Big news: our friends Geography of the Moon, stuck in Scotland, have released a new album, Live in Cambodia, a live recording of mostly improvised songs (like Whatever happened to Otres?) from a Koh Rong Samloeun performance, on Bandcamp. Also note Bandcamp’s monthly fee waiver (which means they don’t take a cut on sales for 24 hours) happens again on Friday 5 February – there’s rather a lot of music out of Cambodia available, from Kampot Playboys to Hypnotic Fist Technique to Vibratone to Ernie Buck.
Tonight Intan, Stan & James commence a Thursday and Friday residency at The Attic at the new Hyatt Regency on St 178. It’s guaranteed to be more tasteful than the architecture. Then go rock your face off with The Extraordinary Chambers at Oscar’s on the Corner.
Of note in Phnom Penh this Friday, Cloud is holding a hip hop night, featuring 12me and Initial Dynamo, to celebrate their fifth anniversary. Checkered Past are at Alchemy, Joshua Chiang is at Tacos Kokopelli, and Los Primos are at The Pavilion. Scoddy Bywater will be opening up solo for the long awaited return of Moi Tiet at Oscar’s on the Corner, with K’n’E to follow late.
On Saturday Farm to Table host a Mindful Drinking Festival with Mirasol & Arone, and nearby Odom Garden offers on both Saturday and Sunday a Wine and Food Festival including performances by Unity Band (Saturday) Mimi & the Merrymakers and Jazz and the City (Sunday) – check the gig guide below for more info on both events. Come the evening, Swing Time are at Au Marche, Poca de Feo is at Botanico, and Sam and the Unbreakables are at Alchemy. New band the first world problems get things going at Oscar’s on the Corner ahead of K’n’E.
New Siem Reap venue Wine O’clock continues its opening salvo of parties with Musizone 1.2 on Friday and Saturday. Another new SR venue, The Shack, upstairs at Pomme, is now hosting open mic nights on Fridays and Sundays with Knights of Groove.
Next Thursday, the weekend gets off to a start with the continuation of the Original Sessions, at Java Tuol Tom Pong, this time featuring violinist Pisey Oum and The Sidewalk Cellist, Clara Shandler, of Music Arts School. “A unique musical journey that encompasses great composers of Western music, the charming works of King Sihanouk of Cambodia, and Clara’s poetic songs.” It’s a ticketed event so contact the venue to secure your seat.
The Box Office is now enrolling for a School of Rock for kids 10 – 16 years old. Check
it out here.
Still available: Around the Traps 2020, a collection of interviews from Leng Pleng from a time when Phnom Penh really was the live music capital of the world. Subjects include Vanntin Hoeurn, Intan Andriana, Funan Beat Empire, Mirasol Aguila, The Goldilocks Zone, Ariane Parkes and Joe Wrigley. $7.50 ($5 if you are in the book). Contact email@example.com.
Leng Pleng is experiencing some issues with its email: please use firstname.lastname@example.org for contact for the time being.
The Leng Pleng weekly feature
There’s a familiar story told around the traps by musicians in Phnom Penh – “I’d given up on music before I came here, now I play all the time.” It might be the water or the air, but Cambodia continues to inspire. One of the latest across the border is Will Nygren (aka Will Canuck), the Canadian at the head of the first world problems, who will be playing at Oscar’s on the Corner on Saturday night. He sat on the Oscar’s balcony with Leng Pleng and told his story.
“My best buddy and I decided we had to be in a band. We went down to a department store in Toronto with our paper route money and spent the lot on absolute garbage Japanese $59 guitars. My buddy wanted to play lead, so he conned me into buying a bass. I didn’t actually really know what a bass was – I knew Paul McCartney played the bass, but I had no idea that it made a different sound than an electric guitar. Took it home, wired it into the back of my dad’s stereo, and I was immediately disappointed when I touched the string and instead of it going “waaah” it went “thud”. Wait a minute! I’ve been fooled! But I had it, so that was my instrument.
Passing Chords: a few things you might not know about…
Aymen Ghali. Guitarist and bandleader, most recently with Maki Orkestr and the Havana Kings. He plays this Saturday evening at Au Marche with Swing Time.
A pet musical hate?
Hate is perhaps too strong of a word in this context, but sure I have “musical pet peeves”. Insensitive players, players that don’t listen. I’ve always approached music as a language, and in the context which I am usually performing, which usually involves a good deal of improvisation, it is very conversational, between the players. Just like in real life a conversation with one who speaks without really listening, isn’t very enjoyable.
My “big secret” in my performance really has less to do with me but more the musicians which I play with. Musicians who are sensitive to my emotions when I play, and musicians which I can pick up on their emotions. After that connection is made and developed, It’s as easy as, let’s say a “conversation”, and very enjoyable for us in return it is usually enjoyable to our audience, once all that is place, then we can fly.
A private musical indulgence: Classic hip hop, will never turn down Tupac, Biggie, Jay-Z, Wutang. I also admire Lady Gaga, just don’t tell anyone 😉
The year you first came to Cambodia:
An early music memory:
Perhaps the earliest music memory was my mother listening to Bob Marley and Soul/Motown records around the house when she did chores, and listening to Oum Kalthoum and other Arabic music cassettes with my father in the car.
As a musician probably the most memorable moments were with my reggae band Soul Rebel and the Beast back in the States. The band was really close, and with our supporters as well, it was a family. Led by an amazing talent, Luke Dwyer, we had a great chemistry and had some really great times and achievements, like opening for Mykal Rose of Black Uhuru, also opening the 2011 KanRocksas festival on the main stage which had a huge line up, like Eminem, Muse, Flaming Lips, The Black Keys, Kid Kudi. It was a great experience.
The last thing you had to eat:
A home cooked kamounia, a spicy Tunisian beef stew.
A country you want to visit:
Too many to name, let’s say Cuba.
A book or movie you keep going back to:
For a book, definitely The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. So beautifully written, I highly recommend. For a movie, I really love The Motorcycle Diaries.
What languages can you speak?
English, French, a bit of Tunisian Arabic, and learning Khmer.
Your primary instrument, and when you started playing it:
Saxophone was my first instrument. Guitar is my primary instrument and I began playing when I was around 14. I didn’t own one yet, I was taught by a good friend, Derek Bridges, of a great bluegrass band That Damn Sasquatch based in Denver, Colorado. He would teach me chords, and we would jam, I’d play rhythm and he’d naturally improvise on top. He was also a very young player, but a natural born talent, at that time. It blew my mind, improvisation, how the hell do you do that? That’s how it all started. After 20 years, I’m getting a little better at it.
Something people might be surprised to know about you:
Before music, I was most passionate about athletics, was more into soccer and basketball, and the skateboarding in my teens.
You have a time machine and a magic ticket to one gig or festival in the past. What do you choose?
It would be a tough decision between a Bob Marley concert, or a Django Reinhardt performance.
A question from last week’s participant, Daria Morozova: what is the thing that you’re terrible at?
Want to list? Contact us at email@example.com.
Leng Pleng also recommends the Facebook page Phnom Penh Open Mic as a resource for finding fellow players.
Steve Porte Photo of the Week
Mirasol Aguila sings while painting live, as part of her Original Sessions concert at Java Tuol Tom Pong with Arone Silverman, Thursday 21 January, 2021
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 in 2021.