The Pattaya City Expats Club often features a Words & Music presentation by those involved in the Pattaya music scene. At their meeting on May 24, it was a very musical morning when the main presenter Ken Minahan, aka Snowman, on guitar brought along two compatriots to join him, Greg Carroll on harmonica and Paul Rosenberg, a previous Words & Music presenter, on saxophone. So, it was a morning filled with Blues music as well as some of Ken and Greg’s history.
Without a preamble, the presentation started with a musical number sung by Ken accompanied by Greg. Afterward, Ken explained how Blues music had its origins with Africans sold into slavery and working on plantations in the USA’s south. Since their masters prohibited the use of drums, they communicated using a form of shouted out calls and responses (field hollers). Blues has since evolved from unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves into a wide variety of styles.
Following another song, Ken introduced Greg and asked him to provide some of his background. Greg said he was from California and started playing the harmonica at the age of 13, buying his first one for one dollar. By the time he was 16, he was playing in clubs where he was sneaked in and out through the back door, being too young to officially be there.
He played in a band while in high school and taught himself to sing. At 18, he played on a couple of albums and toured the USA and Canada, with a later trip to Malaysia entertaining in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Indonesia. He then went to Bangkok and later moved to Pattaya entertaining in local outlets until he opened the Blues Factory, where he met Ken who was on vacation and walked in offering to play some Blues.
This was followed by more playing of Blues music with Paul joining in on saxophone. In between songs, Ken spoke about his beginnings and how he went from playing with top 40 music bands to becoming a top rated Blues musician. He said he began playing guitar when he was 13 and by the time, he was 15 he was playing in clubs.
He joined a band in Chicago and they went to perform in New York. Joining another band, he began performing in Los Angeles. The era of this type of band music came to an end when the movie “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) became popular and clubs switched from bands to disk jockeys. He then moved to Las Vegas where he formed a group and played in many smaller clubs which did not have dance floors.
After going back to being a Blues performer, he began to get recognition winning the IBC (International Blues Challenge) and the prestigious B.B. King “Lucille Award”. The doors of the Blues world opened and he played the top blues clubs and festivals in the U.S. and internationally.
Ken said he picked up his “Snowman” name after moving to Miami Beach in 1986. He opened a snow cone business as well as playing at nearby clubs, where some of the audience who apparently recognized him from his shaved ice business and shouted out “it’s the snowman.”
Ken decided to take a vacation to Thailand in 2001 and after being invited to play at the Blues Factory, he continued to perform there for the next 11 years. He currently has a 5 piece band playing at the Turnaround Bar, on 3rd Road just north of Pattaya Klang.
Following the presentations, MC Ren Lexander called on George Wilson to conduct the Open Forum portion of the meeting, where questions are asked or comments made about Expat living in Pattaya and Thailand. To learn more about the PCEC, visit their website at: https://www.pcec.club. To enjoy the music and learn more about the presenters, view the video on the PCEC’s YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFnNJd9TKrY.