Koh Tao Flood Relief Album

Finally after almost a week of incesent downpour the rains have stopped. Now it’s time to clean up the mess. The damage caused by the record breaking falls is tremendous. Roads, homes and businesses washed away. It will take months before the community recovers, and I’ve got a way that you can help from afar.

Click “download” on the link below to make a donation and get some music made right here on Koh Tao.

Some of you may have already read about my unfortunate flood story. On the 6th of January 2017 we had the worst of the storm. 190mm of rain dropped that day. 40mm of that happened in just one hour early in the morning. So much water rushed the island that almost every road became a turbulent river. Choppers, a venue that I regularly perform in, was flooded and unfourtunately my gear was inside. When I arrived the following morning I found my gear floating around in the muddy flood water. I was heart broken. Any musician will know the feeling. My guitar is not only a tool it’s a part of me, it’s a close friend. I felt like I had let it down, left it in the cold wet storm to drown. The image of Hannah pouring water from it’s sound hole will haunt me for years. But the pain didn’t stop there. My loopstation, the tool that has now defined my stage performance and given me the opportunity to travel the world with my craft sitting there in the dirty water, it seemed all hope was lost. What will I do, I can’t afford to replace it and I can’t afford to continue my journey without it. This wasn’t even the extent of the damage. Also amongst my gear was my laptop, full of material I will never see again, my mixing desk, my microphone, a brand new, still in the box MPK midi controller and my guitar tuner.img_0685

As a result I decided I needed to raise some funds to get my tools back.

Back in 2014 I recorded a live album right here on Koh Tao with my good friend Andy V. Two days ago I put that album on my bandcamp page with a “pay what you feel” price for all of those out there that would like to contribute. Over the years I have met some beautiful people while sharing my music across the world and in two days I managed to raise about 10,000 baht. Though it is not enough to cover the damage I incurred financially, it is definitely enough to heal my broken heart and put me back in a positive mind set. I no longer feel overwhelmed, instead I feel excited and ready to face the world and whatever it can throw at me. And though the 10,000 baht is not enough, it is enough to get me started so I can rebuild. Now I would like to do the same thing for my Koh Tao community. From now until the evening of the 12th Jan 2017 all funds raised by this album will be donated to the Koh Tao Rescue team that were so invaluable to the people of the island during the storms, and will continue to be in the clean up. I will be presenting the funds to the team at a benefit concert I will be performing at Banyan Bar on the night of the full moon.

To donate simply click the download button on the link above. Please dig deep, share this article, buy the album and get in touch. Empathy and love are the greatest of all emotions, they bring us together and teach us what it is to be human.

Enjoy the album with lots of love from all of us on Koh Tao. Happy New Year.

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If you are on the island or know anyone that is, please make sure you’re at the benefit gig on Thursday. We will be raising money for 5 Burmese homes that were destroyed in the floods.

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Recipe – Andrew and Corinne’s amazing Chocolate Fudge Cake

125 g Flour
190g Sugar
3 Eggs
125g Butter
155g Dark chocolate
1­‐2 Table spoons of Fruit schnapps

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and eggs in a bowl.
  2. Melt the butter and the chocolate in a bowl above a pan full of water on the stove top.
  3. Mix chocolate and butter with the flour, egg and sugar batter.
  4. Pour into a cake tin (diameter 25 cm) and bake in the oven at 250 degrees for 11 mins.

When the cake is cooked it should still be wet in the center.
Easy….. and so so yummy.chocolate fudge cake

The Beautiful People We Meet #4 & #5: Andrew and Corrine

This is a particularly special edition of The Beautiful People We Meet. Not just because there are two beautiful people but also because this is the second time we have met this supportive, sweet and generous couple.

Corinne at the Gallery in February when we met. Amazing food!
Corinne at the Gallery in February when we met. Amazing food!

The first time we met was in Thailand at a cute little wine bar out the front of The Gallery, a restaurant/photo gallery/spa on Koh Tao. I was playing a show for a mutual friend of ours, Chris Clarke, who owns the Gallery with his lovely wife Pou and is also the photographer responsible for the amazing work all over the walls. Not only did Andrew and Corinne buy me drinks while I was on stage but afterwards they bought my CD and gave me a very generous tip of 500 baht ($20 AUD). This amazing display of support and generosity didn’t stop there. Hannah and I got chatting with them and within minutes they offered us a place to stay in Switzerland once our #looptheworld tour brought us to that part of the world. It’s not uncommon for us to be offered places to stay but what was unusual was the enthusiasm in which they followed up their offer.

For the next two weeks while we were both still on Koh Tao Andrew and Corinne attended as many gigs as they could and a friendship began to blossom. After leaving Koh Tao Andrew stayed in regular contact. Often sending pictures of the room we’d be staying in, the food we’d be eating and the friends we’d be meeting if we were to make it to Switzerland. As the European leg of #looptheworld came closer I assured Andy that we would be coming and we’d be arriving around mid August. Next time he got back to me he’d lined up a hand full of gigs at a picturesque little bar called Aifach Lakeside. It is people like this that make #looptheworld possible.

Afiach Lakeside, where Andy got me gigs. Possibly the prettiest gig location ever
Aifach Lakeside, where Andy got me some shows. Possibly the prettiest gig location ever.
Beers by the lake in Lucerne.
Beers by the lake in Lucerne.

Andrew and Corinne live in a small city in Switzerland named Lucerne. A beautiful old city nestled among the Swiss Alps on the edge of a huge, crystal clear lake. Picture perfect, the kind of landscape you see on one of those 1000 piece puzzles you did with your grandmother as a child. To get there I flew from Santorini in the Greek Islands to Milan, Italy then caught a train up the mountains into Switzerland. Hannah should have been with me but had lost her passport on Ios somewhere and had to detour via Athens to pick up an emergency replacement. Upon arriving I was greeted at the train station by Corinne who had just finished work and shortly afterwards Andy picked us up. That night we ate steak, drank wine and caught up ’til the early hours of the morning.

chocolate fudge cake
Simple and so, so yummy.

Eating and drinking was something we indulged in a lot while staying with Andy and Corinne. Andy works in a large wine boutique so a fine selection of wines was always on hand and all of us enjoy a good meal. Hannah and I tried our best to return the hospitality by cooking up a few hearty home cooked meals and Andy and Corinne were keen to show us a few traditional Swiss dishes; Fondue, Raclette and Älpermagronen and of course their amazing chocolate fudge cake (Corinne gave us the recipe you can find it here). Yum.

Those of you that travel will know it is not uncommon to make close connections while on the road and a place to stay on the other side of the world is offered every couple of days. You will also know that as close as those connections were at the time, they often disappear days after you part ways. Sometimes never to be heard of again. It’s not that the connection was insincere, it’s just that relationships take effort and attention. We can’t remember everyone we meet, nor could we stay in contact. There is not enough time in the world. Every now and then though a chance meeting moves past a drunken night, an enjoyable weekend, a few dinner dates and turns into a real friendship.

Andy, Corinne and Hannah at Lucerne train station the day we left.
Andy, Corinne and Hannah at Lucerne train station the day we left.

Andy and Corinne did just that with Hannah and I. I think we will be friends for a long time. I hope one day we can repay their hospitality and put them up in our house…. if we ever stay still long enough to have a house again.

The Beautiful People We Meet #3: Tallulah

Tallulah seat dancing
Tallulah seat dancing

I know it sounds cliche, but one of the most exquisite things about travelling is the people you meet. I mean, that was the inspiration behind this column in the first place. Travelling opens your heart and mind and as a result you meet beautiful people wherever you are. On Ios I was fortunate enough to meet Tallulah, although I suppose it’s not surprising as she seemed to know everyone on the island. Tallulah is originally from South Africa but has been a woman of the world for several years. She even worked with a circus for a while! My story of Tallulah is only a small snapshot of the beautiful person that she is. I am writing about her this month because in the short time that I have known her she has inspired me to be more open and spontaneous both with myself and with others. Tallulah’s outlook on life is magical, she exudes positivity.

As many people do on Ios, Talullah was sharing accomodation with another person. Tallulah and Sophia’s house was just one room with two beds, a small kitchenette and a bathroom. Their room actually reminded me quite a lot of my George Street home back in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia. Tallulah had brought fairy lights with her to the island, those who know me will know that I find that very impressive. They always had such lovely food and their door was always open, literally, they had a shoe shoved between the door so that it wouldn’t close and friends just dropped by whenever they liked. The first thing that struck me about Tallulah and Sophie was their down to earth beauty. Both girls, in their individual way, exude confidence, with open hearts and smiles.

tallulah sebastian and sofia
Tallulah, Sebastian and Sophia

Half way through our stay on the island we heard that Talullah had broken not one but both of her ankles after falling from the roof of one of the many churches on the island. She had ventured up to see the sunrise over Ios. I went to visit her with a block of dark chocolate and a watermelon in hand and I must admit, I was expecting to find a broken girl ready to pull the pin and find a way home. Instead I was met with the same beautiful smile and carefree attitude I had come to know from her, she pursued happiness and positivity with complete dedication and grace “mostly, it just reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to walk in the first place” she told me. When people asked what had happened she responded with a cheeky “I fell from heaven”. Luckily, and I say that somewhat trepidly, it turned out that only one foot was broken, the other just badly sprained. It still meant walking was a massive inconvenience but it didn’t stop her. Being as magnetic and beautiful as she is there were always a few handsome gentlemen who were willing to give her a lift and she would do the sitting down dance all night long. I should mention here that she did not want to be seen as ‘unable’ and so was fiercely independent even with one broken and one sprained foot. An accident that would cut a lesser persons holiday short without a second thought, barely even slowed her down. Her brother Sebastian, who was half way through an adventure of his own was quick to drop everything to come and be by her side. He deserves a special mention in The Beautiful People We Meet. Within hours of his arrival on the island we became what felt like long time friends. The strong sibling love was a special thing to witness on an island of strangers.

Tallulah Robbie Simon
Tallulah and Robbie with Simon taking a #looptheworld photo opportunity in the background.

Thank you Tallulah for being such a wonderful positive person, the world could do with a few more people like you.

The Beautiful People We Meet #2: Josh Allen

Josh allenWe didn’t meet Josh on this particular #looptheworld adventure. We met him on our last trip to Thailand in February earlier this year. However Josh is one of the beautiful people that we met on that holiday who inspired us to stat this column. We had just stepped off the airplane in Surath Thani, Thailand, which is not a glamorous airport and we were looking to book our ferry ticket over to Koh Tao. Alas, each counter that we went to were sold out. Standing in the line at the last counter we discussed that if we couldn’t get the ferry to Koh Tao we could head to Koh Phangan for the night instead. I mean, a night on Phangan is always a good adventure. We were interrupted by a tall handsome man standing behind us who commented on Simon’s guitar. The normal “oh you play guitar? Me too…” conversation followed and pleasantries were exchanged.
Koh Tao, sold out. We purchased our  tickets and a Phangan sticker was placed on our shoulder. With no accommodation booked and the full moon party only a few days away we did wonder if it was going to be difficult to find a place to sleep but didn’t stress on it too much because “the universe works wonders”.
We’re piled on to a bus and drive for about 45 minutes. Anyone that has travelled will know as soon as you have had even one small exchange with someone it seems that the next time you bump into them it’s like seeing an old friend. At the dock Simon, Josh and I got chatting about our travels, music and life. A few beers in and we’re on the ferry bound for Phangan. A few more beers and we’re talking religion, philosophy and music and just for good measure we talk a little more music. I love those moments, which seem to happen more frequently whilst travelling, where there is an instant connection between people and it truly does feel like you  are old friends. By the end of the ferry ride Josh had graciously offered us a bed in his room and we were all looking forward to a night out on the infamous Phangan.
We were sad to leave Josh the next day but managed to convince him to come to Koh Tao after the full moon party.

From left: Hannah, Josh, Terry, Simon, Lia, Tanya, Reeve,  Ethan, Jordan.
From left: Hannah, Josh, Terry, Simon, Lia, Tanya, Reeve, Ethan, Jordan.

Josh is one of those magnetic people that you meet who are happy and comfortable within themselves and so always attracts other good humans. When he arrived on Koh Tao a few days later of course he brought with him more lovely friends who he’d just met. For the next few days we explored Turtle Island via scooter, snorkel and foot. Josh is a musician, photographer, videographer and film maker. When we met him he was on his way home from a pilgrimage style trip in India were he traveled to small towns and large cities filming a documentary on Indian music and learning as much as he could. I’m really looking forward to the finished product.
Josh generously suggested that he make a video clip for Simon. One night at Fishbowl Beach Bar we filmed a set with one GoPro and one DSLR. He edited the clip upon his return home in New York.
This is what he created. Enjoy!

Thank you so much Josh. We are so pleased that we met you and look forward to more adventures somewhere else in the world.

Check out some more of Josh’s work at http://www.vimeo.com/joshallenimages

The Beautiful People We Meet #1: Mohamad Jordan

I first met Mohamad, or Mojo as he is affectionately know as on the island, back in Nov 2013 during my first tour to Koh Tao. Every time I return our friendship and his generous hospitality grow stronger. When we arrived here on Thursday night he was there to greet us at the pier. It felt so nice to be welcomed back to this beautiful place with a friendly face. His hospitality didn’t stop there. Next he drove us to Sairee beach where I was performing a show that night at Choppers Aussie Bar and Grill. Then he ducked out to book me a room, at his own expense, then returned with the key and sat and watched me perform.

Mojo and I having a jam my first night on Koh Tao
Mojo and I having a jam my first night on Koh Tao

Before the night was out, he was up on stage with me jamming. Sounds like a good bloke yeah? And I haven’t even mentioned yet that while we were here in February he put Hannah through her open water and advanced diving courses. Now on our return he has offered Hannah a job in his dive shop and will be taking her through her Dive master trainer course. This afternoon while Hannah goes out for a dive on his boat, he’s taking me around the island looking for some more permanent accomodation.

Thanks Mojo, you’re a top bloke.

If you are ever on the island of Koh Tao and you plan on getting certified as a diver, go see Mohamad and his beautiful fiancé Dylan at Mojo Divers. Their prices are competitive and their staff and service are the best. Tell him I sent you.