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Phuket Music Scene: Hitting the right note

It is now a year since I first had an article published in The Phuket News about live music venues in Phuket Town. Such venues had been shut for over six months because of COVID and my musician friends had suffered very badly during that time. Some had to sell instruments to buy food, others left Phuket to return home, a few waited patiently for better times. I knew too that live music venue owners were very upset about having to fire Thai staff and reduce pay for any they kept on. We should not forget it has been a terrible time for them and their staff too.

By Andy Tong Dee

Saturday 19 March 2022, 11:00AM

Andy, pictured here with Lisa and Josef of February Cherry, rocking on, helping to lift the spirits of local musicians and live music venue operators.

Andy, pictured here with Lisa and Josef of February Cherry, rocking on, helping to lift the spirits of local musicians and live music venue operators.

I felt I needed to do something however small to help. I used to write for newspapers and magazines many years ago, and I wondered if I could get performers and venues some free publicity when restrictions ended. Such venues would be unlikely to have any funds left for marketing after being shut for so long.

I recall writing my first 500-word article and sending it off in hope to Chris Husted, the Executive Editor of The Phuket News, asking if he was interested. He kindly said he would print it if I promised him at least two more, and the Phuket Music Scene column was born. 

I have continued to contribute since then during which time life for Phuket’s remaining musicians has proved very frustrating. They and venue owners have had to endure a series of ups and downs as restrictions were re-imposed and then lifted. Finally, last October, live music was allowed again, hopefully for good. Happy days were here again!

However, shortly before this in August, with the high season coming and any online information for visitors well out of date, a web-designer friend thought a website providing up-to-date information about live music would help musicians further.The website was set up just before live music started again in October. Once up and running, a Facebook group Phuket Gigs Tonight! was added so those interested could find out what live music was on over the next couple of days. Once again, this provides free publicity online to help kickstart a long-awaited revival in Phuket’s live music scene and help musicians. It should be pointed out that this is all run as a charitable community enterprise with not one baht of income.

Maybe Phuket hasn’t been overwhelmed by tourists just yet, and maybe we are a long way from getting back to normal, but things are at least now ready for when visitors return in force. Reliable information about live music in Phuket is now easily available online. 

I am assured that all of this has made a difference, particularly in raising professional musicians’ battered morale. As we all know, everyone loves seeing their photo and name in the newspaper or online, so thank you The Phuket News for that!

So let’s hear it for Phuket’s long suffering musos and venue owners. There seems to be light now at the end of the tunnel and I hope Phuket Music Scene and The Phuket News working together has helped bring it a little closer!

Andy Tong Dee is a local expat, musician and live music enthusiast. You can read his blog at www.phuketmusicscene.com

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