Saturday, 23 February 2008

Is living the "Rock'n'Roll" lifestyle harder than running ultras ????

Good question at the moment, having made sure i did my measured 24K run every morning over Patong Hill to Kalim Beach the first three days (i curse it doesn't appear that Phuket works here so can't show the course but believe me there are two very long steep hills - though at least only wearing a pair of running shorts and shoes and moving relatively fast no one is trying to sell me either a suit, massage or various bootleg merchandise at Patong :-) ), the question was going to be whether i'd be able to keep it up once the Blues/Rock Festival hit town .
First night (after spending most of the day in Phang Nha Bay and on James Bond Island - where "The Man with the Golden Gun" was filmed) was the warm up gig at Taipan Bar in Patong get the feeling the place was more used to having Go Go Girls up on stage rather than international acts with the 10:00 start delayed 45 minutes or so. Was having a chat with festival Andy Anderson and an Aussie from Adelaide Harry who is the regular singer at Tai Pan (that's him in the above picture, personally i'm having problems charging the camera so will get a couple of pics from Shari to brighten the blog later).
Interesting to note that smoking has been banned in bars and all public places in Thailand from February 11, obviously no one has told anyone that as even with a couple of no smoking signs finally the bands arrived on the stage in a mist of smoke. Great hour long set from Rich Harper and Shari (an interview with them both here )working really well together with her awesome voice complimenting his incredible guitar playing and great bluesy delivery. Not exactly room for hitting the dancefloor (the fact that security all were wearing "FBI" - "Finest Babes In Tai Pan" seemed to sum up the fact that dancing was not something often done here), but still a great performance by the two festival headliners.
Just when i couldn't ask for more (Shari having just done a killer version of "Bobby McGee" as per this video ), we had Harry join them up on stage and they did "Honky Tonk Women" such an incredibly appropriate song for this area of Patong and of course one of my all time favourites.
I could go on, but after all this was just a warm up for the main event the next couple of nights.
Late sleep in (something to do with going to bed at 2 or so) meant my morning run was going to be right in the heat of the day (not actually that hot only 30 degrees or so), but i knew it meant i'd be struggling on that last stretch (remember getting water on a 2 Hour run isn't an option there are no drinking fountains here !).
All was good till i hit the intersection out of Patong and over the hill (ie "the last stretch" i must be psychic) and i realised that after being soaked in sweat the first 90 minutes i was no longer sweating and my shorts were actually getting dry not a good sign. Bottom line i did make it back to the hotel, but it was pretty much a case of hop into the bath and drink as many bottles of water as i could as i was feeling sh*t just totally dehydrated, maybe i was just getting too old for this sort of thing ???? (being an Ultra runner means you never want to grow up - i'm not ready yet !!!). A few hours later and feeling more human (something like 8 bottles of 7Baht water and a couple of cans of the local sports drink was all it took ????), thought i'd better get some food into me (and answer some emails) and hopefully be capable of surviving (and enjoying more importantly !!!!) 6 Hours of music.
Out in the open ground of the Hilton Arcadia with stage at one end, bit of spare ground and then heaps of tables and chairs - tables and chairs nothing spells less rock'n'roll to me i admit - and for us "flash" people in the VIP section (me a VIP there's hope for anybody if that's the case !!), lounge chairs and nibblies and free beer, wine and water (note to self this could be dangerous).
Apparently with the Thai elections coming soon the government has proclaimed that this and the next weekend alcohol is not able to be sold so thankfully the sponsors came to the party and provided free beer for all.
As is typical with an event like this the first acts just couldn't get the audience on the dance floor, no matter how good they are so i just sat back and enjoyed "Lil Willie and the Fabulous Hepcats", incredible harmonica playing and if you shut your eyes you'd have sworn it was some blues band back before i was born (and wishing i had been after all this is where all rock'n'roll came from).
A few announcements to fill up the time between acts setting up their gear, the most important being that the "Portaloos" were going to be a day late (and the fact that minimal alcohol as they made arrangements meant the MC just couldn't get a laugh out of his audience as he made jokes about the situation).
Next up was Georgia Blues Band and i swear the lead singer, Georgia, was Janis Joplin reincarnated as a Bangkok Blues Mama, the soul she put into every lyric was something to behold and between her and the other vocalist (don't have the printed guide on me as i type this and they have no website) just simply some awesome music and knew this was going to be a great night (after all i always thought the idea was to build up to the headliners and it was hard to imagine getting better and better as the night wore on).
Next on was "Full House" with a lead singer with the incredible name of Lightning Takashi, apparently they are Thaipenese (Thai and Japanese) but whatever they are they are just so full of energy every song being belted out from somewhere down deep, again no use giving a set list but again they were awesome.
Next on was a fellow i'd talked to for a little during a break Jeff T, with his band Soi Dog Blues Band , by now we were all in front of the stage and this big tall man and his band did not let us down. Not only great vocals but awesome guitar the main guitarist being a great showman and practitioner of his art, first demand for an encore of the night (the first three definitely deserved one but most of us were still kicking back in chairs letting the great music wash over us) and we were obliged by another great song.
Anybody reading this, and knowing me :-), would realise by now the night was just going off and it really was a case of going from one high to another for the rest of the gig (assuming the combination of booze and my over the top dancing - i must have recovered fully from earlier in the day - didn't do me damage).
Next on was Aussies Salty Dog a band i'd seen a few times over the years in Melbourne (but not for over a year) so i knew they'd be bl**dy good, between Marion's great voice (and self deprecating between song patter, yeah okay maybe she did need a good hairdresser !!) and Steve's showmanship and complete mastery of all his guitars starting with his "Jack Daniels" Slide Guitar.
A few songs that people would know such as "Black Betty" - awesome version - and another which was again great but i think my mind was a bit shot memory wise !!, and another encore requested and delivered.
Next on was Rich Harper and his band and having seen them burn up the stage the night before knew this would ge good (midnight by now - all the adrenaline pumping through my body probably meant i wouldn't sleep for hours anyway).
With the fans on stage (electric version not people !) going full blast i'm sure many people got some incredible pictures of his waistlength hair being blown everywhere as he put his whole heart and soul into every lick of his guitar and powerful voice. In short an incredible set with some great songs from his various albums, a highlight towards the end being two young girls (about 10 Years old ??) coming onto stage as the dancing girls, the youth and energy shown was a real show stealer (apparently they did the same last year) as danced through his last song which brought him running madly around the arena playing his guitar (maybe Keef could have done that 30 years ago but not now) and having a ball with all his new found fans.
Of course by now when he was back on stage an encore was obligatory and he got Shari up (from the side of the stage taking pictures) for one last song, again i'll blame a memory lapse for lack of name of the song (off hand a Stevie Ray Vaughan Classic), in short you put the two of them on stage together and it is pure musical magic two awesome voices and incredible guitar playing (think Mick and Keef except Shari is much easier on the eyes !).
Sadly that was the end, seeing i don't write for Rolling Stone Magazine (i picked up one of my favourite movies "Almost Famous" for 60Baht the other day and watched it the first night so couldn't help thinking back to it), i'm sure there are better reviews like this from the Phuket Gazette : but we'll see if i have the time and inclination for a write up of day two tomorrow.
At least no problem on my run today, seeing i woke at 10 only ran 100 minutes and the other direction so a couple of bottles of water and i'll be ready for another night of great music.

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