Guest report from Laurence W. Talbot on the Memphis Fete de la Musique ... thanks and more please!
Monday night in Memphis (Phnom Penh not Tennessee!), and a packed house of sweaty patrons swayed, rocked, rolled and jigged to the musical feast for the ears and eyes that was ‘Fete de la Musique’ Memphis 2010. Hosts Bona and Mel were rushing around, ensuring that all the acts had a great sound and that all, audience and performers alike, were kept well refreshed for the evening’s entertainment. We even got to sing a raucous version of ‘happy birthday’ to Mel to help her celebrate being another year older as midnight rolled us into the next day…. But first let’s go back in time just a few hours….
First to grace the fantastic new stage in Memphis was ‘The Minstrel from Russia’. Introduced in effusive style by Rosanna, our compere for the evening. Sergey eased the eager crowd into the nights festivities with a set of immaculately fingerpicked guitar tunes, showcasing his consummate skills on the fretboard. He was followed by Skip, former frontman with UK 80’s new wave band Radio City, who clearly hasn’t lost any of his punk energy as he powered through a short sharp blast of a solo set of his own compositions that threatened to raise the roof clean off the bar. The musical mood changed with the arrival of Kheltica and their engaging hybrid of Celtic influences, but the energy levels remained the same and outbreaks of jigging and reeling greeted their spirited renditions of traditional Celtic folk tunes. After a short break to draw breath, the stage was then boarded by a shipful of Mekong Pirates, who sent the audience into happy delirium with their unique blend of Mekong-flavored funky snaky rhythms. Memphis main man Bona stepped up to add some tasty licks to several numbers, including a driving version of Cambodian rock classic Cyclo. Compere Rosanna showed her eclectic side with a rap number leading into an accapella version of Amazing Grace during the band changeover, then Section 5 maintained the energy levels with a set of classic rock covers matched by a great visual presence that kept the floor moving . They were followed by Srey Nuch and band – they struck me as being a Cambodian version of early Blondie, an authentic 60’s based girl group sound with a raw edge and a very formidable front person in the striking Srey Nuch… very impressive indeed. Memphis’ very own Rock Xpress took to the stage in the early hours to bring the evening to a rousing climax, Dani leading the charge with a selection of songs by Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, then Bona calling Skip back to the stage for some powerhouse blues a la Plant and Page and ending with a screamingly hard version of Born to be Wild that set the seal on another wonderful night of music in the Penh. Go to the Memphis Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=143658111966&v=photos&ref=ts) to see Ramona’s cool photos of Monday night in Memphis.
Laurence W. Talbot