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

Weekly Wrap - Commencing Thursday 10th December 2015

Top Cat
Ten years of trading is quite an achievement in the ceaselessly shifting landscape that is the Phnom Penh hospitality industry. The Alleycat Cafe has served Tex-mex food, cold cans of Cambodian beer and alternative live music events out of a 'hole in the wall' off Street 19 since 2005. During this time, the British owner of the venue - Mark Eastty - has seen his street transformed from a quiet, dusty lane-way into a constricted corridor linking high-rise hotels and newly-refurbished apartments. This 'organic' (i.e. unplanned, unregulated) urban development of Phnom Penh side-streets seems to point towards the warren-like alleyways running through District 1 of Saigon - with the unhealthy addition of far-too-many SUVs and tuk-tuks... ensuring total, lobotomy-level, traffic congestion.
pic: Sunday Sundowners Facebook
The original alley cat ('Zorro') and the infamous Alleycat dog ('Rabbit') are both long gone but the unlikely music venue has continued to attract a steady trickle of superb acts and artists. The 'Sundowner Sessions' acoustic jam takes place each Sunday afternoon and solo artists are featured on Friday nights. Mark is never afraid to squeeze in a five-piece band when the opportunity arises, with memorable performances from the likes of The Kampot Playboys, Batbangers and Up2UMango. The Cambodian Space Project played their first-ever gig at The Alleycat Cafe in 2009. Somehow, some-way, the best and brightest visiting musicians always seem to turn up out of the blue and make something magical happen. Players such as Roxane Dumont, Aymen Ghali and, most recently, Clay George posses the ability to mesmerise and inspire with a deft strum of an acoustic guitar and a few words of a song.
Today (Thursday), The Alleycat Cafe will celebrate their tenth anniversary with an all-day marathon of live music. I forget which public holiday was allocated to the 10th December, 2015 (it is hard to keep track) but a designated day off work for most folks has prompted this potentially hazardous daytime revelry. By the time you read this, proceedings will already be well under way and several celebratory libations will have already been consumed. The live music schedule will begin with Scott Bywater at 11am and continue with Max Jones & 9999 Arts Group and Clay George. Performances by Bitches Mix and the reformed Simone & Carbunkle will precede a late-afternoon acoustic jam. Proceedings will wind up in the night-time with spots by James Douglas and Conrad Keely. Leng Pleng would like to extend a warm 'happy birthday' to the Alleycat and... thanks for the music!
See Festivals
The inaugural Audi International Jazz Festival will take place in Phnom Penh next week from Monday to Thursday. Four concerts of world-class jazz music will be held at the Audi Showroom (by invitation only), Raffles Hotel le Royal and Doors Phnom Penh. Italian jazz chanteuse Flora Faja will sing with the Christian Brenner piano trio at Doors on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, gifted saxophonist Martin Jacobsen will perform with the Brenner trio. Headlining act Giovanni Mirabassi will be jetting over from Japan to perform with his own piano trio at Raffles on Thursday the 17th. Check out the video below for a preview.

Kampot city will, once again, be a hive of activity this weekend when the Cambodian Government-sponsored Sea Festival will take place. Although information is scarce, our resident 'pot-pat' correspondent Donkey Dave has reported several stages being erected in the city-centre. The official warning level for the likelihood of encountering dangerously high decibel levels of karaoke music in Kampot has been raised from 'black' to 'amber'. Following on from the success of previous iterations of the festival in Sihanoukville (2012), Kep (2013) and on Koh Kong (2014), Cambodian officials have been diligently laying the long-term groundwork for the Kampot Sea Festival 2015, ensuring that this will be the most successful edition ever staged. An official poster for the event was released as early as last Tuesday, with the final dates of the festival being decided way back in November 2015. 

Video: Kampot Governor H.E. Khoy Khun Huor complains of 'tiredness' due to his hard work in preparing for Kampot Sea Festival 2015

An official Ministry of Tourism video, giving in-depth information about what the festival is and when it will take place was released on Youtube this morning, a full day before the festival is scheduled to commence. The view count, at time of writing, was already soaring into double figures. Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has an appropriately high level of confidence in the success of the festival, predicting an influx of visitors to Kampot that 'could well exceed 300,000' (12go.asia/en : 'Cambodia confirms dates for Sea Festival at Kampot'). It is unclear whether this figure has been misquoted or whether the Minister of Tourism truly expects a city-crippling throng of more than a quarter-of-a-million to hit Kampot like a tidal wave (or... like a flash flood caused by opening the Kamchay Hydropower Dam).

pic: traffic in Kampot may get heavy over next few days : pic: cambodiahotels.biz
Those fine musicians The Kampot Playboys, Scott Bywater and Clay George will all be in action in Kampot this week. The Playboys will celebrate the fifth anniversary of Madi's Bar with a gig on Thursday night, while Scott Bywater and James Speck will perform as a duo at Banyan Tree on Friday. Canadian troubadour Clay George will give a show at new Kampot venue Tantrei on Saturday. Good luck with the crowds, guys!

Whatever you're up to over the next few days... stay safe out there and... see you around the traps!


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