Since 1981, when Frenchman Maurice Fleuret came up with the idea of celebrating summer solstice with an open-ended day of live music celebration (wikipedia), 21st June has been acknowledged as Fête de la Musique. Timothy, Ted and myself here at Leng Pleng Towers really need no excuse to take to the streets with ‘roadie’ drinks in plastic cups and get involved in some musical revelry. This year, we will be cramming ourselves into a bus and making the trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, where basically all the expat musicians in town have got together to organise not just one but three (!) days of excellent live music.
The program starts tonight (Thursday) at Oli ‘Cambojam’ Roulin’s The Harbour – a small-but-perfectly-formed neo-pirate-hipster venue (and tattoo parlour!) situated just outside the main crush of downtown Siem Reap.
Guitarist Fabien Lesecq has been organising the Siem Reap music celebrations each June since 2009. This year the extravaganza will move to Laundry Bar for two packed nights on Friday and Saturday. Fabien told Leng Pleng some of his expected highlights:
“Anton Madley’s Balkan music project… he is from Ukraine and plays songs from his country and Russia, Moldovia, Bulgaria, Romania… it’s a fresh sound. Also we have rehearsed a lot with our new project The Siem Reap Groove Collective – which places brass in the center with regular trombone, alto sax and tenor sax .. plus a guest player on flute, and another guest on tiny sax! The music of the Siem Reap Groove Collective is funk and ska… a great sound!
Brian Wood is an American guy singing and playing the guitar .. it’s rock, it’s dancey… he has great stage presence and he looks like Mick Jagger …great guy.
The Soma Band will likely be the highlight. The musicians are up to an international level and their play is just mind blowing!” – FABIEN LESECQ
Cheers Fabien, and we’ll see you on the streets of Siem Reap!
Meanwhile in Phnom Penh, the elegant environs of The Plantation will play host to a mouth-watering Fête de la Musique match-up of talented guitarists on Thursday night. Stan Paleco will jazz it up with Aymen Ghali before Peter Luy enters as lead player with Miss Sarawan Band. Think somewhere along the lines of Jim Hall meets Django Reinhardt meets Joe Bonamassa and you will be somewhere in the right ballpark of styles for these three fretmen. Over at the French-run Cloud venue in Tonle Bassac, a special open jam session is set to continue late into the night (perhaps even after ‘Les Bleus’ have ended their encounter with Peru in the World Cup!)
The spirit of joie de vivre will continue at Rush Pub in Phnom Penh on Friday – where extra stocks of Pastis and Ti Punch are being readied for the third anniversary of this Street 282 watering hole. Phnom Penh musical legends Kok Thlok are lined up to bring their energetic mix of ‘Golden Era’ Cambodian rock’n’roll with traditional folk instruments and inspired musical improvisation.
We’ll leave you with something from the Marseilles Maestro 12ME, who regularly updates his awesome YouTube channel with vids like this one below – giving a glimpse into the production process that goes on inside his Phnom Penh studio.
Whatever you’re up to over the next few days, stay safe out there and… see you around the traps!