Samui Wining & Dining
Agent Provocateur
Managing Samui’s bands and performers is very much a family affair for Paul,
Khun Sim and PJ at ThaiAm Entertainment.

 

Agent ProvocateurSamui has an incredible range of restaurants and bars. And many venues around the island now have live bands and dance shows every night to keep you entertained. But it wasn’t always that way.

 

Back in the late 1990s, American Paul Hawkins and his Thai wife, Khun Sim, were travelling throughout Thailand with a view to semi-retirement. Paul had spent 26 years with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina and four years with the United Nation’s International Police Task Force in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. The couple fell in love with Samui and decided to open the Siam Bar & Grill in the heart of Lamai Beach. Their concept was to have a comfortable air-conditioned restaurant where visitors could enjoy a great meal and be entertained by a live show.

 

At that time, however, there wasn’t much variety in the types of entertainment available on the island and so they started to source bands, singers and acts from around other parts of Asia. But this then presented another set of issues; how to offer a wide selection of acts on the island and make it worthwhile for the performers to stay on Samui. The restaurant could only host a limited number of bands and that led to the creation of ThaiAm Entertainment and Paul and Khun Sim’s new jobs as entertainment agents and managers. “What started out as a search for acts for our restaurant turned into a full-time occupation. There were hundreds of resorts, bars and clubs around the island that were looking to book good quality entertainers on a regular basis. And we were soon getting inquiries from Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi and Had Yai, too. We not only provided a one-stop shop for all different kinds of acts, we also ensured that all non-Thai nationals had the appropriate documentation to work here and had been vetted by us. We did, and still do, travel all over Asia, particularly to the Philippines, looking for new talent. And as this business expanded, any thoughts of semi-retirement soon went out the window; I think we work harder now than ever before!”

 

Paul and Khun Sim started out with just three acts and no clients. Nowadays, though, they regularly book out more than 30 acts and have a client base of more than 100 venues. One of ThaiAm’s early signings has become their flagship talent, the extremely popular Ovada Show Band. Fronted by vocalist and guitarist, ‘Baby’, they’re one of Thailand’s hottest bands and are always fully booked. Originally from the Philippines, they play everything from classic 1960s chart hits to current number ones and every style from soulful ballads to hard rock anthems that have audiences stamping their feet and clapping their hands all night long. The band has been going for more than 20 years and it’s as much their entertainment value as their demonstrable musical talents that have kept them in constant demand.

 

Other ThaiAm bands, such as Night Shift, Climax and Aftershock, are just as popular. And then there are the trios and duos: The Right Track, Locomotion, Divas in Concert and The Vicmar Duo. And talented solo musicians and singers, like Chris Fretwell and George Malcolm from the UK, Australian-born Tappy, Bobby Parrs from Hawaii, English saxophonist Norman King, a whole range of top European and Thai DJ’s and one of the island’s most celebrated acts, Ritchie Newton. ThaiAm also has speciality acts, including a Fire and Dance Show, a Polynesian Dance Show, Traditional Thai Dance Show, a ‘Ladyboy’ Cabaret Show, acrobats, jugglers and even hypnotists.

 

Paul, Khun Sim and many of the acts have also contributed immensely to worthy causes. In 2004/2005, Paul was the President of the Rotary Club of Koh Samui. And in his joint roles he was able to play a major part in a very successful Tsunami Aid Concert. Within 10 days of proposing the event it took place on Samui and the concert alone raised 1.2 million baht for shattered communities on the Andaman coast. Paul and his colleagues in Rotary continued to raise more money and support educational programmes for the island communities of Koh Pratong over the next two years and made life-changing differences for the survivors of the disaster. A few years later Paul and Ritchie Newton collaborated on a second charity concert which raised much needed funds for temple schools on Samui.

 

As their new business developed, Paul and Khun Sim gave up the restaurant and bar. In 2007, Paul’s son PJ joined them and he manages the graphic design and marketing elements of the enterprise. And, more recently, they opened ‘ScoopS’ retro ice-cream parlour in Lamai which Khun Sim manages. “It’s a mix of a modern day coffee shop and old-style American diner from the 1940s and 1950s. We serve Bon Café coffee and freshly-made breakfast items, such as American style waffles and a full range of breakfast sandwiches on croissants, bagels and English muffins. And we have a wonderful range of Bud’s Premium Ice-Cream from San Francisco, California, considered by many to be the best in the world. Plus we make special ice-cream cakes for birthdays and anniversaries, host kids’ parties and always have a range of promotions running.”

 

So much for retiring then! “Yes, we don’t seem to have stopped since settling here. Managing the acts and their bookings has brought a whole new dimension to our lives. We know them all so well and it’s like looking after your family; you want to do the very best for them that you can. And they all work very hard and put on fantastic shows every night, I never tire of seeing them perform.” The venues that they appear at change throughout the year so look out for the posters or contact Paul at www.ThaiAmentertainment.com or on 0 899 098 563 to find out who’s playing and at which venue whilst you’re here.

 

Much has changed on the island since Paul and Khun Sim first arrived. And one of the most welcomed improvements is a far greater choice of top-class entertainment and live bands, which is due, in no small part, to ThaiAm Entertainment. Long may their active involvement in adding to the ‘Samui Success Story’ continue and let’s just hope that their semi-retirement is a long way off.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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