Kotaro Oshio and Jake Shimabukuro

What could sound better than one excellent guitarist doing the job of a band (treble, bass, rhythm) by himself on a beautiful steel acoustic?


A guitar and ukulele duet with an intro done entirely on palm mute before escalating into full call and response. YES.


Kotaro Oshio and Jake Shimabukuro tonight at AC Hall. What a ride. STRING PLAYERS RULE SO HARD.


Jazz World Live Series, Hong Kong

That time of the year again, when HK’s Jazz World presents its Live Series and I go raid the coffers.



In other news, the Los Romeros Guitar Quartet will be holding a concert in October, and the Sundance Film Festival is expanding in Hong Kong.

Just Your Friendly, Massive Update (Late as Usual)

1. I’m collaborating with Gabe Ostley right now for an 8-page submission to a steampunk comic anthology; I’m writing the script, he’s doing the illustrating and the colors. Fingers crossed that we’ll get in and that the exposure there will get us somewhere. We’re working on a character concept we had shelved earlier this year and reviving it now for this one.

2. The TOC for Volume will be out soon! It’s great to see old comrades like Eliza Victoria, Tin Lao, and Kate Osias in the lineup as well. The book cover will be designed by Carina Santos, the granddaughter of Malang; can’t wait to see how it’s going to turn out!

3. I helped out at a fundraiser for Typhoon Yolanda / Haiyan last week at Fill In the Blank in Wan Chai doing door duty / name tags / money bags  / karaoke nuisance and monopolizer. Given the short notice (one weekend), we got a pretty good turnout of 65 people on a Monday night, and raised 12,450 HKD, minus 4,400 HKD for the venue, for a total of 8,050 HKD.

With my buddies – L to R: Mel, Franz, Jae, Neil

With the organizers, a mix of people from the UP and La Salle alumni associations in HK

With the organizers, a mix of people from the UP and La Salle alumni associations in HK

4. A week before that, I performed with Cyrus and Candice at Java Java in Sheung Wan for a 45 minute set. Good, relaxed crowd, had drinks later at Club 11 in Central.

I thought my friend was taking pictures of the whole band but the photos she took were very...loyal

I thought my friend was taking pictures of the whole band but the photos she took were very…loyal

5. I’ve been to a lot of farewell parties but this was by far the best one I’ve ever been. My friend Boon has gone back to New York, but a couple of days before he did that, his sister Dee threw a farewell party for him at the outdoor terrace of Pier 7 (above the Star Ferry) in Central. The fantastic part is that Dee, who plays the cello, and Allison, on violin, arranged around 30 pop songs for us to sing with them while they played right under the Central skyline. The terrace is public space and we had strangers coming over to see what’s going on and to join us.

Dee and Allison

Dee and Allison

Everyone gathered around the cello and violin

Everyone gathered around the cello and violin


Right under the Bank of China!

I’ve been in Hong Kong for around six years but I like to behave like I’m still on my first. :p

So this is what my friends got me. On a whim.

Friday I was talking to some friends about building a sound system in my flat. Sunday after church I go with them to one of my friend’s flat to check out his Houston Mini 1998 tube amplifier and I see these two tall wood-paneled TEAC speakers. Then they tell me they’re mine.


I’m like, haha yeah they’re mine after I go over-budget. They’re like, no, they’re yours. We got them for you secondhand from someone in Kwai Hing who wanted to give them away yesterday. We piled them up in the car and brought them here. Don’t cost you a cent. Now all you need is an amplifier and you’re good to go. When do you want us to set them up in your flat?


Hours later they’d still be laughing about the look on my face. God bless them all.


New acceptance + new EP + launch gig

First off, it is always, always a good thing to get an email from Dean Alfar and Sarge Lacuesta that starts like this:

Dear Crystal,

I am pleased to inform you that your story, “Little Places”, has been accepted for publication in VOLUME One.

The publication is for VOLUME: An Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. I am totally psyched. Launch will be on September 2013!

Second, the EP of the band I’ve been playing regularly with for some time now (Cyrus Chow), is out! Fresh from the mixing studio in Sheung Wan and the record manufacturer in Kwun Tong is Rise. I was only a guest guitarist back then during recording so I only feature in one song, but the feeling of seeing your name in a CD jacket is still pretty amazing!



The band will be selling it for 60 HKD a pop; I’m not sure how the distribution is yet but there’ll be more info coming from here, I’m guessing.

We’ll be playing for the launch gig tomorrow at Backstage in Central at 8pm. Our set will be about 40 minutes long and we’re sharing the event with Ping Loong, another musician who contributed to Rise and is launching his own album as well. I have a sizable group of friends coming over to watch and celebrate with me so I’m going to be sufficiently tired by the end of the night. 🙂


…of a lot of things! Moved flats, played guitar at a music festival and the party after, filed my taxes, the end of semester. Two things in particular!

Day 3 of Handover Hallelujah, The Wanch, 30 June 2013

I blogged about performing with Cyrus Chow at this music festival before! Sunday came around, my friends came over to watch. Pictures were taken, got my free Handover Hallelujah 2013 T-shirt, got to talk to John Prymmer, the owner of The Wanch (who said he liked my playing and the possibility of me playing more regularly there, AWRIGHT), and a great party was had with me and my friends afterwards!



Launch of Philippine Speculative Fiction 8

Woot! I’m in this year’s volume as well for my story “The Mayorga Collection” and the launch is on July 27, 2-4:30PM, at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf of EDSA Shangri-La Plaza in Manila. I can’t come this year either because I still have things to do in HK around that time, but it really is one of the most fun book launches there is, so drop by if you can!


Aaaaand I need to get some rest.

I’m playing at The Wanch for Handover Hallelujah 2013!!

Haven’t posted a lot because I’ve been moving flats and marking exams / hell week at work and the the two have combined to create an energy vampire.

But! NEWS! June 30, I’m playing with my friend Cyrus Chow at the The Wanch, one of the most popular live music venues in HK!


Image from TheWanch.hk

And as if that wasn’t news enough, we’re playing as part of the lineup of this year’s Handover Hallelujah!! HH is an annual music festival The Wanch hosts that coincides with the July 1 public holiday (HKSAR Establishment Day) commemorating the 1997 handover of HK from the UK to China. HH has been mentioned before in CNN Travel and Time Out HK and it is going to be crowded the way HK knows how to crowd (i.e. very).

50+ bands for 4 days. And we’re one of them. I cannot emphasize enough how AMAZEBALLS this is going to be. Details soon!

Clockenflap Music Festival 2012

Sooo….Clockenflap 2012!


(Photo by Ricko)



(Photo by Ricko)


This year’s was held at the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, close to Elements. I went with Ricko, my Indonesian friend from Beijing who’s here in Hong Kong looking for a job, to the December 1 event, 12-pm – 10pm, 390 HKD per head. We got there at 2pm after lunch at Stormies at the Civic Square terrace (fancy!) in Elements. Weather wasn’t at its best; I was pointing out to Ricko the Ozone bar on the 118th floor of the ICC but the top of the building was totally covered by fog.

Anyway, Clockenflap! where coupons were currency.


(Photo by Ricko)

Luckily it wasn’t too crowded then and we could get pretty close to the stages during all the performances. Sets were half an hour each.


Stuart Lennon and Marie Witt. Acoustic rock. (Photo by Ricko)


The Sleeves. Arcade rock (at least that’s what they call it). (Photo by Ricko)


Buskers playing gypsy music.

bella elektra

Bella Elektra. Jazz hip hop. (Really enjoyed this one.)


Poubelle International. Indie rock. (Photo by Ricko)


Tom Read / The Vine Band. Christian rock (though the stuff they played there were more pop).


OK. I did not expect to see Sandwich here!!! Sandwich is a rock band from Manila / home. They were given a great introduction from one of the event organizers and they played an AWESOME, AWESOME set. They were a huge hit and got the crowd totally worked up. (“I just wanna go to the beach!” “SUNBURN!” is now stuck in my head.) More Sandwiches!




Shamus Dark and Eugene Pao. Noir jazz, that’s the best I can put it. (Photo by Ricko)

Ricko and I left around 5:30pm, though the party and the crowds were only really starting by then, but we were pretty tired. I got my Clockenflap T-shirt and the Hungry Ghosts EP and had a good, decadent dinner at Spaghetti House back in Jordan.

Til next year!


Recording session photos!

In the cold and drizzle of last Sunday, my friend Cyrus (vocals, rhythm guitar, bass), Candice (keyboards), James (cajon drum, backing vocals) and I (lead guitar) were recording at Koya Hisakazu’s studio in Sheung Wan! A lot of of local bands (even Beyond) have had their albums recorded and mixed by Koya and it was a fantastic learning (and adrenalinic) experience for me. Cyrus wants to release an EP next year and he invited me to play lead for one of his songs, “Never Too Late”, and hopefully we can collaborate more in the future. Last Sunday we put down the guide track and got my and James’ tracks down as well. Pics of me and James! Cyrus and Candice will be finishing their tracks one of these weeks.

Here’s an interview with Koya Hisakazu in HK Magazine and a vid below of Cyrus at Backstage Bar playing bass and doing backing vocals. I’m totally looking forward to doing more of this.