That’s what Jamie O’Rourke left Scarborough with seven years ago when he headed out for Thailand. Today at age 30, he’s a highly sought after musician, entertainment consultant and service provider, based in Phuket. 

BEGINNINGS

Jamie attended SenatorO’ConnorHigh School and then went on to study Hospitality Management at HumberCollege. He worked his way through school by doing “everything you could imagine” at a lumber store and he cut his teeth in the hospitality business when he got a job in guest services at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto. Unfortunately, this was short-lived as it was about the time of 9/11 and people just stopped travelling. He then did a stint as a valet parking attendant at swank club, but realized that what he really wanted to do was utilize his ten years of guitar lessons and play music.

Jamie’s musical inspiration came from his French-Canadian mother, a musician who played the piano, accordion and guitar in the church choir, as his Irish father surprisingly “couldn’t carry a note in a basket”.

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Jamie put together a band in Toronto called the DeLoreans. He sang, played guitar, and organized the band’s gigs, recording sessions and transportation logistics as well as its sound systems, lighting and musical equipment – basically everything that needed to be done so that a band could perform and he realized he enjoyed it, it was something he wanted to do. He had found his niche. Today, he’s the best at what he does on Phuket, but it hasn’t been an easy road.

When his job at the Sheraton came to an end, Jamie took a position at Long and McQuade, where he was in charge of the acoustic guitar section, and testing and renting out sound systems. This is where he learned everything he needed to know about electrical gear and guitars. 

OFF TO ASIA

When Jamie first arrived in Phuket, he was living in Naiharn. Every Sunday evening, helmetless, he used to drive his motorcycle up to the Sheraton Laguna’s “open jam” session, sometimes in the pouring rain, with only a poncho to cover him and his guitar, in an effort to become known and meet other musicians on the island. At the time, all he got for performing was a couple of drinks and a free meal but the contacts paid off. 

But Jamie started to run out of money and he was a day away from booking a ticket to Taiwan, where he was going to teach, when he was offered a position as general manager of an entertainment company based out of the Boat Lagoon. With the boss in Europe, Jamie basically oversaw the running of the company, which included a music and dance academy. This all went well until the tsunami came and the business fell apart.

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So in early 2005, he started playing solo, as a DJ, or with a group, at private villa parties in the Bang Tao area as well as corporate parties and weddings. This was all through word of mouth; he never put out an advertisement.

WAVE ENTERTAINMENT PHUKET

Then in March of 2005 he formed his own company. The promo on the company’s sales kit reads, “Wave Entertainment Phuket is a locally-based entertainment consultant and service provider to high-end properties in and around Phuket. Specializing in concepts and variety, Wave Entertainment will work with their clients to achieve their goal of a high quality and varied nightly schedule, which complements their property.” 

Jamie stresses he’s a service provider, not an agent looking to gather a huge base of artists and push them on people. Tapping into his network of musicians, and utilizing different venues within a hotel, Wave Entertainment can come up with a comprehensive music program. This can see a property showcase jazz on a Monday night, Latin music on a Tuesday, pop on a Wednesday, feature a DJ on Thursday, rock music on Friday, a dance program on Saturday, and chill-out music on Sunday.

His new band is called the Red Ends (formerly known as The Wave Band). They perform cover songs – everything ranging from the Talking Heads to U2 to Kenny Rogers and Sly and the Family Stone - at the Sheraton Loy Kratong Bar every Sunday night from 8 to midnite. During the evening, when the band takes a break, one member (Chris Melchoir) deejays while playing live violin and keyboards at the same time. 

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Jamie also deejays himself, (his stage name is Djme), and he is putting together a CD of original music produced in Phuket with local Thai musicians. 

Wave Entertainment Phuket is tapped into Phuket’s top quality performers, entertainers and musicians. The company can provide a full range of PA systems and lighting rigs, which can be adjusted to clients’ needs. The company can also arrange dance shows, fire shows, and ice sculptures and it is tapped into a huge reservoir of professional DJs. 

Jamie is proud that he is taking something that’s enjoyable, treating it seriously and giving people the absolute best. 

Drawbacks? “You have to be able to drop everything if need be in a minute’s notice. If one of my musicians calls in sick at one of my client’s hotels, I have to be prepared to go play four 45-minute sets of acoustic guitar and sing, immediately.”

Jamie’s gone from jammin’ at Sunday brunches to organizing major events. He recently organized the sound, lighting, fireworks and DJs for the Puravarna Phang Nga Bay Regatta bash celebrating the Chinese New Year at the Royal Yacht Club in Nai Harn.

Jamie says that so he does what he does so he’ll have more time to play music. Unfortunately, the better he gets at event management that may not be possible.

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