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Live Party Music Option 1

If you are living in Isan you will have the option to join in many street parties and there are four live music options you will be dancing to. I am going to be covering three of them in a series of posts starting with this one. The missing one is a lum or mainly percussion band, which I have covered before.

In this and the following two related posts you will join us as we party through three very different event themes, which in itself examples the variety of ways Isan people find an excuse to enjoy themselves. In the three posts I will share I won’t just focus on the music aspect but give you insights into what event each occasion is based around.


Our first party time was just outside Si Bun Ruang as part of a late Bun Bang Fai (Isan rocket festival) celebration in May. We had been invited to join an Australian friend, his wife and family for lunch followed by their local moo ban’s street procession. After that was the big event of the day. Jon and Tha had hired a large mobile music truck to be based at the local community centre area for the enjoyment of all. So by category this was a stationery mobile music truck!

But before we join the dancing let’s have a quick look at the very small but colourful procession this small village had arranged for Bun Bang Fai.

School kids all dressed up.

The local monks were on the move too.

It’s hard not to capture beautiful characterful images in Thailand.

This young girl was fully into the music and put some of the formal dancers to shame 🙂

There’s always a smile in return for your smile and enthusiasm. Leave your western restraint at home and put your happy face on. Thais will respond doubly.

Opposite ends of life but joined by love. Ahhh, that was nice wasn’t it 🙂 Orders for Isan greeting cards will be taken.

I have had so many youngsters and a few older folk come up wanting their photo taken at these events that I am going to publish a separate post with some of the photos. Young girls wanting me to take their photo was never a big call on my time in Australia but here evidently I am the man and I do my best to fulfill my community obligations 🙂 

How full of character are Isan people and how experienced at the ideal group shot! OK, enough , let’s get to the real point of this post (finally you say).

These trucks are a recent addition to the Isan live music scene. I saw them for the frst time during last year’s festivals.

The concept of them is obviously to be mobile providing constant music to a crowd moving to a destination or a formal procession. However they can also become a fixed party central, as Jon’s truck was in this instance. The benefit of this over say a cheaper non-live sound system on the back of a farm truck, like the one used in the moo ban procession below, is that these new trucks have expensive, up to date equipment and the band is live. Most of the non-live music you hear are MP3’s pinched from YouTube, so by audio standards very low quality.

Jon and Tha being super organised had arranged for a family and friends drinks station to be set up with shade. These are my sort of friends.

I am not sure how I ended up with two beers in both photos but it certainly seemed to help with my dance moves. Jon and sombrero hat in both photos.

Yes, there has to be a beer influence somewhere in this photo.

These trucks are on two levels. Underneath are the diesel generators that power everyting and the sound monitoring equipment. Upstairs is the live band, usually with both a male and female singer. The front and back of the truck are filled with massive speakers.

Each year there seems to be a standard new song that is picked up a played on every music truck at some stage during a street party. This is the one for this year HERE. If you think that this video is a bit amateurish then you’d be right. It has been shot live from the top deck of a music truck playing to a crowd. I have added it because it gives you a taste for what’s happening on top deck. I love the song too but that’s personal.

OK girls, just one more. Life is a constant struggle here for me as you can tell.

The very unique aspect to the afternoon was some of the security arrangements Jon and Tha had made. These events tend to usually have private security of some sort often organised by the moo ban, often just local guys who dress up. Sometimes the police also turn up later in the day in case youngsters get out of hand after a day of drinking. The moo ban security I have observed have an average age of about seventy but carry large battons and are way fitter than me. I have even seen security with long muskets once. Now that’s getting a bit serious.

 The unique aspect here was that we had a squad of Thai army MPs in full uniform to look after us, hired for the occasion. They looked the part and were extremely professional just monitoring the event but never being overpowering or intrusive. The photo on the right shows a slight altercation, which is why the MPs are there in force, which was very quickly snuffed out without any violence.

I must say that this was the safest I have ever felt at one of these events. There’s actually rarely any major problems that I have ever seen. The occasional punch up that is usually sorted by friends or in one memorable case this large bloke was smacked around by his mum to bring him in line 🙂

I don’t need to tell you that Gaun was in party mode because all you regulars will take that for granted. Anyway, here’s Gaun in party mode!!! (My darling wife for any newbies, second on the right)

OK. This is the last one! I’m in it this time. Spot the farang (still drinking!)

Later in the afternoon the police turned up in force too. Probably just because they wanted to listen to the music. We now had military MPs, police and private security. Jon and Tha’s reputation might not be as restrained as I thought it was.

Tha in the centre with Gaun on the left and sunset over the village pond on the right.

T shirts made for the day. Jon and Tha with family and friends at the end of the day. Thank you both for a wonderful afternoon and we will be back anytime you call!

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  1. Greg Carroll

    Yuri explained the lyrics in the video Tony.
    She has found several videos showing me the accompanying dance moves.
    Totally at odds with Thai ladies’ usual public modesty
    Otherwise we thoroughly enjoyed the read – many thanks for allowing us to experience this part of your life in Isan.

    • Tony in Thailand

      I know. It’s a funny mix of conservatism and underlying raunchy behaviour. Gaun sometimes shares some of the themes of these songs and the subject is not what I had in mind 🙂

  2. Hans Ruediger

    Hello Tony,

    Cheers from Ban Phe! Thank God, we are far enough into the rainy season now to ‘refresh’ and rejuvenate all the greenery around here. That natural aspect is one of the few similarities between SBR and Ban Phe. We have not had any rain to speak of for at least one half year before last month and the surrounding hills had looked parched, brown and bedraggled. All the more reason to enjoy the seasonal change here and in your neck of the woods, as presented by your excellent ‘reporting’ and pictures of the family’s farm and market activities. What profound testimony you give to living a life of purpose and accomplishment!

    As much as I have learned to appreciate retirement and my now available time for those pleasurable things I had to postpone during my working years, I still do, on occasion, miss the daily satisfaction of a job well done and the contentment of being part of something bigger than just me!

    Which does not stop me from happily anticipating Sue and I heading to Kanchanaburi next month to explore another part of Thailand I had not seen before!

    Please keep up the good work, Tony. Many of my expat friends are now followers of your blog and we all enjoy the fruits of your labor.


    • Hans Ruediger

      Hey Tony, I inadvertently added my comments to this post, rather than your post on Two Days in Issan, which is what I meant to do. Oh well, looks like I am not exempt from the ‘old and forgetful’ aspect of our ‘golden years’!


      P.S. To be sure ………….. I like this party music blog equally well ……. especially where you practice the ‘farang two-step’

    • Tony in Thailand

      How nice to hear from you Hans.

      We are experiencing yet another drought ‘wet’ season here, with almost no rain for two months. We had a good start with regular evening or overnight storms and then it just stopped. We are back to watering the garden (the sprinkler system is running as I type) and for those farms without access to well water or other sources such as rivers or lakes the rice is dying. The local greenery in the photos I share is due to hand watering from a well if vegetables and sugar crops, which need almost no water to flourish. I have never experienced a full wet season in my four plus years in Isan. I so feel for the farmers as it is forcing them to change from a whole culture based on growing rice to alternatives with less historical ‘character’.

      I can totally relate to the joys of ticking off a task achieved at the end of a day, which is sometimes harder to replicate in a retirement scenario. Retirement is our ultimate goal with all that extra time but filling it in new and involving ways is sometimes challenging. I have been so lucky, totally unexpected and unplanned, in that my love for everyday life here and sharing it with others via the blog, has given me the ability to tick off on a daily ‘task done’, whether it’s a new post published or a something more lighthearted on Facebook. This aspect of retired life has developed over time and I am sure you will discover equally engaging and perhaps equally unexpected pleasures in your new life too.

      Your travels are taking you to places I have never been in Thailand such as Kanchanaburi. I thought I would do more exploring but for several reasons that hasn’t worked out to be the reality at this stage anyway. Maybe a blog of your own Hans!

      Thank you for your comment and a pleasure to know you are still taking an interest.

      Kind regards.


  3. Nobby

    Another fantastic blog Tony with great images as always!

    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you Chris.

  4. Jim Busby

    Jon and Tha know how to party! Colorful displays and excellent photos my friend. All smiles, and so energetic. That little girl can’t wait until she is old enough to join in the fun. And Tony, that was a truly poignant phrase your turned, that may end up in a book of Tony’s favorite quotes. I see two of the girls on the motorbike have talc on their faces, which I thought was for New Years. I love that you are showing the locals how to do the “farang two beer shuffle step” :-). Thai smiles are so infectious that you can’t help smiling back.

    Great Post once again,


    • Tony in Thailand

      They are both enthusiasts. Jon is a few years off retirement and Tha works with him in Australia, so trips here are focused enjoyment. Jon had never experienced a Bun bang Fai season, which is super fun, and planned it to be here this year. I am sure it will be an annual date in the calendar from now on (our’s too at his place). It was a nice photo. My words arrive and I enjoy them as much as you 🙂 Thais, girls and boys, use talc to take the sticky off their skin, but also of course it makes them look whiter, the ultimate goal for any Isan person. I also find that my face has wrinkled extra fast since living here. It’s not just getting older but the fact I find myself smiling so often during each day. I will end up looking like a wrinkled old prune but be totally happy on the inside!


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