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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 21st August 2014

Latin-rock band Bacano return to Oscar Rock Cafe this Friday night with a new lead guitarist/vocalist known as Zargz. The frontman of Zargz & The TenTipz, formerly known as Pavel Ramirez, helped Bacano to ‘bring the house down’ during their last appearance at Oscar’s a few weeks ago. The surprise midnight set was a great bonus in a night featuring several acts performing under the banner of ‘Oscar SOS’ or ‘Save Oscars’. Happily, it seems that the initiative was successful as the venue is still going strong with live music happening on most nights of the week. The unique visual feel of the establishment has been further enhanced with musically-themed murals painted by none other than Jim Heston - the celebrated ‘Nite Sniper’ of Phnom Penh. On any given night, Jim can be seen roaming the streets of Phnom Penh with his camera during the midnight hour, capturing gritty and colourful scenes of city nightlife. 
Bacano pic by Jim Heston
Earlier on Friday, Music Arts School kicks off the weekend with a concert that presents a fascinating mixed-program. Firstly, classical music by Elgar and Mendelssohn will be performed by pianist Lisa Lee and cellist Saeromi Kim of the Korean NGO ‘Music for One Foundation’. This will be followed by a group of Korean and Cambodian musicians who will collaborate to perform a collection of original arrangements and then, finally, the Music Arts School Teachers Quintet will play the music of celebrated film composer Ennio Morricone. The performance begins at 5pm and reservations are recommended at the school reception or by calling 023 997 290. Please note that the school has recently relocated to Street 360, BKK1, Phnom Penh. More information here. Music Arts School is very active within the Phnom Penh music scene, with teachers such as Bunhong Cheak and Aymen Ghali often seen out gigging ‘around the traps’. Crucially, the organisation gives a lot of encouragement and support to help young Cambodian students to ‘get out there’ and perform in public. 

The Underdogs are one of the most successful acts to come out of Music Arts School. The band has been active for around one year, playing Khmer-rock ‘Golden Era’ classics of the 1960’s and 70’s with an increasingly powerful and authoritative sound. The Underdogs play a show this Saturday at Equinox. It is always fun to see a band playing Khmer-rock at a venue where the audience is largely comprised of a combination between expats and tourists. The tourists are the ones bouncing around in excited delight and amazement at discovering this unique, psychedelic music for the first time.
The Underdogs pic by Ken Edgar
Another notable gig takes place at Sharky Bar on Saturday when The Fumes return with their brand new singer. The band has spent years building up a Phnom Penh following for their indie-rock sound and Fumes fans will be pleased to welcome them back. Meanwhile, in Kampot, a huge party will be taking place at Naga House as a full house of DJs, MCs and spoken-word poets including Kosal Khiev and MC Kaztet D team up to celebrate ‘DSN’s Birthday Bash’.

A special event takes place on Sunday at the Chenla Theatre, Psar Deum Kor, Phnom Penh. The African Night Concert will run from 6pm until midnight and feature drama, comedy, traditional African music and dance, DJs and live musicians. Generous helpings of ‘highlife’ music are promised – the irresistible sound of Ghana and Nigeria characterised by multiple harmonised guitar lines and rousing jazz horns. 

Mathias Aspelin spends the weekend in musical residency at Himawari Hotel Apartments. Showtime on Friday, Saturday and Sunday is 6.30pm, giving ample opportunity to hear this world-class modern jazz pianist. Mathias has a delicate touch on the keys which tends to draw listeners closer to the piano. His subtle re-workings of jazz pieces are exquisitely formed and the composer-educator is a musician truly possessing the ability to take his audience on a journey. 

Equinox leads the way on Wednesday with an alternative approach to staging an open mic night. Their monthly event, previously hosted by Texas-born drummer Troy Campbell, does not adhere to the normal convention of being hosted by a guitar-toting singer. Bassist Andre Swart is in charge of proceedings this week – an inspired choice for an open mic host given that he is one of the best-loved and most easy-going members of the expat music scene in Phnom Penh. Andre might not sing any numbers on Wednesday (although I hope he will perform his version of the song ‘The Weight’) but he is bound to encourage a fun night and a long waiting list of performers. 

In other news, Phnom Penh musicians Chris Hilleary and ‘Smokin’ Kenny Smith have recently teamed up to create Mekong Guitars. Kenny’s skills in guitar repair, refurbishment and restoration are already well-known and well-respected in Phnom Penh. The guys can help you resolve your guitar issues and they also have a line of 1980's-era Japanese guitars and basses for sale. Mekong Guitars inform us that 10% of proceeds are donated to organizations that support children living with HIV in Cambodia. See here for more information.

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



  1. '''''''''''In other news, Phnom Penh musicians Chris Hilleary and ‘Smokin’ Kenny Smith have recently teamed up to create Mekong Guitars. Kenny’s skills in guitar repair, refurbishment and restoration are already well-known and well-respected in Phnom Penh. '''''''''''' In case you didn't know Kenny has been making counterfeit Fender guitars for years and selling them as real. That is pretty common knowledge.

    1. There's nothing more gutless than to post a disparaging comment on a web site as an anonymous user.

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