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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 31st July 2014

Phil Javelle - pic courtesy of artist
Phil Javelle is a long-established member of the Cambodian music scene – expertly navigating different venues and styles. On any given night, he might begin with a jazz trio in a five-star hotel, continue with an intimate solo dinnertime set in a fabulous restaurant, and conclude with a raucous DJ collaboration in a crowded nightclub. He is just as comfortable behind the piano keyboard as he is on clarinet, saxophone, lead vocals or percussion. This Thursday night finds him in a cosy and elegant spot called The Alley Bar near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Phil modestly describes the evening's musical program as 'mostly acoustic pop tunes, just me and my piano'.

The tempo increases on Friday night with the launch of the beautifully-designed new Phnom Penh venue Duplex on St. 278. Phil will be blowing tenor saxophone with DJ Shaman. DJs Bluesabelle and Illest are also in attendance to entertain what promises to be a very large contingent of the city's finest movers, shakers and party-makers. Television Ted and I will try to slip in via the service entrance. No word yet of any plans for live bands at Duplex but, as always, watch this space for any developments.

A great line-up of bands and musicians gather at Oscar Rock Cafe this Saturday night to pay tribute to, and celebrate with, the very determined Oscar. The road to success has not always been smooth for the Street 51 venue and Oscar has not made a secret of the setbacks he has encountered in trying to keep his place going. As long as the Rock Cafe doors are open, however, there will be a great stage available for local bands to perform on and a uniquely unpretentious live music destination for late-night gig-goers. It may not be to everyone's taste, but the bar provides a refreshing alternative to the clean, modern, homogeneous hospitality-industry developments overtaking Phnom Penh. If David Lynch makes his next movie in Cambodia, Oscar Rock Cafe might serve as a choice location for the nightclub scene. Smokin' Kenny Smith, Pavel Ramirez, Joe Wrigley, Miss Sarawan, 3Some and the man himself Oscar join forces on Saturday to try and breathe a bit of life into the venue.

Oscar Rock Cafe - pic courtesy of venue
Sometimes the best live music experience is found in the most intimate or unlikely places. Kheltica perform a special gig at Le Temps des Cerises earlier on Saturday evening. The first set will consist of Arabic music performed on guitar, djembe and flute – see the sneak preview video below, courtesy of Kheltica bass-man Andre Swart. Afterwards the band will add several more instruments to render their own special take on Celtic folk music.

Brazilian drummer and percussionist Luis Arambarri (playing the djembe drum in the above video) is an expert on Latin music. The former professional dancer has assembled a new trio comprising of piano, bass guitar and drums to bring some authentic bossa-nova, Brazilian and Cuban music to Cambodia. Leon Kondo and Dima Verba complete Luis Latin Trio – making their début at Slur Bar this Saturday before heading to Doors Phnom Penh for a show on Wednesday evening.

Luis Latin Trio - pic courtesy of artist
The Phnom Penh music scene loses (only temporarily, we hope) one of it's best-loved members this week as Troy Campbell departs for the U.S.A. The Austin, Texas-bound drummer elevated every open mic in town to a new level of musicianship over the last few months by showing up and grabbing whatever drum set, boxtop or random item of furniture he could find and pounding out hours of musical rhythms. Happily addicted to making beats, Troy could rarely tear himself away from the jam for more than one song at a time – and the jam sessions will be much the worse without him.

Finally, a big shout out to our everyone taking part in the Cambodian Music Festival in Hollywood this weekend. As stated below in the fantastic video by Sok Visal's 391 Films: 'You can focus on the dark and dirty background... or you can focus on the light and beauty in front of you. Respect to all the individuals and organisations promoting Khmer Culture, Arts and Positive Initiatives. Peace, Love and Unity'.

The track is called 'Don't forget the Sound of the Cambo Land' by the very talented UK artist Gobshite. Until next time, stay safe out there and... see you around the traps!

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