Sounds of East, West to converge in ArtPower concerts at UC San Diego in La Jolla

Dengue Fever performs Khmer pop — an Asian mash-up of rock, soul and Latin music.
(Photo by Marc Walker)

There will be some interesting East-meets-West sounds on the UC San Diego campus this fall, mixing progressive jazz with traditional South Indian music, 1960s Cambodian pop with American and British indie rock, Filipino folk music with Los Angeles electronica and hip-hop. If you’re a fan of global music, here are three ArtPower shows you won’t want to miss.

1) Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition, with Rez Abbasi on guitar and Dan Weiss on drums. (8 p.m. Oct. 8, The Loft, tickets $23-$35)

Rudresh Mahanthappa is a multi-award-winning saxophonist who was born in Italy, raised in Colorado, and educated at the Berklee School of Music, where he began combining his love of jazz with the influences of traditional Carnatic music from his parents’ native South India.

He is now Director of Jazz Studies at Princeton University, lives in New York City, and tours widely, fusing his “mind-bending jazz rhythms” with South Asian soul.

2) Dengue Fever (8 p.m. Nov. 5, Price Center Ballroom, tickets $20)

L.A.-based Dengue Fever began its rise in 2002, a few years after keyboardist Ethan Holtzman and his brother Zac, a guitarist, fell in love with vintage Cambodian rock on a trip to Southeast Asia.

They invited saxophonist David Ralicke, drummer Paul Dreux Smith and bassist Senon Williams to join them in creating something new. When they heard Chhom Nimol singing at a Cambodian nightclub in Long Beach called the Dragon House, they knew they’d found their vocalist.

Nimol, a star in her native Cambodia, had just moved to California, and didn’t even speak English. Since she came on board, they’ve turned their mixture of garage rock and 1960s Khmer pop music into something big, on a series of albums, television shows and films.

What is Khmer pop?

An Asian-flavored mash-up of rock, soul and Latin sounds from Western hit-makers, it swept the country until Pol Pot’s brutal regime took over in the mid-1970s, and the music and musicians were consigned to the killing fields.

Dengue Fever has given Khmer pop new life, and vice versa. Says Williams: “Before it was partly Cambodian and partly indie rock, now it’s 100 percent both.” Their ArtPower concert is in partnership with La Jolla Playhouse and the upcoming production (Nov. 12-Dec. 15) of Lauren Yee’s acclaimed play, “Cambodian Rock Band,” a story about survivors that features the band and their music.

3) Gingee (8 p.m. Nov. 21, The Loft, $15)

Gingee is a DJ, percussionist, vocalist and producer who mixes the sounds of L.A. with the influences of her Filipino ancestry, incorporating electronic music with kulintang (Filipino gongs), kettle drums and cowbells, and adding poetry and rap. She has performed at Coachella, South By Southwest and other festivals, and her irresistible ritmos will have you on your feet, dancing up a storm in The Loft’s intimate setting. A good thing, since this will be a dance concert with very little seating.

IF YOU GO: Call (858) 534-8497 for tickets. For more about ArtPower’s 2019-2020 season, visit

Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition: Dan Weiss, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Rez Abbasi
(Photo by Ethan Levitas)