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

Weekly Wrap - Week Commencing Thursday the 17th July 2014

Last night well over one-hundred guests showed up to see the musicians of Cambodian Living Arts performing at a restaurant in a slightly out-of-the-way location in Phnom Penh. The venue, normally hosting jazz, pop or other 'Western' music gigs, was packed to capacity with guests waiting to see, listen to and interact with a large troupe dressed in traditional Khmer clothes, playing traditional Khmer music on traditional Khmer instruments. The buzzing atmosphere at the gig and the attitude of the smiling young performers, who incorporated modern pop songs and drum kit and guitars into their show, was a long way removed from the dry recital or quiet concert hall that one might normally associate with a performance of 'traditional' music.

It is nearly forty years since the sudden demise of the so-called 'Golden Era' of Cambodian music, yet interest in the music emanating from the dance halls, karaoke parlours and high-class establishments around the country seems to be increasing. This is evidenced by a range of great happenings. Phnom Penh-based pioneers Krom and the Cambodian Space Project are breaking into the international world music festival scene. The first annual Cambodian Music Festival will be taking place in Los Angeles early next month. John Pirozzi's documentary film Don't Think I've Forgotten, first shown at the Chaktomuk Theatre in Phnom Penh earlier this year, will be having its world festival première (according to the movie's Facebook page!) at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August. Additionally, the Drakkar Band (one of the true epic bands from the Golden Era) will, either this year or early next year and with the help of Leng Pleng, remaster and re-release their classic album of 1974. Also, German documentary film-maker and music video producer extraordinaire Marc Eberle is currently editing a documentary focussing on the life of Srey Thy and her rise to the international stage within the Cambodian Space Project.

There is truly worldwide interest in the 'lost' recordings of the Golden Era Cambodian artists. These precious recordings are being kept alive in the few libraries of cassettes, vinyl records and album covers by collectors such as Oro and Maya of Cambodian Vintage Music Archive. Also, enthusiast DJane Sao Sopheak continues to bring the music to new audiences at her monthly Cambodian Rock Nightwith the next instantiation taking place this Saturday at Meta House. This is the kind of night that finds one torn between jumping up and down to the next nugget of classic Cambodian psychedelia and rushing up to the DJ to ask 'who is this ?!!'.

CSP by Film Noir Studios. Read an interview of the band with Soundblab.com.
The Space Project play Equinox on Friday night – a rescheduled gig following last week's spate of last-minute cancellations. It seems that the powers-that-be suddenly decided to tell venue managers across Phnom Penh on the Thursday that there would be no live music happening on the Friday (and, in some cases, Saturday) on account of the national holiday and internment of King Father Sihanouk's ashes. Therefore the CSP gig this Friday will clash with a performance of Miss Sarawan All-Star Band at Sharky Bar. Miss Sarawan is diminutive diva and 'Golden Era' acolyte Mealea Lay – backed by a band of musicians comprising Peang Kannika of Kok Thlok, Bunhong Cheak of Mekong Pirates, Joe Wrigley, Chris Hilleary and.... Mealea's twin sister Mealai! Miss Sarawan also performs as an acoustic duo on Wednesday at FCC – The Mansion.

The incredible force of fusion known as Dub Addiction returns to Equinox on Saturday night, featuring one of the young stars of Cambodia – Jimmy Kiss – adding his powerful vocals into the singular DA mix of dub reggae, raggamuffin, rock, dance and traditional Khmer sounds. Meanwhile, gig-goers who missed Cambodian Living Arts at Doors last night can see them perform Children of Bassac each Friday at 7pm and Mak Therng each Saturday at 7pm at the National Museum. 

Miss Sarawan by Jim Heston
Over at Sharky Bar on Saturday, an impressive line-up of musicians gather to pay tribute to Tommy Ramone. The last surviving founding member of hugely influential punk band The Ramones passed-away this week. Blitzkrieg Ramones will play a set of 100% 'Gabba Gabba Hey!' Ramones classics, featuring fearsomely good front-woman Laura J Snook of Psychotic Reactions, Stuey Gallagher of Mad-fer-it, ace rock drummer Boom Baar and Robby G-String (he only plays the g-string, apparently) on bass guitar. The Ramones night will also feature a full support set from accomplished pop-punk rockers Adobo Conspiracy. As bar manager Dave Rabie told Leng Pleng, Sharky's has a bona-fide connection to, as well as a spiritual affinity with, the legendary American band:

[Sharky Principal Partner] Mike used to work as a manager at CBGB's in New York City. The Ramones, The New York Dolls and Iggy Pop started the punk movement in America via CBGB's. Niki Buzz was in the house band. Tommy Ramone was right in there, the pulse, the drummer who inspired the likes of Metallica and all the bands that came later. Nobody drummed that fast before! It's not just about the Ramones, but the movement that the Ramones started...”

Until next time, stay safe out there and.... see you around the traps!


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