The Christmas Holidays are a weird time in Cambodia. The expat music scene is turned on its head, with large numbers of folks jetting back to loved ones in the Western world – leaving our live venues deprived of performers and audience members. At the same time, large numbers of holidaymakers in The West will wisely choose to spend a precious week or two of annual leave in a non-Christian, developing country thousands of miles from home. Each year, the visitors will find many more ‘Merry Christmas’ signs and Santa Claus hats than in previous years, as Cambodian commercialism grips the unofficial holiday a little tighter than before, and squeezes just as much disposable spending from it as possible. The upside for the expat live music scene is a sprinkling of new faces on the gig stages, at the open mics, and in audiences.
The turnover starts this Friday as the international schools let out for the holiday season, and Phnom Penh shopkeepers really start hammering that Christmas vibe. A perfect time for readers of Leng Pleng to out there and catch a few of your favourite acts before they leave town.
Bouchon have transferred their weekly gigs downstairs to the gravelled environs of the French colonial style house on Street 174 in Phnom Penh. The live sound quality is much improved and a number of gigs have been added to the calendar to supplement their long-standing Wednesday night sessions. The always-sparkling Lisa Concepcion will play an acoustic show at Bouchon tonight (Thursday) – during a Christmas Market event – and a new combo will perform a distinctly French-flavoured concert of songs on Friday evening. Anthony Armenti is a talented multi-instrumentalist whom you may previously have seen drumming with Phnom Penh bands Riverside Raybans and Bagua. What you may not know is that Anthony is a singer with a repertoire of covers of tracks by legendary French singer-songwriter George Brassens. Ace lead guitarist Stan Paleco will join Anthony to give the Bouchon session a Django Reinhardt style gypsy twist. Joie de Vivre! Anthony will also be in action with French swing ensemble Swing Gitan on Saturday night in the leafy grounds of the Institut Francais du Cambodge.
The momentous cosmic force that is the Cambodian Space Project will collide with party central Otres Market in Kompong Som this coming Monday night. It has always been a favourable pairing: the edge-of-town, out-there community marketplace, music venue and late night Sihanoukville hangout (now in their sixth year of jungle parties) with the irrepressible Cambo space rock supergroup (about to celebrate their 8th birthday). Whenever CSP and Otres get together, they always seem to produce one helluva party. Check out the video above to see what happened when Cambodian Space Project went into the recording studio last year with Australian living music legend Paul Kelly.
Like the proverbial breath of fresh air, Carrie Herbert’s Under The Same Sun album is sweeping through the digital download space with life-affirming rays of positivity and good vibes. The Phnom Penh-based singer songwriter enlisted producer Euan Gray to record the tracks at the Songkites studio in Boeung Tumpun. The album was launched last night with an intimate and stunning live gig at Chinese House, and is now available for preview and purchase via CD Baby and all the usual channels.
Rhiannon Johnson and her returning musical partner Barry Speirs will open the festive week with a session of Christmas songs at Bouchon next Wednesday night. Superb keys man Speirs has the magical blend of jazz and funky soul style which provides the perfect platform for Rhiannon’s voice. Expect a few sentimental moments at this yuletide duo concert.
Whatever you’re up to in the lead-up to Cambodian Christmas-time, stay safe out there and… see you around the traps!
- 6:00 PM ~ Christian Brenner Quartet at Topaz Restaurant Phnom Penh
- 6:00 PM ~ Lisa Concepcion at Bouchon Wine bar
- 7:00 PM ~ Joshua Chiang and Keong at Tacos Kokopelli
- 8:00 PM ~ Unity Band at Eclipse Sky Bar
- 10:00 PM ~ Scott Bywater , Dave , Sophal and Oscar at Oscar’s On The Corner
- 6:30 PM ~ Channty Cha Cha Acoustic Duo at Farm to Table
- 7:00 PM ~ Leo at Tacos Kokopelli
- 7:00 PM ~ The Fender Benders at Botanico Wine & Beer Garden
- 7:30 PM ~ Anthony Armenti and Stan Paleco at Bouchon Wine bar
- 7:30 PM ~ DJ Remix at The Show Box
- 8:30 PM ~ Boxchords at FCC – The Mansion
- 9:00 PM ~ DJ NICK E. META , DJane Sao Sopheak , Max Mason and MONSOON SOUNDSYSTEM at Meta House
- 10:00 PM ~ DJ Gang and Dj FunkII Pro at Pontoon
- 10:00 PM ~ K’n’E: Khmer and English rock’n’roll at Oscar’s On The Corner
- 7:00 PM ~ Lisa Concepcion at Botanico Wine & Beer Garden
- 7:30 PM ~ Swing Gitan band at The Institut Francais du Cambodge
- 8:30 PM ~ Cambodia Country Band at FCC – The Mansion
- 9:00 PM ~ Dr Wah-Wah at Meta House
- 9:00 PM ~ Stiff Little Punks at Stage Bar PP
- 9:00 PM ~ Kimchi Collective at Sailing Club in Kep
- 10:00 PM ~ DJ Illest and DILLYDADON at Pontoon
- 10:00 PM ~ Phnom Skor at Oscar’s On The Corner
- 7:00 PM ~ Graham Cain at Above Us Only Sky in Sihanouk Ville
- 8:30 PM ~ Open mic hosted by Canadian Dave at Oscar’s – downstairs
- 7:30 PM ~ Barry Speirs and Rhiannon Johnson at Bouchon Wine bar
- 8:30 PM ~ Mark & Kim Pop Duo at FCC – The Mansion
- DJ Pineapple at Meta House
- DJ Flo and DJ Wez-T at Meta House
- DJ RYU SUZUKI and Alan Ritchie at Meta House
- Mark & Kim Pop Duo at FCC – The Mansion
- Boxchords at FCC – The Mansion
- The Fender Benders at FCC – The Mansion
- The Cambodian Space Project at FCC – The Mansion
- James Speck, Tim King, DJane Sao Sopheak, Dj Saint Vincent, Dj Cosmix * , Colin Grafton and DJs LOCAL SUICIDE at The Heart of Darkness
- Chi Town at Jazz Club Elite
- Los Panas at Jazz Club Elite
- Elvis Fandango at Shanghai Bar
- Dj Nora Haidee at Sailing Club in Kep
- DJ Wah-Wah at Sailing Club in Kep
- Dj Moudy, WILDFLOWERS and Disc Joshi at Banyan Tree in Kampot
- Road to Mandalay at Botanico Wine & Beer Garden