Timber Hut had to close because of COVID-19, but has since re-opened. I have to admit I had quite forgotten about the band until I visited the Grapevine Lounge in Cherng Talay. I had heard of a hot, new band playing there and wanted to check it out. Imagine my surprise when I arrived to find it was not a new band at all, but a very old one under a new name – Eurasia PK (“PK” is for Phuket.) I recognised Rose straight away as soon as I walked in, having watched her many nights previously in Timber Hut. Like many others, I was fooled by the name change, but it makes perfect sense. Timber Hut is no more the live music venue it once was and its chicks have flown the nest. They have happily got back together and are now playing at venues and parties around the island.
The band’s origins go right back to when Timberhut first opened 20 years ago. It was started by a man called Boonkurt and the current drummer Dong. Boonkurt returned to Bangkok, leaving Dong in charge. Dong then took on a new keyboard player and bass guitarist and, after a while, Rose. This original line-up is still in place, except for their guitarist who joined recently. Another fairly recent addition is Arkhom, a local English teacher who played with Dong many years ago before he went to Germany to work. He told me, “It’s been like a journey through time. I’ve known Dong for 44 years now. We were on Thai TV playing together in our 20s and I’d always help out when back here on holiday from Germany.” When he returned five years ago, Dong asked him to formally join the band. This allowed greater vocal variety and neat harmonisations with Rose’s powerful voice, a voice that could be described as like Shirley Bassey’s.
Rose confided in me, “We’ve known each other so long and we take care of each other. It’s like having a second family.” That meant lockdown was doubly difficult for the band. As Arkhom explained, “Lockdown was dreadful. We couldn’t meet and practice for six months. It was like a bereavement for us.”
It is difficult to describe the music they play, but it could be said to be upmarket pop, the kind of music you might hear in a classy London club. You might hear a James Bond theme song, a Stevie Wonder or a Paul Simon hit, but rest assured nothing to jangle your nerves! Graham, a big fan of the band at Coconut Rawai where they play, told me, “They play a huge range of sophisticated pop with a very varied set each week. There’s nothing they can’t handle musically. They are a joy to watch and never boring.”
And as for the future? Dong told me, “It’s great being back together again. For some, music is just a job. For us, it’s far more than that. It’s a gathering of old friends.” But Phuket is not the same place as before COVID. As Arkhom explained, “At six members, we’re a big band. Today’s new economic realities mean there is always financial pressure to split into two, but we are trying hard to stay together.”
Well, let’s hope this happiest of Phuket’s musical families does just that!
Andy Tong Dee is a retired expat and musician living in Phuket. You can read his blog and find out much more about Phuket’s music venues and bands at www.phuketmusicscene.com