Plenty of action on the scene this week as a good number of excellent music events are set to take place in Phnom Penh. I have a feeling that the back-end of July in the capital city will be a darn sight quieter… as Cambodian families start to stock up on sacks of rice and foreigners make plans to be somewhere else… so let’s make hay while the sun shines on what is likely to be an unusually short ‘mini-high’ season.
Duplex will host the CSP Mothership tonight (Thursday) on ‘Golden’ Street 278 in Phnom Penh. A loose collective of Cambodian Space Project members past and present, the Mothership will be paying musical tribute to the late CSP lead singer Channty Kak – who tragically passed away in a road traffic accident in March. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of CSP and the alternative Cambodian music scene will know that Channty was a highly talented, unique and irreplaceable performer. The spontaneous, exciting and inclusive spirit of a CSP gig will, nevertheless, be present at Duplex tonight as it was last week at the Laundry Bar in Siem Reap, when Khmer-rock bands Batbangers and Little Squirrels joined members of the extended CSP family for a mighty bash. In Phnom Penh, Mothership highlights will include rootsy Australian singer-songwriter Justin Frew, gutsy acoustic strummer Brian Wood and fiery Cambodian vocalist Lisha Shrin. Also look out for a debut outing by Lazy Monkey.
Dave Zdriluk has been a pillar of the Phnom Penh expat music scene for many years – providing a bedrock for many many bands with his super-solid bass playing. The living embodiment of the phrase ‘less is more’ when applied to music, Dave does the maximum work with the minimum number of strokes, driving an ensemble with a few perfectly placed notes as opposed to expansive runs and licks. A pro touring and studio session musician back in Canada, Dave is also a great harmony singer and skilled acoustic guitar picker. With Scott Bywater out of town this week, Zdriluk will be leading the Thursday night slot at Oscar’s… as well as performing a solo acoustic spot at Tacos Kokopelli on Friday night. As regular attendees of his weekly Sundance open mic night will attest, Dave’s solo performances are not only known for his country-folk picking and extensive library of 60’s and 70’s songwriter tunes. His dry and offbeat (and often off-colour) ‘Canuck’ humour and seemingly inexhaustible supply of music industry anecdotes are both worth the price of admission in their own right.
Charles-David Hay, better known simply as ‘Charlie’ will be breezing into town this weekend. His regular audience back in Yangon, Myanmar, may well be asking ‘Where is Charlie?’ as the Swiss bluesman branches out for a brace of Phnom Penh gigs. Beginning with an Acoustic Friday session at Farm to Table and continuing with a trio gig at Alchemy on Saturday, Charlie will regale audiences with his own take on classic blues – running the spectrum from the roots of Blind Willie McTell to the 1970’s grooves of JJ Cale.
Bouchon will be in for a musical treat this Saturday as Ken Kawamura and Jose Terada hook up with a host of Phnom Penh-based jazz musicians. Check out the video above for a taste of the unusual accordina instrument, which Kawamura will be bringing with him all the way from Japan. Ken will also be employing his formidable piano skills at the Bouchon gig, accompanied by Jose’s soprano sax, the jazz guitar of Takeshi Yamauchi and some special guests. An excellent night of classic and contemporary jazz is in store.
Continuing the classy musical vibe on Sunday, flautist Anton Isselhardt will be bringing guitarist Pongpat Pongpradit over from Bangkok for a special recital at Chinese House. If you have ever heard live music in the upstairs dining room at this venue you will know what a special atmosphere and acoustic quality it possesses. Isselhardt and Pongpat will be playing 20th-Century pieces by French composers Poulenc, Ibert, Françaix, Milhaud and Satie.
Whatever you’re up to over the next few days, stay safe out there and… see you around the traps!