Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nostalgic Weekend - The Straydogs, Singapore

It was some time in late 1966 when I first came to hear of The Straydogs. All this while Malaysian and Singapore bands/singers were doing the usual commerical pop music that had a wider appeal. Then I heard "Freedom" by The Straydogs and believe it or not, my first exposure to blues music by a LOCAL group. The harmonica work was as good as John Lennon's on "I should have known better" or "Love Me Do". I never had the chance of getting my hands on the group's first EP release, not until twelve years ago when The Star newspaper promoted the group by giving away free CDs of their recordings at their office in PJ. Today, it is a much treasured item among my CD collection. It was also the period of the psychedaelic culture.

n the annals of Sixties music of Singapore, the Straydogs ranked as one of the pioneer bands of R & B and blues music. They formed at a time when the music scene was itself evolving internationally. The first wave of beat groups that had rode on the Beatlemania wave had crested and even the Beatles were undergoing changes themselves after they did their last US tour at the end of 1965. Folk Rock was burgeoning and R & B was starting to mutate from a poppy outlook to a harder and more potent form of blues. It was with this swirling backdrop that two blues fans gathered along the Katong shores talking about music, listening to music and trying to create music. The two fans were Ronnie Kriekenbeek, a young harmonica player and Dennis Lim a music fan. Dennis recalls, "We heard the Rolling Stones and we thought, "That's us ! We want to play like that." Ronnie remembered hearing Rolling Stones "Not Fade Away" which he found he could follow on the harp.
In April 1966, The Straydogs came together with Lawrence Lim (vocals), William Lim (lead guitar), Jeffrey Low (rhythm guitar), Ronnie Kriekenbeek (harmonica, organ), Dennis Lim (bass) and James Tan (drums). The name Straydogs came from Arthur Woo, a friend who remarked they were always loitering about in the Katong area and could be liken to stray dogs. Jeffrey Low remembers that it was originally going to be called Lawrence Pariah and the Straydogs but Ronnie insisted that following the trend of having singular names Straydogs would be more appropriate. William was the only musician in the band according to Ronnie and he taught Jeffrey and Dennis how to play guitar and bass respectively. Their early repertoire was the mid Sixties standard R & B repertoire which meant mainly British R & B songs.

Here are my two favourites from the group, "Freedom" and "Repent".

Previous Highlights:

The Saints, Kuala Lumpur
The Quests, Singapore
The "Little" Falcons, Kuala Lumpur
The Crescendos, Singapore
Rose Iwanaga, Sarawak
Naomi & The Boys, Singapore
Rocky Teoh, Ipoh
The Surfers/October Cherries, Singapore
Janice Wee, Sarawak
Roy Chew & The Merrylads, Kuala Lumpur
The Checkmates, Singapore
Terry Thadeus and The Teenage Hunters, Kuala Lumpur

The Thunderbirds, Singapore

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