Three Years of Pai Jazz and Blues Festival

by | Jun 20, 2019

What better scenery could you imagine as a backdrop for blues and jazz – a dreamy village in the mountains up in the north of Thailand where the weather is cool and rain is fresh and fragrant, without the fuss and hectic pace of Bangkok’s life…

Do you know about Pai Jazz and Blues Festival? It is one of the most chilled live music events in Thailand that merges the eclectic energy of Pai and music by some of the best jazz and blues bands of Chiang Mai and Bangkok. This year, the festival happened for the third time on 5-7 July, organized by HIP Magazine and supported by Mae Hong Son office and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

I simply love Pai, its, cute little restaurants and bars with a variety of musical styles and tastes, its cool weather, brilliant food, and above all – its amazing energy! Starting a blues and jazz festival here was a great move by the people from HIP magazine three years ago, as Pai’s chilled, free-spirited and easy-going vibe is just a perfect backdrop for blues and jazz sounds and moods. The festival is held for three days at several bars and venues in Pai from early afternoon to late evening.
When I was invited to come to the first edition of the festival three years ago by the members of Banglumpoo Blues Company, I immediately said “yes” almost jumping with joy as I had already been in love with Pai and any excuse to go there (let alone a jazz and blues festival!) would have worked. We came to Chiang Mai by Air Asia, one of the festival’s sponsors, and from there we were taken by a van via the notoriously curvy road between Chiang Mai and Pai. Staying at the wonderful Pai River Corner resort (also one of the festival’s venues at the time) was just the added bonus to the whole experience. We spent two wonderful days bar-hopping from the early afternoon to late night, enjoying great music while tasting all the delicacies of Pai’s numerous bars and restaurants.

Highlights of Pai Jazz and Blues Festival in 2017

Banglumpoo Blues Company performing at the first Pai Jazz and Blues Festival in 2017 

 This year, in addition to the “usual suspects”, some of Chiang Mai and Bangkok bast blues and jazz bands (such as BBC, Doggy, The Tuk, etc), the festival welcomed an extended line-up and increased number of evening stages so that the audience was able to attend as many events as possible without being too crowded.
For the full list of artists and venues, please check out the latest issue of HIP magazine, the article about the Festival is conveniently published both in Thai and English version. For all the updates check out their FB page.
The music genres played at the Festival ranged from classical jazz and blues to folk, traditional, acoustic finger-style, jump blues, swing, smooth jazz, gypsy jazz, soul and funk and even to trip hop and electronica. Besides bands from Bangkok and Chiang Mai, this year the Festival hosted special guests from Japan, Meguru, that presented their free jazz and traditional style music.
If you are planning a trip to Thailand or specifically Pai, I warmly recommend you to go in July in time for the next Festival. Here are some videos and photos from my first Pai experience, I hope it will bring you a piece of atmosphere and make you wanna go there and experience it yourself. Enjoy and see you there next year!

Yours truly with Suwat, a talented Thai arist based in Pai

In Memoriam: Andy Martin’s last pefromance in Pai, a good friend and a wonderful blues man, June 2017