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Successfully Yours

Pattaya Inquisition

Greg Carroll

If it was ever said of anybody that they followed their star, that person is Greg Carroll. Greg, the entertainment director at the Blues Factory in Walking Street, has really only done one job in his entire life - that of being an entertainer - and every day thanks God for this blessing.

Greg came from California, where he was the fifth child in a family of seven, raised in a single parent household. His mother had been a singer in a band, who in her prime shared the stage with such luminaries as Stan Kenton and Tommy Dorsey, but by the time young Greg came along life was a struggle and if it had not been for the charity of the local church, Xmas would have been a very miserable time.

He did not enjoy his education, “My main interest was in getting out of school as quickly as possible.” By the time he left he was already playing in high school “garage bands”, entertaining people with his prowess on the harmonica. He remembers that first instrument, “I bought it for one dollar when I was 13 years old and borrowed the money from my Mom.” He also played in clubs where he would sneak in and out through the back door, being too young to officially be there, and would play with people such as Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin.

At this time, America was drafting their young people for Vietnam, but Greg, somewhat of a “hippy”, was not suitable as front-line fighting fodder so spent the next two years in Alternative Service. Here he helped look after handicapped children. What did he do? He entertained them, played music for them and taught them music and dance.

After that he was 20 years old and began playing legitimately, with he and another musician entertaining in a steak house and getting $15 per night which they split between them. They were popular and increased the steak house bar trade, so Greg brought in a bass player, bought a set of conga drums and increased his band.

It did not stop there. With his mother’s encouragement he bought his own sound system and began to offer the venues a complete entertainment package. He formed the Katz ‘n Jammers, a band that was to become locally famous in California for the next ten years. He taught himself to sing, as no one else wanted to be the front man, as well as playing his harmonica, flute and percussion.

The members of the band prospered, if they were careful, but not Greg who lived for the day only. However, the US economy was starting to slow down and now forty years old, he had to reduce the size of the band and life became very tough. He was married and divorced twice, he lost houses and cars, but he was still an entertainer. In the space of one week he was diagnosed with a heart irregularity, he got divorced and was declared bankrupt.

He rang his elder brother Wes, a construction engineer working in Malaysia, “Wes, I need a break, man.” (Even in his speech Greg was still a hippy.) Wes told him to come on over for a month. That month has never ended - Greg Carroll has never been back to America since.

In Malaysia he immediately went back into the music scene, entertaining in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Indonesia and then six years ago played in Bangkok for two months. He was back eighteen months later playing in a big band, the Zoot Suits. “Being a harmonica player is a little unique. Being proficient in it is even more unique!” he said with a grin.

From Bangkok it was down to Pattaya and in the past eighteen months Greg has played in all the local outlets. That was up till three months ago when he took on the role as entertainment director at the new Blues Factory, a venue that he wants to make, “The number 1 alternative musically. I want to push more Blues and R&B. There’s a market for it,” he said with obvious excitement and enthusiasm. That he is a committed musician there is no doubt. “When you’re in this business you live and breathe it.”

He describes himself as having become, “Street smart and sensitive in an insensitive environment.” He acknowledges his debt to his mother and his elder brother Wes, but even more, his gratitude to his Creator. “I thank God for the gifts I have been given, and I thank God even more for the hardships because they taught me more. When I’m up there playing and the notes are sounding so good, every day I thank God for this blessing.”

Greg Carroll believes that for him, success has come through personal re-evaluation. “Through re-inventing yourself through every style of music and even your clothes you keep your batteries charged.”

His advice to a young fellow thinking that they too might like a life on stage is, “Don’t be afraid. Experience the exhilaration of what it feels like to play with a band.” That exhilaration is still very much there for Greg Carroll and he even gets passionate while talking about it.

Greg is a man who has now emerged from the hippy era with a good understanding of himself and where he is in life. “Call me the nature lover, the inquisitive, the surfer and power walker - that’s me.” But it really is not the complete picture. Greg Carroll is a sensitive thinker but one who is above all, an entertainer.

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Pattaya Inquisition

by the Pattaya Interrogator

Greg Watkins has lived permanently in Thailand since December 1991. He is executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT), a position he has held since January 1997. The BCCT’s Eastern Seaboard Committee was formed nearly four years ago by Graham Macdonald, Peter Currie, Chris Ulyatt and Greg and it has gone from strength to strength since then. Greg also sits on the executive committees of the British Community in Thailand Foundation for the Needy (BCTFN) and the Thailand Business Coalition on AIDS (TBCA). His interests include football - playing and watching (he supports Leeds United) and good rock music.

PI: How are you and the world getting along?

GW: Fine thanks.

PI: How long have you known Pattaya?

GW: About 12 years.

PI: Where is your spiritual home?

GW: Caterham, Surrey in the green belt around London - clean air, lots of fields and 30 minutes from London.

PI: What CD are you most proud of in your collection?

GW: Big Country – Come Up Screaming Live. If you like guitar-based live rock music, buy it (

PI: How are you at cooking for yourself?

GW: Not bad. I can follow instructions on a tin. Also my dad was a Master Baker (that’s with a silent ‘t’ in Baker).

PI: Are you happy in your career?

GW: Relatively. Happy to be working in Thailand.

PI: If you had to take over somebody else’s life, who would you pick?

GW: My Chairman – that would be fun. I wonder whether I’d be any good at managing myself.

PI: What are you like in the bathroom?

GW: Large and occasionally religious.

PI: What is it about you that is the most controversial?

GW: My rapidly increasing waistline, or is it my incredible shrinking trousers?

PI: When was the last time you cried at a movie?

GW: When my better half accidentally poked me in the eye.

PI: If you could have a dinner party with 4 people from the present or the past who would you invite?

GW: Michael Caine – great actor and a good cook apparently, Eric Clapton for the music, George Best for football chat and the booze and Ronnie Barker for laughs.

PI: Where are you coming from & where are you going?

GW: Bangkok/Bangkok

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