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Miri Country Music Festival

Sarawak Miri Country Music Festival

After a successful inaugural event which started in 2014, the Miri Country Music Festival has successfully catered to thousands of country music lovers from all over the region.

If you are still clueless about what kind of music festival this is, think country and western music, think cowboys and cowgirls minus the horses, but a lot of beer and food.

*Update March 2019 - The next Miri Country Music Festival 2019 will take place at Coco Cabana in Miri from 22 to 23 November.

Miri Country Music Festival 

The Miri Country Music Festival that has taken place on a yearly basis has seen all walks of life coming to the Parkcity Everly Hotel along Brighton Beach in Miri.

Not only did they curiously walk in, but they also came fully dressed for the occasion. We are talking cowboys, cowgirls, and even cowkids! While those that did not have a cowboy hat, they made the effort to dress in a check shirt and jeans.

Many wore boots while the hardcore even came fully attired completely with a sheriff badge. On average, you can expect around 2,000 music lovers attending this unique music event.

A huge pat-on-the-back goes to Uni Comms (previously known as UCSI Communications) based in Sarawak, who is no stranger to events and concerts as they did a fantastic job for this first-ever event here in Borneo.

Country Music Fest Miri
Everyone came dressed! 
As Miri has been in the music map of Sarawak Borneo for the last nine years since the introduction of the Borneo Jazz Festival (Previously Miri International Jazz Festival), the Miri Country Music Festival joins in together with the other inaugural Asia Music Festival (No longer done) to keep this resort township busy throughout the year.

In other words, there are music festivals going on throughout the four quarters of the year putting Miri on the music festival map on Malaysia.

Mel and Joe at Miri Country Music Festival
Favourites Mel and Joe from Singapore shook the house down
Why Miri Some Ask?

A question which is rather confusing, but Miri was once the pride and joy of the oil and gas industry, and in the last decade, the council decided to rebrand Miri as a resort city.

For the music festivals that take place here, the overwhelming crowds come from near and far. While most of the crowd is local Sarawakian, a huge number of foreigners also make their way here.

They are mostly the expatriate market from Miri and also across the border of Brunei. A number of Sabahans were also seen here as it is only a 3 to 4-hour drive from the border.

The next Miri Country Music Festival will most likely see a crowd of about 2000 and above, considering the year to year success, and also depending on how strong the marketing for this will be executed.

Overall, the jovial mood during the festival is something totally unique and different as me, having been to the Borneo Jazz and also Asia Music Festival, the Country Music Festival in Miri showed more family and friends get-together concept being practiced.

Country music if you should know, is a very popular genre of music here in the northern part of Sarawak.

Most of the local Sarawakian tribes from the area grew up on this music which is played throughout the year on radios, events, weddings, parties and even at the local bars and pubs.

D'Renegade Band Kota Kinabalu
D'Renegade Band rocks the house with their country and western music 
With this kind of support from the local community, it was not a hard job convincing the folk to attend the festival.

The early bird price of RM80 is easily welcomed by the general community however, if sponsors were kind enough, there could have been a little more offered in the tickets, like complimentary drinks.

While RM80 is not cheap for the lower income group who is one of the largest communities for country music, something needs to be done in order to capture that segment of the market.

We all know that when concerts or music festivals take place, there is always the money issue for the lower income group and hopefully something can be done to make festivals affordable for all walks of life.

I do hope that some sort of campaign or joint-venture with the tourism ministry or companies that buy tickets in bulk to give it out to the lower income to give them a chance to attend this festival.

Corn Cake Kings at Miri Country Music Festival
Corn Cake Kings from Kuala Lumpur on stage 
My Miri Country Music Festival Experience

Back in 2014, it was my first ever country music festival which I attended and I was a little unsure about what to expect from it, but having been there opened my mindset and perception of this.

For some reason, people started to come as early as 4.00 pm to the venue while the other two main festivals, the crowd would only come in after dinner.

Without hesitation, I spoke to a few of the guests there and a majority of them replied that this was the first of its kind and they did not want to miss out, especially listening to the local country and western bands that started at about 5.00 pm.

By 7.00 pm, the crowd had grown to about 500 people and by 8.00 pm, it doubled. What shocked me was that at 11.00 pm, there were still people walking into the venue. 

Wandering Mustangs at Miri Country Music Festival
Wandering Mustangs take the stage at the Miri Country Music Festival 2014
Miri Country Music Festival Band Line Up

Every year, there will be a different lineup, which consists of mainly local country bands from around Sabah, Sarawak and Malaysia.

Due to the limitation on country bands, we often see some highly popular bands being invited back to perform.

There are also some international country music bands that are specially brought in, but again, many expect names like Alabama, Kenny Rogers and so on.

The reality is the budget, and being a very niche music festival, the organizers will do their best. And at times, you do get some decently known international country music performers playing here.

For each year's lineup, you can check the Miri Country Music Festival website, as they will update the list closer to the event date. 

Michelle Lambert Johnny Rogers Band Malaysia
Michelle Lambert performs a fiery act with her violin with the Johnny Rogers Band
Every year, the Miri Country Music Festival strives to provide an interesting line up of musicians, and from what I know, it is no easy task.

I would also like to see if the organizers will be slightly creative in getting some other country and western bands from countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines as this can fully grow the potential of making this festival a truly massive country music festival in the region.

The organizers have been successful since the inaugural festival which saw a successful turnout from the locals and expatriates from around the area.

This also makes it into the list of Music Festivals in Sarawak for anyone wanting to know more details.

MCMF Coco Cabana
The finale on stage with all the artist performing together
Miri Craft and Food Bazaar

The MCMF Craft and Food Bazaar will be set-up outdoors under a huge tent and is a huge hit with everyone, including the musicians.

A fantastic selection of local and international food will be available for all walks of life and the prices are really affordable.

While the craft bazaar will be selling only Sarawakian and traditional handicrafts, many guests and artists will be seen lingering around here purchasing some souvenirs.

To be honest, at one of the festivals, I bought a local leather cowboy hat just to blend in at the event. The price for the cowboy hat was around RM20 which was a steal!

Where Is The Miri Country Music Festival Held? 

The venue for the Miri Country Music Festival is at Coco Cabana, at Marina Bay in Miri City. It is the new venue after it was previously held at the ParkCity Everly Hotel.

The new location is easier to get to, as it is walking distance from the main Miri City. Alternatively, you can also take a ride-hailing service from around the city area.

The organizer (Gracie Geckie - Standing left) with the Sarawak Tourism Minister (in red shirt) and other delegates. The minister made an unannounced visit to the event too! 
Final Thoughts to the Miri Country Music Festival 

Till the next event, I hope to attend this festival once again so I can monitor the activities and feedback of the crowd, and of course, indulge in good old country and western music.

For more information on the upcoming festival, visit Miri Country Music Festival. For those planning to come for the next event, please take note of the accommodations around Miri.

I hope that you will make it to at least one of the Miri Country Music Festival events, and if you have been to this event, do share your opinions in the comment form below. 

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