting up- I mean id sang in bands but that was way back. But I went along anyway- and introduced myself to the other 8 women – as sort of a musician.
We spent the evening chatting over tea wine and biscuits and at the end of the evening, id met 9 new cool women, some professionals, and some starting or restarting and unsure of direction.
I came back the next month, and also joined the recording club, and another fantastic meetup called London Songwriters run by songwriter Murray Webster and began writing my own music, practicing on guitar.
The first breakthrough came when I joined Felix’s mastermind program with 7 other musicians.
The mastermind program is a 6 week programme with different music themes (image, marketing, music, planning road maps…) and is aimed at accelerating development. Using no-nonsense coaching and group accountability, we set ourselves tasks for the following week.


Fearless Females

One thing that happened was that we ended up planning a group visit to an open mic as a good bye to one of the members, Josefine Wing. We ended up in the Horatio, excited and giggling, expecting crowds and packed pub, instead the pub owner pointed at a bar stool and a mic and said tell us when you want to start, well turn down the music.
That wasn’t quite what we’d expected, but we ran with it and ended up performing a very intimate private open mic.
After a few drinks, we suggested to the landlord that we could run an open mic for women once a month, and fearless females was born.
Another thing that came out of it was my living room gig concept, tour and documentary.
Felix is a very supportive person, but she had a no-nonsense approach to coaching/mentoring. She is not scared to kick your ass when it needs kicking.
The smart women’s recording club and mastermind program continues to run and now there is a mixed networking group
Smart musicians club.

Asabi Hawah and Raggo Zulu Rebel Live on Pandora’s Living Room (KtoKRadio)

Asabi Hawah – warm vocals combined with powerful spoken word, crafted lyrics and acoustic guitar – vocalist in Seven Suns
Raggo Zulu Rebel- also known as Jah Messenger – London spoken word poet, and hip hop artist. Long long discography – Recently released album “The Champ”

The two have recently hooked up to form You and Me for more information follow on https://twitter.com/YouAndMe_2014

Interview with Asabi and further live sets

Pandora’s Living Room on KtoK ft. Asabi Hawah and Raggo Zulu Rebel by Pandora S Diary on Mixcloud

Planning a house concert tour using Couchsurfing

Do you want to tour living rooms too?
House concerts or living room gigs are a great way to present acoustic music in an intimate settings, with people really listening.

The Break Up Tapestry

The Break Up Tapestry

It’s a good opportunity for audiences to discover new music and foster a personal relationship with a musician. People are also more likely to buy a cd or other merchandise because it is a souvenir of a lovely evening.

In the last year, I organised over 25 gigs in living rooms across London and Europe, including a tour which took us through 5 living rooms in 5 cities in 7 days. I much prefer playing in people’s living rooms to a group of people who have come to listen than a load of people chatting in a pub. It’s a real event, it’s a vibe, it’s a buzz, it’s a party, and everyone gets involved.

I organised 4 of the 6 gigs on the tour via Couchsurfing, the others through friends and friends of friends.

I was chatting to a fellow musician, and he was saying it must have taken a lot of work, organisation etc.
Actually, it wasn’t too bad.
I think the key was in preparation and work I’d put in before.

Couchsurfing   Sarah Michel

A quick explanation about Couchsurfing/ -it’s a platform to link hosts and guests – works through a kind of “paying it forward” system- I host you- you host Jim, Jim hosts Lotte…

I have hosted a number of guests from all over the world and I guess I accumulated some good social karma. This is definitely an important part of using couchsurfing for gigs – your profile and references.

I also know that Couchsurfing is not for everyone. A lot of people don’t like having “strangers” to stay or meeting randoms in a pub for a meetup. But if you fancy it, have a go- go to a meetup, host someone who has shared interests, it can open up opportunities and seriously widen your horizons.  

Couchsurfing even has a group for couch concerts.

So… you’ve been to a meet-up or two, hosted a bit, surfed a bit – and you like the culture and the vibe… Now you want to organise a tour. What next?

I wrote up an approximate schedule of when we would be where –

31/03/2014 Amsterdam, Holland

02/04/2014 Nancy, France

03/04 Basel Switzerland

05/04/2014 Munich

I posted in groups, but found that addressing individual hosts worked better and was more satisfying, and just asking if they were interested. As we were a crew of 4 people travelling I used the search filter to find hosts who could host 4 or more people and were into music in some way. This worked wonderfully, and I got all the dates filled 3 weeks before setting off.

Have you toured living rooms/house concerts? How did you do it?

Please comment here- or ask a question –