Penang Top Five: Alvin Chong
According to Alvin Chong who aspires to be a recording artiste, whenever he sings a song he can connect with, he’d close his eyes and feel the music a bit more closely. ‘This way, the emotions will pour out better in my performances. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember singing as a career’, the 23-year old admits. His trademark smooth, quiet and mesmerizing voice has a texture akin to sweeping your hand across raw silk. ‘My choices in music are from my upbringing and life experiences. The songs I feel a connection most to are oldies. I find their lyrics hold a deeper meaning that resonates almost seamlessly to feelings of appreciation to the things and people around us. My love for jazz suits my versatility – jazz is a mixture of various influences,’ he adds with a smile, as he shares his favourite spots on the island he was born and bred.
1. The Canteen in China House
I usually go to this place to check out the local music scene in Penang. They have a little bit of everything, but mostly on very specialized and specific genres of music, like jazz and the blues, which I enjoy very much. Every last Sunday of the month, they have an Open Mic Night, so people could showcase their talent, from music to stand-up. You can always expect a potpourri of talents at the Canteen in China House.
Straits Quay Marina
2. Straits Quay seafront
The beautiful sea bathed in nightlight, with the many bars and restaurants lined along the Straits Quay seafront is a favorite place of mine to meet people over a few drinks, and rub shoulders with the artistes performing in the bars. Occasionally, I will perform in one of these establishments, which is simply a fun and enlightening experience. It’s a great place to bring friends and co-workers alike.
3. Padang Brown Food Court
I heard that, way back when, this place used to be where lovers go to for meals. And I can see why! The allure of good hawker fare is too hard to resist even today. From the fragrant yong tau foo, to the savoury char koay teow, to the delicious dessert offerings like chendol and kuih, the place is not short of simple but heart-warming charm.
Most Wednesdays, this is the place I go to meet up with friends such as Ray Rozells (or Uncle Ray) and his band, the JazzHats. The band’s years of experience in the music scene proved invaluable to me and my personal development as an artiste. The cool, calm, and relatively quiet atmosphere of this nightspot makes it a great place to hang out and drink with friends.
5. Balik Pulau Hilltop
This is a place to go to when the durian season rolls in to Penang. The durian supply of the island primarily comes from here, so you can expect good durians for a reasonable price. There are small durian sheds along the peaceful roads of Balik Pulau, and eating there during the cool part of an early afternoon surrounded by trees is an experience that I enjoy very much. While it may be a long drive from town, it is well worth the experience.
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