The Cambodia Living Arts Arts4Peace Festival – “a celebration of Cambodia’s arts and culture” marking CLA’s 20th anniversary – has been running for the last week, and reaches a crescendo with performances of Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Bangsokol is at once a symphonic work by Him Sophy and an experience in visual projection created by Rithy Panh – conceived to address the traumas of Cambodia in the 1970s. The first performance was in Melbourne, Australia two years ago, before it travelled to New York and Boston. Last year is was staged in Paris. This weekend is the Cambodian premiere at Chaktomuk Theatre: tonight at 6.30 pm, Friday at 6 pm and Saturday at 2.30 pm. On Sunday the festival closes with a free concert at Hard Rock Café, with styles ranging from traditional folk to pop and classical.
Starting tonight and continuing until Sunday, Hops are putting on four days of music for Oktoberfest – Miss Sarawan tonight, The Thunderbolts on Friday, the Kampot Playboys on Saturday and Swingosophy on Sunday.
At opposite ends of the spectrum – and the country – tonight (Thursday) are the Phnom Penh Bossa Nova Jazz Quartet playing at Au Cabaret Vert in Battambang, the Kampot Playboys at the KRWF opening party in Kampot, and WIRED, a night of interactive sound and visual experiments with Coldcat at Meta House.
On Friday, Carrie Herbert, Metta Legita and Clara Shandler team up for a special performance, Kintsuki, at House of Scott, the jazz duo Scotch’n’Soda are at Farm to Table, and the Boxchords are at Botanico. Phnom Penh Hair Jazz Trio debut themselves at Alchemy, long-missed shoegaze rockers Simoun make their return at Cloud, Geography of the Moon are with Ernie Buck at LF Social Club and Miss Sarawan Acoustic Trio will be at Bassac Lane. Meanwhile the Hot Club de Phnom Penh are at LF Garden, Retro Carnival at Duplex, and there’s a 70s disco tribute night with Band@Work at the Hard Rock Café. Down in Kampot the Kampot Playboys are at Banyan Tree.
Saturday has a similar range of possibilities: Mary and Takeshi are early at Cloud, and KWest hosts a Viva Le Jazz night with Euan Gray, Intan Andriana, Philippe Javelle and Antti Siitonen. Phil O’Flaherty is at Botanico, 1 Girl 6 Strings at LF Garden, and out in Tuol Tom Pong is the Latin fizz of Havana Kings at Alchemy and the fresh punk of The Schkoots at Ege Bar. Oscar’s on the Corner hosts a special LengPleng ten year anniversary show of songs from 1969 by the Leng Pleng All-Stars – see the weekly feature below.
On Sunday evening, Leng Pleng in association with Above and Beyond Events and Meta House present the commencement of Original Sessions Series Two with a performance of Ten Recent Songs by Scott Bywater, with Pavel Ramirez on guitar, Jedil Robelo on percussion and Michelle Neukirchen on cello. The following Sunday look out for the next in the series: visiting American indie singer-songwriter William McCarthy.
To round out a week of bewildering musical variety, for those in Kampot, on Tuesday Karma Traders have a special one-off show by Crywank from Manchester, England: “an anti-folk duo consisting of vocalist/guitarist and founder James Clayton, and drummer Dan Watson.” So now you know.
And Dub Addiction today released their long-awaited brand new album, featuring collaborations with MCs from around the globe (USA, Chile, Reunion Island, Cambodia, Indonesia, France, Switzerland and Germany). You can check it out here.
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The Leng Pleng Weekly Feature
It was 10 years ago today… or 50
Back in 2009, gigs in Phnom Penh were few and far between. Barangs played in barang places, Cambodians in Cambodian places, and rarely was there any mixing. Something changed late in that year when Ken White – founder of classifieds website BongThom.com and a damn good harmonica player – started collecting email addresses from the musicians he encountered, and established a mailing list called LengPleng…
Passing Chords: a few things you might not know about…
Pavel Ramirez. Guitarslinger for hire – consistent gig-hound with a penchant for the Latin. At present he plays with Nepalese psychedelians Samsara, Moi Tiet, Blues Routes, fronts zargz band and runs the open mic at Sharky Bar on a Sunday evening – his CV also includes The Mekong Blues Messengers, Bacano, and plenty more.
Your pet musical hate:
Musicians that are not good but think they are very good. I meet them in jams – and they play once and then go.
A private musical indulgence:
I like to listen to an Argentinian band called Soda Stereo, their live videos are as good or better than the studio versions. I saw them live one time when I was a teenager in the 80s, just before they broke up, when they were one of the two or three big bands in South America. I was in the balcony, they came out and everybody stood up – then I sat down, but nobody else sat down. And everybody was singing along. So I like to listen to their live concerts.
The year you first came to Cambodia:
2014. In January it will be six years.
An early music memory:
My mum used to listen to songs that my grandmother would listen to – Mexican songs from the 40s and 50s – I didn’t like it then. I remember that I would hear songs like Perhaps, Besame Mucho, Sway, that style. Latin stuff, salsa – I used to find it boring, I wanted to listen to electric guitar, but when I grew up and studied music and I realised it’s not so easy to sing three harmonies and be really tight and do the cool breaks. When I grew up I had all these melodies in my head, and I can relate to that music.
Your favourite food:
Chicken. And Thai food.
What you do on a night off:
I don’t go out – when you’re a musician and you play around you get free drinks, and when people ask me, hey, let’s go have a drink, I say, sorry, I only drink when I work.
The country you want to visit:
Now that I play with Anup and Amar (Samsara) I want to see Nepal. I always wanted to visit Japan, because of the anime and the culture, but I got lost on the way, stuck in Thailand. I also wanted to go to Argentina, because of the music.
Something people might be surprised to know about you:
I was born in Moscow, in the Soviet Union, and grew up in Bulgaria.
A question from last week’s participant: Is there – and if so, which – a particular instrument and/or player that you find more difficult to get along with?
Piano players. Often they play too much. They are used to doing everything alone, so they play the bass, the melody, the chords – with many of them I have to say, hey, don’t play bass, there is a bass player.
A question for next week’s participant:
Do you use any stage props or costumes that you don’t wear on the street?
Steve Porte Photo of the Week
Dieu a Quitte at Oscar’s on the Corner, November 20, 2019
Let us know about your upcoming gigs, events, news and interesting activities: send information to email@example.com.
Stay safe out there, and see you around the traps.