Ios was a big part of the story so far. For two months I played a show every night on Ios at a restaurant called Harmony. Over that time I made countless new friends and came to feel very close with my Ios family. I didn’t start playing at Lotus bar until close to the end of my stay there. I chose to have the Ios farewell show at Lotus Bar over Harmony as it was somewhere different after so many nights at Harmony but also because there was more space for a dance floor. I was nervous that I wouldn’t pull the crowd I hoped for for a successful farewell party. I shouldn’t have been. Everyone that had made an impression on me on that crazy little island made it down and made me feel so very loved and appreciated. I miss those crazy cats.
This is the second installment of the #looptheworld Gig Profiles. As I travel the world playing music for a living I will be writing up these Gig Profiles in an effort to help out those that dream of doing the same. I hope you find the information helpful. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to help out as much as I can.
Fishbowl Beach Bar is the epitome of gigging in paradise. It’s on a tropical island. The stage sits less than 10 meters from the shore line. The gig starts minutes after the sun sets over the Thai gulf and these sunsets are the most amazing I’ve ever seen on all of my travels. I really doesn’t get much more picturesque than this.
Recently they have replaced the PA which was a delightful surprise. They now sport a 20″ sub woofer with 4 x 15″ front of house speakers and a single 15″ foldback cab. With the help of the in-house sound man Nanda you should get a pretty decent sound. The clientele are there to have a drink by the beach and listen to some live music before the night kicks into drunken Thailand madness so you can expect at least a good portion of the audience to be attentive and supportive. I use the gig as a back up with the Choppers gig (Chopper’s Gig Profile) to fill my schedule. Between the two of them you can be playing 6 nights a week and earning a living that will support a life style of tropical indulgence. The owners Andy and Nando (not to be confused with Nanda the sound man) are both stand up blokes. As long as you are not a drop kick you will get along with them really well. The show they are after is one that will slowly wind up the crowd till the DJ starts at 11.30pm. First set you can get away with a few slower songs, even some originals but in an effort to fit in with the Thailand madness i suggest that you keep the energy high. Second set it’s important to start really pumping up the vibe. Again you can get away with original material as long as it has a heavy groove that they can bounce along to.
VIDEO: Simon Wright Live Looping at Fishbowl Beach Bar June 2015
I suggest spending at least a couple of weeks on the island to help cover the costs of getting there. You’ll need at least 3 hours of relevant up tempo songs in your repertoire. I find the more funky stuff works better than the rocky stuff. If you think this is something you might be into feel free to contact me for more information. Alternatively you can contact Andy or Nando through the Fishbowl Facebook page. They will want to see a video of you performing live, the quality of the camera is not important, they just want to see how you interact with your audience and hear your voice and musicianship.
I’m very blessed to be doing what I’m doing. Traveling the world sharing my music and making a living doing so. In an effort to help out those that dream of doing the same thing, I’ve decided to start writing up the details of the venues that support my art – and my wallet – as I go. This will be the first ever #looptheworld Gig Profile and where better to start than at Chopper’s Bar on Koh Tao in Thailand.
I first started performing at Chopper’s back in 2013 just 2 weeks after buying my loop station. One might say it was my international debut. It’s a crazy gig. Hot, sweaty, full throttle Thailand madness. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday they hold a pub crawl on the island and I’m the entertainment for the hour and a half they spend at Choppers. It’s the biggest bar crawl in S.E Asia boasting an impressive 180 max capacity and regularly sells out. The gig starts at 9pm and consists of 2 sets. The fist set I play to a bar of seated patrons enjoying a meal and their first drinks for the evening. This is a great opportunity to share my original music and warm up to what happens next….
At 10pm the pub crawlers arrive – 180 drunken maniacs. They squeeze into the already busy bar and quickly fill the dance floor. 5 minutes into the second set they are dancing on the tables and having the time of their life. The gig is very demanding. The second set is long, hot and sweaty. By the time I finish I’m absolutely exhausted. A few weeks on Koh Tao and you’ll be more gig fit than you’ve ever been. I often loose weight on Koh Tao despite the efforts of the Banyan Bar staff and their Sunday roast. The combination of Thai food, hot weather and Chopper’s marathon gigs trims off the winter belly better than any diet the internet is trying to sell you. Jeff, Chopper’s Bar Owner, will offer you up to 4 shows a week. If you back that up with some shows at the other bars on the island as I do you can easily end up playing 7 nights a week.
A professional photographer shoots every pub crawl so you are likely to get a few good shots. I love playing Chopper’s but I wouldn’t suggest it to those that aren’t prepared to work hard in the hottest gig environment you are likely to encounter. If it does sound like something you’d be into feel free to contact me for more information. Alternatively get in contact with Jeffrey Glenn and send him a video of you performing live. You’ll need a pretty decent repertoire of high energy, up tempo cover material. That said, you can get away with playing your original material -particularly in the first set.
Location: Sairee town, Koh Tao, Thailand.
Gig contact: email@example.com
Pay: 2000-3000 Thai Baht (Solo) 3000-5000 Thai Baht (Duo)
Gig season: All year round (high season Dec-Feb and July)
PA: FOH – 4 x JBL 15″ passive speaker boxes (250-1000 watt)
Foldback – 2 x JBL 10″ passive speaker boxes (250 – 600 watt)
Sure SM58 Microphones
12 Channel Mixing desk
Stereo Graphic EQ (FOH and Fold back)
No sound man so experience in running a PA helps.
Of all of the countries we have visited so far England was by far the most difficult. Arriving in London was a bit of a shock to the bank account and the gigs were less frequent and often for less money. This didn’t stop us from having a great time.
I didn’t really know what to expect. Daniel gave me an address and told me to rock up mid afternoon. When we got there we were greeted by the owner of the house and the co-founder of Amwell, Roy. He took us through the little London terrace and out into his cosy inner city backyard where Daniel was setting up a small stage beneath the kitchen window. We then spent the afternoon listening to a bunch of amazing local acts, drinking cider and eating Roy’s famous home made pizza. As the sun began setting Daniel invited me up to perform for everyone. It was a beautiful afternoon and a true pleasure to play for such an appreciative group. Paolo the videographer was there to catch all the action.
A few weeks later Roy sent me a copy of what they filmed. I think it came up really well. Thanks Daniel, Roy, Paolo and all the gang at Amwell Collective. I look forward to doing it all again when I get back in March.
Recorded live at Harmony, Mexican Restaurant on Ios, Greek Islands August 2015 on a ZOOM Q3HD during the first leg of the #looptheworld tour.
I first came up with this in July 2015 after watching the final episode of GoT while on the island of Koh Tao, Thailand (thanks to Kylie for the inspiration). Since then it has been a favorite amongst my audiences. Easily the most requested song I’ve ever written. I’ve promised a few crew, in particular the boys from Norway, that I’d put it up on my soundcloud so here it is.
The track is available for free download. Please take the time to comment, share and follow while you are there. Enjoy.
And while we’re here. Here is a little video of me performing the track at Choppers on Koh Tao, Thailand.
I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again. I love my job. Lately I’ve noticed a number of posts while scrolling through social media, they are often worded differently but the main idea is the same. They posed the question; If money was no issue, what would you do with your life?
I can honestly say that I’d still be doing this.
I’m lucky enough to be financially supported by my vocation. At times is does get a little economically stressful but I think those moments are shared by even those that have a lot of money. Being able to pay my own way, and that of my partner, is only a small part of the satisfaction I get from my work. When we first arrived on Ios, a small island in Greece, we were met by a smiling Greek man named Nikolas. He drove us into town and put us in a very large room for a discounted price as he was aware that I was on the island to play music. Within hours I was being greeted by business owners and staff that had heard that I was coming. Hannah and I almost never paid full price for anything from then on. We were treated as part of the Ios family before they had even heard me play. There were a handful of people on the island that had heard me play before my arrival and they quickly spread my reputation among the Ios crew. Many of them made the effort to come check out this “loop guy” and by the time I finished my first week of shows I was being recognized on the street as if I’d lived there my whole life. Next we were offered a house by a couple of lovely Swedish brothers, Nikolas and Lars. They were leaving the island for six weeks so had an empty apartment. The rent was much cheaper than even the staff quarters and we had a lot more space, a beautiful view and a kitchen. Hannah cooked me some delicious meals. It was so good to have a little home cooking again, it had been a few months.
There are a lot of perks that come with the job but the best of all is the way people open up to me after they witness a show. I’ve spoken about it in depth with my father as he was also a performing artist and has shared many of the same experiences. It’s as if people become your friend while you are on stage, they bond with me quite closely while I’m completely unaware. By the time I get off stage they address me as if they have known me for years. I do perform with all of my heart and soul and I guess my song writing and story telling do give a lot of insight to my personality but it’s more than that. People love music. It’s like a drug and I’m the dealer. We met so many lovely people on this island. They all treated us with such kindness and respect. There are too many to write about here but check out this month’s installment of “The Beautiful People We Meet” by Hannah or Chris Penner’s guest blogger piece “Searching For John Stamos” if you’d like to be introduced to a few of them. I’ll miss them but I believe that, at least for some of them, it won’t be the last time we meet.
My main gig on Ios was a popular Mexican restaurant on the headland of Mylopolos Beach named Harmony. It’s owned by a bubbly, blonde, mid thirties, Australian woman named Kathleen that has turned her love for travel and adventure into a business venture. Every season, which lasts from May till September, her and her cute little one year old son Jax make their way back to the other side of the world and continue living the dream. Most nights were quite busy with a great vibe. It was the place to be after beach time and before town kicks off. They had a great team in the kitchen pumping out massive servings of delicious Mexican food. My two favorite blokes on the island Red and Omar manning the bar and a bunch of gorgeous Australian, Irish and Greek girls running the floor that would always have a smile and an ass wiggle for me every time I played that song they like, but it was a seated dinner crowd so I missed a dance floor for most of the time I was there. In fact the one time I finally got that dance floor I’d been craving was the last gig I ever did on that crazy little island at a bar called Lotus. It really was a lovely night. All the crew that we had become close with, well at least the ones that didn’t have to work that night, came down. (Actually one guy that was supposed to work, pulled a sickie so he could come… champion!) Including, once they had closed up, all the staff from down at Harmony. Lotus is an Absinthe bar so as you’d imagine the drinks were flowing and we also had a little help with party inspiration from Mandy, if you know what I mean. It was a magic night and such a perfect way to say goodbye to the island. I started playing Lotus half way through my stay but my hectic schedule at Harmony meant I was only available one night a week. Lotus is owned by a young Greek/German fella named Nikolas and his mother who is one of the rare people that live on the island permanently. I really enjoy Lotus. Every night after I finished my gig at Harmony you could find me down there groovin’ along to Snello’s mixes, having a yarn with Nicko or playing Shut The Box with Lulah and Chris. Poppy would always greet me with a smile and a kiss (both cheeks, we are in Europe now, I must remember) and Antonis would whip up the perfect Espresso Martini.
Ios is a crazy place. I’m a night life kinda guy but this night life was next level. Most of the bars and clubs on the island don’t even open before midnight. The biggest ones don’t open till 3 am and they go all night winding it up around 10 am. The crew that live and work here for the season are all quite youthful, they need to be. They work hard all day and party hard all night. A decent nights sleep is not high on their agenda. I only have to work for 3 hours a day but I still found it difficult to time my siesta right so I didn’t end up walking around glassy eyed and unable to finish a single thought. A lot of the nights kind of blur into one after a while but the 17th of July I remember well as it was the only night I had off the entire time I was on Ios. 41 shows in 42 days. For the past 7 years or so I’ve been performing about 120-150 shows a year. This year I I will well and truely beat that. Last night I played the 85th show of the #looptheworld tour, in three weeks time I’ll be clocking up my 100th. If i keep this up it’ll be about 250 shows by the end of the year. I’m looking forward to Switzerland, I only have to work three nights a week there. I’m craving a few quiet nights in with a pizza and a movie.
I’m writing this while sitting on a train traveling from Milan, Italy to Lucerne, Switzerland. The locomotive is slowly winding it’s way up into the Swiss alps along side a river that has carved a pass through the towering mountains over millions of years. The scenery is breath taking. Unfortunately Hannah is not with me as she lost her passport and needs to go to Athens to get an emergency replacement. She’ll catch up in a couple of days. I’m being picked up in Lucerne by Andrew and Corinne, a lovely couple that I met with Hannah in Thailand. Not only did they book me a bunch of shows but they are also putting us up in their wonderful home. I’m tiered after the transit and missing Hannah’s company but deep in my soul, I am so very happy.
I love Koh Tao. I have since the first day I set foot on that rock in the middle of the Thai Gulf. There is magic there. Until you experience it you will never know it. I’ve traveled there many times now over the past 4 years. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to share with my close friends from back home. It was only February this year that I finally got to share it with Hannah, and like me, she fell in love with the place as soon as we landed at Mae Haad Pier. This June though, when Hannah and I were half way through our Koh Tao leg of #looptheworld we were visited by a bunch of our good friends from back home. Shout out’s to Jonno, Edan, Danielle, Mikey, Anton, Mick, Anthea, Dave, Casey and Hayley. So good to share Turtle Island with you all.
Not only did I get to share the magic of holidaying on Koh Tao with my friends but also a little of the creative side. Casey and I did a couple of shows together. One at Banyan and one at Choppers. They both went down in Koh Tao history. Mikey and I did a couple of shows together at Fishbowl. One was shut down early by the most epic of tropical storms which Edan Chapman Photgraphy was patient enough to get the million dollar shot of. But one of my favourite collaborations on the island is this one right here.
On the 11 June 2015, Jonno, Edan and Andy Stock (a guitarist friend that lives on Koh Tao) came together at Fishbowl Beach Bar with as many cameras as we could muster up including 5 x GoPro’s and 2 x Cannon DSLRs and shot this clip. Jonno later edited together the 40+ Gigabytes of footage for Straight Jacket Productions and now we have a Koh Tao memory that will last forever and that we can share with all of you.
The song is a mash up between Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together” and the hip hop verses from my own track “You Don’t Know” from my 2009 EP SW&theE. I love Al Green, I was lucky enough back in 2011 to see him live in Melbourne at the Palace Theater in St Kilda with my good mate and fellow loop warrior Andy V. The show was everything I expected and more from the living legend. Andy and I used to play this song years ago jamming in Melbourne town and last year we recorded a version on our EP Live on Koh Tao which you can download free here. That version happened to be recorded live at Fishbowl almost exactly one year before this one.
I hope you enjoy and please help me out by commenting, liking and sharing. The success of my #looptheworld adventure depends on the support of you guys. Thanks so much for watching.
We 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.
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
I should have written this weeks ago. It’s not that I’ve been avoiding it or even putting it off, actually I’ve been looking forward to it. There is an explanation to my laziness but only those that have spent a bit of time on a tropical island will truly understand. Hannah and I have come to refer to this phenomenon as Island time. Tomorrow doesn’t actually mean tomorrow on Koh Tao, it more accurately translates to eventually. The hands on a Koh Tao clock don’t point to specific hours of AM and PM but more a rough target at which we’ll aim. Those that refuse to give up their slave to the routine ways of the cities we live in find it extremely frustrating, but being frustrated will do nothing to change island time. It’s best to give in and let the island dictate your schedule. Today the island decided I’d write my blog post. So here it is.
We have been here on Koh Tao, a tiny little island in the middle of the Thai Gulf, for almost 6 weeks now and I have enjoyed every second of it, even the Thai belly, it’s like a constant reminder I’m on an adventure. It does make me worry occasionally when I’m on stage in the middle of a set and I get that turning feeling in my gut, but luckily, so far, I’ve not had to drop my guitar and make a b-line to the closest lavatory.
My gigging schedule has been hectic. Easily the most busy I’ve ever been as a musician. I’m performing a three hour show every night except Fridays between two venues. 3 nights a week at Choppers Aussie Bar and Grill and 3 nights a week at Fishbow Beach Bar. I’ve also done the odd show at Banyan Bar and Maya Beach Club. It’s getting me fit. I’ve lost about 10kgs and I can now manage the hot, sweaty shows without the assistance of an M-150 or the need for a power nap post performance. Playing every night also does wonders for my progression as an artist and a looper. And though I am working hard, I love my job. It sends me to tropical islands and attracts me to beautiful people. It pays my way and supports my partner. It never boxes me in, rather it encourages me to push the boundaries. And it’s got to be one of the only occupations in the world that inspires the boss to buy you a shot when you’re doing a good job.
Which brings me too the drinking. Hang over management is a big part of Koh Tao life. If you are not careful you will end up with the worst hangover you’ve ever experienced. Tropical hang overs are like tropical storms, they come on hard and fast and no matter how many times you see one the intensity is always awe inspiring. The cheaply brewed Thai alcohol mixed with the humid, hot nights of sweating means hydration is a constant battle.
These days I steer clear of the cheap Thai whiskeys and just stick to beer. “One beer, one water”. At first I get laughed at like I’m some kind of amateur but the tide turns when I bump into those that were laughing at the 7-11 at 3am and I’m still clear headed and walking straight while they are hunched over a bin throwing up the cheap buckets and late night street food. I can’t help myself but to remind them. “One beer, one water”.
One thing that has been so beautiful this month is the visits we have received from back home. A big shout out and thank you has to go to Danielle, Jonno, Mikey, Edan, Casey, Hayley, Dave, Mick and Anthea. It was so amazing sharing this little island with you all. I hope you fell in love with it as I have and it continues to be a destination for you all for many more years. Then from old friends to new friends.
I’ve met so many beautiful people on this island and formed some amazingly close bonds. I hope I can keep those relationships as close to my heart as they are now as we move on to the next leg of #looptheworld. Hannah and I will be back on the island in January we think. For those of you that will still be here I look forward to seeing you again. For those of you that will have left Tao, stay in touch. Maybe we’ll come visit you in your country.
We are three months in now and the idea of living life on the road still feels fresh and exciting. Sadly, on Thursday this week, I play my last show on Koh Tao. Friday we go to Bangkok, Saturday we Fly to Moscow, Sunday to Athens then a ferry out to the island of Ios where I start my Greek Island gigging schedule. 7 Nights a week this time, wow.
I first wrote the lyrics to this track to a 1 4 5 swing rock and roll style track but then appropriated them to a Ray Charles inspired rock n roll groove whilst jamming with my good mate Andy V during a gig in Thailand. The jam ended up making it to the “Live on Koh Tao” EP as the only entirely original tune. It’s very traditional stylistically. A simple groove, one chord the whole way through the track but I dig it. I think it’s my favourite loop track of mine so far.
I filmed this version at a gig in Byron Bay near the beginning of our #looptheworld tour on the 16th April 2015. It was a strange gig. After the week I’d just had leading up to the show I was expecting an impressive turn out. I’d just played the Bluesfest after winning a place in the Bluesfest Busking Comp. I then played a gig at the Rails, my first ever 3 hour solo loop show in Byron, to a large enthusiastic audience. Unfortunately however, this gig was empty. Not empty but in a venue that holds over two thousand, forty or so feels empty. I guess with all the excitement of the Bluesfest the week before, another night of music was not a priority. That didn’t stop me from getting the most out of it. The PA is lovely to play through and Glen “Goobs” Ward the sound man does a great job at making me sound the best that I can. It was quite the contrast from back in the days of the Eclective where we had 8 people on stage and 2000 in the crowd but enjoyable none the less.
An original loop track by Simon Wright.
Recorded live at the Beach Hotel on the 16th April 2015.
My Baby likes it old school Cos these days it ain’t the same She needs that old school soul and some rock n roll Just to make it on through the day
She says she wants them Blues That get me on my feet. Some rockin blues, that get me on my feet.
I said my pockets are all empty, and my lunch box is much the same, but you can bet when I get a little rock in my roll I save it up for a rainy day
I said I want them blues, that get me on my feet, Some rockin Blues, that get me on my feet
Said there’s holes in my pockets and there’s hole in my shoes I ain’t got nothing but
singin’ them blues