is a Thai folk
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...
band that formed out of the 1973 democracy movement. It launched the Phleng pheua chiwit (เพลงเพื่อชีวิต) (songs for life
Phleng phuea chiwit is a music genre first developed in thailand strongly influenced by elements of folk and rock music with a protest theme mainly centred around the hardship of working class people...
) genre that has since been popularized by Carabao
Carabao are a Thai rock band which is very popular in Thailand and other Asian countries. The group was formed in 1976 by university students Yuenyong Opakul and Kirati Promsaka Na Sakon Nakhon who met while studying in the Philippines...
- Surachai "Nga Caravan" Jantimathawn - vocals, acoustic guitar
- Wirasak Sunthawnnsi - guitar, vocals
- Mongkhon Uthok - vocals, phin (a kind of Thai lute), wut (a panpipe-like Thai instrument), harmonica
- Thongkran Thana - lead guitar, slide guitar, violin, vocals
Surachai Jantimatawn was the band's primary vocalist and songwriter. He also played guitar. Wirasak Suntornsii played guitar and also did occasional bass and lead vocals. Mongkhon Uthok sang lead and played phin
The phin is a type of lute originating in Isan with a pear-shaped body played by mostly Ethnic Laotians in Thailand and Laos, having frets on the neck over which two or three metal strings run, plucked by pick of the right hand while playing.-External links:...
(a Thai stringed instrument), harmonica, wut (a panpipe-like Thai instrument) and saw (the Thai version of the Chinese erhu violin). Thongkran Thana played violin, slide guitar, as well as lead guitar in the band's later, electric incarnations. They were often joined by Phongthep Kradonchamnan, later a well-known phleng pheua chiwit artist in his own right, on Thai percussion, flute and vocals.
Caravan was known for combining Thai and Western folk music in arrangements dominated by acoustic guitars, but spiced up with Uthok's use of traditional Thai instruments, as well as frequent use of Thai-style percussion. Most of their Thai-influenced songs took the form of folk ballads, but they also made frequent use of the faster and more percussive "Maw Lam" rhythms. In their early days, they often took melodies directly from American and British folk songs like "Song to Woody" "Yellow Bird" "John Barleycorn Must Die" and "A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall" and adapted them with political lyrics in Thai. Their later music sometimes had a noticeable country music influence in songs like "Num Phanejawn" and "Fon Thewa," although as a whole, the influence of Western folk diminished as their career went on. When the band went electric, it expanded its range of sound to include influences of rock, reggae, folk music from other Asian countries, and a wider range of Thai musical styles.
The founders of Caravan, Surachai Jantimathawn ("Nga Caravan") and Wirasak Sunthawnsi, were student activists at Ramkhamhaeng University
Ramkhamhaeng University is one of two open universities in Thailand. The university was named in honor of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great of Sukhothai, who traditionally is credited for creating the Thai alphabet....
at a time when the student movement was instrumental in toppling the dictatorial regime of Thanom Kittikachorn
Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn was a military dictator of Thailand. A staunch anti-Communist, Thanom oversaw a decade of military rule in Thailand from 1963 to 1973, until public protests which exploded into violence forced him to step down...
. They sympathasized with the working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...
A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, who raises living organisms for food or raw materials, generally including livestock husbandry and growing crops, such as produce and grain...
s in Northeast Thailand
Isan is the northeastern region of Thailand. It is located on the Khorat Plateau, bordered by the Mekong River to the north and east, by Cambodia to the southeast and the Prachinburi mountains south of Nakhon Ratchasima...
. They were soon joined by Mongkhon Uthok and Thongkran Thana.
One of the band's most popular songs is "Khon Kap Khwai" ("Man and Buffalo"), which rhapsodizes the relationship of rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...
farmers and their water buffalo, but with the lyrics that include "Come, let's go now! Come, let's go! Carry our plows and guns to the fields!", it was also a political statement by lyricists Somkit Singson and Visa Kantap, who were both critical of the Thanom regime. Other songs condemned the presence of the US military
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...
Early albums included Khon Kap Khwai
(1975) and Amerikan Antarai
(1976) and Ruam Botpleng Sipsee Tulaa Siphok Vol. 2
(A Collection Of Songs For 14 October 1973, Vol. 2
After the 6 October 1976 Massacre
The Thammasat University Massacre, or Massacre of 6 October 1976 , was an attack on students and protesters that occurred on the campus of Thammasat University and at Sanam Luang in Bangkok. Students from various universities were demonstrating against the return to Thailand of Field Marshal...
, student activists, including members of Caravan, fled to the countryside and neighboring Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...
, taking shelter with the Communist Party of Thailand
The Communist Party of Thailand - CPT was a Marxist-Leninist, Communist political party in Thailand, active from 1942 until the 1990s. Initially known as Communist Party of Siam the party was founded officially on the 1st of December 1942, although communist activism in the country began as early...
. After amnesty was declared in 1979, the band's members gradually returned from exile and by 1982 it had released the album Deuan Phen
). Other albums followed, including Khon Ti Lek
, 1983) and Live at the 50th Anniversary of Thammasat University
In the mid 80's, the band went electric, adding a bassist and drummer for studio and live performances. The electric period, starting with the album 1985
included one of the bands best-known songs "Dawk Mai Hai Khun" ("Flowers For You") which was a Thai-language adaptation of Okinawan musician Shoukichi Kina
, born June 10, 1948 in Koza , Okinawa, is an Okinawan rock musician who, along with his band Champloose, played a large role in the Japanese home-grown "folk rock" scene in the 70s and 80s. His first big hit was "Haisai Ojisan" in 1972, which he wrote when he was in high school...
's international hit "Subete no Hito no Kokoro ni Hana o." 3 more electric albums followed, including Khon Klai Baan
A concert album, Live in Japan at Taku Taku
(1988) showed that the band's influence was growing outside Thailand.
Sunthawnsi left the band after the Khon Klai Ban
album and was not replaced. At the end of the 1980s, the band decided to break up and staged a series of acoustic farewell concerts, joined again by Sunthawnsi, as well as frequent collaborator Phongthep Kradonchamnan and percussionalist Ut Yannawa, who had played drums and percussion on the band's electric albums.
Since then, the band has reunited a number of times to play live concerts, although they have recorded very little new music since the 1990s, with only two new albums Klap Ma Thoet
) in the past two decades.