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Talkin’ about Cambodia’s ‘golden age’

Cambodian soldiers rock out in an undated photo. Photo supplied
Cambodian soldiers rock out in an undated photo. Photo supplied

Talkin’ about Cambodia’s ‘golden age’

Tonight at The Exchange, a panel of musicians will gather to discuss Cambodia’s “golden age” of rock ‘n’ roll – a 1960s and 1970s period that produced national icons such as Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea – exploring how the scene began, where the music scene is today and where it could be heading.

The forum was part of the Cambodian Space Project’s Motown to the Mekong national tour, said the Cambodian rock ‘n’ roll revivalist band’s co-founder Julien Poulson, who is putting on a similar discussion in Siem Reap next Friday.

“Cambodian ’60s and ’70s music was hugely influenced by the sounds and songs of [American] GI Radio, easily accessible in Cambodia. Troops and the general public would swap playlists recorded and duped on the very popular new format, C45 cassette tapes,” Poulson said.

“The songs off the radio and cassettes were copied and played by many of the Cambodian bands – covers ranged from Chubby Checker and the Animals to Wilson Pickett, Creedence Clearwater Revival and the very popular Carpenters. This music influenced locals to write and record their own style of rock’n’roll,” he said.

The five guests are Touch Hana, of ’60s and ’70s hard rock outfit Drakkar; Detroit music producer Jim Diamond; Clinton Walker, an Australian music writer researching a book on the golden age; Em Vun, from contemporary band The Messengers; and Kak Channthy, of the Cambodian Space Project.

Spokesman Jay Raman confirmed the US Embassy as the major sponsor of the event. “This is a little bit unusual as we don’t know what exactly to expect from the results of the program, but we think bringing musicians and producers together . . . it could create some pretty interesting things,” he said.

Following the forum will be “Cambodian Women of Song”, featuring The Messenger Band, Srey Channthy, Miss Sarawan, Socheata Keo, Lue Thy and more. Tickets are free and so is the beer and wine.

The Cambodia Rocks Forum will be on at the Exchange, #28 Street 47, tonight from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Doors open 5pm. The live music runs from 8pm to midnight.

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