5th International Lao New Year Festival : Lao Concert Recap

5th International Lao New Year Festival
Haeng Jai Sinlapin Lao Concert
May 4, 2013 | Richmond Auditorium | Richmond, CA

It isn’t the party/concert/festival so much that brings me out to a place to document it–it’s the times before and after, the moments where you can really talk to people, share meals and experiences.  For this trip to San Francisco and the Bay area, it was both memorable and humbling to record.  Over 25 singers/songwriters/artists from all over the country (and even Canada) gathered for a concert, some of which were of my parent’s time, the ones that defined their tumultuous years growing up in Laos.  Having been raised here in the U.S., I’m sadly not familiar with many of the artists, but I did know that documenting an event like this was very important.  It was an honor meeting Mr. Sensirivanh, Mr. Norkeo, Mr. Vongsanith, and the many other singers and performers.  I would like to thank euy Phone Phoummithone, Yong Phoummithone, Dr. Phoumy, euy Kith, ai Khammany and so many other volunteers and organizers that made the trip a milestone in our culture’s history.  Thanks for showing our famous Lao hospitality and congratulations for pulling off an event that must have been logistically and financially demanding.  Giving back to the community is difficult work, and hopefully the photos and interviews I recorded can add to our rich Lao history.



Oscar nominated, Emmy Award winner, and my roommate for the trip! 🙂

This was one of my rigs for the trip.  The custom aluminum frame was completed a day before, with mounting holes that lets me put the pre amp and various devices on it.  Still a rev 1, but very nice to have for an important event in which audio interviews are more important than still pictures.  Some might say, why not just use a regular old video camera to gather this footage, but there are strengths and weaknesses in all tools. Making the “DIY” support gear and assembling pieces together is for some reason more fun for me than to drop over 2 grand on a regular old camcorder.

While I work on the rest of the photos and videos, here are some important images of all the food I ate! 🙂

Satay: ★★★☆☆

Shrimp Fried Rice: ★★☆☆☆

Chicken and Noodles and Sriracha: ★★☆☆☆

Grilled Mussels and Sauce: ★★★★★

Larb Chicken: ★★★★☆

Chicken Wings

Seafood Salad: ★★★★☆

Stir Fried Vegetables

Curry Fish and Eggplant: ★★★★☆

Drunken Noodle

Lamb and Sauce: ★★★★☆

Spicy Papaya Salad and Wine: ★★★★☆

Chicken Shawarma: ★★★★☆

$1.25 Tacos and Arizona Mango drink from a food truck: ★★★★★

Raw Beef Larb (which I’ve never been able to eat) 🙁

Pork Larb: ★★★★☆

Lao Sausage: ★★★★☆

Spicy Papaya Salad: ★★★★☆

Fresh Vegetables: ★★★★★

Salad: ★★★★★

Nam Kow: ★★★★★

Lao Lunch: ★★★★★

Beer Lao: ★★★★★

Mongolian Hot Pot: ★★★★★

A trip to California wouldn’t be complete without some In-N-Out: ★★★★☆ (Minus one star because I ate this after my red eye flight)


Me in front of a valley in Lucas Ranch.  Maybe next time we drive there I’ll actually have a job interview and not be turned away by the security guard. 🙂

Except for the plane rides, I’ve always enjoyed the trips out to various places to visit the many Lao communities. It gives me a chance to fantasize a bit, wonder how our lives would be different if my family had settled down there instead of here. If we landed in Seattle, I’d like to think that my father would have found a position at the Boeing plant, nurturing his love of planes and all things mechanical. If we’d stayed in the Bay area, my path would probably still be quite clouded, but I’m sure my brothers would have hit the ground running on the engineering front, tapping into the wealth of resources and connections. But we didn’t so there’s no real use in regretting what wasn’t meant to happen in the life we currently wake up to everyday.

In daydreaming about all these different possible realities and paths, there would most definitely still be the same uncertainty and pains though. Hearts would have been broken by that person instead of this person and we’d still be trying to pay the bills and figure out what we’re really supposed to do on this blue marble spinning through space.

There are many songs about California, from the Mamas and the Papas to Led Zeppelin. I’ll pick a more contemporary one to close on, from The Starting Line “…wait for me to move out West, it’s okay if you don’t, I hope you know, you’re my favorite thing about the West Coast…”  “…So here I am counting down the days ’til California comes…”

Thanks again for everyone who helped make this trip a fun one, see you next adventure.

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