Monday, November 30, 2009

Chaos and Disorder: 28 November

If you're going to have just one gig in a weekend, you'd better make sure it works.  And my word we did our best.  The Lazy Jazz Drunks assembled in a re-configured line-up on Saturday night at Rory's Pub on 178 St and did everything we could to keep ourselves afloat.  Continuing our bass-less theme, and in response to the exhortation to "keep it down" we lost the keyboard as well, so the Swedish Ambassador sat behind the small drumkit and I moved to guitar, with Tall Tom and Ian The Punk sticking to guitar and vocals respectively, and Aussie Ken doubling on harmonica and stomach trouble.  A particularly (unsurprisingly I guess) drunken Irishman opened the festivities by taking a microphone and making an a##hole of himself and reminding us how fragile some of our equipment actually is.  As if we didn't need reminding.  Because shortly it developed that my mixer was only working on one channel, so we flew in a replacement.  Before too long the speakers gave up as well, so there was another trip to Aussie Ken's to retrieve backups.

To mix it up a little further, we had two power failures and two broken guitar strings, the second of which somehow screwing up the electrics in my acoustic leading me to abandon performance briefly in favour of the comforts and reliability of the bar. 

But did we give up?  The beer was flowing and so was the music.  We sang, we played, we had a sh*t-hot guest or two (playing Chuck Berry, Neil Young), we pushed through about half our regular material and added everything from AC/DC to Abba, including half a dozen of my originals, some inspired gibberish vocals from Ian The Punk, at least three versions of Dirty Old Town (one unplugged in the darkness) with crowds coming and going around us, dancing, headstands, dropped glasses, bewildered passers-by, and managing by mistake to play the manager's favourite song in a nostalgic nod to the bar formerly known as Revolution.   

Just another quiet Saturday night on the expat island ...

More LJD madness this Friday (4th) at Huxleys from 8, and the Hellhounds are back at Talking to a Stranger on Sunday evening (6th) from 6. 

Don't take any wooden money.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pink Suit weekend: 19 - 22 November

The weekend kicked off early, with the Hellhounds taking the stage at Sharky's, pushing through two solid sets despite some illness in the ranks that threatened to derail proceedings earlier in the day. If you haven't caught up with the extended, rhythm section version of the Hellhounds yet ... well, you should.  It's better each week.  

Friday night saw the Lazy Jazz Drunks take over upstairs at Huxley's, overcoming some technical issues (such as the absence of a second guitarist, disintegrating drumsticks, and the need to go out and find extra mics) to raise the roof in the way that only the Drunks can.  The Swedish Ambassador was doing his damnedest to put the Jazz back in the LJD, and after the crowd thinned out to go to Walkabout for the big draw things got looser, culminating in a prolonged stopping-all-stations jam on Whole Lotta Love with Ian throwing in lyrics from any song he could think of, and I think several that he couldn't think of.  The Drunks will be at Rory's on Saturday 28th trying to be as quiet as possible, and back at Huxley's on the 5th. 

For a complete change of pace, Saturday night's first birthday party for Chinese House was a much mellower affair.  The occasion called for something special, and it became the debut of The Panthers, a new project that the Swedish Ambassador and I have dreamed up:  the quieter, mellower side of D'Sco: The Geckos of Love, with an emphasis on standards and ballads, a chance for him to play keyboards and a chance for me to sing rather than play guitar and to wear a pink suit and hand out roses to beautiful women.  Stick around, that sort of stuff happens all the time.  So we captivated the crowd for an hour or so, taking the usual opening night nerves in our stride, before being joined by Ritchy on guitar and vocals (and switching to bass and drums) to provide some live music for a herd of swing dancers (is that the appropriate collective noun?  perhaps a press of swing dancers, or a swirl of swing dancers) who put on a very enjoyable show (including an intriguing solo number Cupid's Arrow).  The evening then degenerated into pre-recorded music ...

On Sunday D'Sco: The Geckos of Love were back to basics at Talking to a Stranger, relaxed with less equipment and just two guitars.  We played the game where I play songs that Dan has never heard (and in some cases I've never played in public, or indeed at all) and he does his best to keep up, and usually does dazzlingly well.  In the second set I played half an hour's worth of my own songs, at the strong encouragement of some gentlemen at the bar, feeding my interest in putting together a band to play original material next year, to test the theory that punters are interested in such a thing.  A quiet night, but by no means unpleasant. 

I gather there was a band at The Cavern on Saturday night which from reports sounds quite interesting.  Anyone see them? 

Seeya round the traps

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why I couldn't attend my 25 year anniversary high school reunion: 10 - 14 November

The weekend began early - an informal drop-in jam/gathering organised on Tuesday night at Chinese House.  And quite successfully, too.  The cozy/sophisticated interior makes the bar a nice room to play in, not to mention the relaxed nature of the seating and the lovely acoustics.  Players included David, Tree, Melanie, Jet, Ritchie, Mattheus, Paul and myself (including a healthy smattering of original material, particularly a recent batch from Melanie) interspersed later with a number of young Khmer chaps who played a mixture of Western ballads and Khmer pop songs.   Looking forward to the next one.

Friday night was a blast - as D'Sco: The Geckos of Love we took keyboard and drums, augmented by  Memphis Fred on sax, to new heights as the house band for AsiaLife's Blind Date night (the format based on the TV show Blind Date/Perfect Match/The Dating Game) at Talking to a Stranger, providing pre-show entertainment and then incidental music for the event itself.   Photos can be found at AsiaLifeGuide's Blind Date     'Twas an absolute blast to play corny backgrounds and soppy tunes all night. 

Also on Friday night - that i missed due to Blind Date - was Bum'n'Draze, who I am still yet to see, at Sharkys.  Scheduling is a bastard sometimes.   Not to mention Australian blues legend Phil Manning at FCC.

However, the extended Hellhounds took to the stage to support Manning's Saturday night show at FCC, smoking through two sets of blues and country.  And no broken strings this time!  Manning himself put on a great show, demonstrating his tag line (electric fingers on an acoustic guitar) to good effect.  I particularly enjoyed the slide playing.  He gave us a generous 3 sets, and said he was keen to return where his schedule will allow.

The coming weekend looks fun:  Hellhounds at Sharky's on Thursday, Lazy Jazz Drunks at Huxley's on Friday, the debut of The Panthers at Chinese House on Saturday and the regular fortnightly Sunday session at Talking to a Stranger.  

See you around the traps.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Solo, Salsa, and then Swinging: 6 - 8 November

As Water Festival receded like a king tide, the Swedish Ambassador headed for the coast, and the Geckos of Love had a few days off.  Consequently I had the rare opportunity to check out what other people were doing:  but it seems everyone else was out of town as well.  Friday night I found Patrick at the Velkommen Inn, wrestling a little with the equipment, but otherwise playing a confident and tuneful  mix of songs to a decent and at times enthusiastic crowd.  Saturday night I was encouraged/dragged to the institution that is FCC to witness what was billed as 6 authentic Cubans, which was not so much half a dozen fine cigars as four musicians and a drum machine playing Latin to an dancing-oriented audience.  My first reaction was not so much Buena Vista Social Club as Miami Sound Machine but I decided that was a bit harsh.  Not really my thing - tight and slick but with the passion painted onto the sound rather than arising from it - but people were enjoying it.  And it was certainly a pleasurable experience walking home down the empty street next to the Palace with the sound humming in the air all the way through to St 19. 

On Sunday night I was back behind the small kit with the extended Hellhounds, cooking through a couple of really good sets at Talking to a Stranger that had first the kids and then the assembled adults dancing about gleefully.

This coming weekend look out for Australian blues legend Phil Manning at Chow and FCC (Hellhounds supporting); the following weekend Lazy Jazz Drunks will be dismantling Huxleys on Friday, and the 1st anniversary celebrations at Chinese House on Saturday, which will include the debut of Phnom Penh's newest and possibly classiest duo The Panthers

See you around the traps.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Winding up at Velkommen & selling SIMs: 30 October - 3 November

Water Festival of course changed the musical landscape over the weekend.  Friday and Saturday were relatively quiet nights, even more so for me as I had to sit out of the Hellhounds final Velkommen Inn gig on Friday due to a damaged wrist brought on by an ill-advised participation in a game of football with some kids, which just goes to show that exercise is bad for you.   A few guest vocalists rounded out the Beer O'Clock Band's performance, and then the Hellhounds carried on with a guest drummer fresh off the plane from Australia for the first set, and then the Swedish Ambassador taking the thwacking duties and Dave of Misspent Yooth sitting in on bass. 

Saturday night I was back in action, and was able to drum for the Lazy Jazz Drunks' public rehearsal at The Cavern, which then evolved into some impromptu jamming with Tom, Russian David and Khmer wunderkind TR. 

Sunday and Monday D'Sco: The Geckos of Love shared a stage outside Riverhouse for Water Festival with some Khmer entertainers, promoting one of the local mobile phone companies.  We added our particular shade of lusty, bluesy noise to the cocktail of uptempo dancing, slow balladeering and endless Khmer prattling about special deals by a guy who could speak underwater.   The view from the stage was sometimes formidable, not really our regular audience.




Special thanks go to a group of young Aussies on Monday night who called up AC/DC, allowing me to pull out my guilty pleasure You shook me all night long, and then not only demanded an encore of Johnny B. Goode, but turned on a great bit of rock'n'roll dancing that delighted the crowd ... or perhaps astonished is a better word.  In any case, a lovely bit of magic. 

Tuesday turned into a bit of a washout, thanks to the rain, but we did play on at the afterparty until the beer ran out, playing Chuck Berry music and trying to find some songs that we had in common with the partiers (and coming up with Hotel California and Take me to your heart).

November is here, and it's going to be full.  Catch you around the traps.