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Archive for January, 2004

The Ladyboys Of Bangkok

Posted: January 7th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

Last night I went to a Casino in Sydney and saw a “proper” cabaret show, you know where you sit at tables and you can only buy booze in the interval (crazy).

I saw the touring extravaganza that is The Ladyboys Of Bangkok.

Wow. Once you get over the weird Blue Velvet feeling of seeing heavily made up Oriental people miming to pop hits it becomes fun. And the compere has a terrifying voice too (“That wassssss Antoneeee and hissss SEXXXXXY girlzzzz”). Sparkling wine by the litre is recommended.

Rather than being a curious piece of freakshow entertainment it was a good laugh. A rousing version of “One Night In Bangkok” had me clapping away and I almost cried during a version of My Way performed by a slightly older member of the troupe who slowly changed from female dress into male dress and at the end of the song whipped off his wig to reveal a crew cut and, as he did so, the Liza Minelli voice changed to that of Frank Sinatra. Awesome.

During a spectacular version of “And All That Jazz” from the musical Chicago I said, slightly loudly,

“YOU KNOW, I’D FUCK ALL OF THEM. FANNY OR NO FANNY”

When I get to do ATP, The Ladyboys Of Bangkok are my headliners. And Madonna obviously.

Charles Mingus Day

Posted: January 6th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

Yesterday was January 5th and in Washington DC and in New York it was officially “Charles Mingus Day” to mark the anniversary of his death (24 years ago).

Mingus represented something that no longer exists. The world is downsized. People are unemployed because there are more people than jobs. Work decreases because the people in charge cut corners and find new ways to make more money from less people.

The music industry represents this perfectly. It’s why the role of the DJ and the covers band in the modern world is so fucking disgusting. Why hire 50 acts to play in a night when you can hire 1 to play the music of 50 people?

If you don’t know him, Charles Mingus was a composer. He’s best known as a jazz bassist but somehow that doesn’t do justice to the enormous breadth of knowledge and broad ranging sweep of musical styles he employed. Bass might have been his instrument but thats only because he didn’t have enough arms and legs to play the whole big band himself. He watched as jazz became a marginalised music form and eventually he watched as “fusion” took over jazz completely and turned it into what it is today – either a slick, calculated Kenny G sax nightmare or something that is retro to the extreme. It’s been said hip hop is the only modern form of jazz and it’s probably right. And it’s only going to be a matter of time before some fucking executive works out what’s going on and that gets downsized too. In fact maybe it’s already happened.

Mingus fought the downsizing with huge big band efforts and orchestral pieces. He struggled financially until the very end of his life (when ironically he found it easy to get gigs but physically harder to play them) but refused to yield to the times. He was a part of the free jazz movement but scoffed at it’s leading practisioners (i.e. Ornette Coleman) for their lack of formal ability. He believed in hard graft as a musician and he believed in doing it big. Whether that means a huge band line up or eating 6 steaks at a sitting.

So, there you go. Charles Mingus was a big, fat genius. Go and read more about him at MINGUSMINGUSMINGUS.COM a site run by his widow and 4th wife, Sue.