(Photograph by Bernie Basley)
Keith Nolan appears in Chapter 1, page 1 and paragraph 1 of my book Bangkok Beat. That should come as no great surprise as Keith Nolan appears at a lot of places in Bangkok, Thailand as well as many other venues throughout the Kingdom. He has toured extensively throughout Southeast Asia for over two decades. There may be a harder working man in Bangkok show business but I have yet to meet him.
It’s been said you never get a second chance to make a first impression. It’s been over three years now since I first met Keith. I lumbered into Checkinn99 on a Sunday afternoon as a complete unknown and Keith made a memorable, and favorable, impression on me. When I would return he would remember me. The smile and interest were always genuine. Sure, he had a job to do but he found time to enjoy that job and enjoy the people and music around him as well.
In addition to his regular Sunday gig at Checkinn99 where he jams with the ever flowing jazz musicians, he also takes over General Manager responsibilities for Chris Catto-Smith that day to give Chris some needed time with with his wife, Mook and family, before Keith heads out to his second Sunday gig at Spasso at the Grand Hyatt Erawan. Keith plays Hammond organ and sings vocals for his Blues band, Keith Nolan’s Love Gone Wrong,(now called Cotton Mouth )which makes many weekly appearances at popular nightlife venues in Bangkok, including Apoteka on Sukhumvit Soi 11, Whisgars on Sukhumvit 23, Vertigo Bar at The Banyan Tree on Sathorn Road, and Molly Malone’s Irish Pub on Soi Convent to name just some. When he’s not playing the classically trained musician is composing, either for his corporate clients or for his own creative streaming sales. He’s written everything from New Age, to Funk, Blues, Spa music, and Horror movie background tunes.
Keith Nolan loves everything he does, even when it goes wrong, and that includes his main passion, the Blues. As Keith states, “The Blues is a state of mind!” The Dublin, Ireland native has lived in Bangkok, Thailand for 16 years but counts many friends throughout the world. His 5 years in Vietnam and 10 years living in Australia added heavily to his ample friend base. He is the antithesis of the musician joke: he’s a successful musician and a successful entrepreneur. If you have ever seen and heard Keith play it is a given that he is an artist as well. A perfect blend of talent and showmanship. There is plenty of steak and sizzle on his very full plate. Keith’s regular band mates include James Bell on bass / backing vocals, and Andy Lymn on drums. Additional musicians that have appeared with Keith and the band, first formed in 2002, include Warren Fryer, Wing Jinggit, Sawai, Takashi, John Dooley, Nils Anderson, and Anton Fenech.
In his spare time (unlike the masses, Keith appears not to need sleep ) he keeps busy with not one but two cable T.V. shows. The main purpose of this blog post is to focus on Keith’s latest cable T.V venture, Beyond the Lines, where Keith interviews many notable authors who either make Bangkok their home or live and write extensively about the City of Angels. I thought it would be beneficial for the readers of Thailand Footprint to have access to all of the interviews Keith has done in one blog post.
Keith Nolan is one of the most likable people I have met in my fifteen years in Thailand. Maybe it’s as simple as the Irish accent. In a city which can lack humility yet be short on talent, Keith has plenty of both. Refreshing in this day and age of Kanye West like personalities.
I best get on with the show. I present to you, in reverse chronological order, the interviews of Keith Nolan for his cable T.V. Show, Beyond the Lines with my short commentary on each interview:
It could be because this is Keith’s most recent interview but I feel this is the most interesting one in the series so far. Joe Cummings doesn’t give a lot of television interviews and authors, by their own admission, are not always the most interesting people in the world on camera, but you get the feeling that Keith got Joe in his comfort zone, perhaps because they are both capable musicians, more likely because they are long-time friends who have shared stages as well as the trials, joys, and tribulations of being expats in multiple countries for seven plus decades between them. Joe is most widely known as the Lonely Planet Travel Guide writer for many years and the author of the critically acclaimed, Sacred Tattoos of Thailand which includes the terrific photographs of the late Dan White. Joe has over 40 books to his list of credits – all in the non-fiction variety. The U.C. Berkeley grad and former Peace Corps volunteer recounts many Lonely Planet memories, his flirtations with the world of fiction, and provides his take on the literary 1%. Dizzy Dean once said, “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s the truth”, and Joe Cummings speaks the truth in a very candid 20 + minute interview.
Hugh Gallagher is man of many talents and alter egos. He once took the stage of the Apollo Theater in Harlem as a pop star from Antwerp named Von Von Von and killed it – check it out on YouTube. How many white guys do you know who have appeared center stage at the Apollo? In this interview Hugh talks with Keith mostly about his latest book, Yo Ching: Ancient Knowledge for Streets Today. Published less than a year ago, it has its true believers and has been chalking up 5 Star Reviews at Amazon. Find out about True Player and more with Hugh and Keith.
Jim Newport has worked in Hollywood as an Emmy nominated production designer for both film and television. He is best known for his Vampire of Siam Series. In this interview Jim talks about his latest novel, Yankee Dragon with Keith. Jim also shares a passion for the Blues and performs as a Blues singer under the name Jimmy Fame in Phuket. Over the years he has toured with Eric Burdon and The Animals, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Robben Ford. Jim is a regular performer at the Phuket International Blues Festival.
One year ago I had the opportunity to interview John Burdett for the Bangkok Post. John has a sharp mind to say the least. He is best known for his Sonchai Jitpleecheep Royal Thai Police Detective series, which started with Bangkok 8. The most recent in the series is The Bangkok Asset, which took a futuristic, science fiction turn. I thought it was the best in the six novel series, other readers thought the sci fi turn was too severe for their liking. John enjoys a large and international audience with a loyal following.
What’s not to like about Dean Barrett? Erudite, self-deprecating, talented, and honest. As I wrote in Bangkok Beat he writes mysteries, among many other types of books, but he’s not mysterious. Dean remembers a different Bangkok but he’s too busy enjoying the present to be a bitter Bob of an expat. As Dean says he’s seen Thailand through many eyes. Dean has been a writer, a photographer, a traveler, a military man, and a poet. His latest novel is Pop Daryl’s Last Case, set in New York City, which is one of my favorites. It still has an Asian angle with Chinese legends and Gods involved. Dean and Keith have a comfortable conversation as they recap the decades that Dean has spent in Thailand and how it might be difficult to return to a normal society.
The one and only Jerry Hopkins sits down with Keith. Jerry is now 80 years old, he has dual legendary status in the U.S.A. and Thailand. The one time correspondent and two stint contributing editor for Rolling Stone Magazine, Jerry is best known for the rock biographies of Jim Morrison of The Doors, Elvis Presley, and Jimi Hendrix. The last time I saw Jerry he was still wearing blue suede shoes. A journalistic pro, Jerry Hopkins lives life to the fullest. Check out Jerry’s author page at Amazon. He doesn’t have a clinker in his entire back list.
Keith sits down with one of the most prolific and well known of the Bangkok based authors, Christopher G. Moore. Christopher has penned over thirty books including the Vincent Calvino Crime Series which has been translated in over a dozen languages and won international awards, including a prestigious Shamus Award for Asia Hand. In addition, Christopher is the author of the well known Smiles trilogy and three books of essays. With a little luck we may be seeing Vincent Calvino in a moving picture in the future. Christopher has seen a lot in his thirty plus years in Bangkok including many technological advancements which he always writes into his novels to perfection.
James A. Newman has tapped out over one million words and ridden many a city bus during his forty trips around the sun. Newman is the author of the Joe Dylan series and will have a new novel released this month by his publishing house, Spanking Pulp Press. The new release is called Fun City Punch, a futuristic look at a Pattaya based city of crime, debauchery and, get this, no money. The father of three boys is dedicated to his craft.
So that’s it. If I forgot anyone, send me an email. I thought there was a Timothy Hallinan interview? Send me the link if it’s out there. And the next time you might think that you are busy, think of Keith Nolan and perhaps think again. I hope you enjoy one or more of these interviews by Keith Nolan for Beyond the Lines. Check out his Facebook page for Cotton Mouth and give it some Like. Or send Keith a Facebook Friend request if you want to keep up with his many gigs or go to Checkinn99 on Sunday afternoon and say hello. He’s friendly enough and the Irish accent is easy on the ears.