Category Archives: Cambodia
Andy here! Sam and I had an epic day in Siem Reap, home to Angkor Wat and many other surrounding temples. Here’s a tiny snippet of the epicness from over 1000 years ago, all built by man, stone on stone, without mortar.
We also want to send a big shout out to Roger and the whole team at The Blue Pumpkin Cafe in Phnom Penh for being so hospitable and friendly. It was the first place we played in Cambodia and we ate there every day of our trip. Delicious! ~~~ www.tbpumpkin.com
We are now on the way to Timor Leste via Singapore. We’ll be posting the evening after we start workshops and concerts, coming up. Stay tuned and thanks for all of your support and positive thoughts, we feel them!
Note from Stash: Eric and I visited the very powerful Tuoll Sleng Prison and The Khmer Rouge Killing Fields just outside of Phnom Penh. This was definitely a real experience and I encourage anybody and everybody to read about what happened between 1975 and 1979 in Cambodia.
Today was a fun final day of work here in Phnom Penh. It’s been a huge success, especially considering that the embassy coordinated all our workshops and concerts within about one week’s notice.
We played our final workshop this morning at the Angkor Music school for a class of about 40 students and some of their parents. The majority were violin students, and also included one bass student for Sam.
Andy led the class through some chopping and a beautiful symphonic version of “bile them cabbage down.” I must admit that I was particularly tired this morning and I want to thank Michelle from the embassy here bringing some extra coffee in to the school.
Even though it took some time to wake up, the good dose of cute kids, coffee, and singing “BILE THEM CABBAGE DOWN BOYS, MAKE THEM BISCUITS BROWN BOYS” forty times at the top of my lungs definitely got the nerves reacting again.
The third floor of the Angkor Music School (under construction) had the most ridiculous echo ever, check it out:
Ay ay ay! Andy and Sam took a plane today to Siem reap, the former capital of Cambodia. Only a few miles north of Siem Reap is the epic Temple complex known as Angkor Wat built for the King of Cambodia in the 12th century (!). I can’t wait to see some awesome pictures when they get back tomorrow and I’m sure they’ll have a whole set of wild stories.
After they took off, Eric and I went on a tuk tuk ride around the city playing music for a webcast program called the “tuk tuk sessions.” It combines scenes from the colorful streets of cambodia with music and the cozy vibe of a tuk tuk. We’ll post the video as soon as it’s released! Thanks to Dustin for helping us out and filming and of course Michelle from the Embassy for holding our instrument cases on the Tuk Tuk.
Stay tuned for some awesome new videos and pictures of the day off tomorrow. We have a night off in Singapore on Monday and will then be moving onto East Timor the day after for a grueling schedule of awesome concerts and workshops. It’s wild to think this trip is about half-way through! Until next time
Eric here- Busy busy busy in Cambodia today folks! We started out with an early morning visit to Mith Samlanh- a center for street children. The raw energy and enthusiasm of the kids was incredible and infectious. After we played a couple of lively old-time tunes, Stash and I jumped off stage to demonstrate the instrument roles while Andy and Sam held down the groove. They quickly started thumping the bass notes with their feet and pitter-pattering fiddle melodies on their chests, clapping on mandolin chops and playing air guitar- screaming wildly the whole time. Even though is was a fairly short set, it’s safe to say that by the end we were all the most exhausted we’ve been after anything on the tour so far! Truly rewarding experience- video below!
A short rest and some lunch at the hotel, and then we were off to Cambodian Living Arts for an intimate musical exchange with some AMAZING traditional Cambodian musicians between the ages of 18 and 22. These guys were straight killin’. I was immediately excited when the first musician walked in with a “bangjo”, which was like a mix between an asian lute, banjo, and mandolin. Then poured in the “tro”, “thon”, “khim”, and “roneat thung”, which are basically fiddle, drum, hammered dulcimer, and xylophone. They played for us, we played for them. Everybody was stoked. Then the jamming commenced- we learned some beautiful cambodian tunes and taught some traditional American music. We also taught them “Stingray Stew”- which is a comprised of music we heard in Laos that we put to an old time groove. So we played Lao melodies to an American groove with Cambodian musicians. Now THAT is what I call an Earth String Band.
We ended the night with a concert on the street- check it out!
Hello there Earth Stringband followers, Sam here reporting on our first full day in vibrant Cambodia.
We woke up this morning in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, a city that seems to embody the “anything-goes” nature of the Khmer people. It is not uncommon here to see 4 or 5 people crammed onto a motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic, and apparently it’s not illegal either, provided the driver is wearing a helmet. Our first and only official concert here in Cambodia was at a busy Café right along the mighty Mekong river called the Blue Pumpkin. The show was a blast and the audience, a healthy mixture of Khmer locals and American and European ex-pats, seemed to really enjoy the Stringband energy. The folks from the Blue Pumpkin treated us to a delicious lunch and some of the best coconut ice cream any of us will ever enjoy here on earth. It is safe to say that the boys will be back for some more before we leave the city!
After lunch and a brief respite back at the hotel we headed out with Craig Gerard, one of the Public Affairs officers from the embassy (and a pretty darn good guitar player, I should add), to do a workshop at the Music Arts School in Phnom Penh. Although at first the audience seemed a little reserved but once we raged a few quick Oldtime tunes they opened up and it became clear that we were going to have an amazing musical exchange. There were kids of all ages there ranging from babies to 25 years-olds and although not everyone had an instrument it was clear that everyone had a deep appreciation for music. The 7-month-old son of Drew the school director was mesmerized by the bass, and apparently for the first time in his young life he started clapping along with the music (what a special moment!). We taught about the history of Bluegrass music and its influences and also about the roles of the instruments within the band. It was a blast seeing 30 smiling Cambodians stomping along with the bass, clapping with the mandolin, and beating on their chests along with the fiddle. Toward the end of the workshop Drew and Andy the two ex-pat directors of the school invited a group of the more advanced musicians to perform some traditional tunes for us. The Khmer melodies were beautifully haunting and everyone was completely enthralled by the music. The second tune that they played for us was a traditional Khmer song that was so similar to “you are my sunshine” that all the boys simply had to join in. This opened the door to a really incredible impromptu jam with the Earth Stringband boys learning a few Khmer tunes and teaching a few American tunes (angeline the baker, and boil ’em cabbage down) with everyone who didn’t have an instrument singing along and getting into the groove.
Although we love playing concerts, some of the most profound experiences we have had on this trip have been in workshop settings where we can really get to know people and share our music with them while also learning a lot ourselves. It is always amazing to communicate with someone who does not speak the same language on a purely musical level, and there is an immediate connection that is made that cannot be made with any other sort of dialect. I feel like I have made a lot of good friends here in Cambodia and I can’t even speak the language beyond sues dei (hello) and aw kuhn (thank you)! We are looking forward to the rest of our adventures here in Cambodia but for now I’ve got to catch some z’s for a long, music-filled day tomorrow.
Thanks for reading!