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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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 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.

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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 🙂