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.

 

 

 

 

Rockin’ In Pattaya With Jerry Lee Carlson

One of the things I miss about the UK is the gigs I used to attend, especially rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly genres. Before departing the shores of Scotland, I was working at gigs at least five times a month and taking in many other small venues, wherever there was good live music to be found.

So when I heard about Jerry Lee Carlson’s event at The Robin Hood Tavern in Pattaya, I was swift to act upon the news.

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I contacted the bar to request permission to take photos and the stage was set.

Before heading out, I watched a couple of YouTube videos of Jerry to see what I was in store for and I was presently surprised. Not only was the music good but he was receiving rave reviews from anyone who had seen him playing live.

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So with great anticipation and excitement, I jumped in a taxi to see what the fuss was all about and whether or not would live up the hype.

I arrived early and enjoyed a meal at the bar washed down with a Tiger Light Beer. I noticed Jerry as he wandered through the bar into the lounge area, so I followed him to see if I could meet the man and maybe get an interview.

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He suggested I came back during the interval between his two sets, for he was busy with preparations for the gig. His wish was my command and so I returned to my seat to await the arrival of Mr. Carlson on stage.

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There was a slight delay in his appearance due to a few technical difficulties with the PA System, which was resolved as quickly as possibly before the show commenced.

Jerry blasted out pure rock ‘n’ roll at its very best, pounding his keyboard with almost every part of his body.

Great balls of fire, Whole lotta shakin’, Rock around the clock, Johnny B. Goode and Breathless resounded around the spacious tavern.

He worked the keyboard with rapid hands, often too fast for the eye to comprehend. He used his feet and his backside as he demonstrated he is a truly accomplished piano/keyboard player, who knew how to play to an audience.

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He had the crowd exactly where he wanted them for the man is a true showman.

between songs, he chatted away with comical remarks all to the enjoyment of those in attendance.

You can tell when an artist has his or her audience secured and under their spell, for there is no talking while they perform and the only deviation from that was an abundance of cameras recording his songs.

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I looked around and almost every table had at least one phone camera recording video footage, probably for Facebook purposes or to show their friends what they had missed.

Pattaya People were present with their TV camera, so Jerry will be on their news programme soon and there was another photographer there for the duration of his show.

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Following part one, he was true to his word and invited me through to the lounge to have a chat.

Jerry informed he hails from a small town in the south of Sweden called Landskrona, which is on the coast between Helsingborg and Malmo. However, Jerry now resides about 300 KMs north of Stockholm.

He tells me he is 32+ years of age and refused to speak any further on the subject other than to laugh.

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Jerry began his professional career back in 1996 and has continued to belt out rock ‘n’ roll, country, boogie woogie and blues ever since.

Despite having performed in Italy, Spain, America and of course Thailand to name a few countries, he has yet to make an appearance in the UK. So if any of my friends who promote rock ‘n’ roll shows around the country fancy bringing an amazing performer over to the UK, give Jerry a call. He would love to do a tour of Scotland, England Ireland and Wales.

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He is aware that there is a huge interest in rock ‘n’ roll in the UK so get booking folks.

The rocker is in Pattaya for fourteen days performing a handful of gigs around the city. I for one will be attending at least one more, two if I can manage along.

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He is heavily influenced by the legend that is Jerry Lee Lewis but told me, like his idol, he also covers a lot of other artists such as Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and many others.

Growing up in Sweden he was inspired by people like Pete Johnson, a boogie woogie, blues and jazz pianist from Kansas City, USA and Fats Domino amongst a number of other piano players from that era.

I mentioned that there were a number of really good boogie woogie pianists from Europe. He said “I doubt it very much.”

He quickly followed with “There is one very good one I know of.”

“What is his name?” I asked.

“Jerry……. Jerry Carlson” as he burst into laughter.

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He continued “I am not being big headed. I am just having a laugh with you, a bit of humour.” This was evident throughout the evening both on and off stage.

I mentioned the failure of the PA System before his first set commenced. He confessed it was a regular occurrence when he is relying on equipment supplied by another band or third party.  One of the pitfalls of travelling the globe I guess.

Jerry prefers playing with a band behind him but it is not always possible due to the expense involved or lack of musicians being available. Personally I would love to see him with a good four or five piece group backing him.

Jerry returned to do his second set to an excited audience, who thoroughly enjoyed his show.

After the event, he was happy to mingle amongst people, conversing wherever he was invited to do so, stop for photos and enjoy the rest of the evening’s entertainment.

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I found the Jerry to be an excellent entertainer, a talent musician and a friendly, humorous man.

If you haven’t seen him play, watch out for him. He is well worth making the effort to go and see.

The second act of the night was a trio called “Rose and Thorn” who were brilliant too. Jerry Lee had them rocking before this trio followed him with some classic rock and dance hits.

Congratulations to The Robin Hood Tavern for giving Pattaya exactly what it requires – an excellent music venue with some top entertainers.

More live music please 🙂

Videos of Jerry Carlson live

Jerry Lee Carlson Live Click to view

Jerry Lee Carlson Legends Show Click to view

World’s fastest boogie woogie player Click to view

Jerry singing Roll Over Beethoven and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Click to View

I saw her standing there Click to view

High School Confidential Click to view

 

 

New Year In Thailand 2017

For the first time in my life, I celebrated the bells at New Year away from my homeland, seven hours ahead of Scotland. Yes –  a new experience for me as Thailand and its many tourists got into party mode.

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My second invitation to take photos at a wonderful bar in Rompho in the south of the city of Pattaya, Thailand was presented to me from the bar owners. This bar is known simply as The Corner House and is aptly named, seeing as it sits on the corner of The Rompho Complex.

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I had attended the Christmas Lunch festivities last week and enjoyed a delicious meal, courtesy of the The Corner House but it has to be said they surpassed everything I have witnessed at Rompho previously.

I have attended many parties and events with the Rompho Complex, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed but none had went to the expense of laying on a live band before. And what a great band they were too.

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The party was put together in conjunction with The Sexy Girl Bar on the opposite side of the thoroughfare. Between them they hired a group of musicians from the Philippines, who I later discovered had no name for they were put together especially for these sort of events. This had no reflection on the quality of the musicians, for they were excellent, doing great covers of mainly rock songs. From Blondie to The Animals to Dire Straits, they nailed every tune.

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The party was halted by twenty minutes of rain, which threatened to sabotage the night’s entertainment but like most precipitation in Thailand, it did not last long, and if anything enhanced the atmosphere of the early celebrations as everyone crammed into the bars. I met a multitude of new people as the rain poured from the heavens.

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The raise ceased and soon everyone was returned to the seating areas outside in the warm evening to enjoy a drink and edibles.

The Corner House had a buffet laid on as did their counterparts The Sexy Girl Bar and by all accounts, the offerings were superb, although I was kept busy and missed the opportunity to sample the food.

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That was until the barbequed pig was cooked to perfection and served to the many queuing patrons. I will add that all this marvelous food was free of charge.

I said the to the owner of The Corner House “You have put on a fine spread here and the band are phenomenal”. The response was simple and to the point. “If something is worth doing, then do it right.”

It was indeed carried out to perfection.

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Faces young and old were present. From babies to great grandparents. People from the UK, Canada, America, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Australia, France, Germany and many more were to be found partying and dancing the night away. A multitude of Thai people helped balance things out as everyone mixed in unity. The world could learn some valuable lessons from Thailand from the way everyone gets on together.

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There was one gentleman who entertained a number of children for hours on end. His stamina and patience was a joy to watch as he danced with the youngsters for the majority of the night. I was enthralled just watching the kids jubilant smiles as ran around getting into the party spirit. I bet the slept well when they got home!

The band were exceptionally good and before long people of all ages were bopping away on an area retained for dancing.

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I was kept busy, for as at all parties, people see a photographer and wish to have their photos taken. This is me in my element. I love working with people and Thailand has lovely folks in abundance.

I had the opportunity to take photographs of beautiful ladies and handsome men. People with faces that told stories, that lived in appearance.

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Dancing children prancing around having a ball. One little girl saw it as a game, running away just as I was about to press the shutter button. I got her though – in the end.

At the bells streamers and tinsel were strewn everywhere as the band brought in the New Year.

Sadly there was no fireworks out of respect for the late King, who passed away earlier in 2016 but the party was still a massive success, pulling in at a guess around 200-300 guests. Over the piece it would almost certainly be more for visitors came and went as they sought out friends to wish them all the best for 2017.

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Personally I felt tearful at midnight for I miss so many people back home but it didn’t stop me enjoying myself with new friends in Pattaya.

There were no lager louts, no one so drunk that they became troublesome or even a little bit annoying to others in attendance.

So well done to both bars and the festivity goers, who made this a brilliant night to remember.

A happy New Year to one and all and as they say in Scotland “Lang may yer lum reek.”

A full set of photos can be found here https://www.flickr.com/gp/139555139@N07/9xu7V4

 

Roi Et Province Trip

Back in July I flew with Pranom to the city of Roi Et, which lies to the eastern side of Thailand, heading towards the Province of Surin and the border with Cambodia. Roi Et is around 400 miles from Pattaya but to drive or go by bus takes between eight and ten hours, whereas a flight from Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok takes a mere 55 minutes or so. Of course there is the 90 minute taxi journey to Bangkok to contend with but it is still more desirable than a ten hour ass numbing bus journey, even in it is a VIP bus.

The flight if I recall cost me around £35 with the taxi £30, although we did stay over in a rather dodgy hotel in Bangkok, due to the early departure from the airport.

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The trip was made with a view of visiting Nom’s family who reside around 12 miles from the centre of the Town. However there was an additional bonus for me, in that there was a large Buddha event taking place, featuring a wonderful parade. As you can see from the image above, the costumes were elegant and had a traditional look.

This was my second of three days in the province but was one that brought me the most colourful and glamorous images, with stunning ladies and handsome boys, all dressed for the occasion.

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The second image was taken nearer the end of the parade, which continued for many hours. Many of the people involved had to wait patiently in the streets as the carnival moved slowly through the town. Music and dancing by these stylish beauties could be seen every where you trained your eyes.

The make-up adorned by both sexes often gave the impression of being ornamental dolls, such was the high standard of powder, rouge and paint applied to their faces.

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I was in my element here. The camera was almost used to the extent of abuse. Everywhere I turned there was another photo to he had. I almost had to be dragged away by Nom as I did not wish to go to the hotel, despite tiring due to the time and heat of the day.

The tradition dancing was a highlight, mesmerising an old Scottish man in the heart of Thailand.

What made the visit truly special was the fact that I was the only farang present and yet I was treated like I was the guest of honour. These children went out of their way to have their photo taken, with cries of “Take my photo please” heard frequently. Even the local police officer was in on the act, happily posing for my camera.
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Photo number three was taken before the parade and march commenced. The people had been waiting expectantly without complaint for well over two hours. Then the music finally began and people came to life.

Thousands of citizens started the slow walk through the streets to the park in central Roi Et, those that were dancers, progressed as a unit, maintaining a high standard of excellence within their ranks. The movement was majestic from the girls and as mentioned the costumes were devine.

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The children, like most youngsters here were adorable and despite their lengthy wait, were immaculately behaved. A credit to their country and of course their parents.

This event made my trip to Thailand a special one. I could have gone home happy if that was my vacation. If you offered me the opportunity to visit Roi Et and take these images then return to Scotland, it would be done. It was a pleasure to be part of such a joyful cavalcade and a day that will live with me for a long time.

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I will return to Roi Et or possibly other provinces and towns wherever these events can be found.

A bit about the town. Roi Et is the capital of Roi Et Province, with the town having a population of just over 35,000. It is far removed from the tourist attractions and go-go bars of Pattaya and Bangkok. Rice fields can be seen for miles around as the land is mainly plains.

The Province is served by the small but well run Roi Et Airport which at the time of writing has only one destination, which is Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok. The only plane you will see on the runway, is the one you will be departing on.

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The city has a number of large shops such as Big C and Tesco Lotus. You will find KFC and McDonald’s too. Taxis tend to be samlors, which is basically a tuk tuk or three wheeled motorcycle taxi. Prices are cheap but you wouldn’t want to travel too far in one, for they are not the fastest means of transportation. Unlike Pattaya, you will only find samlors at markets, shops and the town centre. Our hotel for instance had no taxi service, whereas in Pattaya, taxi bikes can be found on every street corner.

My next day in the area will feature on my next post.

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You can see the entire collection of images by clicking here.