Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Chiang Mai - live music in the dead of night.
1/ Guitarman. '100% Rock n Roll Served Fresh Everyday' is multi-tattooed owner Nicky's claim, and it's roughly true.Guitarman has a strong following among the Chiangmai expat crowd, who get down there for a dose of folk, blues, country sort of stuff. One of the staple performers is Aussie Dave, a performer of indeterminate age but incalculable musical and entertainment ability. His band includes saxophone, drums and sometimes a wash tub bass, and others that will jump on and do backing vocals or blow some harmonica from time to time.
A popular headliner is Richie Castro ... a very entertaining and lively Latin American performer, who throws in a lot of witty repartee and spontaneous competitions, ie name the singer of this song's mother's maiden name for a free beer!
But every now and then, Guitarman will stage something really special, like a visiting indi band from overseas, or the best of young Chiang Mai or Bangkok bands. Edgy stuff. Sweaty. Loud. Something to clear the cobwebs. Like Sonnet & Alcohol or recent Canadian band Handsome Furs.
Address: Loi Kroh (behind Burger King and keep going past Red Lion for about 200 metres. It's on your left.)
2/ Riva Bar. A new-comer to the live music scene, Riva is a funky place right on the moat near Thapae Gate. Picture frames on the ceiling gives you an idea of its design ethic. It's a quite a small place, which opens up onto a little terrace which is a terrific place to have a meal and a beer and watch the people pass by.
There are jam nights here, so drop by if you want to sit in on some folk and pop singalong sometime, but the main draw is the blues of Boy Blues, a local player who knows all the three chords!
3/ Intra Bar. Blues, blues and more blues plus the classic rock book. You'll hear the wailing voices and screaming guitar as you exit Thapae Gate across the moat. Slightly smoky and sawdusty atmosphere, with many there to play pool. Sunglasses seem mandatory for the musicians trying their best to live out some kind of Jimi Hendrix dream. Jing jing!
4/ But ... if you really want to kick things up a notch, head on over to Warm Up on Nimminheiman Road (about half way along the main road, you can't miss it's Rising Sun logo and swarms of scooters out the front). This is a firm favourite for some of the 12,000,000 local university students. A cool place with outside lounge bar area, and a band set up in the corner. Ok, so what's the big deal?
Push open the double glass doors and the sound hits you -- another live band inside, belting away to a standing-room only crowd. Tables and tables and tables of people sardined in, dancing, singing, sweating, laughing, drinking. Buckets of ice adorned with bottles of Johnny Walker or some other aviation fuel. The atmosphere is delightfully infectious.I don't know why they call it Warm Up. This place is HOT, every night.
And when you pour out of here whateveroclock in the morning, and you still need more, there's only one option:
5/ Spicy Bar. It's really the last resort for everyone to wring just a little drop more out of the day (especially young ladies from nearby establishments on Loi Kroh). It's a dingy, divy basement club. Some unkind folk would call it The Dance of the Desperates. Yeah, OK, but it's fun -- dance music pounding till at least 6 or even 7 in the mornings sometimes. Any self-respecting tuk tuk driver knows 'Sa-picy Bar'.