Dengue Fever: Live at WFMU on Terre T's Show on 7/16/2008
Thanks to Rob Weisberg, Transpacific Sound Paradise host/DJ
Gil Shuster, engineer, who did an insanely amazing job on this session!!
Sue Per, associate producer
The band is:
Zac, guitar & vox
The band is from California and Cambodia
some recent recordings:
Venus on Earth
Escape from Dragon House
All on M-80
Also check out the documentary about DENGUE FEVER’s visit to Cambodia called Sleepwalking thru the MEKONG, screening out now thru-out the US (DVD of the movie for release in March 2009)
Live at WFMU on Terre T's Show on 7/16/2008
Live at WFMU on Terre T's Show on 7/16/2008 by Dengue Fever is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
» VIEW ALLAlbum Reviews
Joe McGasko on 06/10/2009 at 12:18PM
Any fan of music documentaries is familiar with the various templates that filmmakers use to tell their stories. There are the History/Profile docs (No Direction Home, Endless Harmony), the Big Concert docs (check out the new Parliament Funkadelic - The Mothership Connection Live 1976 for a great example), the Tortured Artist docs (The Devil and Daniel Johnston, You're Gonna Miss Me: A Film About Roky Erickson), the Classic Album docs (just saw the one about Born to Run called Wings to Wheels--not bad!), and, of course, that old standby, the Band on Tour movie. The movies in this last category can sometimes be a real slog, as anyone who has sat through "ABBA: The Movie" can attest.
But I recently saw a Band on Tour movie that was anything but boring. Sleepwalking Through the Mekong, a documentary that follows the band Dengue Fever on tour, recently came out on DVD, and if you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend it.
What makes this movie different from the standard run of Band on Tour docs? Most of it has to do with what Dengue Fever is and does. A few years ago, this American band headed by Ethan and Zac Holtzman revived the pop music of Cambodia, music that had been more or less wiped from the earth by the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70s. Based in Southern California but fronted by a Cambodian emigré named Chhom Nimol, Dengue Fever covers the music of great Cambodian artists like Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea but also writes their own songs in a similar style.
Given that so much of their music is based on Cambodian pop, it makes sense that Dengue Fever would visit Cambodia for a mini-tour, which is the subject of the documentary. To a large degree, the people of Phnom Penh are tickled by the revival of some of their most well-known old songs by these crazy young Americans, but there are also people who question their right to be there. America has left many scars in Southeast Asia, and it's interesting to see how an idealistic group of musicians can navigate and sometimes overcome tricky cultural friction.
While the film does raise interesting questions about the role of music in culture and the meaning of adopting the music of other cultures as your own, Sleepwalking Through the Mekong mostly concentrates on delivering a lot of great music. Dengue Fever plays with master Cambodian musicians Kong Nai and Tep Mary, performs on the streets and in clubs, and appears at an outdoor festival. The travelogue aspect of the film pulls you in, but it's the music that keeps you riveted. Most of the performances are included in full, too, which is often not the case in these kinds of documentaries.
One of the highlights of the film is the performance of the Dengue Fever original "One Thousand Tears of a Tarantula" in a small, sweaty club called Snowy's in Phnom Pehh. This scene reminded me that this very song was performed live on WFMU in July of 2008. Check out the MP3 below. If you like it, the rest of their WFMU set can also be found on the FMA. And, while you're at it, check out Sleepwalking Through the Mekong on DVD. It's one of the best Band on Tour docs you'll see.