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November 27-29, 2009 BANGKOK THAILAND
From the Archives: when On the Beat and Path was called Backpacker Band
  The Hunt
  Officially, this was the beginning of On the Beat and Path. But only because Steve brought a camera to document his usual musical shenanigans while traveling. Bangkok was a good place to start, with this trip's Backpacker Band of three.
  Out On the Streets
  Steve, Erik and Gary cruise the streets of Bangkok looking for musicians, the King and Queen, and a possible movie shoot they can crash.
Never Mind the BUZZCOCKS!
  Steve and Gary crashed backstage at a Buzzcocks concert and shamelessly convinced drummer Danny Farrant to record a plug for their show.
Bangkok: Backpacker Band is Born  
Arriving in Bangkok, we were excited and mildly apprehensive about the ambitious 48 hours we were to spend in Bangkok. One of the beautiful elements of Backpacker Band is that anything can and usually does happen. When you utilize that philosophy and place three musicians in the heart of Bangkok, one feels the need to take out extra life insurance.

As we set out on day one, we searched for transportation. A stretched limo would be the ultimate way for a traveling band to cruise the city. However, being backpacking musicians in Thailand, we ‘settled’ for the open air Tuk Tuks. After all, this would allow us to play as we venture from gig to gig. As we drove, crowds gathered at red lights as we strummed and drummed our way through the busy streets of Bangkok on our way to our first destination, the Grand Palace.
We knew we wanted to play for the King and Queen and as we approached the Grand Palace, we noticed that although we may have the skill set to get the Royals’ foot tapping, we didn’t have the proper attire. That coupled with the guitars slung over our shoulders, no smooth talking was going to get us into the Palace grounds. Undeterred we looked around for an alternative and set up shop performing a four-song set under a 40foot poster of the King and Queen right in the centre of a busy highway. Sure they couldn’t appreciate our sultry sounds, but passersby on the busses and bikes sure found what we were doing rather interesting (if not confusing).

Our Tuk Tuks agreed to wait as we cruised the outside of the Palace walls and came across a film production set. It appeared as though they were shooting some sort of commercial/TV show/movie that consisted of 100 school girls and police officers (known in Bangkok as the “Men in Brown”) on “people movers” (I believe these are formally known as Segways). The Backpacker Band has always wanted to be on a movie soundtrack so we quickly decided this would make a great stop for our second show. Crowds gathered quickly including a rather abusive birdseed seller who not only didn’t appreciate our attention-seeking behavior but also kept yelling the only word she knew in English, “MONEY!” while we were performing. Luckily, the traditional warmth that the Thai people are known for shone throughout the day as locals sung traditional songs to our melodies.

The next stop was the epicenter of the Backpacking World in Bangkok, Khaosan Road. Our goal was simple: to find a place to perform on one of Bangkok’s craziest street and hopefully lure some locals and backpackers into our band.

First we had to repair some gear. Our wild set at the Palace left Steve without an A string on his guitar and bass player, Gary, was still on the hunt for a bass strap. Luckily, anything can be found in Bangkok and we happened to stumble across a music shop that had everything we needed (including a guitar pic that was sold to Steve mid song. His only regret was that because he was performing throughout the sale, there was no time to bargain). It was here where locals and tourists stopped to watch our unique set of blues and acoustic rock. We attracted the attention of Japanese tourist, Mitsu who decided to pull up on a set of bongos and join us on a few inspirational tunes. Mitsu was influenced by the likes of Bob Marley and the Jamaican reggae sound. His main instrument of choice is the piano but we could instantly tell that he was a trained musician as his ability to keep time on the bongo was flawless.

Already the Backpacker Band was enthusiastic with how our weekend was going and with three shows in one day under our belt, we felt it best to stuff ourselves with some of Thailand’s well known cuisine before heading out for day two’s adventures.

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Day two saw the Backpacker Band investigating the Thai indie music scene. Gary and Steve scored tickets to legendary British punkers, the Buzzcocks at Club Culture and arrived early to watch local punk heroes Abuse the Youth. Before ATY took stage, the boys ran into a once-believed-dead rock ’n roll icon. They enjoyed some pre-concert snack as an extremely charismatic Malay /Thai Elvis impersonator entertained them.
With a sound machine providing all the music tracks, Elvis entertained the sparse crowd with Elvis hits and other popular favorites from the 50’s, 60’sand 70’s. The Backpacker Band managed to sit with Elvis and talked about everything from the influence of Elvis to what he wears when he just wants to go to the grocery store.

It was now time for ATY’s energetic set. They performed like rock veterans as the crowd sung along to their melodic and likeable pop punk anthems. ATY have been participants in the local Thai music scene for about three years and recently released their first full-length album. Already opening for a band such as the Buzzcocks should give them an immense feeling of accomplishment. ATY’s lead singer and guitarist, Mick, took time to talk about the music scene in Thailand, “It is very diverse and always full of energy. We are lucky that there are venues for musicians to play and the audiences are always enthusiastic.” ATY will focus their energies in the immediate future on the promotion of their new album and playing as much as they can. After all, “that’s what it’s all about”.

The Backpacker Band celebrated an extremely triumphant weekend watching a stellar set by Manchester punk legends, the Buzzcocks. We were graciously allowed backstage as we sung along, took pictures and marveled at how Father Time failed at taking the energy of these rock heroes. After the show, Gary and Steve were able to spend some time with the band, record some great inspirational promos and party until the wee hours of the morning.

Catch us next time performing somewhere on this planet.


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Mission: On the Beat and Path provides a window into the planet's love and longing for music, using music as the primary language of global communication in order to develop a multi-media outlet for the sharing of music, travel and friendship.
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