When singer-songwriter Hameer Zawawi got in touch from Malaysia, I knew that he would be bringing something extremely different and unusual to Phnom Penh, during his first ever visit here. He tags his music as ‘theatrical folk’ and it is highly original. Not the usual cover song stuff or genre-led music.
A different kind of artist requires a different kind of venue. We love the Phnom Penh music scene but sometimes stuff gets lost in noisy bars: if you present something as background music, it gets treated as background music – listening optional, with no entry charge.
Let’s change that. Wouldn’t it be great to have a small, fully kitted-out venue where emerging artists and overseas artists could play a great, intense and intimate show, for a reasonable cover charge?
Enter Dana and Neb of the new Java Creative Cafe on Street 468 in Tuol Tumpung, Phnom Penh. Java have created a purpose-built, 54-seat, black box theater space which spans the first-floor mezzanine and the ground floor of the new Java Creative Cafe. They call it ‘Counterspace’.
Dana and Neb were VERY responsive and EXTREMELY generous when I explained that I needed a place for Hameer to make his debut in Phnom Penh… in quite a quick time frame. Within a couple of days the show was organised, tickets on sale and poster created. Cheers guys!
When Phnom-Penh-based engineer Warren Daly agreed to help with sound and lights, and local emerging music star Vanntin Hoeurn agreed to open the show, I knew I was on to ‘a winner’.
Now all we need is… you! Will this show be a one-off… or can we carve a niche for interesting small music concerts, properly produced, in Phnom Penh? The audience will decide!
Seats are strictly limited at 54, so please book in advance to avoid disappointment. The tickets for this show are being processed via last2ticket – you can buy online via your visa card or via ABA pay …. or walk-in to Java Creative or Java Cafe (central) to purchase with cash.
Simply click this link to purchase your ticket:
Keep up-to-date with the event via the Facebook event page:
Learn lots more about the headlining artist Hammer Zawawi:
Leng Pleng Interview with Hameer Zawawi Thursday 7th June 2018:
When Miss Sarawan rocked up to Koh Pich City Hall last Thursday night, she was greeted by a wonderfully decked-out venue, dressed in the red-and-white livery of Total Cambodge. The huge and ornate ballroom was the setting for a luxurious dinner and entertainment show for the Phnom Penh based management and staff of the company.
As the band tuned up their instruments, a troupe of talented performers from the Battambang-base Phare Ponleu Selpak adjusted their costumes, and a lightbox and projection screen was prepared for a skilled sand artist from Russia.
As the dinner got underway, superb jazz players Stan Paleco (guitar), Andrey Meshcheryakov (bass) and Antti Siitonen (drums) warmed things up with some silky smooth and dazzling jazz tunes.
As the applause from the hundreds of guests for the stunning sand artist and the amazing circus performers was still ringing out around the huge hall, Miss Sarawan took the stage and really kicked the celebrations into high gear.
The staff of Total were ready for a party!
When all the speeches, presentations, and performances were done, it was finally time for a couple of last songs. How about a little ‘Caravan’, with explosive drum solo by Antti… followed by the best-loved song in Cambodia, ‘Chnam Oum Dop Bpram Muay’? … that’ll do nicely!
Goodnight Total! Thanks for another great event and see you next time !
Miss Sarawan Acoustic Duo : Mealea Lay and Joe Wrigley perform Cambodian ‘Golden Era’ classics and original songs. Exciting things are happening for Miss Sarawan at the moment.
She was recently featured in this segment for TV5:
Showing off her singing skills at an acoustic duo in Phnom Penh, while explaining her background living in a Phnom Penh temple and revealing that her nickname in her home province used to be ‘buffalo girl’! The interviewer seemed more interested in discussing the meaning of her original song ‘Alcoholic Husband’ – and the TV5 segment was edited in such a way as to infer that Joe Wrigley is the subject of this song ! !
‘Alcoholic Husband’ is one of several original songs being recorded by Miss Sarawan for her debut album. Much more news about that coming soon.
Miss Sarawan is very proud to have been invited to perform, with her full band, at next week’s ‘Queens Birthday Party’ event at the Intercontinental in Phnom Penh. Every year, the Embassy of the United Kingdom holds a gala reception to welcome Cambodian ministers, dignitaries and business leaders. The prestigious by-invitation-only cocktail reception will take place in the grand ballroom of the Intercon, where honoured guests will be entertained by The Miss Sarawan twins, with Joe Wrigley and a full backing band.
Here is an amateur video clip of The Sarawan Twins performing with Phil Javelle at a recent Cambodian Film Festival gig:
And here are some pictures from previous gala ‘Queen’s Birthday Party’ celebrations at the Intercon:
Joe Wrigley Music was proud to be a partner of The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride 2016 – Cambodia edition!
On Sunday September the 25th 2016, more than 50,000 dapper riders in over 500 cities across 90 countries united for the world’s largest motorcycling charity event upon their classic & vintage styled motorcycles (https://www.gentlemansride.com/).
In Phnom Penh, more than two-hundred riders answered an early morning call at Java Cafe, near the Independence Monument. The participants cut quite a dash as they cruised over the Japanese Bridge to the Sokha Hotel, and rode on to Tuol Kork before returning to the Independence Monument for a photo opportunity. All riders were sponsored to raise funds for men’s health charities and prostrate cancer research. The sponsored funds raised thousands of dollars, and thousands more would be raised at a charity auction taking place at Chinese House, Phnom Penh.
The afternoon after-party was fortunate in having bright sunshine, delicious barbecue, lots of cold beer and… a full sound system provided by Joe Wrigley Music. A long list of Phnom Penh musicians lined up to contribute their time to the cause. First up was Scott Bywater, who couldn’t resist a cheeky cover version of Arlo Guthrie’s ‘Motorcycle Song’.
Canadian country singer Clay George took to the stage with a full compliment of musicians behind him. Chris Hilleary (bass), Henrik Rasmussen (percussion), Pavel Ramirez (guitar), Colin Grafton (harmonica) and the two ‘duelling’ fiddles of Steve Sutcliffe and Graham Kemish all got involved in a spirited version of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. After a well-received cover of Roger Miller’s ‘King of the Road’, Cambodian singer Miss Sarawan joined Clay on stage for a mixed Cambodian/English language version of the Hank Williams country classic ‘Jambalaya’. The crowd loved it!
The music wrapped up with three songs from American singer Sarah Gee. When she finished the set with a rousing version of ‘Midnight Special’, the whole after-party was rocking and singing along. Phew! What a great (but very tiring) day!
Danny Lumen is an expert bass player from the Philippines. Longer-term Phnom Penh gig-goers will know Danny from the heydays of Bona and Mel’s Memphis Pub on Street 118. More recently Danny has been a house player for the Oscar Bar. In fact, he has been playing live music in Phnom Penh since 1993, when Danny was a member of a ‘Mariachi’ trio performing in the restaurant of the Royal Phnom Penh Hotel.
While everyone on the scene in Phnom Penh knows Danny as a great electric bass player, what we didn’t know was that he also plays upright (double) bass! Danny revealed this fact to Jumping Jack Antti Siitonen when Antti mentioned that Joe & The Jumping Jacks were looking for a new player. Danny dug out his old bass, dusted off ten years of non-use, and set to work on re-learning some classic 1950’s rockabilly tunes. Anyone who loves that era of music knows that the rockabilly sound is built on the ‘slap bass’ style – where an upright bass player alternates plucked notes with a percussive ‘click’ of the string.
A few days later, Danny was rocking and rolling with Antti and Joe down at the Paddy Rice open mic. It worked – you’re hired! Finding an upright bass player in Phnom Penh is difficult enough, finding a great player who can play rockabilly style – major coup!
In July (following a bunch of rehearsals!) Danny will be joining Joe and Antti for some Jumping Jacks gigs in Phnom Penh. The new line-up will debut at Oscar’s On The Corner on Saturday July the 9th. We sincerely hope to once again experience the electrifying and fun atmosphere of our last gig there in May.
Botanico is a craft beer garden on Street 29 (around 100 metres south of the King Father Sihanouk Monument). Road to Mandalay recently inaugurated Botanico as a live music venue and Joe & The Jumping Jacks are very happy to announce what we hope will be the first of many lively shows there. The co-owner, Bob, is a musician himself and has furnished the bandstand with a small-but-high-quality sound system set-up. The Jacks will play an early show there on Saturday the 16th July.
On Friday the 22nd July, the Jumping Jacks trio will return to the scene of many a memorable gig – at Bassac Lanes. The audience at this unique venue – a back-alley conglomeration of tiny, trendy, hole-in-the-wall bars – is comprised of local hipsters, visiting tourists and a large group of neighbourhood kids! Every time the Jacks have played there, the place has been absolutely rocking – and we hope that the show on the 22nd will be no exception!
Join the Jumping Jacks in July for more rocking good times in Cambodia – and please help us welcome the outstanding upright bass player Danny Lumen to the band!
The above video is a sample of some live tunes from our latest gig at Duplex on the 11th June. Thanks and best of luck to bass player Alex Thien, who plays daily at Connexion restaurant in Takamao – rock on!
This Thursday, The Miss Sarawan Acoustic Trio will be making their debut at The French Institute, Street 184, Phnom Penh (google maps link).
The live music performance precedes a DJ set by DJ Oro of The Cambodian Vintage Music Archive. Oro is a tireless flame-keeper of the original sounds of 1960’s and 1970’s Cambodian rock’n’roll. There is something magical about hearing these sounds on the original, rare vinyl.
‘The vinyl records containing this wonderful music were sought out and destroyed by Pol Pot’s regime while the recording artists were themselves nearly completely wiped from the face of the earth. To protect their own lives, Cambodians were forced to burn all their music albums and throw the remains into the river (Leng Pleng: an interview with Jimmy Kiss). Some record collections survived, buried in the ground, hidden in sewage systems or petroleum containers. Today, archivists like Oro make painstaking efforts to preserve the vinyl and are able to make the music available digitally. Check out the video below to learn more. Subscribe to Oro’s Cambodian Vintage Music Archive YouTube Channel to hear this amazing ‘Golden Era’ music. ‘ – Leng Pleng Gig Guide of Cambodia, August 2015.
Miss Sarawan will be singing her own original songs together with a large selection of those 60’s and 70’s classics. Her backing musicians Joe (rhythm guitar) and Jeff (lead guitar) will help mix things up with a few English-language verses and even a few lines of Khmer! The guys will also add in a little bass guitar and Cajon rhythm box to keep things moving.
If you haven’t yet visited the French Institute, this will be a great opportunity! The gig will take place in the beautiful garden grounds (or in a covered area if raining). The live music will start at 7pm, with DJ Oro playing his set from 8.30pm. Entrance is free.
More links for Miss Sarawan:
Watch on YouTube:
On Saturday the 4th June, a huge festival of music, games and fun took place at Northbridge International School in Phnom Penh. The US Embassy Community Liaison Office and The American Chamber of Commerce jointly organised the event.
When US Ambassador William A. Heidt took to the stage to make his opening remarks, he described the Summerfest as a ‘late Memorial Day, early Independence Day party’. As the midday sun was blazing on to the green grass of the Northbridge baseball field, more than one thousand ticket-holders congregated around the scores of vendors from Cambodia Beer, Coca-Cola, Dan’s Meats and Dairy Queen (to name but a few). In the middle of the field, the Embassy staff had set up a huge stage and sound system.
After the US Marine Corps Color Guard had completed their ceremonial duties (in full dress blues), it was time for The Blueberry Moonboys to take the stage and kick the all-day party into high gear! Richard ‘Banjoman’ Pearl struck up the chords of opening number ‘My Blue Heaven’ and launched the band into a high-energy rendition of the Fats Domino American classic.
A few songs later, expert violinist Steve Sutcliffe reeled off an entertaining version of ‘Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White’ – the Latin mambo dance classic made famous by Perez Prado. As the band segued into a cha-cha, guest singer Miss Sarawan entered stage right to entertain the smiling audience members with a Cambodian-language song. It was a big hit!
The Blueberries finished their set with an uptempo medley of country songs – from Willie Nelson’s ‘On The Road Again’ to Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison’ to Hank Williams’ ‘Hey Good Lookin’. The Moonboys’ classic American formation of fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass and drums – all played with a lot of verve and gusto – was perfectly suited to the classic American music. Listening to the audience cheering on the band, it seemed like the perfect performance for America’s Summerfest!
The Blueberry Moonboys: ‘an ol’time, good-time swing-thing‘
Swing-Jazz, Classic American Tunes, Jazz-Blues, Country. Combination of electric violin, guitar, banjo, drums/percussion, bass. All-time classic American repertoire. Emphasis on ‘showtime’ performance.
Performances of Note:
UK singer-songwriter Joe Wrigley has taken his guitar all around the world looking for musicians to share his love of Rockabilly music. The band Joe & The Jumping Jacks is the result of one man’s obsession with a certain period of Rock’n’Roll history in between the energetic Country music of Hank Williams and the British Beat Groups of the early 1960’s. Joe continues to search for the magical 1950’s sound of Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly that never fails to fill the dance floor and bring a smile to the audience.
Based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Joe got together with rocking drummer Antti Siitonen (Finland) and driving bass player Danny Lumen (Phillipines). Together, they form a powerhouse trio of 1950’s-flavoured rock’n’roll mayhem. Joe & The Jumping Jacks wow their crowd with a resounding combination of rock’n’roll dancing classics, esoteric rockabilly cuts and memorable original songs.
Performances of Note:
Mekong Messengers: ‘Americana Music Deluxe’
Full band playing American blues, country and soul music, featuring incredibly talented lead singer Kristen Rasmussen. Very suited to larger stages and events.
Performances of Note:
Tiger Beer ‘Blue Moon Night’, Le Moon Terrace Bar, Amanjaya Hotel, Phnom Penh
US Embassy Fourth of July Party, Phnom Penh
Penhstock V Music Festival, Sharky Bar, Phnom Penh
New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner, FCC Angkor Siem Reap
FCC – The Mansion, Phnom Penh