The Cambodia Living Arts Arts4Peace Festival – “a celebration of Cambodia’s arts and culture” marking CLA’s 20th anniversary – opens tonight, Thursday 14, with a concert at the Cambodian-Japanese Cooperation Centre at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, with three generations of smot chanters and chapei players on stage at the same time. This is only a small part of the wide-ranging festival – which includes concerts, dance, opera, exhibitions, discussions and workshops – with events on offer through until 24 November, culminating with two performances of Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia being staged at Chaktomuk Theatre next weekend. There’s plenty to get involved with.
Also this weekend in Phnom Penh is Garage Fest Cambodia, brought to you by Asian Garage Underground, featuring bands from the UK, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Shanghai, Australia and local acts – big line-ups on Friday at Villa Grange, Saturday at Space 40 and The Hangout, and Sunday at Sundance Inn & Saloon.
It Begins: a big party on Friday evening at Aeon Mall II will celebrate five years of Seila Records, an independent Cambodian record label promoting original music for Cambodia and the world. There’s not much more English-language information available at present, but it looks like it will get loud.
Around the venues on Friday we find The Riel Capital at Farm to Table, Geography of the Moon at Botanico, 1 Girl 6 Strings at Alchemy and Arone Silverman at LF Garden. Cloud host electronic artist L~N, Samsara are at the Banyan Tree in Kampot, and later Oscar’s on the Corner present a double bill of Malaysian groove metal artists Mothflesh and Hong Kong folk punk pirates Ballychunder.
On Saturday evening at Futures Factory, a special concert featuring international bluegrass ambassadors Henhouse Prowlers with a number of local acts. Later on Shanghai Bar celebrates 19 years of operation with a show by Joe & the Jumping Jacks. Also on Saturday, Garage Bar presents Geography of the Moon in an intimate show along with Clay George, Kheltica return to LF Social Club, there’s jazz manouche from Hot Club de Phnom Penh at Cloud, blues from Chi Town out at Alchemy, acoustic pop with Lisa Concepcion at Botanico, and Hugo and Dave are at The Box Office. Later and louder, the Stiff Little Punks return to Oscar’s on the Corner with special guest original singer Ian Delta Anderson, once voted Sexiest Singer in the UK.
It doesn’t really slow down much – on Sunday there’s a Soundskool Super Star Awards concert at Exchange Square, Arts4Peace Festival and Garage Fest continue, as do the regular open mics, and if you’re in Kampot there’s an afternoon feast of Funan Beat Empire, The Schkoots and The Kampot Playboys at Champa Lodge.
Finally, looking forward to Wednesday, a special 8 pm start at Oscar’s on the Corner for the last Get In The Penh event for the year, featuring filthy punk rock’n’rollers The Cavemen (New Zealand) and your favourite Phnom Penh metal bands.
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The Leng Pleng Weekly Feature
Ballychunder are a high-energy folk punk band from Hong Kong who play songs about beer, whisky and rebellion, influenced by hardcore punk, traditional Celtic folk, Scandinavian folk metal and peg legs.
Q. Do you think this could happen anywhere, or is the Hong Kong location significant?
A. It kind of happened despite being in Hong Kong. The underground music scene is pretty small – especially for punk music.
Passing Chords: a few things you might not know about…
Michael Forster. The famously unsmiling drummer – “I can smile, there’s just not a lot of photographic evidence for it” – currently playing with Checkered Past and Psykic Elektric. Since teaching himself the drums has been involved with bands as diverse as Phnom Skor, Simoun, The Chongs, The Lazy Drunks, and Osmosis.
Your pet musical hate:
Arrogant musicians. Musicians who are competent – and arguably most of the people I have met in this category are actually good – but people that went to proper music school and look down on people that didn’t. I find the same thing in teaching and other places. Especially when they’re playing on the same stages as so-called amateurs. If you’re really that good you don’t need to tell other people, other people will tell you.
A private musical indulgence:
I’ve got a few. I love bluegrass music, the faster the better – which is kind of akin to punk and faster ska. I like crusty old 70s and 80s metal, in particular Ronnie James Dio, stuff like that. And I love big band music.
The year you first came to Cambodia:
On the morning of October 8, 2013, at about half past seven, I got off the plane in Siem Reap.
An early music memory:
Disliking poppy stuff and loving Status Quo. My mum listened to a lot of classical and David Bowie, my dad was very much into Joe Cocker, Don McLean. I found out a while ago my mum was big into the real old school ska, like Prince Buster; also she saw Hendrix and the Stones and all that as a teenager, and I never knew that when I was a kid. A guy I knew was into the Sex Pistols, Sigue Sigue Sputnik – I can remember smuggling back home the video of The Great Rock’n’roll Swindle in my pants – he’d given me a copy and said: don’t tell your mum. At the age of eight or something – certainly younger than ten. And then watching it when she went out shopping.
Your favourite food:
Give me something and I’ll tell you if I like it. I lived in China for six years and found four things I didn’t like, and they eat some odd stuff. I like well made simple food, with not too much sauce or additives.
What you do on a night off:
At the moment, study. Recently, reading, or trying to learn languages on DuoLingo.
The country you want to visit:
Mongolia, it’s kind of similar to where I was when I first went to China. Cuba keeps popping up in my head recently, I’ve heard really good things about it. Russia, or Georgia maybe – everyone I’ve met that’s been to that part of the world have had nothing but positive things to say, and I think I’d like to go somewhere that has a very cold winter.
A stage superstition or habit you have:
I don’t always do it, but I like to arrive to rehearsals and be set up first. A, so I can stand back and make annoying comments while the rest all set up, and B, it just makes more sense. I like to leave the venue between soundcheck and performing – ideally with the whole band and eat, or alternatively go away and see people that aren’t anything to do with the band and completely forget about it for an hour.
Something people might be surprised to know about you:
I stopped drinking and smoking in July or August of this year – I’ve had a only a few drinks since then. For anyone who met me before that would be kind of a surprise.
A question from last week’s participant, Sal DiGaetano: what’s your best scar story?
When I was about 18, 19, I lived with a few people who were a bit unhinged. One of them ended up in hospital for lacerations and a little bit of mental instability. I decided that he would miss his dog while he was in hospital, and so I took it upon myself to walk his dog to the hospital. It was a terrible idea, because no one ever walked this dog, and it was unaccustomed to being on a lead, and I am not very good at such things.
So here I am walking up the high street, with a large green mohawk, with a tiny black dog running circles around me making a very good effort to try to wrap my legs up, as I get more and more angry. The dog wrapped my ankles together and I fell over – and I got a scar across the bottom of my chin that you can only really see when I shave.
A question for next week’s participant:
Is there a particular instrument and/or players of that instrument that you find more difficult to get along with?
Steve Porte Photo of the Week
The Kampot Playboys at the Street 308 Street Party earlier this month.
Let us know about your upcoming gigs, events, news and interesting activities: send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there, and see you around the traps.