Our memories are bound to certain people, places, sounds and smells. When a venue is uprooted and moved somewhere else it might retain some of its original charm. When it completely disappears, it's like someone has died or your house has washed away in a flood and a hotel built on the land - OK, it's not that bad but what can fill that vacuum? We have dozens of bands springing up and few places for them to play. Live original music is still a niche in this town - it's not Austin, Texas. Yet.
The way forward
In order for the Bangkok music community to survive it needs people willing to do the work of opening and managing venues that cater to indie music. This requires:
In other words, we need entrepreneurs. People willing to open new businesses and organizations promoting arts. Most people wait for doors to open for them. Stop waiting. Create the door, the door frame, the entire fucking house, the roof... and then open the door and walk into your house. Congratulations, you own it! Do It Yourself.
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will either be a fantastic success, a spectacular disaster or a slow death. I would love to say that it offers unprecedented economic opportunities for all; but, the reality is only small minorities will benefit and the rest will just have to hustle, beg, borrow and steal. Same same but different. Still go-getters, self-starters always find a way despite adversity. While Thailand is going through extreme growing pains, it still has great talent, great artists, and great musician carrying the torch in this age of darkness, The Age of Unenlightenment. So as the doors to our beloved Harmonica and Cosmic Cafe close, let us remember our civil duty to keep the music going and raise fucking Valhalla. Please, someone open something up quick - and not some hipster hive - we have enough vomitous, trendy places catering to the young elite. Give the plebs more dirty rock n roll bars.
Bangkok is still the hub of SE Asia and people like coming here. It's still a better place to live than many of our native countries even with all the downsides like political instability, fragility of law, corruption, human rights abuses, and a society stratified into the absurdly powerful and the absurdly poor. I still want to believe in this place and what I'm doing here. My dream is that more artists, musicians and writers move here and we have a SE Asian Renaissance. All of our lives are transformed. The musician get to play music to his heart's content, gather income and save a bit; artist colonies begin appearing all over the nation; and the absurdly wealthy invest more in arts, humanities and rock n roll in order to advance culture and to evolve into the spiritually enlightened beings. Until then we start revolutions from our bed.
Bet on Bangkok
Gifted artists seem to be pretty useless in the 'real world' of 9 to 5 grind. Just look at The Brian Jonestown Massacre's Anton Newcombe. Unemployed, broke, with just a madness to create music, somehow he did not succumb to drug addiction and schizophrenia and now resides in Berlin - I hope he comes to Bangkok one day. We don't have to live in the world's most wretched hive of scum and villainy - we could trade some politicians, pedophiles and other criminals for a few mad, crazy artists... and what a place this will be. Bet the house.