Don’t get me wrong. I have spent many a memorable weekend in Alotau. It is just that this time I felt I had come of age. For starters, I got to use the ‘live view’ function of my Nikon D90. Then the weather was my kind of weekend weather – dry and sunny and, I got to see the people I wanted to see whilst in Alotau. I also, as a bonus, ran into a lot of family and friends who I haven’t seen in ages.
I also visited my late grandmother’s village across the bay – Wagawaga. The first time I visited Wagawaga was when I was in primary school. Now that is a long time ago. I was really pleased to hook up with relatives some of whom I was meeting face to face for the first time.
I also got to sing with the original members of the Salima Band at the Driftwood Resort and Masurina Lodge respectively over the weekend. I was so pleased that this was possible. We stayed up on Saturday ‘til the early hours of the morning singing our recorded songs, teaching eachother our newer songs and talking about our music. Yes, our music. You see, the Salima signature sound is founded on Milne Bay stringband music with a few improvisations along the way to vary the flavor. But, basically, easy listening music which is the sound that Salima is well-known for.
We were blessed to have some of our diehard fans join us in celebrating the weekend and our music. We are so grateful for their patronage of the Driftwood Resort on the Friday and Sunday nights that Salima played there. Not forgetting family and friends who also enjoyed our music when Salima played at Masurina Lodge on Saturday night. Thank you all so much for your support. Your support and encouragement motivates and inspires us to continue writing our songs to share with you.
I had a wonderful visit at Alotau International Hotel with the Manager and staff. Some of you who have visited this premier Hotel in Alotau would have enjoyed the stunning views of the bay area. I had a grand tour of the hotel and really enjoyed visiting this seaside hotel. Of course, knowing me, no visit is complete without a sumptuous bowl of icecream, you guessed it – vanilla icecream!
The hotel is situated near the War Memorial and Sanderson Bay. It is within walking distance of the town centre and the market. Can you see yourself enjoying a barbeque on these grounds, a mumu perhaps or pig on a spit or perhaps a wedding reception with the fantastic sweeping views of Ealeba across the bay area? The fun potential of this hotel is endless.
When at the water’s edge in Alotau, one gets a real sense of the awesome Owen Stanley Range as it forks out into a lopsided ‘V’ shape, into Tawala and Ealeba – the sprawling mountain ranges that form the bay area – Milne Bay. These majestic mountain ranges have evoked many a rousing stringband number or sombre and moody melodies. These tunes have become the epitome of the Milne Bay 5-key sound – as slack guitar is to Hawaii. The tunes are endearing and enduring throughout the years and I guess we – this generation – are most fortunate to have grown up with so much of the romanticism of our environment.
I say romanticism because we do not remember the bad weather, the rainy season and the rough seas when we are writing our songs. We consciously disconnect ourselves from reminiscing about the storms and the times when the environment unleashes its fury on the islands during a cyclone or bad weather. We still write and sing songs about being nostalgic, jilted in love or the natural beauty around us. This romanticism translates itself consciously and unconsciously into the care we feel for our islands, our bay area, our reefs, our culture and art, and of course our way of life – the Milne Bay way.
I don’t know but more than anywhere else I know in PNG the stringband songs of Milne Bay always never fail to wake the sleeping romantic in me. I know for a fact that Milne Bay stringbands can still belt out the most melodious, lilting sounds that are close to what I would call ‘island spirituals’. For the many who have an ear or the enduring spirit that connects with this kind of music – it takes you on a journey, oh yeah.