There is a decidedly international flavour to this week’s smorgasbord of quality gig happenings in Phnom Penh. We are still waiting for one or two more dedicated, small-to-medium-sized city music clubs to materialize but this has not seemed to deter a succession of foreign musos eager to sample the delights of the Kingdom of Wonder. Outside of the ‘boutique’ music scene of small restaurants and bars putting on duos and trios, dedicated music clubs are hard to come by… but Oscar is holding up his end in glorious style – this weekend hosting the venerable King Joe Carrasco at his Phnom Penh debut. Check out last week’s wrap for a brief intro to this Rock’n’Roll legend – who will be playing Oscar’s on The Corner this Friday and Sundance Inn on Saturday night.
Like a powerful center of gravity (or a black hole!), the Phnom Penh music scene has a singular pull which keeps bringing expat musos back for more. Gonzalo Rodino has recently returned from Brisbane to continue the Cambodian musical activity he broke off from eighteen months ago. This entails gypsy jazz guitar, intricate Chet Atkins/Tommy Emmanuel-style ‘Travis’ picking and some belting Stray Cats-style rockabilly – bolstered by a low and resonant tenor voice evoking classic Americana and country singers. Naturally, Gonzalo has first hooked up with retrogressive reprobates The Jumping Jacks to organise a live session this coming Saturday night – and is scheduled to entertain Bassac Lane with some suitably twangy sounds.
Monday the 30th of April is International Jazz Day – a collaboration between musicians, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and several corporate and individual sponsors. Why is this day important? The characteristics which make Jazz music a vital art form and means of education are the same characteristics which confine it to the fringes of popular culture: it is not an easy music to play (and sometimes not an easy music to listen to!). It takes a student many years of dedication to learn the advanced musical language of jazz. It is an art form that must be protected, supported and celebrated.
This is especially important in a developing country such as Cambodia where good music education is at a premium. There are a handful of expat musicians in Cambodia keeping the jazz flame burning. Amongst them are Stan Paleco (from Slovenia), Metta Legita (from Indonesia), Toma Willen (from France) and Andrey Meshcheryakov (from Russia) – who will be playing as an ensemble, at Meta House, for International Jazz Day.
The high quality jazz continues on Wednesday at Bouchon in Phnom Penh, when a newly-arrived talent will sing for the first time in the city. Judy Joubert is a U.K. born singer who made her name in South Africa, performing huge concerts and television specials. Judy will be joined at Bouchon by Metta Legita and Andrey Meshcheryakov for a quality session of jazz and blues.
Subtropical Asia recently released a fascinating documentary feature called ‘Slumdog Metal’ – exploring the lives of Yab Moung Records band Doch Chkae. While the folks at Yab Moung continue their essential work as the first alternative record label in Cambodia (Wikipedia), the rocking groove metal Hardihood Band will be appearing at Showbox this Friday night. Check it out and check out the video below.
Whatever you’re up to over the next few days, stay safe out there and… see you around the traps!