“STUDENTS from 19 secondary schools had a rocking time with Guns ‘N’ Roses lead guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal during a meet-and-greet session at the state Education Department’s auditorium here.
Signature double-necked guitar in hand, the multi-talented singer and instrumentalist jammed on stage with several young musicians from the audience, including nine-year-old drummer Dallian James from SK St Michael in Samarahan. He also joined the SMK Kota Samarahan band called 11th Division in performing a couple of local songs before finishing the impromptu jam session with the Guns ‘N’ Roses hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine”.
Thal was full of praise for the young drummer and musicians he played with. “That drummer rocks! And the band was great. It was a pleasure playing with them. I wanted to keep going, I didn’t want to stop,” he said. He added that he had been meeting people and playing music on his current tour, which was set by US embassies in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Brunei, Jakarta and Manila. “It’s been wonderful. I’ve been meeting with students, playing together, talking and just having a good time doing what we do, making music and all just being musicians together. “I haven’t even done a real tour for my album yet. To me this is more important. I like to get one-on-one with the next generation of musicians and bond with them.
“That means more to me than doing giant shows, so I’m putting a lot of my time into doing this kind of thing,” he said. His 10th album, “Little Brother is Watching”, was released in February. To aspiring musicians from Sarawak, Thal advised them to put their music on YouTube and share it people around the globe. “YouTube is the best way to connect with the rest of the world. We are no longer limited to where we are physically. The whole world is connected now and we should use that,” he said. The young musicians, meanwhile, were thrilled to have the opportunity to jam with Thal.
“I’m very happy that I could play with him. I was a little bit nervous at first but I really enjoyed it,” James said. Gerald Dennis, the 16-year-old vocalist of 11th Division, said it was an awesome experience to perform with Thal. “I can still hardly believe it, getting to play with someone who’s a legend and an international star. I also feel proud that he performed an Iban song with us.
“After this experience, I think we will feel more confident when we perform,” he said.
Excerpts taken from – The Star Publications, April 25, 2015.
The event was jointly organised by US Embassy Kuala Lumpur, Fulbright Malaysia/MACEE, Sarawak Education Department and SMK Kota Samarahan. The video of the jam session can be viewed on the Fulbright Malaysia/MACEE Youtube channel.