Rangoon Rhythm: Where is Charlie?

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Charles-David Hay and his band Where is Charlie? play at Atlas rooftop bar. (Konstantinos Dessis)

Usually whipping up cocktails and charming patrons in Atlas Rooftop Bar & Lounge. The 27-year-old Swiss artist Charles-David Hay started his bar managing and music career in Myanmar at MOJO Cafe & Lounge in Yangon about four years ago. His band Where is Charlie? is a collective of musicians from Myanmar and Southeast Asia.

The son of a jazz club director and great-grandson of a Genevan Philharmonic Orchestra conductor, Charlie began learning the cello at the wizened age of three. He counts as influences guitarist legends Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix, as well as more recent bands Arctic Monkeys and the Black Keys. Any audience to his band are likely to hear blues, rock, funk, and reggae; an eclectic mix undoubtedly shaped by traveling. “I’ve learned so much from meeting different people and musicians from many cultures and backgrounds,” he said.

Before the start of Where is Charlie? in 2015, Charlie lived in Vietnam where he taught music to mentally and physically handicapped people through NGO Maison Chance Vietnam. Afterward, he moved to Myanmar where his band has played on stages countrywide.

Past venues include Mojo, the French Institute, Myanmar Plaza, and the ballroom at The Strand. “My most memorable concert would have to be at the Christmas Market at Myanmar Plaza this past year, the audience was very lively and warm. I hope there’ll be more chances like this for live bands across Myanmar, where it’s open to any and all audiences, which makes it easier for these bands to get scouted.”

The essential part of being a performer, he says, is “to find ways to work around problems and show that you are truly into the music.” Being an instrumentalist, Charlie would have less commercialized and electronic music, and values quality over quantity when it comes to producing music. “It you enjoy it and it’s your passion, just do it,” he tells fledgling musicians. “There are ups and down to every job.”

See Where is Charlie? perform in Yangon this weekend: Friday (June 8) at The Prime Rib from 7.30pm and Saturday at YangonYangon from 8.30pm. Facebook: @Where is Charlie? 

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