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

Gig Guide - Week starting Thursday the 16th of May, 2013

The Engagement, Honeymoon, and Rooting for the Wizard Of Oz
by No Nonsense Nic

What is the best cure for the "Crazy Season" of April and May in Phnom Penh? Ditch the "SAD Squad" - Schadenfreude, Angst, and Depression squeekers and shriekers. Bring on the "HIT Parade"- Happy, Inspiring, and Talented musicians. Let Euan Gray and his friends entertain you.

The first time I heard saxophone player/singer/guitarist Euan Gray's new band, KIN, was on Friday the 19th of  April, 2013 at The Village.  What a joy and privilege. In fact, I got to see and hear KIN on all three of their April gigs - including the FCC Phnom Penh on Saturday the 20th of April, 2013 and The Doors on Friday the 26th of April, 2013.  During that time Euan was engaged to his charming Khmaussie partner to whom he was married on Saturday the 4th of May. You might have thought that he would have wedding nerves before his big wedding day but - no - on Saturday the 27th of April, 2013 there he was, cool as a cucumber at Pass The Jam at The Terrace. He was back again at The Village with GTS Jazz on Wednesday the 1st of May, 2013. Surely, the guy would want to get away on honeymoon as soon as possible after the wedding, though?  No chance!  The very next day, Euan's Aussie band, The Rooftops, played at The Village.  Yes, on a Sunday!  Yes, Euan was live on stage.  No, he was not beamed up on a screen by satellite.   

Who is this man?  I found out from his Mum, his Step-Father, his keyboard player and the 'Wizard Of Oz' himself.  Not immediately, however.  Had to wait for him to do another gig with KIN at the Opera Cafe on Saturday the 11th of May, 2013.  The "denouement". The last piece of the jigsaw puzzle.In order to annoy you with crass, controversial, and caustic comments, I won't tell you the answer.  You need to read on in this article and go think/watch/listen for yourself. Watching and meeting Euan won't tell you alone.  Observing him and listening to those affected by him are crucial to solving the riddle.  So let's rewind the tapes.

The three KIN gigs in April made me so glad I had ventured back to The Village to get the ball rolling as my first visit to the venue was a less than pleasurable experience. My visit on Friday the 19th of April, 2013 was a serious success.  Immediately KIN started to play, something inside said "this is seriously good.....check them out again tomorrow at FCC Phnom Penh".  

So I did! This time I was confronted by less-than-pleasurable-experience #2   Poor Euan was tearing his hair out with the sound system and/or the sound technician. The rooftop of the FCC Phnom Penh is great for audiences who like fresh air but the fact that the space is surrounded by all open sides means that the sound system has to be bang-on or any musician will struggle.  That's when I realised that Euan has a great ear and standards of excellence.....not merely high standards.  Sadly there were very few people at  FCC Phnom Penh that evening.  Didn't stop those of us who materialised from enjoying ourselves.  Perhaps the word had not yet got around that KIN are ace?

No jokes, however, at The Doors for KIN's third April gig on Friday the 26th at 9pm. This is where they started flying.  The moment came when two couples rushed onto the dance floor area - virtually at the same time.  It was a great rock & roll/swing number.  Always a good acid test if the audience cannot sit still.  Even better if people start to dance. Wow, did KIN acknowledge this well.  After the gig, Euan told me that they had extended the tune as long as they could - it was meant to be short and sweet.  To show how savvy and diplomatic he was, Euan had expressly thanked the dancers on his stage microphone, before continuing with the next song.

The last April event with Euan performing was on Saturday the 27th at The Terrace. This is where I met his Mum and Step-Father.  Luckily there was a spare seat at their table - so it was "opportunity knocks" for me to get some insider information:

Q. So, what is this nearly-but-not-quite English accent that Euan has?
MUMHaha, yes, I was born in England but emigrated to Australia. This is where Euan grew up.  When Euan started to get into music in Australia he wanted to be different and not sound like everyone else.
Q. Do you all live here in Cambodia now?
MUM:  No, we are just staying here at The Terrace, and are in Phnom Penh for Euan's Buddhist wedding on 4 May to his Khmer-Australian fiancee.
Q. Is she here now?
MUM: No, but she is due to arrive any minute now, and she's the one who got him into playing music with all sorts of people - including the young kids here tonight.  He helps and encourages them to express themselves musically.  Euan accompanies and teaches them how to perform to audiences.  That is the idea behind Pass The Jam. He wants to encourage the next generation, and not just keep it all to himself.

True enough - Euan mixed guitars, vocals, drums, and keyboards with a wide range of young and talented local musicians - soloists, duets, mini boy band - the lot.  He has a nose for talent and is modest with it.  Unusual in Phnom Penh where peacocks and primadonnas abound.  One young female soloist belted out a high note and seemed to nail it, but read this:

Q. That girl has got a powerful voice for such a young age, hasn't she?  No microphone needed for her!
EUAN:  Hey that was about 40% of what she is capable of.  She has been sick recently, and is still recovering.

Onto the merry month of May.  Another visit to The Village on Wednesday the 1st of May, 2013. OK, I confess I can walk there from my apartment - so it's easy.  This was an accident in that it was billed as GTS Jazz with a guest saxophone player called Rafael. The thing is though - Euan joined in the ensemble for fun.  Rafael thanked Euan for lending him his saxophone for some great jazz tunes and when Euan jumped up on stage he added his excellent voice to the line-up,  This made the quartet into a temporary quintet. 

I should be on commission from The Village.  Back there on Sunday the 5th of May, 2013.  Straight from the Hash House Harriers run/walk/swim/BBQ event but showered and with shorts not too ripe to walk away by themselves.  This was the surprise package. An Australian band called The Rooftops were here in Cambodia to be at Euan's wedding the day before. it was an all male stage in spite of at least two photographs featuring a female.  Euan explained to the audience that their original male keyboard player was replacing the woman in the shots and. After just a short while, he turned to this guy, saying "wow, it's like you never went away".  Fantastic night!  Dancers on the floor for virtually the whole show.  Encores!  It was 11.30pm before you could say boo to a kangaroo.

I spoke to Euan's stepfather before leaving:

Q. Now that was not what I expected.  This music is different, completely different.  How come?  Does Euan prefer the jazz he does now in Phnom Penh and his former Aussie group stick to their own, old stuff?
DAD: No.  Euan writes the lot!  There is NO Aussie band called The Rooftops, unless Euan goes back to Oz, or the band members come to see him, like now for his wedding. They re-form when they meet up again, wherever that may be.  No Euan - no band!
Q. They seem really close friends.  Like they play every week?
DAD: Yes, they are real mates.  They can disband and regroup with no problem.  They have fun.  They are always happy together, and just play music whenever they meet up.

What a way to spend the Cinco de Mayo.   How could that be topped?  

Simple - go hear some more KIN on Saturday the 11th of May, 2013.  This time at one of the cosiest, coolest, cleverest places in town - the Opera Cafe on Street 13 and near the entrance to the National Museum.  The home of the talented Japanese opera singer, Ai, and a whole host of Italian nationals/speakers/fans of good pasta y vino. Oh.....AND US$3,000 worth of brand new Bose speakers!  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

Gabi, who plays keyboard in KIN, was chuffed to bits about the quality of the Bose equipment and assured me that there would be more gigs at the Opera Cafe (and their adjoining Piano Shop - where GTS Jazz played last) - and probably less 'open mic' sessions.  They have moved up-market with sound quality and sensibly still want to avoid cover charges - which just put people off coming (he said humbly).   Their pasta prices are fair and reasonable, the atmosphere is relaxed, the decor and furnishings is homely and not massed-produced.

The final words went to Euan, however, who I talked to at the end of a great, friendly gig, where guest musicians joined in both during and afterwards:

Q. So, Euan, why were you vertical with your saxophone tonight, and not horizontal with your wife?  Surely you should be on honeymoon by now?  
EUAN: We are going to Nepal for a delayed honeymoon, but not yet.  We've been enjoying friends and family coming here.

Lucky them, lucky us, and very lucky me - able to enjoy seven glimpses of talent in less than one month.  Some people say there is nothing happening in Phnom Penh. Get real!
Latest Gigs

Thursday  16-May-2013
  • 9:00 PM ~ DJ Flipper at Sharkys
  • 9:00 PM ~ DJ F.U.D and Bunni at MetaHouse
  • 9:30 PM ~ DJ Oland at Eclipse Sky Bar
  • 10:00 PM ~ Shameless!! at Pontoon
Friday  17-May-2013
  • 7:00 PM ~ Joe Wrigley at Le Jardin
  • 7:30 PM ~ No Forever at The Village
  • 9:00 PM ~ Splitter at The Memphis Pub
  • 9:00 PM ~ Jazz Jam Session at The Opera Cafe
  • 9:00 PM ~ The Underdogs at Sharkys
  • 9:00 PM ~ The Lazy Drunks at Paddy Rice
  • 9:00 PM ~ DJ Stroke at The RiverHouse Lounge
  • 9:00 PM ~ Holliday In Cambodia at Equinox
  • 10:00 PM ~ DJ Mad.IS and DJ Valtie at The Pontoon Bistro
Saturday  18-May-2013
  • 6:00 PM ~ Diego Dimarques , Philippe Javelle and DJ Mood at Mara Phnom Penh
  • 8:30 PM ~ Sonhador at The Village
  • 8:30 PM ~ The Q'Vans * at The FCC Phnom Penh
  • 9:00 PM ~ Sugar Daddy at Sharkys
  • 9:00 PM ~ DJ Tonle Dub , DJ Sequence , DJ Mercy and DJ Java Tech at MetaHouse
  • 9:00 PM ~ The Klezbodians at The Opera Cafe
  • 10:00 PM ~ Hydrophonics and DJ Tech 12 at Pontoon
Sunday  19-May-2013
  • 6:30 PM ~ BTOB * at Koh Pich
  • 9:00 PM ~ Ringtail at Le Jardin
Monday  20-May-2013
  • 7:30 PM ~ Liza & Ram at The Village
Tuesday  21-May-2013
  • 6:30 PM ~ James Speck at Le Jardin
  • 7:00 PM ~ Masahiro Watabe at The Village
  • 9:00 PM ~ Amanda Bloom at The Opera Cafe
Wednesday  22-May-2013
  • 4:30 PM ~ Tiny Toones at Le Jardin
  • 7:30 PM ~ Joe Wrigley at The Village
Coming Up
  • The Fumes at Equinox
  • Two Shots and a Chaser at Equinox
  • Comedy Krem, Khem, Tep Boprek, Som Sodalin, Aok Sokunkanha and Chhorn Sovanreach at Dream Land, Dream Land
  • Splitter at Sharkys
  • Dub Addiction at Equinox
  • The Cambodian Space Project at Equinox
  • Dengue Fever * at The FCC Phnom Penh, The FCC Siem Reap in Siem Reap and Chaktomuk Theater
  • Thunder & ST-Town at The Village
  • Sonhador at The Village
  • The Klezbodians at The Village
  • Ingolv Haaland, Ouch Savy and Yun Theara at MetaHouse
  • Jet Odrerir at Le Jardin
  • Jaworski 7 at Equinox
  • Jahzad at Equinox
  • Station to Station at Le Jardin
  • James Speck at Le Jardin
  • Tiny Toones at Le Jardin
  • The Cambodian Space Project, The Lazy Drunks and Scoddy and the Quality Drops at Le Jardin
  • Julian Gargiulo * , Soprano * and Satomi Ogawa * at The Hotel InterContinental
  • DJ Tonle Dub, DJ Sequence, DJ Java Tech and DJ Cab at The Show Box
  • DJ Dr. Wah Wah and Phat Controller at The Villa in Sihanoukville
  • DJ Sequence and DJ Kaotek at MetaHouse

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