Don't Think I've Forgotten 2015

New York, NY, USA

Sinn Sethakol

Cambodian singer Sinn Sethakol performs at City Winery

New York, NY, USA

In November last year, I saw John Pirozzi's Don't Think I've Forgotten, a film about the nascent rock'n'roll scene in Cambodia during the 1960's and 1970's. It's a fascinating and intensely moving film.

To coincide with the release of the film in the US, Pirozzi organized a tour by some of the surviving musicians from the bands featured in the film. I ended up going to see it twice: the first show at City Winery was so good that I went back to see them again when they played WFMU's Monty Hall in Jersey City.

The performers were a mix of original artists from bands of the era – Mol Kagnol,Mol Kamach and Samley Hong from Baksey Cham Krong, Sieng Tana of Drakkar – and younger musicians – Chhom Nimol of Dengue Fever, and Minh Sothyvann. Perhaps the most extraordinary moments of the evening were when Sinn Sethakol, the grandson of Cambodian heartthrob Sinn Sissamouth, came out to sing his murdered grandfather's songs, and later when he joined in a duet with Chhom Nimol, reprising some of Sinn Sissamouth's duets with Ros Sereysothea. Like the film, the concerts were intensely emotional experiences: so much energy and joy in the music, mixed with so much sadness.