The smoky, soulful vocals of Filipino native Juram Gavero return to The FCC Phnom Penh this weekend. The singer-songwriter plays one show Saturday night, Dec 3.
Based in Saigon, Juram has in recent years become something of a regular on the Phnom Penh live music scene, where he has steadily built a loyal following.
At a previous solo show at Chow, the bar’s front doors were opened to let the music pour into the street. People walking past couldn’t help but stop and take note of Juram’s deep, powerful vocals.
Yet for a lead singer with an award-winning voice, the 32-year-old Juram remains remarkably humble. He refuses to skate on talent alone — although anyone who has heard him sing knows he could do just that. The foundation of his success, he says, comes from being an entertainer first, not a singer.
“When people tell you, oh, you sing so well, you have such a great voice, you can’t listen to that stuff,” he says. “You can’t let that go to your head.”
Soothing his vocal chords with a glass of red wine, Juram says the audience is the most important part of any gig and connecting with the crowd is his number one priority. He makes eye contact with everyone who walks through the door, and between sets, he likes to mingle with the crowd, shaking hands and making friends.
While many musicians often play from a prepared song list, Juram the entertainer lets serendipity and intuition lead the direction of his shows.
“I study the rhythm of the people,” he says.
He likes to play a few songs and see how people react, then let the energy of the crowd guide him.
Juram plays mostly rock ‘n’ roll classics, but like every good musician, he is well-versed in the standards of other genres as well, and he is comfortable playing everything from Johnny Cash to Metallica.
Raised in Mindanao, Juram first left the Philippines in 1998 at the age of 20. His band, named Juram, had just won a nation-wide battle of the bands contest, and the grand prize was guaranteed work on either a cruise ship or in Singapore.
He says life on a boat did not appeal to him, so he hopped the flight to Singapore. When the gig was up, he followed some friends to Vietnam, where he is now a fixture in Saigon’s live music scene.
“Music is my passion,” he says. “If the sound is right, and I am sitting with the right people, I can play until morning.”