By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
A singer named Lashio Thein Aung adopted the nickname "Jimmy Jack" and was sometimes called "the Burmese Texan." You could imagine him doing offhand versions of themes to TV and movie westerns like Rawhide and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. A track by Khun Khang Kay Maung reminds mein its melody but not its rhythmof plaintive reggae by the likes of Keith & Tex and Desmond Dekker, though I have no idea if the resemblance is a coincidence.
Now, having told you all that, I recommend that you disregard what I just said. The feel of this music is entirely Asian, with vocals that rise to a ringing high pitch, and sad little descentsor singing that stays gentle while the guitars scale heights and plunge. And while '60s rock was the invention of inspired kids, this music sounds like adults making their way. Not that it's sedate or negligiblein fact, it's amazing from start to finish and is of a quality that can match any rock made anywhere. One performer here, Khun Paw Yann, ranks with the best and most impassioned singers I've heard in my life. He's got a wailnot always a sad one, and he doesn't overdo it into wetness; he'll go soft while his guitarist runs bittersweet little ringlets around him. This leaves a haunting afterglow.
Compiler Alan Bishop could find no information about Khun Paw Yann other than that his surname identifies his ethnic group as the Pa'o: "Why no one else from outside the Burmese community has spoken about this music for the past 35 years is unbelievable."