Oli Khalid, a Langkawian by now, asked me to join him at Lepak Bistro for one drink two doors away from his restaurant Red Tomato at Casa Fina Avenue and the time was close to 11 pm and he was closing shop.
I hesitated but changed my mind when his wife Tanja urged me on and got out of her seat to show me where Lepak was.
A short flight of steps brought me inside as the music was playing. It was acoustic Monday with singer Maya and Zam on the guitar. The strumming, plucking and soulful vocal, coming only a few feet away, got me tapping my foot in sync with the rhythm.
I was enjoying the moment. Frankie Ng, the affable owner, stepped up and introduced himself. Frankie, a DJ himself, found refuge in Langkawi indulging in his love of music that has always been a part of his life.
What was supposedly a ‘give-face’ appearance for me dragged on for an hour with me holding onto one long drink.
Lepak is one such neighbourhood joint that I will return to. Here, everyone knows everyone and I have been told, regulars are restaurant, pub and bistro owners who needed a place to fraternalise.
By word of mouth, Lepak is drawing locals and Mat-Sallehs and passers-by musicians on short stay, from all nationalities, would converge, just as Oli would do, for jam sessions. Frankie is one pleased man as his ambition is gradually coming true, Lepak is what it should be a live music joint to relax.
“I have been lucky so far whereby the regulars and walk-in guests have been very supportive. I promise the musicians a minimum amount and then we pass the bucket around. If it’s less than the agreed amount, I’ll top it up. Anything extra goes to them.’
Frankie is an advocate promoting local musicians. Maya and Zam perform three times a week and they start at 11 pm till late. Now, Lepak has taken a leap of faith by having ‘live music’ six nights a week with another singer/guitarist on board.