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The Leng Pleng Gig Guide comes out on a Thursday or Friday of every week

Live Muisc Ths Weekend - Friday 25th of September, 2009

I am a day late for the weekly posting for the weekend live music gigs - my apologies for that. Here is the schedule:
  • The Beer O'Clock Band start off the weekend with their usual open-mike at the Velokommen Inn starting at around 6:00PM
  • I can confirm that the Lazy Jazz Punks will be at The Cavern this Friday for their open-mike starting around 8:00PM
  • The Hellhounds will play the Velkommen Inn after the Beer O'Clock Band starting at around 8:30PM. They will be augmented by Dan on bass again this week.
  • If you are in Saigon this weekend you can catch Davis Zunk at Sheridan's Irish Bar from 8:00PM to 10:30PM and at the Long Phi Bar from 12:30AM-4:00AMam
  • The big event of course the Magical Mystery Tourists poerforming their tribute to the release of Abbey Road. It will happen on Saturday night starting at 8:30PM. There will be a rehearsal and sound check starting at 2:00PM Saturday for anyone wishing to be a part of the night.
  • Saturday will also see the jazz duo of Phil & Ritchie perform at the Chinese House starting around 9:00PM
  • On Sunday D'Sco: The Geckos of Love will perform again at Talkin' to a Stranger starting at 5:00PM
Note that D'Sco: The Geckos of Love have moved their Sayon Silk Lounge gig to Thursday as of next week.

Cheers and see you around the traps !

Equipment Sellers in Phnom Penh

Well yesterday I thought I would go and get my microphone fixed. Then it occurred to me - why don't I spread around a few flyers for the Beatles Tribute thingo to all the music stores at the same time. Then it occurred to me - while I am doing that why don't I pick up the name-cards from the music shops and create a post for the Leng Pleng blog. So here it is.

Most musical instrument stores are still stuck back in the good ol' days of communism where the idea of "The harder you work means the more money you make" translates to "The harder you work means the harder you work". Hence if you walk into one of these stores don't expect them to spring to attention and ask in perfect English, Chinese, French, Japanese or Korean "Yes Sir (or Madam), may I help you". No, no, no - it is your honour that they are there for you to buy things. If you walk in and stand in the middle of the shop looking around like you want to buy something then expect them to just continue to keep doing whatever they were doing when you walked in. If you are lucky enough to get a more modern-thinking shop then they may ask you what it is you need - but usually they will have a look of disgust on their face for inconveniencing them having to ask you.

It's best to take this all in your stride. It really does no good in burning bridges because they did not provide you with the service you might expect back home. Ultimately you will probably come to have to rely on them for something and, as such, will receive a scowls and bouts of uncooperative ignorance when confronting them with your needs at a later date. Believe me they tend to remember faces and forgiveness (or compassion as they see it) can come at a higher price. The best thing you can do is form a relationship with a shop that is based on mutual respect and trust - but you will have to work on it. You need to make a balance between letting them know that you refuse to be ripped-off (thereby gaining their respect) and letting them know that you trust them and want to do business with them. I have a couple of stores I have managed to get this to some level and it is discussed further below. Even if you do manage to strike a congenial relationship you should always ensure some level of navigation through neighboring stores to make sure the prices they are offering are competitive - but always stick with your friendly shop if you can.

What you might want to remember is that all of these shops are generally family-run businesses and a quick look around the store will show you just how much profit margin they tend to acquire. When it comes down to it they are relatively ruthless negotiators and, in my experience, generally start by doubling the price they really expect. I believe their other (more local) clients are even more ruthless as the condition of their store's decor and the quality and type of equipment they make available are found wanting in all cases.

At this point I am unaware of any musical instrument shop that provides a broad range of good quality, authentic musical equipment. This is worth thinking about when bargaining. In my opinion it is worth paying more to a store that seems worthwhile because we need them to make money so that they can bring in the equipment we need and provide the service that goes along with it. If one thing could come out of this blog post it would be an agreement between all Leng Pleng members as to which store actually provides the best and most worthwhile service so that we, as musicians, can support them so that we have a fully equipped service at our disposal. With this in mind - here is a run-down of all the shops I visited yesterday.
  1. Hong You Music Shop
    1. ADDRESS: No. 337-E0 Street 110 (Russian Federation Blvd.), Phnom Penh (Near the corner of Pochentong Road and Monivong)
    2. PHONE: 023 430 222 or 012 864525 or 011 855015
    3. EMAIL: HongYou[chuck in the AT sign here]ps-powersound.com
      1. Main guy is a nice, thoughtful bloke
      2. Speaks English
      3. Can arrange production for major gigs through his brother-in-law (i.e.: Power Sound)
      4. Can go straight to reasonable prices if you have a good relationship

  2. Samnang Thmei Music Instruments
    1. ADDRESS: No.115-E0 Preah Monivong Blvd., Phnom Penh (On Monivong north of the corner with Kampuchea Krom)
    2. PHONE: 012 960622
    3. EMAIL: khovsamnang as[chuck in the AT sign here]yahoo.com
      1. Specializes in guitars / keyboards / amps
      2. Friendly but ruthless negotiator
      3. Husband has English

  3. Hiep Sreng
    1. ADDRESS: 30-E0 Street 217, Phnom Penh (Charles De Gaule between Monivong and P'sah Thmei)
    2. PHONE: 023 210484 or 012 820396 or 012 581 938
    3. EMAIL: none available
      1. They have 2 shops near P'sah Thmei
        1. One neareest corner with Monivong 
        2. One that is 4 music shops in from corner with Monivong
      2. No English but speaks Chinese 

    5. Thea Heng
      1. ADDRESS: 26-E0 Street 217, Phnom Penh (Charles De Gaule between Monivong and P'sah Thmei)
      2. PHONE: 011 998998
      3. EMAIL: ye_le[chuck in the AT sign here]hotmail.com
        1. Specializing in guitars
        2. English
        3. More professional layout
        4. Seems slightly more organized
        5. Has teachers for guitar, flute, sax, keyboards, violin
        6. Starts bargaining at high prices
        7. Same family as Sydymex Group

    6. Sydymex Group
      1. ADDRESS: 28-E0 Street 217, Phnom Penh (Charles De Gaule between Monivong and P'sah Thmei)
      2. PHONE:023 219335 or 012 866105 or 012 848279
      3. EMAIL: none available
        1. Same family as Thea Heng
        2. Guitars from many different places
          1. Say that they have original Yamahas made in Indonesia

    7. Thea Meang
      1. ADDRESS: 4-E0 Street 217, Phnom Penh (Charles De Gaule between Monivong and P'sah Thmei)
      2. PHONE: 012 922030 or 011 888643 or 023 218056
      3. EMAIL: none available
        1. Can go straight to reasonable prices if you have a good relationship
        2. Jolly / happy husband and son
        3. They remember you
        4. No English
        5. Wife is ok - if on her right side

    8. Another larger shop next to Thea Meang
      1. ADDRESS:  none available
      2. PHONE:  none available
      3. EMAIL:  none available
      4. COMMENTS: none available
        1. Large
        2. Specializing in larger sound equipment
        3. Very poor service
        4. When asked for a name-card they wouldn't give it to me

    9. Another shop right up Kampuchea Krom
      1. ADDRESS: Kampuchea Krom about 1.5km from Monivong on left-hand-side
      2. PHONE:  none available
      3. EMAIL:  none available
      4. COMMENTS: none available
        1. Run by Vietnamese family
        2. Music books in Vietnamese
    The shops where I have missing information I will update in the coming days / weeks. Please send me any info which you may have garnered yourself. Please see the map below for a general locations of the shops:

    For me I have had best success with both Hong You Music Shop and Thea Meang. With Hong you I find the main guy to be very cordial and thoughtful and prepared to do a good job for returned customers. I recommend them quite highly. Thea Meang is also good for this - giving straight-forward prices if you show them a level of loyalty with their service. You will have to communicate with Thea Meng in Khmer but Hong You can speak quite good English.

    In a subsequent post I will try to discuss the availability of equipment and what it is people need but cannot get.

    Cheers and don't forget to feed the fish.


    On the 26th of September, 2009 it will be 40 years since the release of the last album recorded by The Beatles, Abbey Road, featuring such classics as Come Together, Something, Here Comes the Sun and She Came In Through the Bathroom Window
    To mark the 40th anniversary of this event a loose conglomeration of Phnom Penh expat musicians calling themselves The Magical Mystery Tourists are holding a Beatles tribute night which will include performing the entire Abbey Road album.
    The event will be hosted, appropriately, at The Cavern, on 104 Street, itself named after the Liverpool venue made famous by The Beatles.
    The Magical Mystery Tourists supergroup includes members of The Hellhounds, D'Sco: the Geckos of Love, and Betty Ford & the GT Falcons, with a little help from their friends in the form of other affiliated and/or freelance personnel. 

    The Magical Mystery Tourists

    Beatles tribute night

    26 September 2009, 8.30 pm

    The Cavern, 104 St, Phnom Penh

    40th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road
    Contact for further information and comment: 
    Scott Bywater, smbywater [put the At sign in here] yahoo dot com

    Live Music This Weekend - Thursday, 17th of September, 2009

    Well not a lot on this weekend - most likely due to the P'Chum Ben 5-day holiday break. This is what I know of this weekend:
    1. The Beer O'clock Band are doing their regular gig at the Velkommen Inn on Street 104 - starting at around 6:00PM. All and sundry welcome to grab a mike, guitar, mandolin, harmonica or all 4 and do a song or more
    2. The Hellhounds will follow the the Beer O'clock Band starting at around 8:30PM or 9:00PM. They are really happy with the new PA set up last week. 
    3. The Cavern will host the dynamic ensemble of the Lazy Jazz Punks. They also welcome musicians from every ilk to come and mix it up with them.
    4. According to the Khmer440.com web site there is some live music at the Riverside Bistro but I am not privvy to the details at this point.
    Also, Scoddy tells me there is a new live music venue opening up this weekend called Garage - it is on Street 110 - 3 doors down from the RiverHouse. Also look out for a tribute to The Beatles and the Abbey Road album happening at the Cavern next week (26th September 2009). If you have something to contribute to the gig then please feel free to contact Scoddy or me (Television Ted) through the blog. Also a real, true-blue, hunky dory, German folk band will be here next week performing for the Oktoberfest. Now I know it has been a little quiet in more recent years but in previous years these events have been really well attended with LOTS of beer. This was part of the good-old-days when the British and German ambassadors were drunk as the proverbial, shirts off, standing on tables singing songs - true story.

    If I have missed anyone's gig please let me know.


    What Does the Audience Want at Live Gigs

    In this post I look at live music and ask the question "What is it that people appreciate when they go to watch and listen to live music?"

    As with most things there really is not one right answer - it depends on the context. Considerations may include:
    1. The quality of the sound
    2. The presentation of original material
    3. How close to the original composition the musicians attain
    4. The amount of enjoyment the musicians have on stage and the energy they present
    5. The way the musicians dress and the image they present
    6. The technical expertise
    7. The way the band presents their own style within well-known tune
    8. The set of songs chosen to play
    To different scenarios, each one of these points will have a different value or priority than to other points. So, for example, the quality of the sound at The Cavern open-mike Friday's is of less importance than the amount of enjoyment  to the musicians and the presentation of original material. Whereas at the Art Café the quality of the sound, the technical expertise and the closeness to the original composition are  more important. This is not to say that enjoyment and original compositions are not important at the Art Café, nor is it to say that  technical expertise and the closeness to the original composition are unimportant at The Cavern. What I am saying is that different things are more or less important for any given situation.

    In The Hellhounds gig for example, we generally rehearse most weeks. We like to have a proper start, middle and ending to the songs and to have some sort of structure in-between - even though it may not sound like it sometimes. The songs will be done the same way each week - but with some improvement and with subtle and influential tweaks as time goes by (hopefully). Also, we will follow a song list (mostly) and generally we will start and finish our gigs at the same time and have one break in the middle. We also try to dress like we haven't just come from the pub or straight from work. What is important to a Hellhounds gig is that the songs are of a particular genre and are either familiar songs that are performed in a unique fashion and/or are more obscure songs of the same genre. What is less important is the fact that our technical expertise may not be all that fantastic sometimes. Although we are improving, it has never been a big concern to us.

    When I go to see the D'Sco: The Geckos of Love the technical expertise is high and it is applied in a way so as to maximize the enjoyment and energy of the musicians (even though Dan was playing while lying down on the weekend - due to a bout of the flu I believe ;o)) which is then translated to the audience. Technical skills are 'not a concern' because they have good knowledge of their instruments - but they are 'not a concern' in a different way that technical skills are 'not a concern' to the Hellhounds (if you know what I mean :oP ). They are just as comfortable playing familiar songs as they are originals.

    The Lazy Jazz Punks currently have an eclectic sound, with a mix of people from different bands coming together. Rehearsals for this band are something that the Phnom Penh Players Association do but the energy and enjoyment of the performance is always guaranteed. They play through guitar amps combined with a full P.A. (at the same time) and sound problems have never been of concern. Also, there is great variety in the technical skills. However, there is no doubt that the audience is always pumped and responsive to the gig.

    The only thing of concern to the Beer O'Clock Band is that our guitars are in tune and the free beer keeps flowing. Again, we are happy to have a variety of musicians playing and singing just to see what comes out of the speakers.

    For me, as a member of the audience, the most technically brilliant piece is seldom the most appreciated. I saw a band from the Philippines at the Cambodiana - I think you know the story. Their technical skills were great, their clothes they wore were specky, they had a whole different mix of people, the sound-system and mixer were first-class, they could perform a whole array of songs from a vast array of genres - but..... well I was tapping my foot to some songs on occasions. However, the dance floor was absolutely packed - sometimes I just don't get it!

    What is it that people appreciate when they go to watch and listen to live music? Post comments to the Leng Plang blog.

    Live Music this Week - Thursday, 10th September 2009

    Quite a few gigs on this week. The list I have compiled is as follows:
    • Charlie is playing tonight (Thursday) at Touk Bar & Restaurant
    • D'Sco: The Geckos of Love have two gigs on this weekend. They play Friday at the Sayon Café (not sure if the place have settled on that name yet !?!) and on Sunday afternoon they play a bluesy, boozy and boppy set at Talkin to a Stranger starting at 4:00PM.
    • The Lazy Jazz Punks also have two performances for the weekend. Their Open-Mike at The Cavern has been moved to a Friday and they also play at the Touk Bar & Restaurant on Saturday. Both gigs starting around 9:00PM-ish
    • The Hellhounds are set to return to the Velkommen Inn on Friday also - starting around 9:00PM
    • The Beer O'Clock Band will also be at the Velkommen Inn starting at beer o'clock (i.e.: anytime you feel like having your first beer - which, for them, is around 6:00PM on a Friday). Note this is also an open-mike arrangement so they invite anybody wishing to get up and do a tune or two or more to do so.
    • Friday also sees Chow host Juram Gavero. Juram is a Filipino singer-songwriter who bases himself in Ho Chi Minh. He is a friend of Davis Zunk (who some of you will know from his days with the Happy Lucky Love You Long Time band) and is here for his second trip. Juram Gavero also plays the FCC rooftop on Saturday
    • I presume Charlie & Patrick will be playing their regular gig at Barbados
    • I haven't heard from Anton at the Art Café this week but believe he is hosting "A Touch of Vienna" which incorporates court music of the outgoing 18th century various compositions by the “Vienna masters” Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert.

    That's it ! Thanks to Soddy for updating me on a lot of the info

    Price / Charges for Playing

    Discussing a charge for a band to play can always be relatively difficult during the negotiations process. There are several things to consider when doing it. This may include:
    1. Number of band members
    2. Skills / reputation of the ensemble
    3. Equipment to be supplied - P.A. for example
    4. Distance to the gig
    5. Expenses incurred by the band to put the gig on
    6. The frequency of the gig - e.g.: one-off gigs at parties etc. versus regular weekly / monthly gigs
    7. The relationship between the band and the client - e.g.: you might want to charge a cheaper rate for friends of the band
    8. The status of the venue. For example bigger venues have more people to entertain OR sometimes you may feel more inclined to play at a place that you believe has a lot of potential but not a lot of money and thereby hope to get greater returns at a later date.
    9. The band fits the bar and the bar fits the band. Sometimes it just works out that way.
    On previous occasions, when negotiating with a venue that doesn't generally present live music, I  have  suggested a deal where the charge for the band was calculated based on the number of clients turning up at the bar. This would be resolved by counting the number of people at the venue during the break between sets for example. This means the publican generally won't lose - as they will only pay if the band successfully attracts people to the venue. It also means the band can do well if a lot of people show up.

    This sort of arrangement is OK in the initial period in order to get a regular gig started but over a longer period there were complicating factors - being:
    1. Even if the band only attracts 10 people - this could be considered very good during the wet / low season when most other places are empty.
    2. Over the longer period the bar's reputation is enhanced and thus attracts more people outside band playing times.
    3. What if the publican throws a party and invites all his friends? He is supplying the people and then having to pay for it
    4. What if the band starts to buy new and better equipment for the gig?
    Generally both the band and the publican need to be flexible and reasonable with each other. If it means there is a regular gig every week then it is good for the band, good for the publican and good for the live music scene in general. The Hellhounds have been fortunate enough to have had a good relationship with Edvin and the Velkommen Inn for over a year now. In the beginning we started out as a 'pay per customer' thing but Edvin was kind enough to agree to a base amount to accommodate for indiscriminate "environment factors" affecting customer numbers. In the end things have worked out well.

    I know Charlie and Patrick have had a good relationship with the Barbados - having played regularly there now for several years. I am not altogether sure of the circumstances - may be they could fill us in?

    As a general round-up I would suggest the following charges for bands:
    1. $50 per band member for one-off event gigs
    2. $20 per band member for regular gigs
    3. $20 for the supply of a simple P.A.
    4. $50 for a full P.A. set
    5. All with discounts on 'good relationship' gigs
    If you have any thoughts or comments on payment for gigs and what the general level might be then drop a line to the Leng Pleng blog ;o)

    Abbey Road/Beatles Tribute - calling all musicians

    Singers, guitarists, bass players, brassers and stringers, keyboard plunkers and drum thwackers ----

    attention: 26 September is the 40th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road, and for the occasion the Cavern on 104 street will be hosting a Beatles tribute night - including the entire Abbey Road album - with a Phnom Penh expat supergroup The Magical Mystery Tourists (personnel still to be finalised but likely to include members of D'Sco: the geckos of love, Lazy Jazz Punks, Hellhounds).

    We are looking for as much variety as possible, with a rotation of singers and instrumentalists throughout the night.

    If you are interested in getting involved with this exciting event, please contact me via smbywater@yahoo dot com.

    Apart from any other impromptu rehearsals we can arrange, we are planning one major gathering on the Monday prior (at the end of Pchum Ben) through the afternoon and into the evening.

    Especially interested in hearing someone that can play Blackbird on the tuba (trombone as a second choice)

    Live Music This Weekend - 2nd of September, 2009

    Here is my weekly round-up of live music gigs that I have found around the traps

    The special events include:
    • Friday the 4th of September, 2009 Mispent Yooth playing at Talkin'to a Stranger
    • Friday also sees a "Gala Concert" Cambodian Japanese Cooperation Center (CJCC). It is a performance by the Tűbingen Chamber Orchestra (Germany) featuring soloists from Cambodia and Germany
    • Saturday 5th of September, 2009 the Lazy Jazz Punks play at Rory's Pub. They had to keep the volume down in recent gigs due to episodic police drive-bys but the last time was a total blast for those lucky enough to be there. Last Saturday night was also a great gig so looking forward to this one
    • Mispent Yooth play Touk on Saturday the 5th of September, 2009 also.
    • DSco: The Geckos of Love playing at the Chinese House on Saturday night. Not sure if they are playing at the Sayon Lounge after the party gig they are doing on Friday evening but I presume it is on.
    • Saturday the 5th also sees Antons memorial performance to Mauricio Kagel at thre Art Café
    The Regular events include:
    • Open Mike at The Cavern as facilitated by the Lazy Jazz Punks
    • The Lazy Jazz Punks also play the full set every Friday night at The Cavern
    • Patrick and Charlie will be at Barbados on Street 130
    • On Khmer440.com I nopticed some live music advertised for the Riverside Bistro. The ad goes something like this:"Live music every night of the week at Riverside Bistro. 
      • On Mondays / Tuesdays (9pm) – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me: unplugged piano and vocals; 
      • Wednesdays (9pm) – UB2U: live request night; 
      • Thursdays (9pm) – Reminiscence: classic songs from the last 50 years on guitar and piano; 
      • Fridays to Sundays (8.30pm) – Section 5: four-piece band plays the best live music on the riverfront.
    If you go to the blog then don't forget 2 things:
    1. Feed the fish
    2. Place a vote on the question "Is it worth a organizing a weekend music festival of local bands at a various venues around Phnom Penh?"
    That's it! If anything needs correcting / adding / updating then please let me know or add a comment to the blog post.

    Cheers and see you around the traps ;)


    The comment below is for the post above

    Drummers and General Stuff

    Where have all the drummers gone?

    I guess they have all packed up their kits and gone home - refusing to play with anyone due to the overwhelming amount of gear they have to haul around and with no appreciation by other band members!!! There have been several calls by several people over the past few weeks looking for drummers to join bands so if anybody knows of any please throw a net over them, tie them up, obtain their telephone, extract the telephone number and then post it on the blog here.

    The Hellhounds now have a date for their return - being 9:00PM Friday next week at the Velkommen Inn (11th of September, 2009) - as Steve Goodman has returned from his summer sojourn. This means the Beer O'clock Band will also make it's return on the same day and same venue albeit starting slightly earlier (at around beer O'clock). The Beer O'clock Band will most likely be joined by Kristen Rasmussen who will add her sensual and caressing tones to the vocals of many of the songs. Kristen has often sang with the Curtis King Band when they hop over from Vietnam for their Sharky's gigs. If you haven't heard her sing yet then it will be well worth getting down there on the 11th of this month. More details when the time gets closer.

    At this point there are 4 up and coming music gigs. I will make a summary of all that is happenning when closer to the weekend but at the moment there is:
    • DSco: The Geckos of Love playing at the Chinese House on Saturday night
    • Mispent Yooth have two gigs - Friday at Talkin to a Stranger and Saturday at Touk
    • Anton at the Art Café is putting on a memorial for Mauricio Kagel. If you have never caught one of Antons performances or one of the people he brings in then it is well worth going. You can get a a really great meal and be entertained by some top quality music. It is also worth talking to Anton if you are looking for a gig.
    • There is also some classical music put on by the CJCC on Friday (more details later)
    BTW, if you wished to be removed from the mailing list and just tune into the blog when you feel you want to then send me an email.

    It can be lonely enough being an artist/musician/writer/whatever back in the west - but the sense of isolation is intensified here in Phnom Penh, a much smaller population of ever enclosing expatness ...

    So I want to give thanks to all the new people I've been playing with in recent months - it's great to be sharing and risking and just plain old making music, whether the audience be a packed crowd or merely the other members of the band.

    I also want to thank Television Ted for getting this blog up and running. I can see that it's already helping create a sense of community for musicians of whatever stripe; a place to go to see who's playing, what ideas are being discussed, and to share information that is usually only swapped late at night shouting drunkenly into someone's ear (not that there's anything wrong with that necessarily).

    Here's to the wild and crazy PP nights of making music, and to more and more of the same, however it is configured!


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