By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul
With tourism down in the coastal resort of Pattaya now that the low or green season has arrived, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is giving the city a shot in the arm by organising the Thailand Cultural Music Festival this weekend at Bali Hai Bay.
“The festival is a component of our ‘Open to the New Shades’ campaign that utilises music as the medium to promote tourism. Thailand’s dynamic music industry is really growing into one of the country’s greatest assets,” says Sujitra Jongchansitto, deputy governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand’s tourism products and business.
“It also helps build brand recognition for Thailand as a tourist destination as it is undoubtedly one of Asia’s best musical and cultural event destinations. We are putting it together now to stimulate tourism during the low season. We are also following the government’s policy on promoting the Thai way of life, which is an important selling point for tourism and covers arts and culture, food and, of course, music. Local artists and bands, many of whom have performed overseas, will be blending their local sound with Western music instruments,” she adds.
Pol Maj Gen Bandit Khunchak, Pattaya City’s deputy mayor, echoes those sentiments, saying: “We are honoured that the TAT is staging this music event in Pattaya for the first time, especially at Bali Hai, which has undergone major landscape improvements costing more than Bt100 million. We have prepared security measures, traffic control and a large parking lot to cope with the influx of visitors. Pattaya organises many activities and events to encourage tourism but the Thailand Cultural Music Festival is a new innovation. I believe this music event will be able to draw crowds from Bangkok and the surrounding provinces as well as foreign tourists.”
The festival is the first event being hosted by Bali Hai Bay since the renovation works were completed and features an all-star lineup, who will take the stage tonight from 5 until late.
Among them are The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band, known for its modern take on traditional morlam (Isaan music), indie luk thung (Thai folk) singer Zak Chumpae whose song “Kham Pang” has been viewed over 400 million on YouTube and electronic reggae and folk outfit Ga-Pi & The Thai Dub Mafia. Also entertaining the crowds are reggae band Mocca Garden with disco artist Burin Boonvisut, Phatthalung Band, whose song “Mahalai Wua Chon” has been viewed over 200 million times on YouTube, fusion jazz band The Infinity, Urboy TJ with Day Thaitanium, and luk thung artist Kong Huayrai with morlam singer Kanittha “Bell” Baolorpetch.
“It will be a musical phenomenon and the greatest ever show in Thailand with its blend of East-Meets-West music. It isn’t easy to book these well-known bands, who are on a tight show schedule, but we’ve managed it,” Sujitra says.
Between them, these bands represent all four regions of Thailand and many of them are also featuring acts typical of where they live. For example, the Phatthalung Band from the South is featuring the Khai Liem manorah troupe, while Paradise Bangkok will be joined by Rasmee of “Isaan Soul” fame. Also coming to town is Chaiya Mitrchai’s likay troupe.”
“We will have a small stage along the beach road with shows by local bands starting at 4pm,” Sujitra adds.
“I’m honoured that we’ve been invited,” enthuses Nattapon Siangsukon, aka DJ Maft Sai, founder of The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band. “For those who don’t know us, we are a gathering of musicians fascinated by morlam. We all have different backgrounds but have helped each other to develop morlam into a modern sound that the new generation can understand and enjoy. We’re putting our new album together and will be playing some tracks at the concert.”
Actors Louis Scott, Tanawat “Pope” Wattanaputi, and Ramida “Noon” Prapasanobon, stars of the hit Channel 3 period drama hit “Buppesannivas” will also appear on stage.
“Music is the lifeblood of culture, although people from other foreign countries, especially China, don’t understand it. We’ll perform some of the soundtracks from the drama and Noon and I will sing live for the first time on the number for which I wrote the rap part. We are educating the new generation to learn about and understand this kind of folk music,” says Louis.
The Thailand Cultural Music Festival endeavours to promote tourism in Chon Buri and neighbouring provinces while promoting local experiences that could later be developed on a regional, national or international, the TAT says.
With that in mind, festival-goers will also be able to sample the culinary delights of each of Thailand’s four main regions, have their faces painted, buy tattoo stickers and take part in “Snap and Share”, sharing 3D images of Thailand’s attractions from the TAT’s extensive gallery of photographs, or posting them on other social media platforms using the #thailandculturalmusicfestival or #amazingthailand tags. The prize is a colourful raincoat.
Music for the masses
- Admission is free.
- For more information, dial the call centre at 1672 or visit www.TourismThailand.org/thaifest.