Bushman Plays SE Asian Music Fest

Photos by MJ Klein & Hui-chen – Video by Hui-chen

This past Sunday, Hui-chen and I attended a SE Asian music festival called “Thai Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival and Philippine Karaoke Competition.

MJ with the band “Fong” moments before starting up the first song

Actually I did more than just attend, as I was invited to perform with one of the Thai bands. The reason that I did not tell anyone in advance about it was mainly because I did not want to detract from the Blues Bash that went on during the same weekend. Plus I didn’t know much about the festival until I got there, so I didn’t feel comfortable saying anything about it beforehand.

So, read on about Thai rock bands, Philippine traditional dancing, drinking, karaoke, bad weather, boats on the river, etc.! There are a ton of photos in this article!


Please note that all photos are geotagged where appropriate

Click here to see a local news article about the show.

These guys, mostly from my neighborhood, insisted that I play with them in their band. I must have given them a dozen reasons why an old man like me in his 50’s would not go over well playing with a bunch of 20-something young men. But there were insistent, saying that the only thing that mattered was one’s playing ability. Joking, I said “We should call the band ‘My Thai Sons‘” and we all had a good laugh about that! They had picked the name “Fong” (“wind” in Chinese) but I didn’t find that out until the day of the show! The weather that day was lousy, with very high winds, so I told them “Thanks for not calling the band ‘typhoon‘!”

The weather sucked on Sunday. Look at the effects of the high winds. Then, it rained.

I like this view north, on the #1 highway (car window photo).

This is one of those blowup thingies that are common in Taiwan. It’s the entrance to the Thai Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival and Philippine Karaoke Competition, which is what it says in Chinese. This took place behind the Tamshui MRT station, believe it or not.

This is the stage, which thankfully, was covered, but not protected from the winds at the sides. Notice the PA (speaker) cabinets: they are covered up because of the rain (did I say the weather sucked?).

This is the sheltered area for the audience, which had already began to gather around noon.

Hui-chen and I went to eat and buy sunglasses. I’ll show you what we ate in a separate article but I must show you the sunglasses that she tried on!

She bought the last pair you see here. NT$199.

We returned to find the show going in full swing. These dancers are doing some steps in traditional Philippine clothing.

The show was hosted in English, Chinese and Thai. Far too often I have attended international shows in Taiwan where only Taiwanese and Chinese were spoken. I thought the planning and execution of this show was exemplary.

This shot shows how quiet and attentive the audience was, at least during the karaoke portions of the show.

First up in the karaoke competition was this Filipino gentleman, who appeared to be dressed for Mass rather than singing karaoke! When he first walked out on stage, everyone went “WHOA!” because he looked so serious.

While he was singing, I slipped out of the crowd and down to an area underneath a huge tree, where the Thai guys I were with had set up an area for drinking. On hand were Beck’s Dark, Sang Som Thai Rum (of course!) and Johnnie Walker (Black Label). After all, we had to keep warm! It was quite cold and nasty. It sure is nice living in a country with no discernible open container laws. We couldn’t enjoy ourselves like this in the US.

This Filipino singer is belting out a love song for the umbrellaed crowd. Notice that many of the audience have moved out from under the protective canopy and are braving the elements.

Several more female competitors take their shot at the prize money. Even though not visible in all the photos, they were all wearing numbers like at a bikini bar! The guy on the right, fiddling with equipment, is the lead singer of Fong. It’s almost time for Fong to go onstage!

The crowd waits in anticipation as the last singer finishes up her song….

Then suddenly, an old man in a Thai silk shirt steps out on stage!

MJ’s shirt is louder than the music

I haven’t done a show like this since I closed my recording project nearly 10 years ago. It was good to get back onstage! The Thai people were very receptive, with many standing off to the side of the stage near me. They all wanted to shake my hand (difficult to do while trying to play!), and were giving me the “thumbs-up” sign. The young Thai men were right: it doesn’t matter how you look – it only matters how you play. Later, someone told me that having a foreigner playing in a Thai band gave them more of an international appearance. I hadn’t thought of that. We got an introduction from the Thai host (the female in black) and then we started our set of 5 tunes, all original.

Click on this link to let the video load while you read the rest of the article. Sorry, but video embed don’t seem to work so well on this blog.

After we played there was more traditional Philippine dancing.

Then this Thai gentlemen arrived on stage and sang Thai songs with recorded background music. I’ve seen this kind of show before and people love it. This day was no different – people got up out of their seats and danced in the drizzle.

Everyone was bundled up (except me, being from 42 degrees north latitude!). It’s too bad that day was so lousy. Of course the previous day was gorgeous. Nevertheless, the crowd really enjoyed themselves.

People having a good time

A river boat goes past the festival site

Notice the flowers in the singer’s hand. In Thai culture, if you like the performer, you give them flowers. When we were playing, so many flowers were given to the band that it actually disrupted the performance. I also want you to take notice of the NT$100 note in the singer’s left hand.

Here you see an audience member handing money to the singer. When Thai people appreciate you, they also will give you money as a token of their appreciation. While I was playing, someone tried to hand me a hundred too, but I just couldn’t accept it. Instead, I gave that person a wai to thank him for his very kind gesture.

What I found strange was that the show managers had the singers come back on stage and sing the same karaoke songs again.

In between some of the singing was more dancing. This dance is called “Philippine cha-cha-cha” and it looked fun.

This is the gentleman who was so well dressed during the first performance. By this time the sun had set and it had become quite cold. So naturally he wore something warmer than his suit.

There was also a raffle with a few items being given away. It looks like this guy won himself a Kodak digital camera.

More prize drawing. It was rather comical because by this time many of the people who had registered for the raffle had left due to the cold. When a number was drawn and read, the crowd impatiently said “no” to prompt the host to draw another number. It was cold and everyone wanted things to speed up! Finally the last winner almost lost his opportunity because the impatient crowd was calling for another number before he had a chance to cry out that he had won!

Next, was the awards part of the show, where the winners of the karaoke competition were given their prizes:

This guy almost crapped his pants when he found out he’d won NT$5,000!

Next up was another Thai band called Blue Sky.

We listened to a few songs and decided that it was time to go eat! So, where did we go? Attention: 2 food photos ahead!

The Blue Sky Thai and Vietnamese Restaurant

Hey wait, isn’t that the name of the band we just saw? Yup. The owners of the restaurant are related to the band and the band normally performs at the restaurant.

Inside, the Blue Sky restaurant sports a surreal dayglow decor.

Patrons enjoy the blacklight atmosphere

This, believe it or not, is the bandstand. There really is room for a band, and we were invited to perform here during dinner.

It’s a bit difficult to take non-flash photographs in the Blue Sky but it sure is a fun place with the blacklights and the dayglow paint. The Blue Sky also has a respectable book of English karaoke songs and multiple video monitors.

Now for the 2 food shots, which I’ve saved for last, in case one would like to bail out before looking at them:

The famous Tom Yom (hot and sour) Thai soup. This was absolutely delicious. Real Thai flavor!

This dish of course, is Thai seafood salad. It was every bit as good as it looks!
Outside of the famous Shao-hui’s in Hukou, I found the Blue Sky to have the most authentic Thai food flavor that I have yet tasted in Taiwan. The tom yum soup brought back a lot of memories of Thailand. Hui-chen and I can recommend the Blue Sky to those lover’s of Thai food who are disappointed by other places in Taipei. With the live band (the sound system is quite good) and the karaoke, complete with lots of English songs, makes the Blue Sky a place for a fun night out.

I have geotagged this article with the location of the Blue Sky restaurant, as measured with my personal GPS. You can view the location on our Geotagged Articles Map (the link is on the header). For convenince I am adding a browser enabled geotag for the Blue Sky here:

View Location In: Google Maps, Platial, Google Earth, 25.049356,121.46692
Geotagged with Flock: , , ,

The Fong band and I will be doing more performances in the future. I’ll keep you posted.

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  1. Tim » thanks for the vote of confidence. i still think i look like a fat old man on stage. but i’m a fat old man with almost 40 years of experience, lol. it looks like we might be playing tomorrow night at Shao-hui’s disco. i’ll find out tomorrow. thanks for your comments.

  2. Carrie » we would love to! as you know, i don’t own an acoustic guitar in Taiwan, but only the 12 string electric. those are usually accepted in acoustic shows. but anyway we’d like to come up sometime, no matter! thanks Carrie.

  3. andres » i have to admit – i had a blast. it’s been a long time since i was on stage. the audience was great. Fong and i have been working on more tunes, so it looks like they want to continue to do some shows. i promise that next time i will give you some advance notice! thanks Andres.

  4. Looks like a good day. Do give notice if you play with them again – I’d love to come along for a listen. And Blue Sky restaurant looks mad. I’m going to have to go there next time I’m up north.

    cfimages’s last blog post..JPG Follies

    1. Craig, will do on that. there is talk of a stadium festival coming up. just have to see if we’re going to make that one.

      i was thinking about scheduling a Blogger Bash at the Blue Sky because not only is the food good, the place is as you say, quite mad!

  5. Glasses #2 the blue ones look great on Hui Chen! Very mysterious, but in a feminine and fem-fatale way. Both of you looked great! And better and better I must say after getting married., The purple jacket and the blue jeans are 100% rock-able!

  6. Sorry…I meant glasses #3! Asian women are hard to fit as far as sun glasses go. I must say that glasses #3 is the best looking pair of glasses on any asian woman I’ve ever seen!
    I am going shopping this weekend for sunglasses, thanks to Hui Chen’s fashion inspiration.

    1. Joanna » Hui-chen likes the first pair! i told her that they look like a “bug windshield” hahha! you are right about the fit though because those styles are always so round, even i have trouble fitting them. i don’t like any gap at the top where light can come in and light up my face behind the glasses because then it’s very hard to see out of them. please let us know what kind you bought. you should send us a photo!

      Joanna, you always say the nicest things about us, and we appreciate it very much. we’re very happy that you are part of our community 🙂 take care.

  7. What an incredible evening you must have had MJ. You do look rocking in Thai silk shirt to me. Blue Sky Restaurant is indeed a crazy place. Do let us know when you perform next time MJ. I won’t miss it for anything. Take care MJ.

    Ashish’s last blog post..Dinner in Jhubei

  8. Ashish » thanks a lot. i wore it last night at Shao-hui’s disco club. the other guitar players did not join us, so it was a power 3 piece band (which i haven’t done in a long time!). it was not bad but i’m not gonna do more shows without more rehearsal!

    anytime you want a Thai evening, come on over to Hukou. we can eat Thai food and sing karaoke at Shao-hui’s restaurant, and later go over to the disco (if that’s your thing). thanks again Ashish!

    1. Brunty sent me this message via email:

      “I loved your post on playing with the Thai rock and roll band. And that was a bright shirt. I really loved the picture of the smoke stacks with the smoke going sideways. It was my favourite picture for some silly reason.

      It looked like a full day there. It reminded me of Thai get togethers when I seen the pictures of the guys dancing in front of the stage. It is amazing what some Thai rum and beer can do. I love the way the Thais dance Lum style always very funny and entertaining.

      The Sky Bar looked a bit psychedelic looking and out there. The pictures were as always top notch as well as the reporting.

      Thanks for the great post and just wanted you to know I enjoyed it.”

      of course, we thank you for your comments Brunty.

      Read Brunty’s latest article here

  9. *i don’t own an acoustic guitar in Taiwan, but only the 12 string electric.*

    You mean… you don’t own “Maxine” anymore… wow

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