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 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.

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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. 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.

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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 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.

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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 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.

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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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The Triangle And The Tulip House

I cannot even begin to explain the week I have had following and working with Jerry Lee Carlson.

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From The Robin Hood Tavern, then two gigs at Murphy’s Irish Pub, both of which are  in Pattaya, Thailand, I thought I had witnessed the best of Jerry but I was wrong.

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Sure he put on three fantastic shows that had the audiences in awe of his talent and showmanship but there was more to come, for Jerry dropped the backing tracks and brought in a drummer, fellow Swede Hakan Nelson for the last two gigs in Pattaya.

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I arrived at the Triangle Bar in central Pattaya an hour ahead of Jerry’s appearance and the venue was jam packed. It was standing room only!

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I was worried because I did not think Jerry could better his performances at Murphy’s and with only a drummer to back him, this could have been so bad or so I thought.

But the pair did not disappoint. In fact they rocked the joint to its core.

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People were stomping their feet. They were standing and clapping. Jerry even had them singing by themselves, following his lead.

He is billed as a Jerry Lee Lewis tribute act but he is so much more. He is an entertainer and one of the best I have ever witnessed.

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The man is pure class. He oozes quality and knows how to capture an audience’s attention.

You could hear a pin drop between the notes of the keyboard and drum beats.

Jerry changed the format of the show completely, introducing songs not previously heard at other gigs. His repertoire is vast. Not only did he do Jerry Lee Lewis rock ‘n’ roll classics but he did Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Elvis and a fair bit of country music too.

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The audience grew as time went on at The Triangle, yet how they squeezed into the bar still baffles me.

The following evening, Jerry and Hakan took their show to Jomtien, where they again had the venue jumping.

Every seat was taken and people were turned away as Tulip was bursting at the seams.

As soon as they began, people looked at each other in amazement, for they had not expected such a sound from two men on keyboard and drums. No backing tracks were used whatsoever.

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Soon there were people dancing. One man was even simulating playing the piano on his table.

The staff joined in the fun, taking videos on their phones for I am sure they had never heard nor seen the likes of Jerry Carlson in their lives.

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Chantilly Lace, Mean Woman Blues, Little Queenie, Good Golly Miss Molly, Blueberry Hill and many more rock ‘n’ roll masterpieces were played to perfection.

The second gig contained a lot of country ballads, which went down a treat with the older audience, many of whom were from Sweden, Norway or Denmark.

But it was the classics like Great Balls Of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ that got everyone going. The sound was incredible.

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I have seen a lot of bands in my time. I have witnessed great showmen. But I can honestly say that this is a top entertainer, who plays rock ‘n’ roll quite like no one else.

When he finished his encores, people stood up and wanted to shake his hand and have their photograph taken with him.

CDs were sold, postcards given away with his autograph on them and generally people left both venues singing the songs they had heard at the gigs.

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Why this man has not played the UK yet is beyond me. Some of the promoters in the UK should sit up and take note. Get him there ASAP!!

You will not be disappointed.

Finally, a big thank you to all venues who looked after me during my time working with Jerry.

The Robin Hood and Murphy’s who provided drinks and food. The Tulip House who reserved a table for the entire entourage who travelled with Jerry and picked up our food and drinks bill at the end, and did so with a true appreciation of what had been witnessed.

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I should give praise to Hakan Nelson, who played two excellent sessions on drums with very little rehearsal time and was the unsung hero over the final two events.

And to all the wonderful people whom I met along the road over the last week – thank you. I have had a ball.

Finally, Jerry Lee Carlson – I hope our paths cross again on a professional basis and as friends. I truly appreciate the opportunity that you and our hosts presented me with. An experience that will live with me for a long time.

Keep on rockin’

Jerry Lee At Murphy’s

Following on from Jerry Lee Carlson’s gig at the Robin Hood Tavern on Tuesday, Jerry played Murphy’s Irish Pub in what is commonly known as “The Darkside” area of Pattaya, which is basically anything east of Sukhumvit Road. This area of Pattaya is classed as the non-tourist region but the truth be known, there is a large contingency of expats living and loving life in the Darkside.

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On Friday evening I arrived at the venue for my second helping of rock ‘n’ roll from Mr. Carlson and was pleasantly surprised.

If I am perfectly honest, I expected the pub to be “run down” or “rough” due it’s location but I was wrong, very wrong!

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In fact the picture of the Darkside painted to me by many people is erroneous in so many ways. I noticed a number of venues along the street, whilst driving past or walking by, all of which were admirable assets to the city.

I was in a few bars asking for directions and found the staff and customers in each one, to be friendly and welcoming. It is Pattaya after all, what more could one expect?

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But not only was Murphy’s a modern, stylish bar, it had two swimming pools, excellent food and a large rectangular bar in the centre. It was immaculately in appearance and busy with customers, many who had come along specifically for the gig.

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The crowd were a mixture of young and old, westerners and Thais, all enjoying the excellent delicacies served by the bars kitchen and supping on bottles or draught beers.

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I found the staff to be polite and courteous, always serving you with a smile and nothing was too much trouble for them. Within an hour, I knew most of their names, mainly because they were happy to get involved with my camera and had name tags on their shirts.

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Jerry appeared  donning a gold jacket and began to blow the audience away. It was instantly noticeable that the quality of the sound was unparalleled to previous gigs. It was superb!  No disrespect to other venues of course. The Hood gig was fantastic too but for some reason, the Murphy’s event sounded so much better.

It was the same show, the same entertainer but it was different!

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I later discovered that the management had went out that very afternoon and purchased new equipment specifically for Jerry’s show. The speakers and amp were brand spanking new and at great expense to the bar.

It was paying off for the audience were singing, clapping their hands, stomping their feet and just like the previous gig in central Pattaya, we had a dancer or two.

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Jerry is a master on a keyboard and his audience was in awe of his talent. His vocals are remarkably akin to the rock ‘n’ roll star, almost mimicking the legend that is Jerry Lee Lewis, with even his stage act surprisingly like his champion. He has Jerry Lee Lewis down to a tee.

Obviously he has honed his skills over many years with the result being a polished performance for Murphy’s audience.

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Great balls of fire, Whole lotta shakin’, Folsom Prison Blues, Little Queenie, I saw her standing there and many more legendary songs were sang, accompanied by his pumping piano style, much to the audience’s delight.

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I was in heaven, for here I was doing the two things in life that give me extreme pleasure. Photography and rock ‘n’ roll.

Jerry produced two sets, which included a costume change, before closing his show, although those watching were determined to keep him there for as long as possible. I can’t recall if it was four or five encores but when you have that many, it doesn’t matter too much.

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The man was on fire and had the crowd eating out of his hand.

A bit of Lewis Boogie, Johnny B. Goode, Rock Around The Clock, Hound Dog, High School Confidential and even some country music were thrown into the mix.

After the show, as always, he walked around meeting and chatting with the guests, posing for photos and even signing autographs.

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You can tell when an act is good by the audience’s reactions but it says a lot more when the venue immediately offers you another evening two days later. So Jerry was playing at Murphy’s again on Sunday night.

This time I went along for a meal beforehand. A Steak and Guinness Pie to help soak up the alcohol.

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The Sunday show was unplanned, with little time to advertise the fact the he was playing, which resulted in a smaller crowd but this did not hinder the showman that is Jerry Carlson from putting on another sublime show of rock ‘n’ roll classics, nor did it prevent those watching from enjoying themselves.

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Many people could not believe what they were observing. People shook their heads in disbelief as the intimacy of the smaller crowd, permitted clearer views of the man and his adeptness of a piano’s keyboard.

He invited people to come closer. Of course I do not require much encouragement, for I was already crouched in front of the man.

To get up close and personal with such a talented musician is indeed a pleasure. For me, there were no restrictions. I was in front of him. I roamed freely around his vicinity, snapping images till my heart was content.

The flash had to be used but he was so deep into his performance he did not blink. True professionalism.

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Again, I was given the freedom of the bar to take as many photos as I desired. Not one person refused to take part and as a result, the bar and Jerry got some excellent images to remind them of two spectacular shows.

So overall, it was a superb week of music for me, great crack with old and new friends alike and the food was top drawer too, in both venues.

Pattaya needs more music like this. Whether it’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, Soul, Blues or any other music genre; the city requires; in fact demands to be served by acts like Jerry Lee Carlson.

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So let’s hope that Murphy’s and other suitable venues begin to bring us great entertainers for us to enjoy, after all, that new sound system has to pay its way.

A huge thanks to Steve and his staff for looking after me and my friends over the two evenings. Truly appreciated.

Thanks also to the twelve friend who came along with me over the two nights.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Darkside area of Pattaya and would like to visit Murphy’s Irish Pub, either for music, food or just to sample the many beers, click the links below.

You will have a great experience.

Click for Murphy’s Irish Bar’s Facebook Page

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