Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cambodian Rock

Download CD here. (The first song starts out a bit muddy but clears up by the first 30 seconds or so.)

A summer or two ago, Nada and I flew out to Portland, Oregon, to visit family and friends in Oregon and California.

While staying with our friends Rodney Koeneke, Leslie Poirier and their son, Auden, I did a bit of Googling around to find a few comic book shops. I'd heard that Portland was something of a Mecca for indy and self-published things and, sure enough, stumbled upon Guapo Comics & Coffee (6350 SE Foster Road). Being a cafe, in addition to a comic book store, they were open bright and early (it was barely 9:00 a.m.). I mapped out my trip and was soon on a bus rumbling down Foster.

As we began to roll through a series of strip clubs and other seedy offerings, I spotted a rather large store with a sign reading THAI CAM VIDEO.

I pulled the "Please God Stop The Bus" cord and slipped out at the next stop, smiling at a young woman making her way into the strip club where, presumably, she worked.

When I entered the store, the (presumable) owner of Thai Cam Video (5230 SE Foster Road, 503-788-0967) greeted me and watched as I made my way over to the wall of CDs. "You like Cambodian music?" she asked. Here we go again, I thought. "Do you speak Cambodian?"

I gave my standard spiel about how "I am the kind of dork who goes waaay out of his way whenever possible to find 'obscure' little markets just like yours selling delights from around the world of a musical nature."

"Have you been to Cambodia?" she asked. It seemed she really wanted some other explanation.

"No," I said, "but I am going soon," I lied. (I'm going to Japan.)

After picking up a number of items, mostly things recorded on the Thailand-Cambodia border, I asked the shop keep if she had anything older, "say, from the 60s or 70s?"

She nodded and went to the CD wall, pulling down three things.

When I got back to Rodney, Leslie and Auden's place, Rodney and I popped one of the CDs into their ghetto blaster. It didn't work. (We later discovered it was a DVD or VCD.) The second CD did work and we walked out to sit on the porch as the amazing Cambodian music you'll hear on that playlist above filled the crisp late spring Portland air.

More than anyone I can think of, this whole blog has been inspired by, and is hereby dedicated to, the Koeneke-Poirier family.


Ryan said...

wow...I'm really digging the Cambodian pop!

rodney k said...


You're a legend with us for finding that place.

Dolmance said...

I just discovered your blog and think it's great.

However, I was only able to download that wonderful unknown track, but hearing that (it's undoubtedly Ros Sereysothea), I would be so happy if you were to repost the entire album.

I believe the instrumentation and background singing was recorded at a later date, which is something they often do in Cambodia. However, the song itself is so good, so I'm not going to argue the wisdom of it.

Great song. Please, please repost the album.

Gary said...

Okay, no problem. I'll load it up in the next day or two and repost ...

DolorSitAmet said...

I've requested the tracklisting on a language forum, I'll post it here if they answer. Meanwhile, since I don't speak khmer, I only recognize Sinn Sisamouth (ស៊ិន ស៊ីសាមុត), Ros Sereysothea (រស់ សេរីសុទ្ធា) and Pan Ron (ប៉ែន រ៉ន).

Thanks for your great blog!