Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Catching up: 6 - 24 October 2010

Your correspondent has been in some kind of sabbatical mood for a couple of weeks, but just wants to note a few exciting developments and events that have taken place recently.

The first is the sudden appearance (at Setsara Sessions just before Pchum Ben) of the cool gypsy jazz duo Balgass (Seb and Deb), who walked out of the night and into the open mic and were quickly snapped up by clever bar managers all over the city.  They have since played Equinox, Chinese House and Paddy Rice, making a particular impact at Equinox on Thursday nights providing live music for swing dancing; they also picked up a bass player along the way.  They are only here for a limited time so catch them if you can.

Also on the list are the Eastern Jazz Brigade - a crowd of faces familiar to PP music fans -- who have been pumping out some inspired post-bop jazz at places like Gasolina, Equinox and Le Jardin, and soon at Chinese House.

I also want to note the return of the Mekong Pirates after a four-month absence (some of which has been taken up working on a CD - check out http://mprecordingsessions.blogspot.com for a technically dense but humorous and rewarding story of the difficulties encountered in trying to overcome Cambodian recording conditions).  They played Chinese House last weekend and rocked.  I  particularly enjoyed the new cohesion in the guitar section, with some great wah-wah noise sneaking its way into the sonic mosaic. 

The Cambodian Space Project has continued to be involved in some interesting gigs, notably two gigs at the Chinese House, first as part of the Kon Khmer Kuon Khmer Golden Era of Cinema weekend, and then a mighty night to launch our 45 rpm vinyl single, Knyom Mon Sok Jet Te.  We were able to invite some of the great musicians of the vinyl era who put on a wonderful performance.  Some of the excitement was captured by Andy Brouwer.   The CSP was also involved in the Cambodian International Film Festival, surviving some spectacularly poor organisation by the events company involved to play briefly at the opening on Wednesday night and then after the closing on Sunday night outside Chaktomuk Theatre.   

See you soon.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jams, boats, buses and birthday parties: 23 September - 2 October 2010

I got kind of distracted and suddenly I’m a week behind in updates. Way back last week I went to the Electric Eclectic Limelight Jukebox Jam at Paddy Rice, hosted by Melanie, where a variety of performers signed up and took part in a subdued setting – the venue is a difficult one for performers as there are a lot of hard surfaces leading to not particularly great acoustics, and rather too many televisions for a place putting on live music. Melanie was assisted by Paul and Gem, and I threw in a couple myself for a small but enthusiastic audience.

On Friday night the Cambodian Space Project went aquatic, playing for a birthday party on a boat on the Tonle Sap, then Saturday night played Paddy Rice for a large and liquid crowd. I made it for the second set, having with the Swedish Ambassador re-launched D’Sco: The Geckos of Love as Pswingology, playing for the swing dancing group Phnom Penh Pswings’ night at Chinese House, as part of their big swing weekend. Noteworthy was the return of the medley sickness, that manifested itself in a 12 minute 12-bar marathon that almost caused soft tissue damage in those dancers who insisted on trying to keep up.

The highlight of the weekend, though, was the CSP’s trip to Khlaeng Poar Tboung, the village in Kampong Speu that is home to our fabulous drummer Bong Sak. I don’t think I can put it better than Andy Brouwer did … and re the Paddy Rice gig, and ongoing sound problems – yes, we are working on it.

And then suddenly another week was underway, back at the Phnom Penh Acoustic Sessions at Setsara on Wednesday night. This was a particularly special night because we were able to veer away from the white-guys-singing-in-English (lovely though we all are)(and not ignoring the gorgeous French contributions we get) format by having a series of fantastic Khmer performers, including local music veterans and staff from the Top Banana. I confidently predict we will one night have the next Sinn Sisamouth emerging from the crowd of motodops waiting patiently outside. The mix of people taking part is inspiring in a city that still is largely segregated in terms of performance. But perhaps I’m just going to the wrong places.

And finally I come to last night, Rory’s birthday party at Maxine’s (aka Snow’s), where a great crowd came out to dance in the newly expanded space (more dancefloor) and, thanks to a new piece of equipment, actually hear Srey Thy’s voice over the chaos.  There are still a few kinks to work out, but progress is being made. Rory and his mates also gave us a little song; thanks guys for a great night. And there was a very funky new blue guitar on display. 

See you about - enjoy Pchum Ben.  If you're staying in town, come see something different .... The Green Mist at Equinox on Saturday night.