Yesterday I shared with everyone the 4th of July cookout I had with my Thai and farang friends in the No. VA Thai Language Group here in DC. I was surprised that everyone who wrote a comment (all except one) wrote only about my brief mention of going to see Carabao the day before. I hope that does not say anything about my cooking! 😉
I wrote my blog out of order of the weekends events so I could collect the pics from the concert to add to it. It’s on my ‘things to do list’ to finally get around to buying a good digital camera or at least a good film camera that I can have the negatives printed on a CD at the photoshop. I am missing too much good stuff to not be taking pics myself esp since I used to be a photographer in the late 80’s and early 90’s including taking pictures at rock concerts.
The night before my friend Vut called to ask if I wanted to go see the show at Wat Lao and asked me if I had ever heard of the Thai band Carabao. Now I am, dare I say, a Thai music fanatic with about 200 Thai music and movie CD and VCDs compared to about 30 western CD’s of music in my collection.
My tastes are pretty well rounded too. I have alot of Thai pop and rock as well as some traditional Thai folk music with the traditional classical instruments, some movie soundtracks, and even new age music by Thai composers including HM King Rama IX who, among many things is an accomplished musician and composer himself.
Oh course I knew about Carabao and their style of music called Folk Life but I had never heard their music before so I was up for an adventure to try something new.
I met up with Vut in Virginia and after shopping for the next days 4th of July cookout we stopped to pick up Dew and Oop and some of his friends for the trek deeper into Virginia to get to Wat Lao. Now I should tell you that Wat Lao Buddhavong is not the oldest Thai or Lao temple in the DC/Virginia area but it is one of the biggest! The main temple building at the Wat (or Bot, more formally called the Ubosot) itself is about the same size as Wat Thai DC where I go for class but the first thing that impressed me was that it was built with the characteristic Thai single tiered, skirted and flaring roof as you can see here in this picture from the temple website. The Nagas and chofa that decorate the edges of the roof are really quite beautiful and I may write more about them and the history of this style in a future blog 😛
What makes it so big is that the temple grounds sit on at least 26 acres of property donated to the Wat! The immediate grounds around the temple are huge and landscaped with a nice lake, complete with lilly pads, bridges and walk ways as well as several colorfully decorated statues and prize raffle and game booths just for the weekend and manned by monks (even a farang monk) that gave me the impression I was in a Buddhist theme park more than a solemn temple. 😉
The first thing we did once we got there is remove our shoes to kneel and and bow three times and pray before an outdoor image of the Buddha that you see below, yes I am a Buddhist but I am also a self-conscious nibbish too so I was nervous doing this in front of my friends the first time for sure I wanted to get it right!
After praying each of us also offered a wish by buying a wax image of the Chinese year you were born then melting it in a vat of burning wax and dipping the remains in this column as you can see I am doing in this pic so you will get whatever wish you make. I was born the Year of the Rabbit and I’ll let you know if this works or not and I get my wish 😉
Behind the temple grounds is where the concert stage area is so we bought our tickets and went inside. For only $10 a ticket this was dirt cheap for entertainment. Of course you had to buy your own food and there were plenty of vendors there to choose from. We were starving so that was the first thing on the list. Everyone split up to find what they wanted to eat and then find a place we could all sit down to eat. I was craving Pad Thai and found someone making it but I had to wait about 15 minutes for a new batch to be made however it was worth it because it was soooooo good. Once we sat down together everyone could sample everyone elses dish so it was a cheap way to eat alot of food!
Carabao was to go onstage at 3:00 and another band was warming up the crowd with covers of other popular Thai songs so we milled around and checked out the shops. I had seen all the usual stuff for sale before so I didn’t bring much cash on me or I would have been tempted to buy something I don’t really need anyway. There was a huge turn out of people, many of them Laotian and darker skinned than many Thais there. The kids were having a blast, literally, shooting off fireworks! Nerve wrecking for some but the kids definately were having a good time. I even saw a kid with a top knot! Yet another time I wish I had a camera to take a picture.
Finally after several delays and closer to 4:00 than 3:00 Carabao took the stage and Ad Carabao asked if everyone was ready for 3 hours of music, no commercials. However my friends and I were standing in front of the main commercial, the booth where they were selling Carabao t-shirts, CD’s and of course, Carabao energy drink 😀
I didn’t try the drink myself but several folks who did weren’t impressed with the taste. I think I’ll stick to Red Bull and be impressed with Carabaos music instead. Someone told me that their music is kind of a mix between Santana, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, and Bruce Springsteen and I agree but growing up in Alabama, the Deep South, in the 70’s I would have to add the music style of Lynard Skynard to the list too.
The music was great where it was slow and ballad like one song then hard rocking to the point of being heavy metal the next! I know many Carabao songs are stories about hard life and salt of the earth people. I wish I knew more Thai so I could understand the words better but even my Thai friends had a hard time following along because many songs were in a Northern-Issan dialect.
Needless to say the music was a definate hit with everyone there dancing and having the absolute best time singing along to just about every song, Vut pointed out this 200 pound, tall black guy, obviously not Thai or Lao, also singing along and he knew all the words too! That’s a cool thing I like about Thai people they love to have fun and cut loose at a concert and don’t care what anyone would think. Not like the uptight, image conscious farangs (like me I admit) but I caught my self loosening up and shaking it to the music. I was thinking about buying their new compilation CD set on sale there for $20 that came in a nice wooden display box. Not a bad price for that here in the US but my friend Dew told me not to buy it. She got a list of everyone that wanted it and said she’d have her friend in Thailand get them for us for about 215 Baht each when she comes to DC to visit. You got to love friends 😀
Heres a great shot of me and Vut and me not looking at the camera
Now I am sure from the comments to my other blog yesterday some of you are eagerly wanting to know what, if anything happened, at the concert. Were there any fights? Any trouble makers? Well I think that part of Carabao’s reputation followed them here because there were several Sheriffs Deputies patroling the grounds during the show carrying big sticks and I don’t think they were there because the monks get rowdy on the weekend. But the worst thing I saw was the cops talked to some kids that looked like they might want to cause trouble and convinced them otherwise although the cops were all smiles and friendly about it. That’s the south for you, laid back but still all business.
We definately got our monies worth and Carabao gave a lot for their show. It made up for the hour delay to start and they even played a couple of their songs that I had heard before but didn’t know were Carabao songs! Unfortunately I don’t know the names of the songs and I didn’t ask 🙁 Oh well guess I’ll have to buy the CD then 😉
Finally the afternoon had gotten very hot and we stayed as long as we could till the end of the show before heading home tired but having had fun. It was cute toward the end this little boy I had seen early dancing and having fun on his dads shoulders. His dad and friends put him on the corner of the stage to dance and slowly he wound up dancing on stage in front of Carabao who joked about it and got several laughs from the crowd. He played the next song for the little boy and eventually put his guitar down and picked up the boy to sing to him. Talk about a photo op! Carabao roadies and the boys parents and friends where all taking pictures of their hero with the little kid including my friend Dew who took most of these pics you see here. Thanks Dew!
And thank you all for reading yet another monster blog from me. Once again till next time,