Wednesday, 2 July 2008

'Sleepwalking Through The Mekong' - A Documentary Featuring Dengue Fever

Former Chalky’s Choice and current holders of Rough Trade Album of the Week Dengue Fever are the focus of John Pirozzi’s latest documentary ‘Sleepwalking Through The Mekong’.

I love this band!

Here's what you need to know from the Press Release:

Sleepwalking Through the Mekong follows Los Angeles based Dengue Fever on their recent journey to Cambodia to perform 60s and 70s Cambodian rock n' roll in the country where it was created and very nearly destroyed.

The odyssey is a homecoming for singer Chhom Nimol and a transformation for the rest of the band as they perform with master musicians and record new songs along the way.

More than a rockumentary, the film serves up a portrait of modern Cambodia as the band tours through Phnom Penh and beyond, crossing a great cultural chasm with the same spirit of Cambodia's original rock pioneers.

Cambodia is often synonymous with the brutal Khmer Rouge regime that left millions dead and scattered refugees around the globe. This tragedy overshadows the story of Cambodia's music scene in the 1960s and 1970s. Cambodian musicians reinvented Western rock n' roll with a distinctly Khmer flavor to create a sound that is at once familiar and completely original.

Sleepwalking Through the Mekong celebrates this vibrant but long-overlooked music and reveals the power of music to weave a common thread between extremely different cultures.

The Trailor:

Sleepwalking Through The Mekong Trailor

Director's statement:

In making SLEEPWALKING THROUGH THE MEKONG, I was hoping to capture what happens when two extremely different cultures (which historically have very little interaction) are connected by music. The film was shot in ten days. In that amount of time wanted to see if music really could bridge such a wide cultural chasm. While the music may be new to Western ears, for Cambodians, it is part of their daily life. Especially for the older generation, it represents a better time; a time of relative peace and prosperity. It embodies the period before their country was brought to the brink of destruction by the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge, which began in 1975. Although, the damage of that era still runs deep, I wanted the film to focus instead on the power of the music and how it not only survived, but has transmuted and returned some thirty years later to find a new voice and, perhaps, a new audience. Hopefully, the film is a testament to how this music spans not only generations, but cultures as well.

Dengue Fever

Fronted by Cambodian pop star Chhom Nimol, who sings in Khmer and English, the Los Angeles sextet blends the rhythms of '60s Cambodian pop – heavily influenced by American surf, rock and early psychedelic garage bands -with their own eclectic mix of American and international styles. There are echoes of Bollywood soundtracks, Ethiopian soul, American R&B, Cambodian folk, Spaghetti Western weirdness and girl group angst in the mix, but the resulting concoction is all their own.

In addition to vocalist Chhom Nimol – who sang regularly for the King and Queen of Cambodia - Dengue Fever includes Farfisa organist Ethan Holtzman, his guitarist brother Zac (ex-Dieselhed), horns David Ralicke (Beck/Brazzaville), bassist Senon Williams (Radar Bros.) and drummer Paul Smith.

Here's they are singing 'Sober Driver' from their latest album 'Venus On Earth':

Dengue Fever - Sober Driver

Where Can I See Sleepwalking Through The Mekong?

Here is a link to screening information.

It would be really great if the London ICA got involved with a screening, maybe I will mention this to them.

Are Dengue Fever Touring This Year?

You betcha! And I have 2 tickets to see them at the ICA in London and unless something really big comes up, I won’t be sharing them!

Here are the tour dates I took from their MySpace site:

3 Jul 2008 20:00 Roskilde Festival Roskilde

5 Jul 2008 20:00 Summer Stage in Central Park New York, New York

6 Jul 2008 20:00 Black Cat Washington, DC, Washington DC

7 Jul 2008 20:00 Johnny Brenda’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

8 Jul 2008 20:00 Iron Horse Northampton, Massachusetts

9 Jul 2008 20:00 Museum of Fine Arts, Calderwood Courtyard Boston, Massachusetts

11 Jul 2008 20:00 Empty Bottle Chicago, Illinois

12 Jul 2008 20:00 La Fete de Marquette at Central Park Madison, Wisconsin

18 Jul 2008 20:00 Larmertree Festival Salisbury, England

19 Jul 2008 20:00 Lovebox London Weekender London, England

23 Jul 2008 20:00 Jazz Cafe London

26 Jul 2008 20:00 WOMAD Festival, Charleton Park Wiltshire, England

27 Jul 2008 20:00 WOMAD Festival, Charleton Park Wiltshire, England

6 Aug 2008 20:00 Oya Festival Oslo

8 Aug 2008 20:00 Way Out West Goteborg

9 Aug 2008 20:00 Summer Sundae Weekender Leicester, England

14 Aug 2008 20:00 Viana Do Castelo Int. Music Festival Viana Do Castelo

16 Aug 2008 20:00 Beautiful Days Devon, England

21 Aug 2008 20:00 Festival Musicas Do mar Povoa do Varzim, Portugal

29 Aug 2008 20:00 Festival Musicas Do mar Povoa do Varzim

30 Aug 2008 20:00 Festival de Beschaving Utrecht, Holland, Utrecht

Useful Dengue Fever Info:


[Source: Sleepwalking Through The Mekong Website]

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