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.

DSC_0055

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.

DSC_0060

However, this post is about a certain Jerry Lee Carlson from Sweden and Håkan 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.

DSC_0061.jpg

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.

DSC_0073

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.

DSC_0012

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.

DSC_0088.jpg

Rock, country, blues and boogie woogie tunes all blasted out from the venue. Håkan 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.

DSC_0129

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.

DSC_0131

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”.

DSC_0135

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 Håkan. 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.

DSC_0141

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.

DSC_0161

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 Håkan’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.

DSC_0128.jpg

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 🙂

DSC_9973

 

 

 

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.

DSC_9955

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.

DSC_9892

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.

DSC_9864

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.

DSC_9963

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.

DSC_9901

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.

DSC_9907

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.

DSC_9915

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!

DSC_9913

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.

DSC_9902

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.

DSC_9904

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.

DSC_9935

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.

DSC_9927

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.

DSC_9929

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.

DSC_9964

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.

DSC_9942

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.

DSC_9941

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

DSC_9067

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.

DSC_9070

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.

DSC_9084

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.

DSC_9092

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?

DSC_9095

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”.

DSC_9108

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.

DSC_9111.jpg

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.

DSC_9119

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.

DSC_9125

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.

DSC_9129

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.

DSC_9133

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 🙂

DSC_9153

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 Håkan 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.

DSC_9189

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.

DSC_9197.jpg

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.

DSC_9050

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.

DSC_9139.jpg

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 🙂