Sunday, March 06, 2016

Miri Country Music Festival family strikes chord for country music

MIRI: The sole country music festival in Asia – the 3rd Miri Country Music Festival (MCMF) that rocked Miri City last Saturday – has established itself as an important platform to promote country music internationally.

Although only at its infancy stage, being the third edition this year, it continues to attract fans and country music bands besides bringing other spinoff benefits.

A total of 2,740 local and foreign fans came on Feb 28 to the festival, 240 more than 2,500 recorded last year, while 1,700 fans came for the inaugural festival in 2014.

MCMF advisor Gracie Geikie said revenue generated this year was estimated at RM2.1 million and she thanked all for making the event a success. Among those instrumental in the success was festival artistic director Asif Ben Pishori – a multi-talented London-born international jazz pianist at The Klagan Regency in Kota Kinabalu.

“My selection process for an artistic director very much lies in the experience and aptitude not only in the knowledge of music but very much in event arrangements, people management and most importantly the right attitude.

“Our business is in conference events and festivals and every festival requires a different set of framework fundamentals and people to deal with. Asif has a great personality, is a very good musician and composer, amazing singer and teaches music. What more can I ask for,” said Gracie.

thesundaypost recently interviewed artistic director Asif Ben Pishori on MCMF’s development and its prospects in promoting Miri and country music bands from Asia to other parts of the world, particularly in the western world.

Development and response towards MCMF Asif said the response from bands had been overwhelming although initially it was a very challenging task.

“The first year was not easy as I had zero list of bands to select from. I had to reach out to my international network of musicians in Asia, Europe, UK, USA and around the world.

“But after three years of MCMF, the network of country bands has grown tremendously. Thus, I can focus on who are the best groups to perform for MCMF 2017 and beyond,” he said.

Currently, he said there are already around 30 bands keen to perform.

“It seems that every band that came to MCMF since 2014 wants to come back – they love the festival, they are so thrilled and feel proud to have been invited to participate in this festival. We have created a family of MCMF musicians, bands, performers and artistes,

“In 2014, we had eight bands performing, seven in 2015 and another seven this year and they were selected among 57 submissions. Every year, the most popular band of the previous festival will be invited to perform again. To meet popular demand, next year the festival will be held for two days and14 bands will be performing.”