Lay Phyu & Chit San Maung

In some countries big disasters always seem to be followed by big charity songs, the type where a whole lot of famous but not necessarily talented people sway backwards and forwards together and try to look sincere about donating their time and vocal chords for a good cause. But that a group of popular singers in Myanmar have managed to put out a music video to raise funds for the victims of Cyclone Nargis is something new.

The guy reported to have organized it is Lay Phyu, who for around a decade has been among the top-selling musicians there. That’s him above at left. The song makes a change from his usual covers of bands like Metallica and 3 Doors Down. Other high profile singers on the video include his brother, Ahnge, and Myo Gyi, who has pride of place on the new Square Table icon at New Mandala.

Of course, the video’s up on YouTube. (Lay Phyu and Myo Gyi don’t appear until about the four-and-a-half minute mark, so if you’re into those two then you may want to skip forward.)

Apart from the song, the other hot news is that Lay Phyu is due to appear in concert later this month. He’s been off the circuit for about three years and inevitably there are lots of rumors about that. Officially, he decided to hang up the microphone when he turned 40, but many people think that he was banned. Like quite a few other vocalists, including some in the urban hip hop scene, Lay Phyu sings songs that have a strong anti-establishment subtext and feel. Fans will recall the Butterfly album from a few years back, which had numbers on it like the one about only wanting new stuff and getting rid of the old stuff, which ends with the chorus over and over of “new shirt, new pants, new dreams, new ideas”. And just about everybody heard of the famous fourth album, which was pulled from the shelves after censors realized too late that Power 54 referred to the house number of a certain Nobel Prize winner.

The concert is scheduled for August 24, at the Thuwanna indoor stadium. It will also feature Myo Gyi, Ahnge and Wai Wai back together with Iron Cross, led by the incomparable Chit San Maung, who’s to the right of Lay Phyu above. So if you’re in Yangon and have the money for this sort of thing, then it sounds like a show not to miss. Just be prepared for some heavy security: an Iron Cross performance in April nearly ended in a riot.

If you can’t make it on the night then there’s still YouTube. Here’s a good recent track: Estranger, or “outcast”. See for yourself.

And what with all the great entertainment news, the only thing yet to be revealed is who is getting the proceeds from the song and concert, and how they’re really going to be spent…