French trio brings the blues to Vietnam

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Audiences in Vietnam are in for a rare treat as French trio, Roland Tchakounte, will perform at the Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City on October 14 and in Hanoi on October 15-16.

The trio, consisting of members Roland Tchakounte on vocals, Mick Ravassat on guitar and Mathias Bernheim on percussion, last visited the capital city in 2008.

This time round, they will bring with them a repertoire of new songs that promise to fulfill the musical longings of audiences craving something a little different from the norm.

Roland Tchakounte formed seven years ago. Together, the band plays a mixture of African American Blues and Jazz at clubs in Paris including New Morning and Sunset Jazz. The trio has also performed at international music festivals like Chicago Blues Festival and Montreal Festival.

Their story is a compelling one. Roland Tchakounte is originally from Cameroon. Growing up, his life was a struggle with seven siblings and his parents fleeing rural life. Tragedy hit the Tchakountes when their makeshift shop burnt down. Things were never the same afterwards as his parents lost their spirit of survival as well as their savings.

Tchakounte made it to France in 1989. Life didn't get much easier as he started out playing on the streets. He remembers, "[It] was a good experience. The street is the best school for artists. I now have no problem playing on stage. It's something natural and I feel fearless when performing."

It is perhaps this life experience that has led to his songs being filled with despair, questions, hope and philosophy. Through his music, Roland Tchakoute tells his own story. His inspiration comes from American and African music legacies which he merges to form his individual take on blues.

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