It is great to get away from it all sometimes. To spend three days away from the overcrowded, noisy, gridlocked streets of Phnom Penh. To escape the stench of trash on the road, the incessant blaring horns of vehicles and the gritty taste of dust in one's mouth. The great thing was, I didn't even have to leave the city to get away from these daily torments... because everyone else left! For three glorious days of Pchum Ben I enjoyed a holiday mood, driving my little 50cc moto around a deserted Phnom Penh. Now things are almost back to normal in this town - but I have an appetite for further unhurried and unharried adventures. Perhaps a trip to Kampot is in order!
|The Kampot Playboys|
The Kampot Playboys have a long-established jam session at Madi House each Thursday night. This excellent band combine Khmer vocals and a smokin' hot Tro Sau Toch (traditional Khmer bowed instrument) with groove-orientated drums, bass and guitar. The resulting retro-rock fusion can wander in surprising directions but the band is galvanised by the sheer energy contributed by Uk Sokchiet (vocals, guitar), Bong Tro (Tro) and brothers Mark (bass guitar) and Ben (drums) Chattaway. The band will also be joined this very evening by occasional second guitarist Conrad Keely. The …Trail of Dead front-man put in a telephone call to Leng Pleng from a speeding Toyota Camry – somewhere between Kampong Speu and Chhuk. Jack had some trouble hearing what Conrad was saying above the noise of the road – but there was definitely something along the lines of 'it's going to be a great gig tonight'.
The Bodhi Villa has a well-deserved reputation for being the place to visit in Kampot for live music and DJs on a Friday night. Looking at the riverside venue in the daytime, it is hard to imagine how Bodhi impresario Hugh Monroe manages to cram a full band, DJ, sound system and one hundred or more bouncing revellers into the less-than-gigantic proportions of Bodhi Villa. But cram them he does - whether at the bar, on the dance floor or on the pontoons floating on the Kampot River, and it always seems to work. Hugh and his team work meticulously to ensure the sound system is in great shape for each show. When the Friday night crowd at the wooden-structured villa are enjoying themselves, the entire venue is quite literally 'bouncing'. Television Ted reliably informs me that the place is going to be pumping this Friday - when the totally energetic and rolling rockabilly band, Joe Wrigley & The Jumping Jacks, return to play an extended set of outrageously great tunes.
Made in Cambodia (M.I.C.) is a special mixed event that is taking place in Kampot this Saturday. M.I.C is a celebration of Cambodian street arts. Brand-new arts space Lightbox will host the party comprising of live music, break-dancing and skateboarding as well as film, photography, art exhibition and live painting. Sreyleak of Klapyahandz, spoken-word poet Kosal Khiev and DJ Kdam are just a few of the several artists performing. It will be a great party! M.I.C. is jointly organised by Katharina Glynne of Lightbox and Kampot-based community organisation Dao of Life. The organsiers told Leng Pleng:
'Made in Cambodia will bring together young street culture artists and performers from Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, offering an opportunity to meet, exchange knowledge and grow their communities.'
When M.I.C. wraps up at Lightbox, the after-party will kick in at the Saturday-night Kampot destination of choice – Naga House. For more information, see the facebook event page.
Check out the awesome sounds below from one of the performers appearing at M.I.C – Mute Speaker – 'Khmer-influenced beats made almost exclusively from samples and field recordings collected on a recent trip to Cambodia.'
Whether you are wandering through the backwaters of Kampot, or navigating the back streets of Phnom Penh, stay safe out there and... see you around the traps!