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TAB Singapore

Disclosure: A friend of mine co-owns this fine establishment.

TAB is a new restaurant/bar in Singapore with a unique concept: live, original music from a stream of both local and international musicians. Covers are the exception here; artists are encouraged to debut and test their own material. From what I’ve seen, most other paying gigs in town would rather have their resident bands play the hits than do their own thing, which is both disappointing and due for change. If the local scene is going to grow, it’ll be on the backs of places that give them a license to get creative and connect to real fans.

Six nights a week (it’s closed on Mondays), you can walk in and hear sets from one local and one visiting artist. The international guys come in for a week at a time under TAB’s “Artist-in-Residence” program, where they’re flown in and put up somewhere nearby in exchange for being criminally unsigned talents, YouTube celebrities, or very good looking. Often, Singaporean music events say “International Acts” when they really mean “Regional”, by which they really mean “Malaysia” (not that there aren’t incredible musicians in Malaysia), but the guys I’ve caught at TAB in the past few weeks have all been from the US.

Angie Mattson was the first, and she had an incredible voice that you really ‘get’ by seeing her live in a warm, intimate atmosphere like TAB’s, where you can be just a few feet from the stage and still get the benefit of a large space, as opposed to a cramped coffee shop where they had to remove a table to make room for an amp. Howard Jennings just played last week and he was incredible. Both had homespun CDs for sale at $8 each, and I got them both (as well as picked up Howard’s earlier EP on iTunes). If you have a minute to spare, I urge you to fill up this form and download Jennings’ song “You and Me” for free: http://trkurl.com/4ElKt3 | Lo-fi YouTube performance here.

This week’s Artist in Residence is Mikel Paris from New York, who seems to have developed a unique style he calls ‘guitar drumming’.

Now and then, they also do big-ticket events that cost money (regular nights don’t, just yet): fans of The Album Leaf should check out next week’s shows on the 9th and 10th of September. Tickets are $55 online.

After great acoustics and access to artists you would normally never get to hear live in Singapore, TAB’s central location is one of its best features: down the same end of Orchard Road as Forum The Shopping Mall and erm, Orchard Towers. It’s right across the street from the Orchard Parade Hotel and has a large yellow neon sign with its logo – you can’t miss it.

Websitewww.tab.com.sg

Address: 442 Orchard Road
#02-29 Orchard Hotel
Singapore 238879

Phone: +65 6493-6952

Opening Hours: 5pm – 1am on weekdays, till 2am on weekends.

Photos used above are not official press shots; I took them during a tour of the place before it opened. Contact the team at info@tab.com.sg if you’d like to get a press kit.