Samui Wining & Dining
COLOR ME BOB
When it comes to local colour, it’s hard to beat Bob Wiedijk, the ‘human jukebox’!


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It all depends on what you want. A part of this is about where you go, too. As a visitor, touring about the bars and hotspots of Chaweng in search of beer and foot tapping, the chances are that you’re going to miss-out to a certain extent. However, if you’re a) here for more than ten days or b) feel the need for more than just the Soi Green Mango experience, then we’ve got some common ground. Because, once you go outside of Chaweng, a whole new vista opens up. Although you need to know where to go and where to look.

      Of course we’re not just talking about a stroll down Chaweng’s famous Beach Road, where new-release DVDs vie with tooting taxis for dominance. We’re on about the real island life – and, yes, there absolutely is life outside of Chaweng, as a multitude of folks have discovered to their karmic and financial benefit.

It’s only about ten wheeled-minutes to Fisherman’s Village. And, within a spit of that, there’s the whole of Bangrak Beach to the east and all of Maenam in the opposite direction. Check your map. This is where most of the people who live here tend to hang out. This is where you’ll find the small restaurants and bars that are oh-so-pretty and not in the city, and whose regular

customers mostly live up the road or round the corner, figuratively speaking, on an island that’s only 30 minutes from side to side anyway.

        And this is the main area where you’ll come across ‘Bob Colour’ – although for some Microsoft reason, even though he hails from the Netherlands, he spells it ‘Color’ – but what’s in a name and who cares anyway. One thing that you will discover, if you are for some reason conducting an island-wide project into live music on Samui, is that there isn’t so much of it around. Live bands cost money. For every 4-piece group plus girlie singer, you’ll need a full house just to break even. Even the local boys strumming each night in their garages – off-the-beat and shy that they are – expect a moderate amount of baht-per-head. But Bob Color only has one head, though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. And his total package attracts more fun-per-bar and more value for money than all the rest of the local longhair wannabes tied up together with curly guitar cable. Bob Color is the drinking man’s foot tapper.

          ‘Bob Color’ is Rob Wiedijk. But to say that he performs to recorded backing tracks, karaoke-style, does him zero justice. It’s like saying Mick Jagger’s a singer. And, although today Rob’s now based on Samui and is to be seen around the local pubs ’n clubs, that’s only part of the tale. Back in 1987, the Bob Color Band was formed in Amsterdam, and in the early ’90s went on to become one of the top-selling groups in the Netherlands. The legendary names that the band performed with reads like a Billboard who’s who: Eddy Floyd, Percy Sledge, Junior Walker, Rufus Thomas, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Pretenders, Neneh Cherry, Golden Earring; to name but a few. Add to that seven albums, two gigs at The North Sea Jazz Festival, five appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 25 years of intense international touring, radio and TV appearances all over the world, and a total of around 3,000 performances – and you’ll begin to understand why Rob Wiedijk added ‘Color’ to his name!

          Rob’s now in his 50s and has decided to take it easy. Better make that ‘easier’. Because when you see him performing you’ll definitely want some of whatever he’s on. He packs more motion into a 30-minute set than Usain Bolt heading for the line. One moment he’s pogo-ing near his state-of-the-art digital gear, and the next he’s jiving across your table, growling into his radio mike. His voice is pretty memorable, too. If you take Joe Cocker and add a touch of Ray Charles and then combine that with a blend of Otis Redding and Tom Jones, then that’s beginning to get close. Altogether, he’s an unforgettable entertainer.

          It was nine years ago that Rob decided to ‘retire’ from the band circuit. He landed in Phuket for a break, but it didn’t take long before he was performing at venues such as the Holiday Inn, Patong Beach Hotel, Sheraton Grande Laguna, Meridien, Novotel, The Chedi and Amanpuri, plus no doubt a couple of dozen bars and clubs, too. In 2005 he made the move to Samui and almost overnight became firmly embedded into the local music scene. There’s actually a significant number of pro-musicians based here and, as well as his presence as a ‘human jukebox’, Rob’s quite often to be seen performing live with ex hit-parade legends from England, Germany, America or his native Holland. Off-stage Rob is humorous, gruff-but-gentle, and a dedicated father and family man. But as a human jukebox he’s equally as diverse and has compiled two distinct packages – one bouncy and one mellow, depending on the event. He’s a popular choice for weddings and anniversary or birthday parties, and has a comprehensive menu of titles on offer. Another appreciable talent he has is to be able to gauge the audience and soothe or stimulate, according to what’s needed.

          You’ll be able to catch Bob bouncing at any one of a number of venues around the island. He has a regular spot every Thursday evening at Rendez Vous in Maenam’s popular Walking Street, and Tuesdays he’s to be seen at Navigator in Fisherman’s Village. Sunday’s he’s usually at the Secret Garden in Bangrak. Other appearances are more sporadic but are likely to include Zico’s Brazilian Grill & Bar in Chaweng and both of the Anantara resorts (Chaweng and Bophut).

          But the best thing to do is to explore his web site, where his life and times are laid out in detail, including specifics of what he’s able to offer. And for a more immediate list of appearances, check out his Facebook page. He’s a jiver and a crooner. He’s a madman. He’s a soul man. Some say he’s a lover and a midnight toker. He’s always a joker. He’s both a rocker and a human jukebox. He’s undeniable. But he’s nothing, if not – Bob Color!

 

 Rob De Wet


 


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