This was a difficult list to compile. Almost every show I have played since the #looptheworld adventure began has been memorable for one reason or another. Special mention has to go to Choppers Bar, Koh Tao. Those hot, sweaty nights with the Koh Tao Pub Crawl made up a huge amount of the memories that the tour has brought me so far. Every night at Choppers was another crazy party. So too were all of my performances at Harmony, Ios. However, this here list is about those single shows that stood out. The shows that warmed my heart and kept me on a high for days after getting off stage. Those shows that reward me more than financial gain. The shows I’ll remember long after my career is over. The shows I’ll look back on and smile.
Surfers Paradise Live Festival May 2015
A festival stage definitely helps to make the top 10 list. A big crowd, a great PA, a professional sound man, the whole kit and caboodle. This was also the last show before we took #looptheworld international. On a more personal note; Surfers Paradise Live Festival was special because my family was there. My mum, my little sister Megan and my adorable little nephew Malakai. It was also the first time my newborn nephew had left the house since his birth. I’m very proud of this fact. It will be a story I tell him when he’s older. I hope one day he takes up the musical adventure that has brought me so much satisfaction.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Each month we have a guest blogger write an article for the #looptheworld Letterbox. This month we have the wonderful words of Chris Penner. We first met Chris at one of my shows at Harmony on the island of Ios, Greece. We instantly got along really well, as I often do with Canadians. After we’d hung out a few times, Hannah and I agreed he would be the perfect candidate for our guest blogger this month. He confirmed that with his enthusiastic response when we asked if he’d be interested. Thank you so much for your words Chris. I hope you all enjoy this colourful perspective of the beautiful island of Ios.
For those highly unfortunate souls who are unfamiliar with John Stamos, he is an actor who portrayed Uncle Jesse in the 90’s blockbuster television show Full House, alongside the Olsen Twins and Bob Saget; however, more importantly John Stamos is the most handsome Greek man of all time. Even before I wrote this I did a quick google search on the Greek god and one of the first articles was “John Stamos still has amazing hair and side burns”! Have Mercy!!
On June 8th this year my close friend Michael Budd and I decided we would venture to Greece in the hopes of finding this “ómorfo ándra” (beautiful man). It was less of a hunt considering we had jobs lined up on the island of Ios to teach watersports for Mylopotas Watersports on Mylopotas beach, so much repetition in that sentence, my English teacher would be so proud. So! We spent two nights searching the bars in Athens, knowing full well he lives in the U.S.A., we hopped on the ferry to Ios, with an Irish guy named George who we’d convinced to join us, and started our summer in Ios.
As a very sheltered Canadian from outside Toronto, whose travel experience includes all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica and Mexico with my family, the move was a bit of a culture shock. Not in any dramatic fashion because Ios is still a tourist destination, it’s not like we were shitting in pots or practicing Ainu Bear Worship, it was the little things. The pace was much slower than Toronto, which should go without saying, and in no offence to Greece, but we realized once we were on the island that we were on Greek time. Meaning if we sat down for dinner expect to wait a bit longer, if you’re told something will arrive in 5 minutes, expect it to be a about 15. This concept wasn’t very difficult to grasp considering the beauty of this island, you can sit, relax, tan, soak in the majesty of what is Ios and colour me surprised, I learned to love it. Furthermore what really shocked me were the showers. Never in my life did I think I would yearn for a showerhead. For those in Canada reading this you’re probably thinking “Cant wait for hockey season to start” but after that you’re thinking “what do you mean lusting for a shower head?”. While I was using the washroom in the first place Mike and I stayed at, I asked where the showerhead was, not realizing it was stuck to a hose in front of me. If you’re lucky the water is hot but you have to spray your body, soap up then hose it all down like you’re getting rid of all your change at a cheap car wash. But that is the extent of my displeasure.
“I’m Living in Paradise” This is a sentence I repeat to myself everyday. I say this to myself on the walk down to work from the village, when times get a bit frustrating at work and mostly when I see the sun set on this island and I truly believe that. I have never been to a better place in the world. It’s sunny everyday, the temperature is perfect, there are never any clouds, and it’s acceptable to drink every night. But beyond the weather and the acceptance of alcoholism are the people. Before I left I had my very tight group of friends that I was content with, more than content to be honest, I never considered travelling and as much I love meeting new Canadians I was a bit apprehensive of experiencing new cultures and people. Will it be difficult? What are they going to think of me? Will we get along? Will they be rude or closed minded? Which turned out to be the complete opposite and my absolute favorite part of travelling, besides the late night wakeboarding, sunset cruises, smashing drinks and skinny-dipping as the sunsets over the Mediterranean. I had met so many wonderful people, friends I will have for life, which I believe is the greatest part of travelling. Opening up to stranger and discovering what it is they love, what are their struggles, their future plans and experiences is like food for the soul. Finding common interest with a person born on opposite sides of the world is exhilarating and I’ve fallen completely in love with it. Which brings me to Simon Wright and Hannah Blake.
July 2008, Molson Amphitheater with Mark Hubner was the first time I saw Dave Matthews Band live. February 2010, Dan Hammonds basement with Sam Statham I watched Sidney Crosby score the golden goal for Canada to win the Olympic gold medal and June 2015 at Harmony restaurant with Mitch Bolton and Mike Budd, I saw Simon Wright play for the very first time. There are moments in your life that are burned into your memory with a cattle prong and watching Simon perform was certainly one of them. I am a music lover and a live music fanatic and there aren’t many words in my limited vocabulary to describe how I felt that night: Shocked, awed, amazed, blown away and chills. At one point during his performance he did a remix of the Game of Thrones theme song and being a GOT nerd I could barely contain the little girl scream I wanted to release. I kept it totally cool and just looked across the table at Mike showing him the hairs that were standing up on my arm and he returned the same gesture. I had never experienced a looping machine before and to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention during the first song until I thought there were about 6 people on stage only to glance over and to my great surprise there was just one dude. It was incredible! After meeting Simon and Hannah and discovering that their spirits and personalities outshined his talent was mind blowing. Here are two incredible people, talent and kindness taller than the CN Tower (had to get a Canada reference in here somewhere) and so down to earth. I feel extremely lucky to have seen Simon perform his music and extremely privileged to call them my friends!
At this point I’m sure you’re wondering “what happened to George who you convinced to come to Ios with you?” as you should be! Well, George got a 600Euro ticket and had to go home after 3 weeks, I miss him but Ios got the best of him as it does of many people. I myself have felt at times that the island is beating me, which is nearly impossible cause I’m a 6’5 man stuck in a 5’8 frame. Thankfully I’ve met the best people in the world to share my first summer abroad with and I enjoy everyday a little bit more than the previous, meaning to say everyday is the best day of my life on Ios!!
Thanks for reading,
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.
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.
On Sunday April 26th 2015 I had my first ever loop performance on live to air radio and Will Hayman from Byron Bay TV was there to catch it all. The performance took place during the Sunday midday show Live and Local with Al Stark on Bay FM 99.9 three weeks into my #looptheworld tour.
This is actually two songs but ever since I started performing them and always grouped them together. Eventually I plan to have most of my set like that. The first track “She Told Me” I wrote while on stage once at the Birmingham Hotel on Smith st in Collingwood. I’d looped the start of the track and a woman approached me from the dance floor. I don’t think she quite understood the loop concept. She came up and started yelling “You need to sing!” The next words to come out of my mouth were the chorus “She told me that I need to sing, down here at the Birmingham”. I often appropriate this song to whatever venue I am playing at the time. This performance you’ll notice I sing “She told me that I need to sing, on live and local BayFM”. It lends it’s self easily to those kinds of improvisations.
The second song is the bastard child of three songs I’ve written in the past. The guitar riff was originally the pre-chorus to a jazz/hip hop track I wrote last year named “Dream”. The chorus lyrics are from a song I played with the Eclective named “It’s On” and one of the verses is from a song I did with Direct Influence way back in the early days named “So Right”. I like the way they blend together. It changes key from Dm to Am but the “She Told Me” chorus lyrics still work and even though the beat is exactly the same, with all the syncopation in “Gather the Matter” it feels like there is a groove change.
I first wrote this song as a 1-4-5 upbeat swung rock n roll track but I was never really happy with where it sat so had never started performing it live. Then last year while I was on Koh Tao, Thailand with Andy V we began jamming a Ray Charles inspired groove at a bar called Fishbowl and the Lyrics found their home. You can hear the first time I ever played it here. It’s changed a little since then as I had to work on a way to play it with out the help of Andy V, but the general arrangement is still the same.
This song has been with me a long time however I think this is the first loop performance recording of the track. I first wrote it in 2006 while playing with the Groove Collective in Byron Bay. It never made it to the studio until 2012 when I went in with The Simon Wright Band for “Live at 52”. That performance which you can see here, earned me a nomination for the Australian Independent Music Awards 2013, a position in the Victorian finals for the Telstra Road To Discovery and made the finals of the national Catapult Song Contest with names like Ash Grunwald and Dallas Frasca.
The basic idea of the song is a love song dedicated to the life long partner I’ve chosen in music. People often ask who is the girl I was writing about, but it’s no girl, it is music. Recently “Music” passed 10,000 views on youtube and is the first of my original songs to accomplish this milestone. You can purchase a copy along with the rest of “Live at 52” from http://www.simonwright.com.au