2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Photos by Hui-chen

I apologize for the late blogging but I am quite sick, what with our heavy travel and performance schedules.  I seem to have picked up a flu virus, and I’m trying to recover.

UPDATE: Hui-chen helped me straighten out some of the confusion! Additions are in red type.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Our story begins in Taipei.  Here we see a competition dance team preparing themselves.  Notice the vertical sign in the background.  This is a cultural event for SE Asian workers here in Taiwan.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

It was a gorgeous day after starting out cloudy and a bit cold.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

This year, the program began with monks doing their thing for some time.  They were chanting and the droning tended to lull me to sleep.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

More preparation by the Thai team.  there was something of a “backstage” area but I never saw it.  The area was full of women’s dance teams dressing.  Each country represented had 2 teams of dancers.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Notice the makeup on the male dancer.  He’ll be on stage later.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

In the meantime, the Blue Sky band was relaxing and taking a break.  My wife, Hui-chen was the one taking photos on this day, and all of the photos used in this story are her shots.  The guys were sitting in the shade drinking (believe it or not) Coors Light (but don’t ask me why!).  Today we’re wearing green shirts to avoid any conflict or possible association with Thai politics.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

These are the various judges for the dance competition.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

This is the Thai team doing their thing.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

After some time, the second Thai team consisting of 2 female and 2 male dancers went on stage.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

The dance was quite elaborate.  I didn’t see much of it as I was behind the stage most of the time.  Thank goodness that Hui-chen was on the job with the camera.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

This is a ceremony that we’ve seen before.  This is a ceremony to honor one’s elders in Thai culture.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

The person on the floor bows to their elder and gives them a blessing.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Then the elder person sprinkles water on their head.  For more information on this ritual, please see this article.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Finally, we were called to the stage for our first of 2 sets.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

RA (as usual) was “on” and he lead the band in a short set of 6 songs.  I don’t know why, but these shows are strange.  The band is some kind of a “plug-in” that goes between other activities.  I’ll talk more about this in the next article.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

I haven’t used my Fender Stratocaster guitar in quite some time, so I decided to use it this weekend.  I have to admit it sounded pretty darn good with the VOX amp, and honestly, I thought the band sounded hot.  I’m rather critical of how we sound, too.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

In case you’re wondering, that black object on the headstock is a clip-on tuner.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Only a few people in the crowd were on their feet for the first set.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Next up were the Vietnamese Indonesian dancers.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

This is the second a Vietnamese dance team.  I have to give this team credit because one dancer’s top broke and came slightly undone.  She was wearing an undergarment so nothing was showing, but she was clearly embarassed by it, yet continued to dance without missing a beat.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Now this is where it gets confusing to me.  This is yet another Thai team.  So I don’t know if what I previously called their second team is in fact, part of the first team.  Oh well, just enjoy the photos!

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Hui-chen took a shot of this street perform and she said the guy was really great.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

As you can see, it was a gorgeous day!

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Don’t ask me if this is a dance team or not, because I don’t know!  But they were playing Thai music and people got up to dance.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

More Indonesian dancing.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

This is the Philippine team.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

I’m not sure that the girl on the far right is even old enough to dress like that!

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

OK, now I’m totally confused.  There was so much dancing going on that I have no idea who’s on stage now!  Some of the dance routines were entertainment only and not part of the competition.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

This (I believe) is a Vietnamese dance group. More Thai dancing. No matter who they are, I thought their dance was great.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

The entire time that the show was going on, this water truck stood at the ready.  Notice the fire hoses on the ground.  You’ll see what this water truck is for in a moment.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

This woman was playing a saw.  Hui-chen said it made a sound like a scary movie.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

This is another Philippine dance team.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Now for the prize awards.  I wasn’t present to witness the prizes so you’ll just have to look at the photos and figure out who won what.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

One team won the top prize of 10,000 NT dollars.  Hui-chen told me later that it was Thailand that won the dance competition.  Not bad!

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

The band went back on stage and began set #2.  You’ve already seen enough shots of the band so we won’t show you any more.  Instead you’ll see what was going on in the crowd while the band was playing.  Let me tell you, it was a lot of fun playing on stage and seeing what was going on in front of the stage at the same time.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

This man is pouring water on himself.  Remember, this is Songkran and this is a Thai water holiday.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

So naturally, there was a lot of water throwing.

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

But the real fun began when the fire hoses were turned on!

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

This guy jumped up on stage beside me while we were playing.  I have no idea who he is!  He was barefoot (and bare-assed) and for a few seconds he was hopping on one foot as there was some bottle cap debris on the stage and he stepped on it.  It was too funny!

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

2009 Thai New Year, Part I

Here, we’re posing with some students who are doing a story on the psychology of bands.  They found the Blue Sky band particularly interesting because we’re a Thai band in Taiwan, with a white foreigner on guitar.  They don’t speak English and I don’t speak Thai.  They wondered how we can communicate well enough to play songs together.  I explained to them that music is a universal language that we all have in common.

Thanks for reading!  Our next article is one that you don’t want to miss!  We’ll show you what it’s like to be onstage in front of 15,000 people!

Please leave us your comments and a rating below.

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11 comments

  1. Looks like it was a good time. Good idea to remove yourself from the political hysteria.

    I don’t think i am talking you out of that guitar anytime soon :(. What the switch on the middle pot do? Was it factory?

    1. it was a fun time for sure!

      the switch on the middle pot is the coil cut on the humbucking pickup, so the sound more closely resembles the original Strat sound. i say “resembles” because it’s not a standard single-coil pickup. while the neck and middle pickups are all Strat, the humbucking p/u in the bridge position sounds very much like a Gibson. cutting one coil out turns it into a single coil but it’s still different. thanks Colby.

    1. David, you got some great shots and i can’t wait to see all of them!

      that crazy guy was a trip. he didn’t say anything – just jumped up on the stage. he gave me a pat on the back while i was playing, too. looks like an opportunist events crasher! thanks David.

  2. Great post MJ. That looked like a great day. I love the idea of greens shirts.

    What a diverse day, dancing, singing, saw playing and a bare ass entertainer. It couldn’t have got better.

    I was shocked for the warm up drink selection! No Sangsom… that is just not Thai on Thai New Year…

    I am a mug on guitars and only know of sratofender caster because of the Jimi Hendrix fame.

    How are they in ranks of being great guitars? Are they the best?

    Anyway, thanks for sharing and Hui-Chen for the photograpy.

    Bruntys last blog post..Songkran Water Festival 2009, Isaan Thailand.

    1. Brunty, it was a pretty full day, that’s for sure! the bare assed man just added another dose of surrealism to the whole experience.

      for some reason the Thai guys only had that Coors Lite. i know what you mean about not having Sang Som – just didn’t seem right.

      as for the Fender Strat being the best guitar, it all depends upon who you ask. Strats rule in Thailand, and many players around the world play them. on the other hand, bands like AC/DC are Gibson players. it all depends upon the player and the sound because those guitars couldn’t sound and play most differently. truth be told, i never played a Strat until 1999. i’ve been a Gibson man all my life, so my owning and playing a Stratocaster is relatively new to my career. they certainly are good guitars and they have a distinctive sound.

      thanks Brunty.

  3. Wow, so many photos. Good work both of you.

    The Gibson/Fender thing is a bit like Pc/Mac or Ford/Holden (GM for you non-Aussies). What’s strangest to me is that Eric Clapton is most known for being a Strat player, but with the exception of the Layla album, his best guitar work (IMHO) was with Gibsons during his time with Cream and John Mayall.

    cfimagess last blog post..Taiwanese Village Life

    1. Craig, that is a very good example! another one that comes to mind is how Jeff Beck used to play a Les Paul but ended up being known for playing a Strat. they play totally different from one another.

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