The Thai Bee Gees At NCR

This was an event that held a lot of importance to the bar in question, New Country Road, which, like many other bars in and around the city of Pattaya in Thailand, is struggling to survive during low season. This year by all accounts, has been the worst yet and there seems little sign of improvement.

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But I helped my good friends and owners of the bar to promote the event and it paid dividends, as you will discover as you read on.

However, it was far from plain sailing. The threat of rain was always going to be a factor but thankfully Buddha was on our side. It was a lovely day as we built up for the arrival of the band from Bangkok.

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Then disaster. As the band did their sound check, the quality of the sound emitting to the area where the guests would hopefully be sitting, was dire to say the least.

All the noise was heading into the bar leaving an inaudible whimper coming from the front facing speakers. It sounded like you were listening to music coming from a bar 100 metres away, and there was little we could do.

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As Martin, the boss, looked stressed out, and no wonder; my head was buzzing, searching for solutions. It was then I decided to phone Phil, the manager of a rather excellent bar in Khao Noi, known as Murphy’s Irish Pub.

NCR had hired equipment from them previously for the Jerry Lee Carlson gig, a few months back.

But would they be able to help us out? Thankfully, Phil and owner Steve, were on hand to provide us with two much needed, quality speakers.

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But the problems were far from over, because we didn’t have the correct cables to connect the new additions to the sound system.

Disaster was again averted, thanks to a top man called Darren, who just happened to have the appropriate cables with him. And so, after a bit of jiggery-pokery, we were ready for action.

All we needed now was customers.

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We advertised the event as an eight o’clock kick-off but there was no one there. It looked like a month of advertising had been in vain.

Just when it looked like things were going to go pear-shaped, a party of six arrived. Then another group of eight appeared as the band sang their first song.

Within 20 minutes we had 60 – 80 people seated and for the first time in the evening but not the last, we ran out of seats. Martin and his partner oil, went on the search for more chairs and tables.

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Thirty minutes into the gig and we had around 100 people and again, more seating was required. Chairs and tables duly arrived from other venues, who kindly helped out.

I spoke to a number of people that I had never seen in Rompho before, to determine where they heard about the event. It seems that our many Facebook ads on a variety of events pages, had indeed paid off.

There is no doubt that Facebook advertising works.

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So with a packed house, the boys from Bangkok, began turning on the style. They played two hours of Bee Gees hits. Song after song, had the audience applauding.

There was a table near the front, with European girls enjoying the event and they contributed by treated us to some excellent dancing over the course of the evening.

Many of the visitors were from Thailand but we had a diverse crowd from further afield, in a truly multi-cultural turn out. Germany, Australia, China, Canada, America, France, the UK and people from many other nations were present.

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Pattaya’s number one dancer, John Farr arrived and as always, it was not long before he was strutting his stuff around the perimeter.

The band belted out the hits in that unmistakable falsetto and vibrato voices, accompanied by excellent harmonies, much to the crowds’ delight.

Jive Talkin’, Staying Alive, Massachusetts, which was requested at least TWICE by those in attendance, Run To Me, You Should Be Dancing, To Love Somebody, Words, I Started A Joke, which was another one requested twice as the hits were delivered in their own impeccable tribute to the Bee Gees.

They continued with songs such as How Deep Is Your Love, More Than A Woman, If I Can’t Have You, Alone, Night Fever, Grease, You Win Again and the classic Tragedy.

For their third set, as always, they finished with their variety section, which is not Bee Gees hits. Here they had the girls, and the odd guy, up dancing to the likes of YMCA and numerous other party songs. They threw in a number of rock ‘n’ roll tracks including Blue Suede Shoes, which again had people on their feet.

I am great believer in promoting live music and not a huge fan of karaoke type acts. There is nothing better than listening to a live act, who play their instruments, assuming they are talented musicians of course. However, there are times when rules are meant to be broken and this is one such occasion.

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The guys play keyboard and guitar but for them to produce the sound of the Bee Gees completely live, would mean performing with an orchestra and that is never going to happen in Pattaya. So yes, they utilise backing tracks but they do it so well. The real talent is their vocals for they sound identical to the brothers Gibb, whom they play tribute to.

After over three hours of entertainment, the band sat down with some of the guests and enjoyed a well deserved refreshment.

Would I go and see them again, having already enjoyed their performance twice? Abso-bloody-lutely.

Bangkok weekend anyone?

One comment spotted on New Country Road’s Facebook page in response to my offer of gratitude to the many people who assisted and took the time to come and enjoy the music, had me laughing or to use a word I particularly like “cachinnating”.

It came from Paul Bardsley. He said “A fantastic tribute band who could hit those “scrotum squeezing” high notes!

“A great evening at NCR! Thank you Martin, Oil and the staff!

Til next time………….”

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The Blue Sky Band

I wasn’t planning on taking in two bands in one week, for after the Thai Bee Gees, I considered that anything else was going to be a bit of a let down. I mean no disrespect to other musicians in Pattaya but the Bee Gees blew me away and I considered that ample entertainment for this week.

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However, a good friend invited me his bar to listen to his resident band, with the promise that I would not be disappointed. As it was the same venue the Bee Gees performed at, I gave it due consideration and decided to take the camera out for trip to central Pattaya.

The band were called, as the title of this story suggests, “The Blue Sky Band”. I was introduced to them and sat and enjoyed a brief history of the group and its members from drummer Oy. At sixty-four, he is the elder statesman of the group but he does not look his age.

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He informed the band had been on the go for six months and where I could see them playing around the city of Pattaya. Oy lived in Switzerland for 24 years before returning to his native Thailand.

He introduced the other members as Lek on bass, Aon who plays lead guitar, Joe the keyboard specialist and the very talented vocalist, Jowel, who is the baby of the band.

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I took my seat in front of the stage area and waited on the music commencing.

Like many groups, they played three sets, the first one featuring songs that are designed to settle the audience down. They played hits from the likes of Chicago and Procol Harum before treating us to the Cars, Elton John and even the Bee Gees.

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They sounded good but they hadn’t really grabbed my attention. That was until Jowel sang Sam Brown’s “Stop”. It was then that I realised the evening was going to get better. She followed this up with a fantastic vocal on “Simply The Best” from Tina Turner and again, I was starting to accept that the hype honoured on them by my good friend Steve, could actually be justified.

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Occasionally Oy took the lead vocals as Jowel either went for a rest, played guitar or keyboard or wandered around the bar. He did a pretty good rendition of “Hello”, the classic from Lionel Richie. I was taken aback by his vocals, not something you often hear from the drummer of a band.

Jowel returned to front the group and sang a superb cover of a song, that at the time, I could not think who sang the original or even decide on the title. I had to ask the singer what the song was. It was Adele’s “Hello” which I thought was called “The Other Side”.

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We live and learn.

They completed the first set with astounding versions of “Purple Rain” and “Sweet Child Of Mine” by Prince and Guns ‘n’ Roses respectively. It was during these two songs that I realised how good the musicians in The Blue Sky Band were. The drums, lead guitar and keyboards shone through.

I had requested “Proud Mary”, one of my all time favourite Tina Turner songs and Jowel, true to her word, opened the second set with the song and nailed it. The drums on this one were top drawer it has to be said.

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They band were really coming to life and stepped it up a gear as they entertained us with a song I never expected from them – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. The bass on this track pumped around the venue and the keyboards produced what sounded like the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. What a treat we were having and the best was yet to come.

I should have known they would be a top band because they play in the Hard Rock Cafe, a venue that only use the cream of talent from the Philippines, Indonesia and occasionally, Thailand.

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The other thing that was evident, was their grasp of English during the vocals. Every word was pronounced as it should be, which is a failing on many local bands.

I always prefer live music over bands or artists that use backing tracks but there are some I make exceptions for, such as the aforementioned Bee Gees, who were a class act.

The Blue Sky Band however, were live and rocking the joint.

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Jowel continued to amaze us with her versions of Heart’s “Alone”, accompanied only by the sound of the piano.

Similarly Oy offered us his interpretation of Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful To Me”. Aon exhibited his ability on the guitar as the five piece group played Toto’s “Hold The Line”.

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Then the real treat for me came with two back to back Queen hits “I Want To Break Free” and a spectacular version of “Somebody To Love”. The band were now well and truly alive and Jowel frolicked on the stage, goofing around with the band members. They were really enjoying this set.

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However, they attempted to cover Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares To You” which went pear shaped. They apologised and admitted they had never performed it before. Nevertheless, they came back to the song during the third set and did it justice.

It was during the third set that they played what I considered to be the best tune of the night. They had sang “First Cut Is The Deepest” in an acoustic style and “The House Of The Rising Sun” but when the played a very long intro to a Blondie track, I knew we were in for a treat.

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“Atomic” was just sublime. Jowel sang in the style of Debbie Harry but the band performed their own twist on the 1980 UK number one hit. Astonishingly, the recording just broke the top 40 in the USA back in the day.

With my evening complete, I packed up the camera and departed the Triangle Bar in the early hours. Three hours of wonderful music from a highly talented bunch of musicians, everyone of them a master of their trade.

It is baffling why talent of this nature is never seen around the globe or even further afield than Pattaya. In this case, it is Pattaya’s gain.

If you wish to see them, they play in the Triangle bar Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Variations of the band, under another name, play the Holiday Inn and The Hard Rock Cafe, although the line up is slightly different.

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The Thai Bee Gees

Music is a passion of mine and has been for many years. Alas it is only as a listener of quality songs over the decades as I never learned to play an instrument, and if I had my life over again, I would certainly pick up a guitar, drum sticks or keyboard and try and learn an instrument.

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For the moment, it will have to be the triangle, spoons or tambourine but there isn’t much demand for these skills.

However, what I lack in musical talent, I like to think I make up for with my trusty Nikon D750 and associated lenses and flash.

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Last night, I was accompanied by my hardware and a few friends and went to take in a gig featuring Bangkok band “The Thai Bee Gees”.

Now before I continue – there are numerous bands in Pattaya, who are Thai and musically they are extremely talented but when it comes to vocals, they struggling with English interpretations, especially when the letter “R” is used. Now I do not mean to be condescending or demeaning to anyone, for I know how difficult it is to learn to speak Thai but my point is, that the Thai bands are often let down when they commence singing.

It is for this reason, that many of the better bands feature Filipino or Indonesian singers to front them.

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This was not the case with the Thai Bee Gees, for this lot are top drawer. In fact, I would put them on a par with another amazing act and a great favourite of mine, Sweden’s “Jerry Lee Carlson”, who of course has played in Pattaya a few times and been the subject of my photography and blog on more than one occasion.

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Jerry is more flamboyant than the Thai Bee Gees. He has a huge stage presence and works his audience well as he sings the hits of Jerry Lee Lewis and other rock ‘n’ roll legends from days gone by.

The Bee Gees routine is 100% based on the vocals of the act they play tribute too. There are no gimmicks, no dancing, no fancy clothing or stage antics. They rely on the fact they sound like the Bee Gees to sell themselves and they do it very well indeed.

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They covered every Bee Gees song I could think of. In fact I got my iPhone out at one point and perused the trios hits over the decades, to see if they had missed any classics.

They had not!

The audience were given three sessions over a three hour period. They sang the early songs such as “I Started A Joke” which is one of my all time favourites. They did “Massachusetts”, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”, “Grease” and “I’ve Got To Get A Message To you”.

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The hits continued one after the other as the audience enjoyed the show from this talented group.

But it was the disco hits of the 1970s that really proved how good their harmonies were. “How Deep Is Your Love”, “More Than A Woman”, “Night Fever”, and “Staying Alive” had the Triangle Bar jumping.

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The floated back and forward to hits like “Run To Me”, “Words”, “You Win Again”, “You Should Be Dancing” and “To Love Somebody”.

For me, and for many others, the best came when the did a tremendous version of “Jive Talking” and followed that up superbly with “Tragedy”.

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Now there are many tribute acts around the world and I have seen a few but you will be hard pushed to find a show, which nails 80% of the songs covered, the way they did. I say 80% because like any other gig, there is always a song or two that you don’t know or possibly didn’t like. In this instance, there was maybe two I couldn’t claim to know.

Their third session was a variety of songs, showing how diverse they are. The covered the Eagles with “New Kid In Town and Hotel California” which of course most rock cover bands will do.

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Then they opened up with an excellent version of “Smooth” which was a hit for Santana of course. They sang three or maybe four catchy Thai songs, which had all the Thai ladies up dancing.

At my request, they finish with a couple of the disco hits as the guys happily repeated two of the earlier songs.

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Now, the group did use backing tracks. At the end of the day, there are only three of them and one only played the tambourine. The hits of the Bee Gees, frequently had orchestral backing, so they have little choice but use backing tracks.

I have no problem with this because their vocals and harmonies were simply sublime. One guy played keyboard and the other a guitar.

But I can assure you, they are not a karaoke band. The lads are extremely talented and entertaining.

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Steve Archer of the Triangle Bar is renowned for attracting some of the best acts to the venue. With Jerry Lee Carlson, The Bangkok Beatles and of course his regular nightly rock bands, the Triangle is one of the hot spots for music in Pattaya. The Thai Bee Gees graced the stage and hopefully will be back in Pattaya very soon.

Most local acts would kill to play at the Triangle for they always have a large audience. Yes there are numerous venues that supply a wonderful assortment of musical extravaganza; something for everyone you could say but there are few that come close to this venue.

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For those who like the Bee Gees and have not seen this tribute to the Brothers Gibb, I strongly suggest you do so. You will not be disappointed.

 

 

Soulmates

I was very much in demand at the weekend, which is never a bad thing. Nor is it something to complain about, for if you are being requested to attend certain events, they it suggests that I am doing something right.

Firstly a friend from Germany, Helmut, asked me to take some photos to assist in the promotion of his band and in particular, their new singer Maricel.

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It soon transpired that I would be participating with a band of maniacs, and I mean that in the kindest possible way.

I had met all of the band before apart from the new vocalist and my first impression was, she was very pretty and I may get some decent images. But I did not expect her to be so natural and fun in front of the camera.

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The images were to be taken at Dongtan Beach in Jomtien area of Pattaya and on location at the “Sand Bar By The Sea”. The light was fading fast, for in Thailand it gets dark from 19:00 and by 19:30 it was pitch black, apart from any ambient lighting from buildings.

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I hadn’t began taking the photos when the hilarity began. The top image is of Helmut and Maricel. The gentleman that he is, offered to carry the lady to the beach, because she couldn’t walk in her heels. It resulted in my first picture.

Next I snapped one of Maricel as she larked around, letting the sea breeze mess with her hair. She certainly enjoys being in front of the camera and was a dream to photograph.

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From there I took a couple of group shots before snapping head and shoulders photos of each member of the band, who are known as “Soulmates”.

All was going well despite the lack of light. I was using flash of course and it is well documented on my blog that I am not in favour of using what I believe is an offensive weapon but I am slowly beginning to make the best of any situation, where I have to use artificial lighting.

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My forte is of course studio work or in fact anything that involves pointing my camera at people and on this occasion, I had some excellent models to hone my skills on.

I learned a lot about the usage of flash from a fellow photographer living in Pattaya by the name of Marcus. He showed me the error of my ways and I feel that my photography has benefited from him taking the time to assist me. Just shows that we never stop learning.

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Based on that, I play around with settings when working with my Nikon SB700 flash. Sometimes I like to capture the ambient lighting, which is what I was failing miserably at before my meeting with Marcus.

However, sometimes I like to keep the background as dark as possible. This is by design as I believe that a plain background, can often emphasise the subject, in the case the model.

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Now time was tight as I had agreed to take images at a gig in central Pattaya at the Triangle Bar, where a top tribute band were performing. The band in question was the Thai Bee Gees. They commenced their performance at 21:00 and I wanted to be there early to get a front seat.

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My next post will be based on the Thai Bee Gees event.

This meant I could not hang around to listen to the new vocalist, but I did hear her first song and was very impressed.

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So I will make a point of going to see them for an evening in the very near future.

Helmet seems to have a knack of discovering wonderful female vocalists and it would be fair to say, he usually has the best in the city of Pattaya, and Maricel fits the bill perfectly.

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For those of you who haven’t seen Soulmates, you should make an effort and take in one of their gigs. Their selection of music often starts of slow and relaxed in their first set and builds up to a crescendo of top quality guitar, keyboards, bass and drums from the band and there are three top class vocalist to entertain you.

Their style is a mixture of blues, rock and soul but let me tell you – if you are a fan of lead guitar solos, you must go see this band.

Many thanks to the guys and doll for inviting me along to do these photos. Hopefully there will be many more as we go forward.

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Chinese Food At A Top Bar

A few weeks ago it was announced that the Corner House Bar in Rompho, Pattaya had done a deal with a local Chinese takeaway company called Wok N Rok, with the outcome being, the bar would be hosting a special buffet featuring Wok N Rok food.

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Going forward, the Corner House will also be offering Chinese cuisine from Monday to Saturday, so not only do I have access to some of the best delicacies in town, I can now eat it at one of my favourite bars.

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I decided to pop along to the buffet night and took my Nikon D750 with me to grab a few photos.

The food is cooked in a typically British style of Chinese cuisine, similar to what you find in almost any town or city across the UK. The chef is Thai but she spend many years working in Chinese restaurants in Scotland, so this for me is like a piece of home.

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My favourite is Chicken Curry, I cannot order a Chinese without having a curry, and Wok N Rok offer a fantastic variety of curries including beef, pork, chicken and special curry.

I am also partial to some Sweet ‘n’ Sour or Spare Ribs in either Gravy or Barbecue Sauce or in some instances, I will even have them dry.

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Wok N Rok have an extensive menu so it could take me some time and many visits to see Stuart and Phetch at the Corner House before I have worked my way through what’s on offer.

The buffet was a huge success as people ventured in over a four hour period.

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I hope that the daily service will take off, for Chinese restaurants are few and far between in the city of Pattaya.

I only took a few photos on the night, mainly due to a variety of circumstances but the food as you can see is amazing.

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The Corner House rarely do things by half measures and this was no exception. Everyone appeared to enjoyed their “All You Can Eat” buffet and washed their meal down with a few drinks of their choice.

Sadly I got caught up in other things and did not get the opportunity to sample the self service fare on offer but I will be around soon to order my favourite curry.

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Nom on the other hand, delved in and sampled the delicious food from what was, a substantial buffet.

Can you do it again Stuart?

And we need another Rompho party night 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party Times In Pattaya

It has been a while since I found time to update my blog but despite this, I have been active with the camera, although not as much as I would have liked.

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I still have an ongoing issue with my Nikon D750 but there is little I can do until I find a way to get my D610 delivered to me from Scotland.

Most of my attention has been taken up by parties, a subject that often involves great hilarity and meeting new and wonderful people here in Pattaya.

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Take my first image for instance. I was at a birthday party for a good friend “Phetch” when I spotted a gorgeous little girl enjoying a lolly. I introduced myself to her mother and asked permission to take a few photos.

The result is an image of an angelic little girl.

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My next offering is of the birthday girl herself and her boyfriend Stuart as he presents the birthday cake. This lovely couple own the Corner House in Rompho.

Next we have two images that for me, were the best of the night. Wan attended the party and sat beside myself and Nom. She had a couple of drinks and got up to dance. At the time however, she was on the stage and singing along with the band, providing me with a few classic images.

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Wan is one that you never take your eyes off, for you just do not know what she will do next.

The image of the lady singing (the one WITH the microphone) sings with a another chap that I have never managed to discover their name either as a duo or own identities. They are often seen entertaining around Rompho though.

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They are an excellent duo and produce some great cover versions of rock standards and ballads.

Staying at the Corner House Bar, I have included one of Nom, taken with Wan, before either of them had been dancing.

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I was going to say they were taken before any alcohol was consumed but that may be a lie.

Shortly after Phetch’s party, I was invited to another party for my good friend “Dong” er Martin.

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Martin and his delightful partner Oil, own New Country Road Bar (NCR) in Rompho, a short walk from the Corner House. I had assisted with some arrangements for this event, following the highly successful Jerry Lee Carlson gig at the NCR. Click here for photos and blog article.

Martin, like Stuart, has been very supportive of me during troubled times, and I owe this pair my very existence in Thailand. Yes you know who to blame now 🙂

Dong as he is affectionately known is pictured above.

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The entertainment for this came in the form of a Scottish lassie living in Pattaya by the name of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie. Steph does a lot of oldies like her name suggests, with a bit of hip shakin’, gyrating and knee grinding thrown in.

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One of the guests was a guy called John, another top man living here in Pattaya. John loves to dance, especially to the likes of Chuck Berry and despite being in his 70s, the man can boogie all night – almost non-stop.

Where he gets his energy from I have no idea but I wish I had half of it. Stamina beyond belief!

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It is incredibly rare for me to feature in my photos, mainly because I am almost always behind the lens.

But due to camera issues, another splendid chap known as Marcus attended, with a view of offering advice but as a result of his presence, I got some time to be on the receiving end of the camera. Marcus is a top photographer in his own right.

This one is of Nom and I, which would usually only be captured on a phone picture.

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Anyone hosting a party in Pattaya should really look into hiring the JÀger girls. These two lovelies work for free, promoting JÀgermeister and other drinks such as Jim Beam.

The deal is simple, they will sell customers one measure from your own stock and they will provide a free drink from their collection. The guest gets two drinks for the price of one, the bar gets the sale they may never have had and everyone gets inebriated. Result!

It is difficult to say no to a JÀgerbomb when a two ladies are offering a free one, along with a photo too.

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So what happens when customers get free JĂ€gerbombs and Jack Beam? See for yourself 🙂

I don’t know the girl standing behind Nom but she was the life and soul of the party. She had everyone in tears of laughter all night long. A top girl and one that would be welcome at any party of mine. Here she has bent a drunken Nom over and well – I will leave the rest to your imagination 🙂 Jenny can be seen sitting on the bar looking weary.

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Another classic featuring the wonderful Julie, who is a regular with husband Steve at both aforementioned bars. Steve and Julie love to dance and are in fact, featured on many video recordings from this night. Friendly people who liven up every party they attend.

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The image above is one of my favourites. I had just met Karin for the first time and found her to be an outgoing person who loves to sing and enjoy herself. I snapped this photo when she was laughing and chatting with her friend Poi. Completely natural and one that I am proud of.

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Next is Martin’s girlfriend oil, who was still reasonably sober at the time but like the majority of Thai ladies, they love to dance. And boy can she dance! Later in the evening she was found on top of the bar with Jenny dancing to many party hits.

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Above, we have Poi and her magician boyfriend. The latter entertained us with some magic tricks when we required a bit of respite from the antics going on inside the bar.

Rompho throw the best parties ever. I have attending parties galore since arriving here and very few disappoint. Often people get very drunk but you never see anyone causing trouble. No requirement for bouncers here.

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I will finish with a photo taken at Phetch’s party at the Corner House, simply because I wasn’t sure what was going on but again, it depicts fun and beautiful people. Well OK – Stuart adds the fun part.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven In Pattaya

What a fantastic couple of weeks I have enjoyed as far as music is concerned. Firstly, I went to see Helmut and Friends at the wonderful Hemmingways in Jomtien, where the band blew me away, with some amazing cover versions of soul, blues and rock tunes.

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Helmut is a guitar maestro and handles everything from Mark Knopfler to Gary Moore. In fact, the whole band are superb and if you haven’t seen them and you are in the Pattaya area, head along to Hemmingways on a Thursday evening from 20:00 and observe an awesome band in action.

The food in the bar is rather tasty too, I hasten to add.

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However, this post is about a certain Jerry Lee Carlson from Sweden and HĂ„kan Nelson, from the same country. The pair played four gigs in Pattaya and I was fortunate to see two of them.

Initially I ventured out to The Triangle in central Pattaya, where a large crowd gathered to enjoy the show and secondly at New Country Road Bar (NCR) in Rompho, which is located in the Rompho Complex in Jomtien area of the city.

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Many people said the event would never work in Rompho but my friend Martin asked me to promote it for him and I did just that. Firstly with posters and flyers then numerous videos supplied by Sweden’s number one rock ‘n’ roll star, Jerry.

Jerry has played all over the world, including tours of Europe with his legends show, featuring tributes to Elvis, Roy Orbison and of course Jerry Lee Lewis.

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He has recorded a number of albums, appeared on TV and radio and is simply, one of the best entertainers you will ever see.

A lot of planning and preparation went into the NCR event, hours of hard work, hiring equipment, tables, covers in case it rained, food and so much more. Was it worth it?

Damned right it was.

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NCR attracted 102 people seated, plus 16 inside the venue and approximately 40 bystanders, who watched from the sidelines, due to either a lack of seating or they were enjoying the event from another bar.

Jerry kicked off the show as always with thundering rock ‘n’ roll classics from his hero Jerry Lee Lewis. He sang the hits of Elvis, Fats Domino, Hank Williams and even did a rendition of a Robbie Williams hit, just to show his versatility.

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Rock, country, blues and boogie woogie tunes all blasted out from the venue. HĂ„kan Nelson on drums was his usually faultless self ashe followed Jerry’s left hand to keep the tempo going.

People came from other bands to watch the gig. Local media in the form of Pattaya People were present to record video material, which will air shortly. Love Pattaya were represented too and kindly supplied the bar staffs shirts.

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Bar owners came from pubs in Pattaya and Rompho to enjoy a fantastic show.  Many people came to Rompho for the first time and hopefully they will return with other new faces for future events.

Jerry sang “Great Balls Of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shaking”, “High School Confidential”, Hound Dog”, Bonnie B”, ” Mean Woman Blues”, “Lewis Boogie” and many more classics from the golden era of music.

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If ever there was a man born to entertain, Jerry Carlson is that man. He is a genius on a keyboard/piano and sounds identical to a certain Mr. Lewis, when the legend was in his prime.

He also does a great impression of Andy Kaufman’s fictional character Latka Gravas from the hit US sitcom “Taxi”.

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Jerry also impressed with a version of “Take Me Home Country Roads” with a “NEW” added into the lyrics, just for the bar. He sang ” Blueberry Hill” replacing Blueberry with Phratamnak to give the song a local feel about it. Phratamnak Hill is a popular area in Pattaya with tourists.

Yours truly even acted as compere for the night, introducing Jerry and HĂ„kan. Not something that was planned, I can assure you but it’s amazing what you can be persuaded to do following a few Smirnoff Midnight’s.

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Jerry did three sets and even came back for an encore or two once he had washed the sweat from his face because it was incredible hot on Saturday evening.

Like many others, I felt disappointed when the show came to its conclusion. The guys had entertained us for a couple of hours but I would have happily listened for another two hours.

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I love rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly, especially when it is produced to this standard. But all good things have to come to an end – till next time that is. Jerry and HĂ„kan’s return cannot come fast enough and rumours are rife that they may return as a trio. I hope so!!

Next up NCR have Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie, who will feature at Martin’s birthday party. Steph, like me, is Scottish and does a fair bit of hip shakin’ during her act.

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If that event proves successful it will pave the way for further live music events at NCR, which can only help to attract visitors to the area, which in turn will benefit the many other bars and restaurants in the complex.

I happen to know a few great singers and bands in the UK, who if they ever fancied a busman’s holiday to Pattaya, could be catered for.

Ziggi – your audience awaits you 🙂

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Helmut & Friends At Hemmingways

I have visited Hemmingways a few times for food but I have never ventured into the bar/restaurant on a Thursday. This is when they have their live music nights, which features a band known as Helmut and Friends.

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Manager Mark, had previously invited me to come along on a Thursday evening but time had always been an issue for me. However, when assisting with a promotional project for a good friend, who just happened to want to see the group, it was a sealed deal.

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But there was something else to factor into the equation.

Pranom’s mother was visiting from Roi Et and I wanted to take her to a pleasant eating establishment, where I knew the food would be of an exceptional standard and the surroundings would match the quality of the cuisine.

So with these two details taken into consideration, it had to be Hemmingways.

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As always we were greeted by one of their friendly staff as we entered the bar. A smile and a warm welcome are not unusual in Thailand but the employees here are top drawer.

The band had set up but were 30 minutes away from commencing their show. So we took the opportunity to order our food and a drink.

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I have to confess that the staff at Hemmingways are exceptional, as mentioned above.

They look after you from the minute you walk in the door. They all speak very good English, which is a huge bonus, even though I was with two Thai ladies.

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The food as always was tasty and well presented with large portions. The ladies enjoyed a Thai offering from the extensive menu and I went for a burger that was put together following  my instructions.

I was armed with my camera, for I had agreed with the bar that I would take a few images for the venue and the band.

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Having never heard Helmut and Friends play previously, I was keen to perceive what they had to offer. I had listened to mixed reviews but 90% of the people I spoke to, rated them very highly.

They would not disappoint.

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I had a twenty minute chat with Helmut before they commenced playing and discovered that they often performed as a five-piece outfit, fronted by Filipino singer Jovy Del Rosario, who by all accounts is a fantastic vocalist.

Alas, on Thursday, there were playing as a four-piece band and one wondered if it was going to be a second rate show. But they were far from that!

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They began with a number of slow songs, mainly, I would imagine, because people were still enjoying Hemmingways’ cuisine. Songs such as “My Girl” provided light entertainment, whilst the diners enjoyed their food.

The band sprung to life during their second set of the evening with an absolutely brilliant version of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, done in their own impeccable style. The vocals on the song from Jayson Camilo were astonishing.

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They continued with well known hits such as “Africa” and “Down Under” and even had the audacity to cover Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summer Time”, which again was flawless.

During many of their songs, the band can be observed sharing jokes and generally having a great time, which often had the audience laughing along with them.

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Helmut is a huge Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits fan and let us see just how good a guitarist he is with a variety of amazing solos.

Anyone who can replicate, Knopfler on “Sultans of Swing” has to be a genius on a guitar and the song suited his vocals to a T, to quote an old idiom.

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This was jaw dropping stuff from Helmut and appreciated by those in the bar.

Then to show us their true versatility, they sang an uptempo version of Dean Martin’s “Volare” and and worked a treat. Vocals being from Jayson once more.

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In their third set they did many rock ‘n’ roll songs from the likes of Chuck Berry before displaying their versatility with Stevie Wonder classics and “Get Down On It” from the disco era. The bass playing on the Kool and the Gang hit from Jeckson Echavez was exceptional.

Drummer Marvin Javier, provided the beat and held the band together as they played hit after hit, from almost every genre of music you can imagine. The keyboard skills from Jayson and lead guitar solos from Helmut, truly are world class.

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Add into the equation, the amount of fun the band have as they play for you, and you really do have a fantastic ensemble for parties, night clubs or any other event you care to name.

Hemmingways have secured Helmut and Friends every Thursday from 20:00 and I would highly recommend, popping along to see them play. The venue is a high class establishment, spacious, air conditioned, free Wi-Fi and offers a huge selection of draught beers, wines and spirits.

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And in between the group’s sets, you can enjoy watching sport on one of their many televisions, strategically placed around the venue. They even have a beer garden, should you care to sit outside.

I would like to give a mention to the staff who work at Hemmingways. Rarely will you meet a nicer group of people, who treat their customers with the utmost respect.

From the minute you enter the premises, to the moment you leave, the crew at Hemmingways ensure you want for nothing.

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If you haven’t been there – it is well worth making the effort, whether it is for live music, excellent food or to view a sporting event on TV, Hemmingways is deserved of a visit.

Helmut and Friends were: Helmut Schachtner on vocals and guitar from Germany, Jayson Camilo, keyboard and vocals, Marvin Javier on Drums, Jeckson Echavez on bass,  all from the Philippines.

Missing was Jovy Del Roasario, whom I will make a point of going to see very soon. When someone tells you that “she will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up”, you have to take notice.

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By the way, the Hemmingways staff are a fun loving bunch too, happy to get involved with the photography.

Thanks to the band and to the management and staff. See you all soon I hope.

 

 

 

 

Songkran 2017 – The End

I wrote earlier that Songkran 2017 had so far been a huge disappointment compared to last year. But the Thai people were just saving the best for last.

Today, I travelled to Rompho Market, a large complex of bars, street food, massage shops, barbers, restaurants and other small businesses.

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I had observed from my condo window, that an assortment of small stalls were set up along the roadside, which are not normally there. Curiosity got the better of me so I had a sneak peak at what was going on.

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Street vendors were selling food, water guns, waterproof pockets and a variety of other items, which may prove useful for the water events and those in attendance.

But what was more surprising was the vast amount of people who had gathered by the side of the road, with one goal in mind – to immerse people in water.

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Now I am a good two miles from the centre of Pattaya and have never witnessed the likes of this previously. As I headed towards Rompho in my taxi, there were literally thousands of people. lining the streets and showering passersby with water.

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The traffic congestion was horrendous but far from boring. I could have spend all day watching the antics of the locals as they went about the business of soaking people or indeed being soaked in return.

A guy had a fire hose and was showering people as the they passed by in open backed pick-ups. Pick-up and trailers were full of people and containers of water. Again, there was only one place that water was going.

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People were dancing in the middle of a four lane road, which had cars using the wrong side just to make some distance, including my impatient taxi driver.

It was party time in Pattaya at last. A time for me to attempt to capture the action.

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However my camera was very much tucked away in my bag and remained there till I got to Rompho. Then I went in search of the hilarity.

It is fair to say that the majority of the people who take part in the shenanigans are either girls or kids. The men of Rompho preferring to remain in one of the fifty bars, although that did not always guarantee safety, as you can see in the second image from the top.

My good friend Jeff was treated to bucket of icy water as he enjoyed a beer.

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People walk around with buckets of what is either flour or talcum powder mixed with water, to form a paste, which they then use to cover a persons face with the substance.

I am not sure what the significance is but most people welcome the temporary facial.

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I had two fears. One was someone pouring a large bucket of water over me and drenching the camera and the other was being hit in the eye with the high powered jet from one of the water guns.

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The camera is allegedly waterproof and has had a number of wet days over the years.

The eyes however; well let’s just say one of these guns could blind someone.

I was hit in the eye on day one and I can tell you, it hurt like blazes. I did not hold back when telling the guy he was an idiot for aiming at my face. He did apologise profusely I have to add.

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Songkran from a photography point of view is a fantastic time. I only wish I had a back up camera so I could risk getting right in amongst the action but having only one with me, I opted for safer ground.

Today was the final day of the celebrations. The people of Thailand will no doubt party throughout the night but tomorrow, it will be back to work for most.

The image above of my mate Jimmy getting wet, came about because I instructed the girls and kids to target him.

This was actually the last in a series of six images. The best ones were taken seconds before but alas they were also blurry and no good.

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So it’s a sad farewell to Songkran 2017 but I sincerely hope I am around for the 2018 celebrations.

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Thomas And The Power

Anyone who knows me, will be well aware that I have a great love of music, especially live music. When it is done well that is.

Since arriving in Thailand, good music has been lacking in my life. There has been exceptions of course such as the fantastic “Jerry Lee Carlson” from Sweden but generally speaking, there isn’t much on offer here.

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Yes there are some excellent Thai bands but they are usually let down by the vocals and again, I will emphasise, there are exceptions to this rule.

Rules of course are meant to be broken.

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I have heard a couple of groups who impressed. One from Jakarta at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pattaya and another at The Corner House in Jomtien, this time from the Philippines.

But overall I haven’t been overwhelmed by the what has been on offer in Pattaya.

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Yes there are fantastic singers in the city but many rely on backing tracks and for me, this does not constitute live music. The karaoke styled singers are fine for background music or light entertainment but they cannot be taken seriously unless they play “live” with a band and without backing tracks.

Some are actually very good, for again, there are always exceptions to the rule but generally speaking, it has to be live for me.

I will take a moment to say that I know of at least two singers, who could play on any stage. They have the talent for sure but lack ambition or drive to take that vital step. I won’t put names to them, for that would be wrong of me – but I really wish they would take a chance and develop the talents they obviously have.

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I would kill to see certain entertainers here in Pattaya.

Some of the rockabilly or country bands I saw in Scotland or even a few of the many rock bands I took photos of across the UK in the year leading up to my departure from Scotland. I can always dream I suppose.

Busman’s holiday perhaps for singers/groups maybe?

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Anyway, I diversify.

A friend I met at a gig, contacted me and asked me to attend one his shows – I agreed but with trepidation.

Sure I knew he was an excellent drummer for I witnessed his ability when he performed with Jerry Lee Carlson but I knew nothing of the others he was performing with under the banner of “Brian Thomas and the Power”.

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As always I arrived early at the venue, which I knew well. In fact it was one of the first, if not “the” first bar I drank in when I arrived in Pattaya in April 2016.

Back then, every bar was new to me and I was keen to explore but I returned to the Lion Pub frequently in my first three months in Thailand, mainly for food.

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The Lion Pub is a large spacious venue, filled with high tables and stools, numerous TVs,  a couple of pool tables and a stage.

It is an excellent bar that also serves wonderful food and prides itself on its coverage of all sporting events.

If it is on, just ask at the bar and it will appear on one of the many TVs.

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However, I had never attended a music night at the Lion Pub, so not only was the band unknown to me but I didn’t know what to expect from the sound and lighting on the night either.

The latter of course being important to me as I was armed with my Nikon D750.

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The warm up for the band seemed to be prolonged and at times I considered vocalist Brian to be either a perfectionist or somewhat pedantic as he strived for a polished sound before commencing the show,

I guess a bit of both but as I was soon to discover, it was worth the wait.

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The band play a mixture of rock and soul music but they do lean heavily towards soul, even when performing rock classics. Not that they do any songs in their repertoire an injustice. Far from it, in fact.

They have an original feel about their sound that gives a uniqueness to the songs they deliver.

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Brian is an excellent vocalist. Being from New York, there is no requirement for him to put on a fake “American” accent. It comes natural.

He reminded me at times of another American singer, Huey Lewis. I am not sure if he will enjoy that comparison or not. Time will tell 🙂

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Brian is an accomplished guitar player covering both rhythm and lead variations, again with a soul music style about his play.

The bass guitarist Scott, provided the beat along with HĂ„kan on drums and to be honest, when you added in the saxophone played by Noi, the sound was phenomenal, even before any vocals were applied.

It was evident that I was in the company of a proficient set of musicians.

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The band played a variety of well known tunes that had the audience’s feet tapping from the start.

But more was to follow when seventy-three year old John, arrived and gave the evening another dimension and the dance floor a purpose.

John loves to dance, especially to rock ‘n’ roll, which the band duly provided.

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Once John was on the floor, the ladies soon joined him much to the enjoyment of those in attendance.

Back to the band. They covered many famous and well known songs, from Motown and other soul and rock sources. INXS, The Blues Brothers, Chuck Berry, Johnny Otis, Johnny Kid and the Pirates, the Temptations, Rufus Thomas to name but a few of the artists covered by Brian and the the guys.

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The spectators were invited to join in during audience participation slots. Yes the old “na na na na na” permits everyone to take part, irrespective of what language you speak.

Overall, I was impressed by Brian and the Power and would happily venture out to see them again. I would recommend them to anyone who loves live music.

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I am always seeking good music shows, so if you know of any – get in touch. Pattaya only for obvious reasons, unless someone fancies taking me on a musical adventure 🙂