A word to the wise. If you’re driving from Bangkok, be aware that several thousands of your neighbors are doing the same thing. If you want a parking place, you should already be here. On Friday, it will probably take you an at least an hour to get from Cha Am to the Sofitel. Double or triple that on Saturday and you’ll probably end up parking at Suan Son as even the hotels with large parking lots will be filled. Traffic shouldn’t be as bad as it was during the Honda Summerfest in May, but that could just be wishful thinking on FBF’s part. Enjoy the festival and don’t forget to help clean up when you leave.
WAVES OF WORLD-CLASS JAZZ
Bangkok Post/VANNIYA SRIANGURA Jun 5, 2009
Hua Hin’s annual music festival is promising a blockbuster line-up from around the world.
Hua Hin will once again host of one of the world’s few beachside jazz festivals over the next weekend. But the free concert event, initiated by the community simply as an activity to boost the town’s tourism, is never to be underestimated.
More than 35,000 jazz fansboth locals and foreignerspacked Hua Hin beach during last year’s festival.
Since it launched in 2002, the festival (with a few changes of title and organisers over the years) has welcomed over 300,000 visitors from across the globe, while its guest lists have included some of the world’s most prestigious jazz performers, including Grammy award-winner John Pattitucci and Kenny Garrett from the USA, Cannon Ball from Australia and Montefiori Cocktail from Italy.
Hua Hin Jazz Festival 2009, which will take place on June 12-14, is, as usual, hosted by Hua Hin Municipality in conjunction with Hua Hin Hoteliers Club, Provincial Authority of Prachuap Khiri Khan and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
This year, the three-day fiesta is organised by Plus 5 and Fatima Broadcasting International and will see British jazz-funk band Shakatak, Danish jazz singer Malene Mortensen, and Brazilian bossa nova group, Popsanova, among a number of international and local artists who will perform on the stage with Hua Hin’s solemn sea in the background.
This is the first time Plus 5 and its sister company, Fatima Broadcasting, have gotten their hands on the Hua Hin affair. But the two companies aren’t a new face in the business. Vilasinee Chivanond of Plus 5 and Rawiwan Jinda of Fatima Broadcasting are veterans of the music industry, and that seems to be very important, especially when it comes to handling world famous performers.
”I think one of the reasons we’ve been selected to be this year’s organisers is because we have a good profile in music festivals and experience working with a lot of international artists,” said Vilasinee.
”Since this is a free concert, we don’t have financial ability to bring in world-class big names so we need to depend on a great relationship with the artists. Luckily, we happen to have that connection in hand,” she noted.
Other than these famous guests like Shakatak and Malene Mortensen from Europe, 2009’s line up of artists will see a rich blend of Asian artists including Noon, a sweet-voice bossa nova songstress from Japan, Estrella from Malaysia, as well as Mocca from Indonesia and Brass Munkeys from the Philippines. The latter two groups have performed in Europe many times.
British jazz-funk band Shakatak is expected to be another show stopper.
At the same time, the festival promises a neat selection of local jazz acts from three generations, from The Infinity and Bangkok Connection to Koh Mr Saxman and Gale Dila to Doobadoo and Mellow Motif, to name just a few.
”We try to make it as pure a jazz festival as possible, and not to combine several genres. But that doesn’t mean we are making it a hard-core jazz event, because a section of the audience will not be hard-core jazz lovers. They might come just to chill out and might not be very familiar with acid jazz or fusion jazz. So we try to offer a variety, from easy listening pop jazz, to bossa nova and big band,” Vilasinee said.
Among the underlined artists, Fatima Broadcasting’s Ravivan, who is also a famous songstress herself, said that this will be the first time Shakatak will perform in a free concert, while Popsanova from Brazil is another one of the most interesting acts.
”I bet most music lovers here have listened to [Popsanova’s] songs but didn’t not know who they are,” Ravivan noted. ”As far as I know, their CDs sold very well in this country, and this is going to be their first time in Thailand. Meanwhile, we shouldn’t forget Malene, one of the most requested artists. She joined last year’s festival and got an outstanding ovation from the audience.”
Hua Hin has been a current residence of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. And this year the noble resort town is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. So the organiser aims to make this year’s episode a world-class affair that pays tribute to HM the King, whose musical talent, especially jazz, is highly glorified, as well as to celebrate Hua Hin’s centennial anniversary.
Among a rich blend of Thai jazz artists to take the stage this year is Nui Viriyapa.
With the ”green jazz” concept, other than a variety of entertainment activities which will pack Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, the organisers have come up with a number of community service activities to give something back to Hua Hin. These include planting trees and beach cleaning. But the big highlight this year is the fact that every single band _ local and imported _ will perform at least one of His Majesty the King’s numbers.
”Because jazz performance relies on the quality of sound and not other visual effects, we can’t compromise on the sound system. Actually it’s the most important concern among all artists, especially when they’re world-class performers,” said the organiser.
”We know that it is difficult to set a good concert outdoors, especially when the sound of waves and wind are the obstacles, but we hire the best sound engineers available, so audiences won’t have to worry.”
This year, the balmy jazz tunes will be presented on two stages: the beach stage near the Sofitel Centara Hua Hin Hotel and the city stage, officially called Jazz Royale satge, at Phone Kingphet park on Damnern Kasem Road. Between the two venues, the 200-metre strip, which will be open to pedestrians only, will see a number of activity workshops and booths that will keep the festival mood running all day long.
”The only difference between the two stages will be the atmosphere. The beach stage is more chill-out, while the park stage will be ideal if you’d like to enjoy the music rather than the ambience,” noted Ravivan.
For security issues, the festival has gathered support from the municipality, while the organisers have hired a team of security guards with extensive experience of working at outdoor concerts. ”They know what to do; how to react with music fans and festival goers,” confirmed the organiser.
Visitors are asked not to bring lots of food, due to security concerns. For example, any food on skewers will not be allowed into the audience area, nor will be glass bottles.
”There will be a number of local food vendors both from the five-star hotels and local food shops. So plenty of food and drink will be available at reasonable prices,” Vilasinee said.
And if you’d like to stay overnight, do book a room now because accommodation in Hua Hin and nearby Cha-am get booked up quickly during festival times. Most five-star hotels are offering special packages that weekend. Contact the hotels for more information.