As a connoisseur of surreal experiences, one of the joys of my life has been playing American country blues in far flung places. I've managed to find receptive audiences for tunes by Blind Blake, Brownie McGhee, Blind Boy Fuller, Howling Wolf and Big Bill Broonzy in venues ranging from waterfront dives in Venezuela and Bequia, a nudist resort in St. Martin, the oil town bars of Maturin and El Tigre, Venezulea, and the Convention Centre in Hong Kong. More recently, I am playing in Cambodia.
The Bodhi Villa Guest House (http://www.bodhivilla.com/) sits on the Kampot river and provides bungalows for travelers. More to the point of this blog, it offers a lovely outdoor bar and restaurant, with live music every Friday evening.
The clientele comes from all over the world. Last Friday I chatted with Brad, a young Dutchman traveling around SE Asia for three, maybe four, well, perhaps six months, before going home or maybe to Australia to work. "There is nothing to go home to," he told me with a shrug as he sampled a strange brownish cocktail called "The Dude". "And it is cold." It is warm in Cambodia.
One of the singers performing Friday was Irena, who hails from Australia and is here for a year, working for Epic Arts Cafe, which is an organization that helps Cambodians. She is not happy about how quickly the year is slipping by, and is recording a CD of her original (and quite original at that) songs. She has a perfect voice for her material.
Hugh, the Australian who owns the place, and I are playing the first set. He has a completely different musical background to mind, and is younger, so performing together is delightfully unpredictable experience. We cobbled together some odd arrangements, including a jazzy take on The Doors song PEOPLE ARE STRANGE, which indeed they are, and our arrangement makes that clear. Musicians are even stranger. Afterward, I play a Howling Wolf tune. This eclectic mix goes down well, of course, Hugh is giving away tequila shooters and that can't hurt.
Life and music are good in Cambodia. It's a good place to write as well.