Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seems to be mostly about endings: 18 - 20 March

Another blistering performance of The Hellhounds was witnessed by a select crowd at Sharky Bar last Thursday, complete with wandering/wondering wayfarer Johnny Pilgrim standing in.  A boisterous couple of sets with some new material, including a bounding Who do you love and a cheeky Women are smarter which morphed juicily into a half-remembered Iko Iko.   This effort was followed up by a surprising number of the same songs (WDYL and Folsom Prison Blues, for example) when the very same stage was taken up by some of the very same personnel in my farewell performance with the Lazy Jazz Drunks.  Ian the Punk and Tall Tom were in fine form as we jukeboxed (as noted by Mythical Dude and his compadre) our way through three sweaty sets, sometimes being a bit more jazzy than previously considered possible:  we even stumbled through an impromptu Fly me to the moon.   Helping out on a few tunes was Song, a drummer of great technical skill and demolition techniques. I slowed the tempo in the later stages to perform a short tribute to the late Alex Chilton, whose death I had heard of only that afternoon, then we ramped it up again for a big finish, drumsticks and sweat flying in all directions. 

And finally, in a weekend of endings, Saturday night saw the final Phnom Penh performance of the current line up of the Cambodian Space Project, with the Space Commander taking off for Europe for a few months.  We packed ourselves into one side of the bar at Equinox and made merry with a percussion heavy couple of hours that managed to evade the attention of the Too Loud police, although also somehow evaded the Sound Quality police as well.  Technical knowhow had established a really good sound check sound that somehow evapourated in a prolonged screech of wireless microphones, a tangle of cables and a reliance on sonic bravado so well known to the long-suffering fans and members of the CSP.  We look forward to future efforts with a greater concentration on PA mechanics and better selection of PA hiring firms.  p.s. the sound was marginally better at the final performance of the weekend, at Tassilo's wedding at the Himawari, but the curfew was even earlier. 

And so the Cambodian Space Project heads north east to the surreal island of Hong Kong ... from whence reports will emanate next week.  Which is a good time to renew my call for reviews of the shows I don't get to, or even alternate reviews of the shows that I do.  This blog oughtn't be restricted to just one view, please share your thoughts. 

Seeya when I'm back in PP.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A belated one before the new weekend starts up: 9 - 13 March

It all began a long time ago, when one of the most prominent pianists of the age Vladimir Ashkenazy came to play Chaktomuk Theatre, which probably accounted for the small but keen crowd that chose instead to attend last Tuesday's Fun Planet birthday party featuring the Cambodian Space Project.  A smaller, gentler Space Project was on display, with a hastily-mixed collection of amplifiers, a brief rainstorm, and quite a number of curious Khmer observers who stayed until bedtime. 

Then there was quite a gap for me, as I am attempting to reduce my playing in quantity in an effort to increase it (and the pleasure arising therefrom) in quality, so it was Friday before I was on stage again, with the CSP taking to the stage in Siem Reap.  Thursday night a very stripped down version had fascinated the crowd at Silk Garden; Friday we clambered aboard a raised stage, battled with a PA and coloured lights, and pulled out two long sets of sweaty Khmer rock'n'roll at L'AbacusSee here .... the dancing was a bit subdued, I assume due to the bar being too far from the stage, but by the same token it was hard for me to see past the footlights.  A highlight was the inclusion in the band of Aya on melodica. 

The next night we followed up with an appearance at X-Bar, again playing under the stars, with a more extensive light show, a lower platform, a bigger and more involved audience.  Our three sets were followed by a long series of jams with revolving personnel - D'Sco: The Geckos of Love put their two cents in as well - that were still going when we left at 4 am.  See here .... 

We also managed to fit in a couple of video and photo shoots which have also been FBook documented already.    Our thanks to the coalition of bars and assorted Siem Reap folk who helped make it a great weekend, especially the photographer du jour The Fabulous Jean-Francois and documentarist and videographer MOVE NOW! Marc. And while I'm at it, a big dip of the hat to number one fan - and brutally honest critic where appropriate - The Baron Bruno

The CSP is now poised to make its final public PP appearance (for a while) at Equinox on Saturday 20th before heading for 3 shows in Hong Kong.  And then I can get back to writing about some other bands for a change, including D'Sco: The Geckos of Love, who are due for a revival, methinks.

Seeya near a stage.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A special mid-week blog ... due to the quiet weekend coming: 2 and 4 March

It was a double birthday celebration, it was a documentary film night, it was a video shoot ... Chinese House hosted Call and Response, a film about human trafficking, followed by who else but the everywhere-at-once Cambodian Space Project.  As I was one of the birthday celebrants, I made damn sure I was doing something fun:  we set up with two drum kits and pushed through a long thumping rhythm-heavy set while squeezing the 9 piece band onto a stage surrounded by dancing and drinking.  The Breton Bandit is continuing to find his feet, I am continuing to grow my hair, Ratta-Man is continuing to find new and unusual ways to appear and disappear at will, Bong Jay is continuing to lose his mind as the time begins to run short with so much still to do, The Lovely Irene continues to walk straight from work-mode into performance-mode, The Swedish Ambassador is still fairly Swedish and was also a celebrant, Bong Sak keeps it steady on the beat, McSwashbuckle makes the good times roll, Srey Thy just gets more glamorous ... somehow we have to get through this month and life will be quieter. 

Last night The Hellhounds renewed their acquaintance with Sharky's, blue cheese burgers and Johnny Pilgrim with a lively couple of sets with a good crowd and a drummer who pushed the soundcheck back an hour due to his non-attendance.  Lots of old favourites and a couple of new ones, up to and including some blasters like Who do you love, Shame Shame Shame, Dead Flowers, sounding better than ever.  And no broken strings to report!  The year of the tiger is boding well. 

It's a quiet weekend coming, but next weekend the CSP are on the road to Siem Reap.  Come for the fun, stay for the madness!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A lowkey blog about the weekend that I felt particularly crook but somehow kept going: 25 - 27 February

The Hellhounds worldwide tour of Sharky's continued on Thursday night despite the absence of Bong Thom, and with the addition of last week's special guest Johnny Pilgrim. We ran a stripped back setlist, pushing the wildness quotient up a bit but really missing the mandolin. And I wasn't so well, which didn't help. Still, the blues went down pretty well, as ever. And Mythical Dude got through a whole set -- hell, nearly the whole night -- without breaking a string, but stumbled at the last hurdle.  Which brings me to a fundamental question:  if Jimmy Hellhound ever broke a string, would the world cease to be?

On Friday afternoon the Cambodian Space Project took itself on the road to Sihanoukville, to participate in Khmarnival, an AIDS education outreach event involving some fabulous dance, pantomime, circus acts and clowning by young former street kids. Pretty inspiring stuff. We came onto the stage after dark, following two mixed bands of the young and enthusiastic -- and what a stage. It was huge, like playing a stadium. Everyone was wandering around wondering what to do with all the space. Way up the back, miles away, and miles high on a drum riser, I felt like Ringo. A great view, but it was so dark I could barely see the crowd. We played until bedtime. And then stayed up for a cleansing beverage or two.

Saturday night we were all back in Phnom Penh, and a stripped down and perhaps more relaxed CSP played at The Alley Cat's last Saturday of the month buffet and prize drawing. Elsewhere in town the Lazy Jazz Drunks and Lost Highway played Sharky's, and then the LJD took a stab at an after midnight gig at Candy Bar. No reports in yet on those adventures.

It looks like a quiet weekend coming up, and perhaps my health can last for more than a day at a time. Preparing for a big finish for the CSP's current trajectory: Siem Reap on 11 - 13 March, Maxines on 20th, and 3 dates in Hong Kong to go out with a bang … before coming back for more in August.

See you about.