And welcome to another week of variety around the traps of Phnom Penh and elsewhere. Thursday kicks things off with Jared Bibler at Sundance, a special tango night at Alchemy, Lisa and Josh doing His & Hers at L.A.B., the final night of the Havana Kings residency at Sora Sky Bar, and the thunderous Extraordinary Chambers at Oscar’s on the Corner. Also note regular open mics at Good Times Bar and Ege Bar, and a brand new jam session at Hard Rock Café Phnom Penh starting tonight and proceeding through Thursdays in March.
Friday gets started with Jared Bibler at Farm to Table, Greg Beshers at Botanico and The Boxchords at Alchemy. Alternatively, Hot Club de Phnom Penh are at L.A.B., Antonio El Chico is at Cloud and newly formed act Los Primos (see this week’s Passing Chords) are at LF Social Club. Hard Rock Café Phnom Penh have their regular Friday tribute night with Band@Work, The 99 Boyz pop up at Bassac Lane and The Schkoots are at Oscar’s on the Corner. Out of town, Vartey Ganiva Band is at Here be Dragons in Battambang, and Trowsers Down play Banyan Tree in Kampot.
On Saturday, there’s a Garage Bar event with Scoddy’s all-original Duo Sympatico and Clay George, Hot Club de Phnom Penh is at Alchemy and Jared Bibler is at Botanico. Meanwhile Mirasol Aguila (see our feature article) joins Band@Work as a special guest at Hard Rock Café, and there’s a Latin night with Aguita E’Coco at Duplex. Later and louder, Moi Tiet return to Oscar’s on the Corner.
Out of town on Saturday 60 Road Studios celebrates their fifth anniversary with a concert featuring Miss Sarawan, SamRocker and the Unbreakables, Vartey Ganiva Band, CSP Mothership and others (see our feature article). In Kampot you can find Bamboo Train at the Magic Sponge and Woody Dares and the Frog Eaters at The Plantation.
Hot off the presses is the video for up and coming alt-Cambodian act Vartey Ganiva’s new single,
Chob Cher (Stop Hurt) on Yab Moung Records – also available on Bandcamp. “The song Chob Cher is a love song. The song Chob Cher is not a love song. And both is correct. Chob Cher is translated in a metaphorical sense “stop being a drama queen and move on!” Love makes us stronger. And love exists in so many ways, not only in the romantic way between two people. The song talks about the higher meaning of love.”
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The Leng Pleng Weekly Features
There’s a special celebration this weekend in Siem Reap – the recording studio 60 Road marks its five year anniversary with a concert on Saturday evening. Studio co-founder Ian Croft sat down with Leng Pleng to reminisce about the journey to this milestone, and the experience of recording some of the best bands in the country.
“We had a Norwegian blues rock guitarist, Amund Maarud, who performed with Master Kong Nay, the chapei dong veng player. He’s previously released an album playing with noises from a combine harvester – so obviously he likes to do out there and different projects. They performed together at the Chub Met Festival after recording. The Khmer audience were very proud of Master Kong Nay’s ability to play alongside Amund.”
Among the harder working gigging musicians in Phnom Penh is singer Mirasol Aguila. Most weekends she’s out performing with a range of musicians – including Arone Silverman, Euan Gray, Philippe Javelle and Larry Martinez – covering a lot of ground through the worlds of jazz, soul and pop. This Saturday she’ll be rocking out with Band@Work at Hard Rock Café Phnom Penh, and she took some time with Leng Pleng to talk music and inspiration.
“I grew up singing Whitney Houston songs, that’s where I started when I was young. My uncle saw me singing while watching her on the television, and I think he saw some potential. He picked me up, put me on the table and gave me a spoon to hold as a microphone. Okay, sing! So I started singing.”
Passing Chords: a few things you might not know about…
Gonzalo Rodino. Guitarist Gonzalo was born in Argentina and grew up in Brisbane, Australia. Originally specialising in rockabilly in country, since arriving in Cambodia he’s been exploring his Latin roots. His latest project, Los Primos (The Cousins) debuts at LF Social Club on Friday night, with regular partner Poca de Feo and new recruit violinist Mirab Mabaiam.
Your pet musical hate:
Two genres that I would like to enjoy but I really cannot are heavy metal – I need something with more of a melody – and musical theatre, which seems too false for my liking.
A private musical indulgence:
Old school traditional country music, honky tonk – like Hank Williams.
The year you first came to Cambodia:
An early music memory:
At around 12 or 13, I’d just started playing guitar, and was listening to an Australian band The Living End. Their Wikipedia page said they were influenced by The Stray Cats – and that led me to watch Stray Cat Strut on YouTube about ten times in a row. That was a complete turning point for me – I couldn’t believe it existed. Before that I was more into hiphop but then came five, six years of being intensely into rockabilly and country music.
Your favourite food:
Argentinian food, like empanadas. Argentinian food is heavily influenced by Italian, a lot of Italians emigrated to Argentina.
What you do on a night off:
I don’t go to see music that often, I feel like that’s what I do on my weekends, so I try to do other things. Maybe go to a movie or play board games.
The country you want to visit:
There are so many. I have two friends from Georgia, and I’ve heard great things about the place, which I never knew even existed before I met these two. It seems like a pretty underrated, under-visited place.
A stage habit or superstition you have:
I have certain guitar picks that I use – gypsy jazz style picks, and thumb picks. If I don’t have those I struggle.
Something people might be surprised to know about you:
My first instrument was the viola. I played it for ten years but never got very good at it. I was glad to find the guitar.
A question from last week’s participant, Pete Doyle: has playing music in Cambodia influenced what or how you play and if so, how and why?
Definitely – in a few different ways. It’s the first time that I’ve had such regular performances, so I have to constantly be trying out new things, improving, learning new songs to keep it fresh. Playing more often means I’ve relaxed, become more mellow, with more time to explore different parts of the songs. And playing with other musicians, learning from others. I’ve opened up to the Latin music world that I’ve never really explored, which in turn has influenced my solo stuff.
A question for next week’s participant:
What’s the craziest thing that you’ve seen happen at a gig in Cambodia?
Steve Porte Photo of the Week
Ernie Buck with Geography of the Moon, at Oscar’s on the Corner, 22 February 2020
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.