Ozomatli play Bangkok

Ozomatli in Bangkok
Ulises Bella (L) and Jiro Yamaguchi (R).

The Los Angeles-based Latin funk/hip hop outfit Ozomatli ((More info on Ozomatli can be found on Wikipedia and on is one of my favorite bands. But I’d never seen them live.

So I was surprised to learn, at the last minute, that Ozomatli were playing a free show here in Bangkok last night — a Sunday evening, no less.

Ozomatli, it turns out, are U.S. State Department cultural ambassadors, and the US embassy in Thailand put on the event to showcase American diversity and multiculturalism. (The band has also played in Myanmar and Vietnam on this trip.)

The show took place outside Bangkok’s glittering CentralWorld shopping mall — an incongruous setting — amid a light rain. Thai band Buddha Bless ((Warning: link to MySpace page.)) opened. There were just a few hundred people in attendance, so my pals and I were able to watch the show from the front row. Ozomatli were full of enthusiasm, humor, and positivity.

Embedded below is a 30-second mobile phone video I shot. (Click here to see it on YouTube, if you’re reading this via RSS.)

And here’re some cell phone pics:

Ozomatli in Bangkok
Justin “El Niño” Porée

Ozomatli in Bangkok
Asdru Sierra (L) and Wil-Dog Abers (R).

Ozomatli in Bangkok
US Ambassador Eric John joins in.

Well done, Ozomatli. Come back to Bangkok soon.


World-Wide “Stand by Me”

If this video (embedded above) doesn’t make you smile, nothing will.


The new World Hum — and the top 40 travel songs of all time

One of my favorite Web sites ((Back in 2001, the site ran an essay of mine called Soup to Nuts, about a funny experience I had here in Bangkok, long before I moved to Thailand.)), World Hum — tag line: travel dispatches from a shrinking planet — has just launched a re-designed site. World Hum’s Jim Benning, Mike Yessis, and Valerie Conners discuss the re-vamping in this video.

New features include videos, bigger photos, and a column by Tom Swick ((A few years back, Swick wrote a good story about Cuenca, Ecuador — where I lived for a year — for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.)) There’s also a piece by Anthony Bourdain called “Subcontinental Homesick Blues,” about “why music can make a travel moment.”

The site also contains a new feature: “World Hum’s Top 40 Travel Songs of All Time.” The songs were voted on by World Hum contributors, and each song has a corresponding YouTube video. (You can see the entire list on one page here.)

I contributed a list of my top ten songs ((For the record, my top ten songs were:
1. “Born to Run,” by Bruce Springsteen
2. “This Must Be the Place,” by Talking Heads
3. “Range Life,” by Pavement
4. “Long May You Run,” by Neil Young
5. “Just Like Honey,” by Jesus and Mary Chain
6. “American Girl,” by Tom Petty
7. “Love Shack,” by the B-52s
8. “Passenger Side,” by Wilco
9. “Float On,” by Modest Mouse
10. “Good to Be on the Road Back Home,” by Cornershop.)) and then, once the voting was complete, I wrote a few sentences about Neil Young’s 1976 tune, “Long May You Run.” That song is at number 16 on the list. You can find what I wrote here (scroll down a bit).


My Short Item in The Magazine

Bangkok Post's The Magazine

The current issue of The Magazine (pictured above), a bi-monthly glossy published by the Bangkok Post, contains a very brief item I wrote about Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. (You’ve heard me mention Wilco before, no doubt.) In each issue, various folks are asked to weigh in on their favorite album, book, or movie. The item isn’t online, sadly, but interested Bangkokians can find my thoughts on page eight.


Wilco’s New Album

So have you been listening to Wilco’s new album, Sky Blue Sky? Well, why not? Get on it.

I think it’s a remarkably coherent — if staid — effort. Just like everything the band produces, the album grows on you. Slowly.

I agree with Rob Sheffield, who says this in his Rolling Stone review:

Sky Blue Sky (great title — Allman Brothers via Laurie Anderson) is understated, erratic, often beautiful, disarmingly simple music; it really sounds like six guys playing in a room, and no doubt that’s how they wanted it.

My favorite track so far is “Hate it Here” (number eight).