Dengue Fever is, as far as I know, sui generis. The LA-based band blends psychedelia with the nearly lost Cambodian pop of the 1960s and pre-Khmer Rouge 70s. The group started in 2001, four years after keyboardist Ethan Holtzman made a trip to Cambodia in, fell in love with the old pop, and persuaded his guitarist brother Zac to play covers of the stuff. Not too long after that, they stumbled across Chhom Nimol, a member of a family that was like a saner, Cambodian version of the Jacksons — stars in their own country. Chhom had come to the States looking for a gig so she could send money home, and went from the karaoke bars in the Cambodian neighborhoods of Long Beach to fronting the band.
They now do a mix of Khmer-language covers and some originals (which are written by the brothers, translated into Khmer, and tweaked by Nimol.) But all of this is secondary to the fact that it’s really good music. So here’s a taste or two to get you through the evening.
And a new English number:
Pretty cool, huh?