This Blog is a collection of my recordings from travelling around Asia

This Blog is a collection of my recordings and collectings from travelling around Asia...
expect lots of obscure instruments, strange sounds, electric and acoustic instruments, obscure records and tapes, and any other sounds i find on the road.
Please be Patient, as the site is very content heavy, the Soundcloud streams are a bit slow to load...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Loi Kratong Festival in Chiang Khan

During the Loi Kratong festival, where the Thai's traditionally build rafts out of banana leaves, filled with fresh flowers, candles and inscense, this is lit and the raft is placed in the nearest river. Which in my case happened to be the Mekong, not only the Mekong, but the most beautiful spot on the mekong i have yet visited. The main staging ground for the festival was right along the river accompanied by a live Luk Thung band of students from the local school. Unfortunately, they struggled to keep pace with the tempo changes,my recording of them will be in a later post.

Earlier in the day, while wandering about, on the outer edges of the city near the market, i noticed a stage and restaurant set up that had not been there previously. The set up thrilled me, Two Phins, a full trap kit, a Kaen (the vertical bamboo pan-pipe), a Song (curved hammered dulcimer), and set of Kong (hand drums). When i returned later in the night, i was not disappointed.
The band was tearing it up, i hung around the periphery for a bit, trying to sus out if it was a private party or open event, not wanting to be disrespectful. A group of older Thai ladies approached me shortly after i had started to record and demanded i join them for a dance. I couldn't say no, the Morlam groove is infectious, its impossible to stand still. The name says it all Mor-lam literally translates as "Dance Professor" (despite my earlier mis-translation "expert singer" i have it from a Thai source I trust that the proper translation is the one above). I set the recorder to record, and joined the ladies for dancing, food and drinking. The band poured me a glass of whiskey after i'd been dancing a while, i couldn't say no. The ladies kept trying to feed me from their table full of food, ate some, but focused my energies on dancing and recording. By the end of the set I was the only one dancing, my friends who had initially pulled me in had called it a night, but the band continued to play until most of the tables were packed up, i can only think for my benefit, as after my friends left, it was only me and one other table far in the back in attendance. As the band packed up, talked to everybody, although there was little English spoken, and my Thai insufficient, we were both clearly happy to be in the others company. At multiple points in these recordings the singer is mentioning me, to what end I'm not sure. I recommend tracks 5-10, but they're all pretty good. Track nine is nice and sparse, Just Kaen and vocals, with a tiny contribution from the, by this point, very drunk Phin player on the Bass Phin.
The next two days, I kept seeing these same musicians playing in various places all through out town. have about 30 more recordings of this band in various incarnations, including where there is actually a Song player as well as an Erhu. Look for these in the coming days. My last day in Chiang Khan, I played drums in one of their performances, and they had me over to their house, where i was treated to more food and drinking, as well as an acoustic jam. So much love for and from these guys.

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Traveling, seeing, being, learning, growing. doing my little bit against homogeneous mass culture.