Calling Out Around The World Are You Ready For A Brand New Beat? How Cambodian Rock & Roll Comes Back to Motown.

by Julien Poulson

As Srey Channthy stepped inside the studio she was barely aware of the significance of the hallowed place. Motown studio A; a sanctified place where so many of the hit songs that changed the colour, the sound and style of American music were recorded. You see, being born into war and abject poverty in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia, does not set one up with much of a perspective on the world beyond the rice fields but somehow, the name Motown seemed familiar to Channthy. Back in Phnom Penh Channthy had recently purchased a second hand record player and a bunch of old vinyls to play in her small shop, unable to read the albums covers she gravitates naturally to the songs she likes, choosing old songs often by female singers from Etta James to Tina Turner, friends and visitors to her shop would sometimes say “oh… you like this music? That’s Motown, a Motown classic!” so here she was in Detroit, about to bring that vague familiarity into sharp focus – MOTOWN.
Inside the museum a tour guide steps up and invites Channthy to place a pin on a world map “We ask all our visiting musicians to place a pin on our map here… where are you from? Cambodia?” The tour guide, Gary, turns out to be the stepson of Stevie Wonder.
Since joining the Cambodian Space Project, Channthy, the bands diminutive diva has become slightly obsessed with studying the maps of the different countries and continents around the world and learning the names and locations of the towns and cities in world she never thought she’d travel. On tour, Channthy will pull out the in-flight magazine then thumb to back page to the map of flight paths “Where’s France? Where’s UK? Where’s Cambodia?” Now, studying the map on the wall, Thy quickly finds Cambodia then tries to place the pin right on Prey Veng Province…”Yes, here it is, my village is here” she exclaims. It’s the same spot where, on the evening of April 30, 1970, in a televised address to the nation, President Nixon announced his plan to eradicate communist sanctuaries along the Cambodia-South Vietnam border.
From 1970, Channthy’s Prey Veng province was to become one of the most bombed places on earth. Precisely 10 years after Nixon’s televised announcement, and the devastation that followed, Channthy was born. She was born the daughter of a Cambodian tank driver into a conflict and turmoil that continued to cripple Cambodia. Music became a solace to years of living life hard and now in hard pressed, bankrupt Detroit, Channthy is about to immerse herself in music history, and in doing so, record her own new album with more than a slight nod to the Motown sounds that once spilled into her own country and clearly influenced the  so-called Cambodian Psychedelic Rock & Roll that reigned for a decade from the mid 60’s until the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge in 1975.
Flashing back nearly 50 years, to 1964. Another young singer is making her way across Detroit to Motown Studios. Martha Reeves is not aware that the United States government has already begun stationing troops in Vietnam and will soon be embroiled in full-scale war in Vietnam. Nor is she aware that today she will sing the anthem to the coming social, political, and cultural upheaval that would be known as “the sixties”.
Twenty three year old Martha Reeves is thinking about conflict much closer to home. Just by crossing enemy lines, from the Eastside to the Westside Motor City, she is passing by the workers houses and busy factories of Detroit where an ongoing gang war means an Eastsider (like herself) could get beaten up just being on the wrong side of the dividing line – being Woodward Avenue. Despite her concerns, Martha’s life is changing and so is the world around her. Three years earlier she’d packed in her job at a dry cleaner’s and now she has had three top 40 hits with her group, the Vandellas. She is already a singer famous to both black and white audiences, but, despite her rising fame and hit records, there are many things that are still new and strange.
Soon Martha’s bus arrives outside a wooden house where a hand painted sign reads Hitsville USA. It’s a warm and familiar home to Martha who steps down into Studio A — a small room with white padded walls and a wooden floor, a piano resting on one side of the room and four microphones hanging from the ceiling.  As legend has it, one of Martha’s Motown family members Marvin Gaye, is already in the studio. He’s struggling to complete a vocal track for a new song. Gaye peers down from the control room and spots Martha just as Mickey Stevenson, producing of the session, suggests an idea “Hey, man, let’s try this on Martha.”
The music has already been recorded and when she learns the song title Dancing In the Streets, she doesn’t think much of it. Reeves recalls hearing Marvin Gaye sing the song over and over and by the time a mic was set up for her vocal, she had already decided it was a song more suited for a male voice. But on hearing the brassy introduction Reeves immediately changed her mind and was soon hooked by the first line:
 “Calling out around the world…”
Two vocal takes later, the world has another Motown hit! A song that would become the anthem of the 1960s. “Calling out around the world…are you ready for a brand new beat”.

By the summer of ’64 America was changing. The Beatles and other British groups are starting to dominate American music charts. Black-owned Motown, in Detroit, would be one of the few companies to withstand the British invasion and produce chart-topping hits. Music is made portable by the arrival of transistor radios and 45rpm singles. This music is carried off to the war in Vietnam and, along with its British counterpart, becomes a soundtrack to a conflict that rages on for the next decade. Just like the war itself, this music soon spills across into Cambodia and leaves an indelible mark on the countries evolving culture. A vibrant scene of psychedelic garage rock emerges in Phnom Penh. Now, with The Cambodian Space Project’s Srey Channthy arriving at Motown, I can’t help but think of how the music has come full circle. Amongst the exhibition images crowding Hitsville USA’s walls, yet another album cover catches my attention. It’s a spoken word album with a striking image of a black GI pictured staring out of the 12” frame and the title reads “Look Who’s Coming Home”.
Soon, Ian McGill, a member of the Motown staff appears, politely apologizing for keeping us waiting, McGill tells us that this is one of the Museum’s busiest days for the year.  Outside, it’s a hot and muggy and tour buses cram Grand Boulevard spilling tourists onto the pavement and the lawns that front this astonishingly modest wooden house known as Hitsville USA – the house that Gordy Berry built. Today, Hitsville is Mecca for tourists and music fans from around the world. We were happy to wait patiently and felt privileged as a private tour of Motown is generally not available. While waiting for a gap between guided tours to peek into the sacred inner sanctum of Hitsville, we each oohd and arrrd at hand marked mock-ups from the hitsville’s art department – layouts that would become album covers, The Jackon 5, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin et al.
Hey, it’s not often we get a singer from Cambodia… and you’re here to work with Dennis Coffey? Any friend of Dennis Coffey is a friend of ours!” and with this comment, McGill kindly ushered Channthy into ‘experience’ the atmosphere of studio A . “Maybe you’d like to sing a bit and hear your own voice inside Motown’s famed recording booth?”. The lyrics and music chart to the My Girl rested on a music stand ready for the tour groups to have an impromptu sing-a-long under the famed Motown echo chamber. Channthy, however, reads little English, instead she takes up McGills offer to sing and asks “What song?”.”Whatever you like”. Documentary film maker Marc Eberle rolls the camera and Thy breaks into her own song “Mountain Dance”. Just like Dancing in the Streets, this is a song opens with a call out “ah ah ah ah moak roam leng” (come dancing everyone) and Thy calls everyone, rich, poor, good clothes, ragged, from the mountain or the city, to come dancing all together.
Earlier, when staff had learned that Channthy and our group had travelled all the way from Cambodia to Detroit to record a new album with one of Motown’s legendary musicians, Dennis Coffey, they graciously opened the doors for us – the doors to an extraordinary music history. Coffey had been a member of the Motown house band The Funk Brothers –  the Motown house band that recorded more number-one hits than The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys combined ( see Standing in The Shadows of Motown). The band played no small part in creating an American music that changed the world and was heard as far away as the far away Kingdom of Cambodia.
On the way back outside, Channthy pointed to the glamour photos of the brown-skinned girl groups, ‘they make all of this here?” exclaiming surprise and excitement while listening to the music on the museums TV monitors, The Supremes, The Marvelettes, the Four Tops, Diana Ross, Mary Wells, all backed by the unsung heroes of Motown. The studio musicians who worked night and day, pumping out hit upon hit from within “the snake pit” as Motown’s tiny Studio A was known.  Today, Dennis Coffey, is one of the last surviving members of the legendary house band and at the sprightly age of 70, something proves to be no slouch! As we were soon to discover first hand.
It’s some effort getting from Cambodia to Detroit and as the reluctant manager of an independent music group known as The Cambodian Space Project I had had my doubts over the value of coming all the way to a place to spend the  five weeks and, hopefully, to record an exciting new album that would make all this effort worthwhile. Firstly, I knew that despite Dennis Coffey allaying my doubts with wonderfully reassuring correspondence like “At Motown, we went into the studio each day with a 12-piece band called The Funk Brothers. The other people there were the producer and the arranger. We sat down in front of a written arrangement and read the chart. We were expected to add a great feel and some hot guitar licks. If anyone made a mistake, they stopped the tape. We did one song an hour and made most of them hits. One song per hour and most of them were hits. Dennis

But despite the reassurance, the main talent of our Cambodian Space Project had no idea what all this would mean to her;  Channthy hadn’t never really heard of Motown, all she knew was that by flying all the way across the world to work with some guy she’d never heard of, it was sure to be costly and quite possibly difficult. “Why not just stay here bong?”. For me though, the opportunity was irresistible.  I’d toyed with the idea of a new set of music for CSP, something I’d begun calling Khmer Soul. When I mentioned this to Sean Hocking at Metal Postcard, Hocking was soon on to this idea and came back with a bold plan “Hey, I booked Dennis Coffey for a show last year; he’s amazing and would be a great producer for CSP to work with, what do you think? Shall I hook you up?
Soon, I was surprised to find that Coffey was into this idea… producing a band from where? Cambodia?! but later, when we arrived in Motor City got to see Dennis Play live, a sublime set of Motown hits including blistering version of Coffey’s own million seller – the incredibly funky guitar instrumental Scorpio, I could see we’d be in good hands. The gig was Coffey’s regularly Tuesday night show at The Northern Lights where we’d later play. After the show I told Dennis, “wow, you are still such a nimble guitar player (I didn’t want to say for an old guy), how and why do you keep doing what you do?”Coffey simply replied “we’ll… I guess I’m still just seeking out that missing chord”.
It’s a long shot to compare the story of Martha Reeves and Motown to that of Srey Channthy and Cambodian music but somehow (perhaps it’s just the nature of music itself) there’s a connection. There’s also some kind of link from hard pressed Cambodia to equally hard bit Detroit – both places now experiencing exciting cultural revivals. In his book Ready For a Brand New Beat, Mark Kurlansky tells us how Martha Reeves grew up with little inkling of what was to come. Just like Channthy “she knew that she was a good singer and a gifted musician – her family told her so, and so did her teachers – but being famous was never something she had seen in her future.” This was a Channthy’s reality (though she will sometimes say a fortune teller told her such changes would come): Born in a flimsy bamboo hut in Prey Veng Province – a place some Cambodians will disparagingly refer to as the ‘land of the beggars’ – she did not have a lucky start in life. In fact, when she was pulled from her mother’s womb a small crowd of village midwives and onlookers crammed the scene hut and, according to Thy’s father, well pulled from the womb, the newborn Thy let out a squawk like a bird. She was a dark skinned baby and someone immediately made the comment ‘She’s a blackbird!”. In a country where skin colour and racism prevail being born dark casts one as provincial and low-caste. From birth to her later years, Channthy’s nickname Blackbird stuck.
For a long time it was a nickname she felt demeaned and embarrassed by. Today Channthy describes herself as a “small bird that can fly (in Khmer, Prey Veng is also known as Land of The Sparrows)”  and she’s happy to call herself Blackbird and to sing about her experience from this perspective. Just like Martha Reeves once was, Channthy is an underdog who has found freedom and empowerment through her songs and her exotic voice. Today, this little blackbird has landed at the famous Motown studios and is thinking about how and where her own music and story fits in. Back home in Cambodia, there’s rioting going on in her old neighbourhood Stung Meanchey, strife over the recent elections and she worries about how this conflict is affecting family back home. There’s a song forming in her head, it opens with a line in English “Hard time…”and has the working title Black To Gold – an idea about emerging from some kind of darkness.
We had planned to begin recording on a Monday morning, but we were running a few minutes late for a 10:00AM start when the phone rang. Oh oh, it was the boss on the line. “Hey Dennis here, we’re set-up and ready to go, where are you?” Professionalism and punctuality is something Coffey obviously picked up at Motown and he saw to it that rest of us adhered to this; the studio band had studied their charts and we soon had 10 tracks were in the can. “It’s not about how many notes or beats you’ve got on the page but it’s how you get there , from a to b, it’s all about the feel you add…” stated Coffey as we put down the final track. Mostly the songs went down first of second take recording live-to- tape (err Pro-tools) and we quickly captured, all with great ‘feel’. Five new songs by CSP and five old songs from the 60’s Cambodian song book. By the end of the week we had over-dubbed percussion, a horn section (none other than Bog Seger’s Motor City Horns) and other instrumentation as well as some guide vocals.
We finished the week on a Friday then Channthy and I flew out to Portland where we played a Saturday night showcase at Sometimes A Great Notion – an event set-up by Metal Postcard. From Portland we decided to train it. Tired of airport hassle, we took the Amtrak high-up into the Mountains of Colorado where Anne Pizey (famous for her paddle boarding adventures in Cambodia) had seen to it that we had a show at the wonderful Mountain Fair in Carbondale, Colorado. It was a fantastic festival and was wonderful to be up in the mountains breathing the crisp air and to be post-show, kicking back in a hot tub with a glass or two of red. Our show was a good occasion where we could road-test the vocals for one of our new tracks “Mountain Dance”.
Travelling from Portland to Sacramento then changing train to double back to Grand Junction is a two-day journey. It’s an epic train trip through some of the most beautiful scenery in the USA and a rail journey that many train lovers often spend half their lives planning to someday do.
DAY 1: Channthy and I, now travelling as a duo and we couldn’t help being overwhelmed by the beautiful countryside we were passing through.
DAY 2: We were no longer sitting next to each other, no longer enjoying the scenery marred by the displeasure of each other’s company’.
We were more than ready to get off the train and perhaps the whole goddamn program. Such are the trials of working and travelling in such close proximity. Still, the train trip gave me time to ponder our musical trip and our travels and perhaps even some tribulations along the way – where we’d come from (unexpectedly), where we might be going (into the unknown) and more importantly, why? And what the hell for?. The title of a Dylan tour doco sprang to mind Don’t Look Back as I scrolled through a hard drive of movies to watch – yes indeed “don’t look back!” but it struck me that is exactly what we’re doing as artists and musicians. While slowly moving forward on this long train ride, both Thy and I (though still not talking) were thinking about getting back to Detroit, about getting back to the studio, about completing the next step of our project, about important vocal tracks,about  completing lyrics, about reviving old Cambodian songs, and about introducing new songs. I clicked on the movie Searching For Sugarman and thought “Shall I watch this again?“. Though I’ve watched this brilliant music documentary several times, I thought it as good a film as any to kill sometime. In fact, looking back on the story of Sixto Rodriguez I marvelled at the beautiful archival and animated scenes of Detroit. The film is told in a kind of fairy tale way, where fans in South Africa go searching for a lost rock & roll star from Detroit – a rock & roll star who was thought to have vanished. The film story opens with our producer, Dennis Coffey, describing discovering and producing Rodriguez and his debut album Cold Fact. Coffey’s descriptions are evocative and it’s great to hear him reminisce on the subject. Coffey himself is a living legend and a treasure trove of stories and anecdotes but as I pondered the ‘lost’ aspect of the Rodriguez story it strikes me that somehow we (CSP) are also on a similar trip. We’re on a train, thinking about heading back to Detroit, not to search out a lost rock & roll star but to search out a whole lost rock and roll world. We are looking to revitalize the songs and voices of Cambodia’s great writers and singers who tragically vanished in the Killing Fields and whose voices are now haunting echoes from a world that we can never completely return to.
Music, especially contemporary music is an art form that often compels the artist to travel. From my own experience this is not always easy or enjoyable but I do love doing it. Since forming in December 2009, the Cambodian Space Project has travelled more than 16 countries, numerous cities, towns and villages and still seems to be on some kind of perpetual orbit. This is an unexpected orbit and one that often has me pondering how music itself travels. It’s crescendos, cadences, harmonies, rhythms, motifs and melodies and ideas that recur and reverberate through time. Whether is high salon symphonies or rudimentary folk music, the themes and melodies return again and again. In doing so they traverse language and culture. With this in mind, our new album of ten songs is a split between the old and the new. The writing process for our new songs hinges upon referencing old ideas and existing songs. Sometimes ideas for songs come from simply catching a glimpse of something that inspires us along the way.
Back in Cambodia we’ve been singing from an old song book that is already familiar to audiences around the world (thanks to the releases of Cambodia Rocks and similar compilations of the tunes of Cambodia’s Golden Era. Much of this music is clearly shaped and influenced, and sometimes even directly copied, from Motown, Stax and the British invasion groups that were the soundtrack of the Sixties). Sometimes, we would look for inspiration in other forms of music, older Khmer songs or traditional motifs. On one occasion we travelled to Mondulkiri (a Mountainous province in Cambodia) to meet and jam with the tribal Bunong musicians. We met an incredible musician known as Blind Nyel and spent time jamming riffs and vocals but not sharing each other’s spoken language. Sometime later Channthy came up with the song idea for Mountain Dance, her vocal mimics the style of Blind Nyel and the indigenous Bunong language. We found ourselves with some time to think and write while visiting Bali as guests of the Ubud Writers Festival and soon had the opportunity to demo Thy’s new song at Barking Ghecko with Jay Thorpe encouraging Thy to shape her raw vocal ideas into a completed song. The result speaks for itself, an incredibly uplifting and almost hill-billy or Appalachian song – folk music. But being folky in style, I wasn’t sure if this song would fit our Detroit sessions. I was expecting our work in Motor City to be funky not folky. Still, I sent this track to Coffey and by the time we got to tracking it at Rust Belt studios, the song had morphed yet again into something else, this time it sounded more like a Calypso or Caribbean Island music. Listening to the play back, Coffey remarked, “wow… this sounds real worldy… sounds like a hit song to me” – a great compliment from a great musician who, since the age of 15, has played on more hit song recording sessions than he can remember. To me it sounded like the other nine songs, beautifully shaped, well produced and a really exciting new mix of cultures and styles – from Cambodia to Motor City. By now, we were still 4 hours away from Grand Junction and I could hardly wait to get back to Detroit and back into the studio to finish our musical trip!
Back in Detroit, on the last day in the studio, we were finally wrapping up our recording sessions, getting ready to pack-up our 5 week stay and farewell Detroit. Today would be the last chance for one more studio listen before saying goodbye and leaving the final mix-down in the trusty hands of Al Sutton and Dennis Coffey at Rust Belt studios. Dennis mentioned that an old friend, his creative partner of 45 years, Mike Theodore might be dropping in for a visit. Mike and Dennis had had a production company called Theo Coff – that is now, once again, back in the limelight due to the Grammy award winning Searching For Sugarman. When Mike arrived he struck me as looking much more aged than he comes across in Sugarman. Mike had arrived back to Detroit from many years out in New Jersey, with the view to return to the city where he and Coffey had begun their partnership all those years ago and to again seek out interesting music projects. I thanked Mike for his brilliant and beautiful string arrangements on Cold Fact while Dennis asked Al to pull up a track for Mike to hear. “Check this out Mike… something we’re working on from Cambodia”. Meanwhile, another old cohort of Coffey’s turned up, Ed Wolfrum, gadget inventor and sound engineer who’d been responsible for the technical set-up at Motown’s recording studio and many of the cities legendary recording studios. By this stage I’d stepped outside the control room to make a coffee, in the background I could overhear Ed and Mike exclaiming surprise at this “Cambodia project’ “Wow!…this really has that Motown sound… I mean really!”and Dennis saying “Some of it takes me right back…it’s Del Shannon or Johnny & the Hurricanes “Crossfire” or something… “. This was as they were listening to the play back of an old Pan Ron song Rom Twist we’d updated. Later, Mountain Dance played and Ed, not being able to help himself was up on the eq controls of the old analog desk, “this is it…this is how you get that Motown sound…”  . What a privilege it had been to be in the studio with these guys. I was thrilled and happy to be leaving on such a good note.

Across town, at another studio, Jim Diamond was tidying up some loose ends. The producer known and revered for his own take on the Motor City Sound, primitive and rocking… had a mastering job to complete before running off with a band to New York City. Diamond (The White Stripes, The Dirt Bombs) had kindly joined up with myself, Channthy and drummer Reggie Ray to play as The Cambodian Space Project just as we done upon landing  in Detroit some 5 weeks earlier.  We’d played a memorable gig at the annual Concert of Colors. Memorable mostly as it had been a sweltering hot day, high with humidity, worse than Cambodia, and not letting up. We set-up to play the Concert of Colors after party, it this was no ordinary after party but right after the legendary Family Stone at Detroit’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAD). That night we sweated, stumbled and staggered through a rough and ready set. At one point I broke a string and without a backup guitar. Thy had to improvise to keep the show going. Thy did this by singing an impromptu song she thought up in response to her first impressions of decrepit, defunct Detroit. “This song… I call this song… Detroit Ghost Town” then launched a cappella into a her ghost story set to the tune of a Cambodian lullaby. Thy and I appreciated having Jim and Reg join us at a moment’s notice, to help us present a live show but it was rough and ready – a diamond very much in the rough. Now, nearing the end of our USA adventure Jim and Reg were again helping us do the same for three shows booked in New York City. The next morning, exhausted from a late night goodbye party, we squeezed luggage and persons into Jim’s European sedan and headed out of Motor City on the highway towards NYC. Intense rain followed all the way.
Earlier in the month we’d jammed out some tracks at Jim’s Ghetto Recorders – a real flipside to the smoother sounding Coffey sessions – primitive and wild sounds well worth exploring. We talked about this along the way, “we’ll be back to Detroit, we’re only just getting started here and now we’re leaving”  but right now we were abducting two local musicians. In fact Jim’s work is so well known and respected that our NY promoter Jon Weis of ‘Cave Stomp!’ had billed our shows as The Cambodian Space Project with Jim Diamond. Adding some humor to the long drive, at one point Channthy wakes back up and says ‘Hey Jim…. Hello MOTHERFUCKER’. We laughed! She is not person who would say anything rude but was referring to the Concert of Colors. She had wondered about the guy who everyone seemed to know already and who walked out on stage sporting a guitar painted with the stars and stripes and announced “Kick out the jams….” (pause for audience response) then louder… ‘KICK OUT THE JAMS…. MOTHERFUCKERS!”. Thy, shocked by this, “What’s the guy saying? What does he mean Motherfuckers?“. We laughed again. Thy had now been fully introduced to Motor City’s rocknroll as Wayne Kramer of the MC5 backed by a band assembled by Don Was, launched into a blistering rendition of the anthemic Kick Out The Jams.
NIGHT 1: New York ate us alive. We were running low on cash, the city was expensive and difficult to navigate at first. Our first gig was at Pianos. Loud and  packed. A venue ruthlessly presenting short sets from at least a dozen bands every night of the week. Each 45 minutes something different. We waited through the set of some rising star, a sold-out room, someone named Ryan Starr. The room had half emptied by the time we took to the stage. Still, we must have done something right because the next day our fickle event curator made the comment “The Cambodian Space Project ripped through a GREAT set last night!. There were New Yorkers dancing in spite of themselves. Even smiling. Really! I’ve never seen anything like it (except for Sandy Lieb). The CSP is at DROM tonight and THE ROCK SHOP tomorrow, Saturday w/ LES SANS CULOTTES and from the motor city, THE SIGHTS!!!”
NYC NIGHT 2: At Drom it was a whole lot better than night 1. Maybe we’d just been too tired after the long, rainy road from Detroit but, anyway, the main thing was our exotic instrument – Srey Channthy’s mood for NYC had improved. In fact Thy and I had had a great day catching up with our dear friends, CSP supporters Jodie and Madi from Melbourne. By night 3, our last night of the tour – a long tour that had in fact begun in April with 6 weeks in Australia, followed by six weeks in Europe, home to Cambodia for two weeks then 5 weeks in the USA – our last night would be a good one. Cave Stomp announced via facebook  “On Saturday night The Cambodian Space Project have to high-tail it out of town and catch a midnight flight to points unknown (very mysterious, indeed) so they’re grabbing the 9PM middle slot. They’re gonna work you up, devastate you, then split! Don’t show up late and complain to your charming promoter that you didn’t know. ‘Cause you do now!
NIGHT 3: The gig was a blur, caught up with old friends, made some new ones, and saw the sensation The Sights play a rocking set. Jumped on stage, broke a string two songs in – “duh!” (this, with a Bigsby tremolo on my guitar… is a worst night mare and turns the instrument’s tuning to shit…), subsequently got handed Eddie Baranek’s excellent Gibson 330, tuned and ready to rock, and proceeded to bang out our set, good and proper. The last chord I played that night was still ringing in my ears as we hurriedly packed and dashed to JFK. We were already running late for our 1:00AM flight to Bangko when I realized I’d left Thy’s phone on stage somewhere. We had to ask the driver to take us back. “Hey Jim, hey folks…good to see you again …we’re back“. Actually, Thy was furious. No mood for jokes. “Go get my phone…!”. Then didn’t speak to me all the way from JFK to Taipie. Oh, the joys of being in a band.
Still, I more than consoled myself at the long layovers in Taipei then Bangkok by reading a copy of Eddie Baranek’s book Taken Alive – a 300 odd page Sights tour diary written for Detroit’s Metro Times and now bound with a glossy cover into a great read. Excellent airport reading and good to know we’re not the only ones out there on a crazy, unrelenting tour into the unknowable. By the time we arrived in Phnom Penh, 10pm at night, I simply new it was good to be home. Good to be back in Cambodia. Good to know we would soon be with family and friends. Good to know we’d be back on stage at our favourite local venue Equinox. Good to know that just maybe, we’ve brought a little bit of Motown and Motorcity back to Cambodia. Good things have and will come of all this madness. Detroit rocks! And so does Cambodia. Good night.