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Old 4th May 2010, 08:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Goodbye Boat Quay, hello integrated resorts

Goodbye Boat Quay, hello integrated resorts



Last hurrah at quayside marks music move to better pastures

By Sylvia Toh Paik Choo
Tue, May 04, 2010
The New Paper


IT WAS a wake of sorts, New Orleans-style.

Horns and jazz, friends and song.

It was ChromoZome's last night at Harry's Boat Quay. Saturday, April 17, and the lone light left on that once shiny strip was extinguished. Rick Smith and his boys pulled the wraps on guitar and bass, the tympany of drums rolled into silence and the pianist brought the lid down on his black and white keys.

The writing on the mirror said "Chivas Regal, 12 years". Rick and his band had been at Harry's in Boat Quay 18 years. As one of Singapore's longest- running jazz outfits, they are part of the music history here.

Singapore should be a hub for entertainment - heaven knows it already is a hub for everything else - with a vibrant music and arts scene, both creative and world-class. And yet.

That Saturday night, a whole chapter on Singapore's music archive folded.

I remember it was only in the '90s that we wanted to create a nightlife comparable to that of Hong Kong's and Sydney's and Amstersdam's and London's.

A planeload of musicians fetched up on our shores, Chris and Christy, and Tommy, Ricky and Harold, some with dreadlocks, how cool, Tama and Wen and Mei joined them.

They gave birth, to the blues and rock and bossa nova and jazz and country and R&B and swing. Sweet music heard the length and breath of Mohammad Sultan and Boat Quay.

What the government wanted, had sprung into place by itself, neither planned nor engineered, or, as Europeans like to say, "keep it in its own juice".

We would check out both joints come Fridays after work, the schlep between not a sweat, because there was a lively scene and it grooved, naturally.

Habitues past will recall the rows of bars and cars and Madam Wong (now gone to that great cabaret/opium den in the sky).

Boat Quay is arguably one of the best locations we have. It's historical, the houses were former go downs, at the mouth of the river, where Singapore's prosperity took off.

It mustn't be allowed to fail, look at the "mountains" (skyscraper office buildings) outback, and the water flowing at your feet in front. The final spark of its nightlife was put out that Saturday ChromoZome played its swan song note.

Devolution

Sadly, it has become a desperate walkway, a trap to the glory of the chili crab. Resto owners have no choice but to push their menus at passersby, from one end of the bridge at South Bridge Road to UOB Plaza, hawking seafood to meet their high rentals.

When did it become food street, now a sorry sight of waterfront terraces, tables and awnings, but agonisingly empty of customers.

Rick and his boys had seen their contract reduced to a three-night week.

Friends, babyboomers, gweilos (now called "foreign talent") packed the last night, they jammed, including the musicians from Chicago the musical, sang and jitterbugged on what space there was.

All sax, no violence.

Our effort to become an entertainment hub now rests in the two IRs.

Last night Rick Smith and his band boys found a new gig in the Big Easy in Resorts World Sentosa.

Here's mud in your eye, pal.

http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne...03-213775.html

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