Here is upon us that curious time of year when the most hardcore, freewheeling Cambodian-based expats can suddenly become wistful for home. Warm and fuzzy childhood memories are deeply ingrained in us… resulting in bizarre and sometimes dangerous attempts at homemade plum pudding, mince pies and strange combinations of liquor and dairy products based loosely around the concept of ‘eggnog’. A similar phenomenon can be observed on the Phnom Penh music scene, where normally halfway-sane performers lose focus and eschew their normal repertoire for quarter-assed hack renditions of ‘Last Christmas’, ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ or, God help us, ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’. It always seems like a good idea at the time…
Combing through the raft of Yuletide gig offerings, a few Christmas crackers do stand out. Phil Javelle has organised a run of themed shows with a variety of top Phnom Penh-based artists. The returning piano maestro begins his Cambodian sojourn tonight at Bona’s Pub, jamming blues with superb Malaysian guitarist Simon Wong. Javelle sashays into salsa on Friday in collaboration with Cuban singer extraordinaire Kayro at Bouchon, before donning his red hat for an edition of ‘Santa Soul’ with Mirasol Aguila and Antti Siitonen on Bassac Lane this Saturday. Phil ‘The Octopus’ Javelle’s multi-instrumental and vocal musical talents are well known in Phnom Penh but never cease to amaze – especially since this Christmas run of gigs comes following his recent extended absence from Cambodia. Savour the soulful and entertaining Javelle solo experience next Sunday and Tuesday at Atlas restaurant in the Russian Market area of town.
Jazz pianist Metta Legita had a great year in 2018, playing international festivals and releasing her debut album ‘Scenic Spirit’. Hear Metta’s blend of classic jazz with modern fusion influences
on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the FCC in Phnom Penh.
Boxing Day brings another chance to hear the breakout performer of the Phnom Penh expat music scene in 2018 – Ernie Buck. He may have started the year as a softly-spoken indie singer strumming a ukulele and sporting a Krawma around his shoulders, but he finishes it as a kind of stage-strutting combination of James Brown and Mick Jagger, with a big soulful vocal style that carries any Al Green or Marvin Gaye song… with a Krawma around his shoulders. Check out the Buck solo show at Bouchon next Wednesday.
Musicians generally don’t have a great deal of time for the usual end-of-year and New Year reflections that visit most of us during this season. We’re far too busy packing in as many gigs as we can during the peak holiday period. I’ll defer the narrative for now and lazily point to two great videos to highlight some of the good things that have happened over the past twelve months. The below highlight reel was produced by Mindbridge Media and manages to cram some especially awesome clips into a short time frame, happily reminding some of us why we came to Phnom Penh in the first place. The track featured in the vid is entitled ‘CaravanAGoGo-BrickInTheWall’, performed by Bagua (at Diamond Moon Festival 2017).
Whatever you’re up to over the next few days, stay safe out there and… see you around the traps!