Thursday, September 23, 2010

Open mic to open mic: 15 - 22 September 2010

Way back in the middle of last week .... began the Setsara-based Phnom Penh Acoustic Sessions.  The popular Thai restaurant on Golden Street next to Equinox is catching the open-mic virus (I haven't made it to any of the others yet) and the opening night on Wednesday 15th created a great vibe from the beginning.  The proceedings were hosted, and indeed opened, by CSP leader-and-founder Julien Poulson who played a great half hour set, followed by TJ, and myself, and Expresso Thmei, and after that everything gets a bit hazy ... The Swedish Ambassador and Grizzly Adam and Bong Thom all chimed in with some accompanying guitar, bongos and harmonica, and there were different pairings and groupings throughout.  There was very quickly really nice feel and the audience were neither deafened nor deafening - the balance was good.  A special portion of the evening was Srey Thy singing accompanied only by herself on a hand-drum, which brought all the tuk-tuk drivers creeping out from the shadows to listen. 

Thursday night I had the pleasure of taking part in a theatre performance at Chenla Theatre put on by the Kok Thlok Association of Artists, whose shadow artwork currently graces the walls of Equinox.   This musical moral fable about life in contemporary Phnom Penh was part of the Lakhaon festival of Khmer theatre supported by Centre Culturel Francaise.  I joined the house band on drums for an extended nightclub scene, surrounded by musicians far superior to myself, and with whom it was a joy to work.  Look out for anything with Kok Thlok involved - you will not be disappointed.

Then Friday night the Cambodian Space Project crammed into the Alley Cat for their re-opening event, featuring some welcome renovations and a new Dallas mural, as a warm up for our official welcome home show at Equinox on Saturday night, which was an all-exploding, all-freewheeling take-no-prisoners carnival that featured drumkit damage, string breakage, vocal submersion, impromptu jamming, not enough dancing but lots of sweaty, enthusiastic punters, and a long series of encores.  Sweet exhaustion.

And now we're back to Wednesday 22nd, the second of the Setsara Acoustic Sessions, with the same cast but more - some solo from Bong Thom, the welcome appearance of Melanie, my first listens to Claire, and Scott from the Teaner Terners, and the night sealed with Julien pulling out Rocking in the free world with Melanie and Ken.   Can't wait for the next one.  And also I'm off to check out the Paddy Rice open mic tonight.

See you about. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

CSP back in town: 10 - 11 September 2010

I had every intention of keeping the updates coming from the Cambodian Space Project's tour of France, but it didn't happen.  The tour had a life of its own, the stories of which will continue to be told until the beards are grey and the children grown.  Already it is difficult to distinguish between the myth and the reality.  The fragmentary visual record that has graced Facebook hints at the revelatory experience for those who were there.   We never stop flying: Paris-Nantes-Confolens-La Rochelle-Dinan-Rennes-Jugen Les Lacs-Nantes-Paris.  

However, the band is now back in its Phnom Penh home.  A lucky few caught our first return performance, hardly advertised, at La Camaguais on Street 5 on Friday 3rd - what was supposed to be a small-scale French line-up reunion but turned, unexpectedly but delightfully, into the whole magilla, still shaking off the road dust and jet lag.  Then there was another soft start, Expresso Thmei at Lotus Blanc this last Friday, feeling strangely underpowered after the weeks of adrenalin-filled line-up changes. 

Actually, my drum kit was busier than me over the weekend, loaned out for the Cambodian Cowboys' debut at Chinese House on Thursday, and then Lost Highway on Friday, before it ventured across the river to Maxine's for the next chapter of the CSP's multiple-stage return festival.  Snow kept the numbers down to 50, to prevent the place lurching into the Tonle Sap, but it was a great crowd to play to nonetheless.  We cranked through three sets, throwing out new songs and jams as we went, possibly one of tightest and best sounding gigs we've done.  It's great to have ace-wielding Space Commander J back on the flight deck.  Canadian Adam joined us with some very tasty percussion, and the rest of the usual cast of thousands made their presence felt. 

There's a lot of live music going on in Phnom Penh in the coming weeks, and I hope to hear some of it and be able to report on something other than the CSP ... but probably not next weekend unfortunately.  See you at Alley Cat on Friday, Equinox on Saturday, or near another stage somewhere soon.