Once upon a time there was a very popular live music venue called Timberhut in Phuket Town. It had to close because of COVID-19 and has sadly not reopened. I enjoyed many happy evenings there soon after I arrived in Phuket over ten years ago. I love to hear live music and the Timberhut Band was absolutely outstanding, and reputed to be the best on the island.
With Timberhut’s doors still firmly shut, I admit I had quite forgotten about them until I visited the Grapevine Lounge in Cherngtalay. I had heard of a hot, new band playing there and wanted to check it out. Imagine my surprise when I arrived to find it was not a new band at all, but a very old one under a new name – Eurasia PK. (PK is for Phuket.) I recognized Rose straight away as soon as I walked in, having watched her many nights previously in Timberhut. I was fooled by the name change like many others, but it makes perfect sense. Timberhut is no more and its chicks have flown the nest, happily got back together and are now playing at venues and parties around the island.
The band’s origins go right back to when Timberhut first opened 20 years ago. It was started by a man called Boonkurt and the current drummer Dong. Boonhurt returned to Bangkok, leaving Dong in charge. Dong then took on a new keyboard player and bass guitarist and, after a while, Rose. This original line-up is still in place, except for their guitarist who joined recently. Another fairly recent addition is Arkhom, a local English teacher who played with Dong many years ago before he went to Germany to work. He told me, “It’s been like a journey through time. I’ve known Dong for 44 years now. We were on Thai TV playing together in our 20s and I’d always help out when back here on holiday from Germany.” When he returned five years ago, Dong asked him to formally join the band. This allowed greater vocal variety and neat harmonisations with Rose’s powerful voice, a voice that could be described as like Shirley Bassey’s.
Rose confided in me, “We’ve known each other so long and we take care of each other. It’s like having a second family.” That meant lockdown was doubly difficult for the band. As Arkhom explained, “Lockdown was dreadful. We couldn’t meet and practice for six months. It was like a bereavement for us.”
It is difficult to describe the music they play, but it could be said to be upmarket pop, the kind of music you might hear in a classy London club. You might hear a James Bond theme song, a Stevie Wonder or a Paul Simon hit, but rest assured nothing to jangle your nerves! Graham, a big fan of the band at Coconut Rawai where they play, told me, “They play a huge range of sophisticated pop with a very varied set each week. There’s nothing they can’t handle musically. They are a joy to watch and never boring.”
And as for the future? Dong told me, “It’s great being back together again. For some, music is just a job. For us, it’s far more than that. It’s a gathering of old friends.” But Phuket is not the same place as before COVID. As Arkhom explained, “At six members, we’re a big band. Today’s new economic realities mean there is always financial pressure to split into two, but we are trying hard to stay together.”
Well, let’s hope this happiest of Phuket’s musical families does just that!
(C) Andy Tong Dee
Currently, they are playing in Coconut Rawai on Tuesdays and the Bebop Bar on Thursdays. Don’t miss them and make sure you book a table!