As far as gigs go, we appear to have snapped back to where we were a couple of weeks ago – a few venues returning to live music while others remain cautious.
Of note this week is the 15th anniversary celebrations for Alley Cat Café/Tacos Kokopelli, with nostalgic food specials on Friday, live music on Saturday night and the Sunday Sundowner Sessions as usual.
Those who have been around in Phnom Penh for some years would remember long-running band The Fumes that played its last in 2017. Founder/drummer, Brian Webster, now living in Portugal, has assembled a documentary telling the history of the band, featuring interviews with the key band members and footage of performances – mostly shot by fans, giving it a decided cinéma vérité edge – and it’s now sitting for view at YouTube. A chance to see long-gone venues such as Equinox and Sharky (when it was a rock’n’roll bar) in action, and a few family faces lurking in the background. It’s a little rough but well
worth a look.
Don’t forget to vote in the annual Kampot Radio Top 100 Songs Of All Time event: you get to choose what will be where in the countdown on the afternoon and evening of 31 December. Check it out on their Facebook page. Voting closes in seven days: 24 December.
Remember Leng Pleng wants your contributions: your live music highlights for 2020 – a thinner year than last year to be sure, but still, not entirely quiet – that will be compiled together for our 31 December edition, only two short weeks away. Please send a paragraph or two to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leng Pleng is experiencing some issues with its email: please use email@example.com for contact for the time being.
Passing Chords: a few things you might not know about…
Gone Marshall. Phnom Penh based singer-songwriter who has been in and around the scene for many years. His latest release, the single Bazooka Joe Don’t Live There Any More, which features Phnom Penh music scene entities RJ Marshall and Ieva Zdram, is now available on streaming services including Spotify and Apple Music.
A pet musical hate:
Hmm…I don’t have a musical ‘hate’, I think. There are some musical genres I’m not into though, like Gangsta rap and drill music, stuff like that. The effects of tropical level humidity on guitar strings, that could be considered a strong dislike, verging on ‘hate’.
A private musical indulgence:
African Psychedelic Funk; Brian Eno and similar ambient artists. Binaural beats. Not sure if this counts as music, but I do enjoy listening to nature sounds and ambiences sometimes: wind…rain…jungle ambiences with frogs and insects…cars passing on a wet avenue during a light rain.
The year you first came to Cambodia:
2003; I came to visit Angkor Wat during a trip to SE Asia. Then I came back for a five year stretch in 2005, when I decided to head back over here to build up my teaching experience. In 2009 or 2010 I went to work in Bangkok for a couple years, then came back here. Stayed here another couple years, then went to work in Burma for a year. I came back here in 2015 for this current stretch.
An early music memory:
Receiving my first record on my 1st birthday: We’re the Banana Splits by Decca Records, featuring the music from the kids’ TV show The Banana Splits. It is but a foggy, warped-vinyl memory for me now, but it’s still there, hovering like a stork or vulture in my mind. The main theme song, The Tra La La Song was very influential on my tender mind; it taught me the importance of catchy hooks and a strong chorus, while turning me onto semi-psychedelic sounds and behaviors at an early age.
The last thing you had to eat:
Chicken and basil with peppers and onions over rice.
A country you want to visit:
Greenland. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. It seems pure and icy and clean and elemental, and totally different from other environments I’ve been to or lived in. It may be the ideal place to go to ‘evaporate’.
A book or movie you keep going back to:
Well, I haven’t revisited them in a while but each had its phase for me in the past. Books: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (that’s where ‘Camerado’ comes from, btw).; The Stranger by Camus; The Drunken Boat by Rimbaud (various English, I don’t read French); Where the Wild Things Are (when I was a kid); On the Road by Kerouac, of course. Pivoting to movies: I was very much into Easy Rider for a while, watching it every few months; Wings of Desire‘ by Wim Wenders, I would watch once a year at least for a while; Pull My Daisy, by Robert Frank. And many more actually, all of which had their phase, then sort of fell away.
What languages can you speak?
I speak decent intermediate Khmer, though it became spottier after I went to work in Burma. I studied Latin and German in High School and beyond. I was able to speak German decently at one point, though both are a bit stale now and need refreshing. I’m a native English speaker.
Your primary instrument, and when you started playing it:
Guitar, which I first started playing when I was thirteen. I started out on violin when I was eight or nine, but left it a few years later because of the discipline required to move forward in the world of classical music. I went through a ‘soloing and shredding’ guitar phase in high school and college, but then started playing guitar as an arranging and songwriting instrument, which I’ve been doing ever since and is what I’m mainly focused on these days.
Something people might be surprised to know about you:
I am also a filmmaker, have been making films since I was a kid, as Jason Camerado’ Rosette. I graduated from NYU Film School and have made a bunch of movies – fiction , non-fiction and experimental. I have a feature documentary, BookWars, in the Museum of Modern Art, NYC circulating films collection. So, if anyone needs a shooter-editor for a music video or show, kindly drop me a line. Ultimately, I reckon I’m basically a visual storyteller, whether in music, writing or film, since my approach to songwriting tends to be heavily visual. My most recent song Bazooka Joe Don’t Live There Any More (Spotify| Apple Music) is pretty much a character-driven, filmic lyrical musical portraiture.
You have a time machine and a magic ticket to one gig or festival in the past. What do you choose?
Can I transport myself forward into the future? If that’s an option, I’d check out the very first concert on another planet, or planetoid, assuming that to be the first show on Mars or the Moon. If I can only go back in time it would be a toss-up between a) Woodstock or the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, or b) to head back to Vienna to witness the premiere of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in 1824 with the maestro himself there. If I may go sideways in time, I would…. (*disappears)
A question from last week’s participant: How many provinces (in Cambodia) have you been to and which one is your favourite?
I’ve been to Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Kandal, Phnom Penh, Ta Keo, Kampot, Kep, Sihanouk, Koh Kong, Kompong Speu, Pursat, Battambang, Pailin, Siem Reap, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Kratie, Stung Treng, Rattanakiri. So, haven’t been to Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, or Mondulkiri. My favorite? Probably little ol’ Kep, with Siem Reap & Rattanakiri coming in second.
Want to list? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leng Pleng also recommends the Facebook page Phnom Penh Open Mic as a resource for finding fellow players.
Steve Porte Photo of the Week
Machiko & Takeshi, Farm to Table, 7 September, 2018.
Let us know about any musical activities we haven’t captured: email@example.com.
Stay safe out there, and see you around the traps.