As we reach the end of July we find the Phnom Penh music scene pretty much back to full strength. While we have lost a few live music venues to the covidity business, we’ve also gained some on the other side, and there are exciting new acts developing. It’s a good time to get out and support the live music that you missed – and don’t forget tippers are better lovers.
Two new acts debut on Friday night: new Khmer band Khyal – Cambodian classics plus originals – at Cloud, and also British/Canadian singer Gareth Bawden doing the early show at Oscar’s on the Corner. There are still a couple of tables available for Jazz and the City – Just Take Five at Green Pepper, Intan & Metta with Euan, Andrey and Funky, but get in quick. Elsewhere Mirasol & Stan are at Alchemy, Saska Chewan is at Red Bar, Chi-Town are at Sharky, Band@Work do classic rock at Hard Rock Cafe, and K’n’E play late at Oscar’s on the Corner.
On Saturday night The Soul Pilots, featuring Rhiannon Johnson and a cast of stellar players, are at Penh House – a ticketed event, hurry as they’re selling fast. Nearby The Box Office presents the Funboy Three Jam Session and Joe Wrigley is solo at Botanico. Alslo of note is the sitar and tabla duo PRERNA with special guest Verča Janouchová on saxophone.
Louder, Cloud presents a mostly Cambodian punk night with Sam & the Unbreakables, Blood Bricks and Zilent. Sundance Riverside is having a first anniversary party, Mary & Takeshi are at Sharky, Mary & Danny are at Boran House, Hard Rock Café Phnom Penh hosts a night of disco covers and K’n’E rocks on at Oscar’s on the Corner.
Posted by Hard Rock Cafe Phnom Penh on Monday, 27 July 2020
The Leng Pleng Weekly Feature
Dairon Reyes – stage name Kairon – having spent two years out front in the Havana Kings, is stretching out with a new project called Son Mayimbe, focusing on the music of his homeland, Cuba. Ahead of their show on Sunday night at Sharky Bar he sat down with Leng Pleng to talk about music and passion.
“We play all the styles of the Caribbean,” Dairon explains. “Cha-cha-cha, salsa, bachata, rhythm and blues – like the Buena Vista Social Club. It’s the traditional music of Cuba.” The band has come together as a collaboration with his friend, guitarist and Cuban music lover Stan Paleco. “Stan is my friend for a long time, an excellent musician. One day he called me and said why don’t you and me work together? We can do traditional music. For me it’s okay, I love the music.”
Passing Chords: a few things you might not know about…
Ned Kelly. The famously unsmiling punk/hardcore bass player has played in The Teaner Terners, Sangvar Day, Nightmare AD, and even once did a show with Silten6ix. His new project Blood Bricks, a collaboration with Vanntin Hoeurn in which he does all the writing, debuted last week and plays their second show on Saturday night at Cloud. He also played with The Potato Stars, an Australian band that toured through in 2015, who played the last show at the late lamented Equinox. “Back in Minneapolis I was in a band called Czechoslovakia – Czechoslovakia had just broken up as a country, and so nobody was using the name. We went to the flag store at the Mall of America, the biggest mall in the world, and they had a Czechoslovakian flag on sale, they figured nobody would want it any more. So we got a cheap Czechoslovakian flag and we’d hang it behind us on stage. The longest running band I was in was American Monsters, we did pretty well.”
Your pet musical hate:
If I had to pick one thing, the thing I would least like to listen to would be mainstream country pop that comes out of Nashville – not just musically but ideologically it’s the opposite of everything that I enjoy.
A private musical indulgence:
I started listening to jazz in college to figure out why people liked it, because I couldn’t understand why anyone would listen to it, and it took quite a bit of ear training to actually start to acclimate to it. Ornette Coleman, weird free jazz like that. I think it has something in common with punk and hardcore music in that it’s an acquired taste, it’s something you have to train yourself to appreciate before you really get into it.
The year you first came to Cambodia:
I arrived on March 15, 2012. The Ides of March.
An early music memory:
I started getting into music when I was 12 or 13; I started going to shows right away, punk shows and hardcore shows. Either my parents were extremely negligent or they trusted me or I was very good at hiding my activities, but I would take the bus from the suburbs to the city to see bands on a very frequent basis. Some of the best shows I ever saw were by Fugazi, instead of booking an arena they would play two and three night stands at First Avenue in Minnesota, an iconic club. 30 songs a night, $5. I first saw them do that when I was maybe 15.
Your favourite food:
Indian food. I’ve been vegetarian for 27 years now – the vegetarian section in an Indian menu is three pages long and every other place it’s three items long.
What you do on a night off:
Most of my nights are nights off these days. With the schools not being open – I’m a teacher by profession – I’ve just been hanging around. I read a lot – about a book a week.
The country you want to visit:
There’s a lot I haven’t been to. Almost anywhere in Africa, because it seems to different from all the other places I’ve been. Maybe Nigeria, because you meet a lot of Nigerians around Phnom Penh, interesting people. It feels like Lagos would be a really dynamic city, a lot going on there.
A book or movie you keep going back to:
Barry Lyndon by Stanley Kubrick. Not one of his more well-known films, I think it’s very underrated.
Your primary instrument, and when you started playing it:
I’ve really only played bass guitar at a band level. I was about 14 years old when I started. I put the bass down when I was around late 20s, 30s, and I didn’t play it until I moved to Cambodia in my mid-30s. It wasn’t because I wanted to stop, it was because everybody I knew who wasn’t a professional musician decided either they didn’t have time for it or they thought it wasn’t becoming to be up on stage any longer. I thought that was ridiculous myself, it was still fun.
Something people might be surprised to know about you:
When I was in college I did an internship at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the Southbank in London, in the education and marketing department. Some big events like World Book Day with lots of celebrities; the less exciting part was going through their photo archive and labelling the photos – what production it was, sometimes you’d have to do it based on the costumes and figuring out which actors were in what, I had to learn quite a bit of the history of the place.
A question from last week’s participant, Arone Silverman: Why are you here, and what is it that will make you stay?
I got here by chance. What makes me stay is my relationships with the people here – whether expats or locals, friendships and bands that I’ve been in. Interesting and unusual people all around for the most part.
Steve Porte Photo of the Week
Punk’s not dead, it just smells funny. David Maybe of the Stiff Little Punks, still running after all these years, at Oscar’s on the Corner on Saturday 24 July, 2020.
Let us know about any musical activities we haven’t captured: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there, and see you around the traps.