Friday 21 is Fete de la Musique, or Music Day, a French tradition dating back to the early 1980s, dedicated to musical events, and Phnom Penh is celebrating in style. At the French Institute, Cambodian Women of Song, a tribute to the life of Channthy, featuring the former Cambodian Space Project and guest singers. Sofitel is presenting Miwako Fujiwara and Alexandre Scarpati at lunchtime and again in the evening. In the same spirit, Rush Pub will celebrate their fourth anniversary with a party featuring Aymen, Stan and Andrey, while Malaysian singer and guitarist Alli Gecikarana, now settled in Siem Reap, is at Farm to Table with percussionist Gunter Hofmans.
At Cloud, one can witness the debut of Psykic Elektric, an new all-originals band led by Joshua of the Boxchords and Mia of Nightmare AD, followed by the second outing for the electro-hip hop project Funan Beat Empire.
The Uncomfortably White Brothers play Duplex, Chi-Town are at Alchemy, Into the Gold do 50s and 60s at The Bodleian, Hard Rock Café Phnom Penh offer a Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin tribute night with their house band, Lisa Concepcion is at Botanico, Pavel Ramirez is at LF Garden, and Peter Doyle is at Good Times Bar.
On Saturday the choice is just as wide. Long-running and still-standing Kheltica bring their Breton and Celtic nine-player barnstorm to LF Social Club (see our weekly feature below), and there’s indie rock band Fawlty Powers at Alchemy. You’re got the Latin of Poca de Feo at LF Garden, Antonio at Good Times Bar, the Scoddy Acoustic Trio at Sundance Inn & Saloon, Metta Legita Project at Botanico and Pavel Ramirez hosts an open mic at Coin Cafe. Then late it’s a blues summit at Oscar’s on the Corner with Simon Wong, Phil Javelle and Antti Siitonen opening for Chi-Town – and a jam in the offing.
The Leng Pleng Weekly Feature
Celtic powerhouse Kheltica are celebrating ten years on Phnom Penh stages this weekend with a show at LF Social Club on Saturday. Co-founder Jean-Claude Dhuez talked to Leng Pleng.
They are a reminder of a time in Phnom Penh when large bands were the norm (Mekong Pirates, Durian, Phnom Penh Hippie Orchestra, early CSP), and having a dozen or even a baker’s dozen on stage was not unusual. “The most we had on stage at once was 12, one night at Slur Bar,” says Jean-Claude. “There were some guest musicians in town, and we even had a professional flautist with us for a few months.”
Passing chords: a few things you might not know about…
Photo credit: Jim Heston
Shuhei Murakami. Manager of Sharky Bar and then co-founder of Good Times Bar, singer, bass player and guitarist, a well-liked figure on the scene, who returned to Japan last year, and is back for a quick visit, including a set at Oscar’s on the Corner on Wednesday night with his old stage-pal Pavel Ramirez.
My pet musical hate:
Too many electronic sounds.
A private musical indulgence:
Commuting on a train listening to Avril Lavigne. It’s cheerful and at least better than Lou Reed to start a busy working day with.
The year you came to Cambodia:
2014. Cambodia was only the third country on my whole world backpacking tour and the last one.
An early music memory:
Piano lessons from ages three to six, which I hated, but it should’ve helped a lot in my musical career afterwards.
Your favourite food:
Sushi and Sashimi!
What you do on a night off:
I go to the gym or sing karaoke by myself.
The country you want to visit:
Spain. I’ve been learning three Spanish words per year for eight years.
A stage superstition you have:
No alcohol – or the minimum.
Something people might be surprised to know about you:
My other family members – my parents and my younger sister – are all teachers. I am a mutation. Even so I also obtained a teacher’s license at university. And now I’m planning to move to Canada to do standup comedy. This even surprises myself.
Steve Porte photo of the week
Jenny Woo, from Canada, passed through Phnom Penh in April 2019
Stay safe out there, and see you around the traps.