Boneyard Media

Archive for the ‘China’ Category

China Tour’s a wrap

Monday, June 1st, 2009


I’m back in the USA again after a 17-day tour including Beijing, Harbin, Shanghai, Wuxi, Guiyang, Guangzhou, and Zhuhai, which is a bit too much to process at the moment. But here’s a top ten in no order:

1 – The enormity of Zhonghua (that means “China” in Mandarin) and my minute-by-minute perspective shifts.

2 – Guangzhou, as in I-Heart-Guangzhou, where I played a proper bar gig and had big fun at the Ping Pong Art Space.

3 – Checking out the Dragon Boat Races in the Panyu district – an adequate fix, being so far removed from the stock car action back home – and being interviewed about it on TV.

4 – The bizarre mixture of keystone kop driving and complete lack of road rage.

5 – The fabulous Free Sound Record shop in Beijing – the oasis for Chinese independent music – where I once again found everything I wanted and got hooked up with everything I hadn’t known I wanted.

6 – Bad luck highlight: leaving my camera at the very tail end of my tour in a Beijing taxi.

7 – All the kids from northern Harbin all the way down to southern Zhuhai, who turned up and tuned in and made the entire experience such a pleasure.

8 – All the American and Chinese foreign service officers who knew how to take such good care of a lowly folk singer.

9 – Squid, jellyfish, eel, sea cucumber, preserved goose eggs, and turtle blood noodles, to name just a few.

10 – “Hǎo yī duǒ měi lì de mò li huā…”

Inside China today

Thursday, May 21st, 2009


I’ve just gone off to China again, this time courtesy of the US Embassy, giving little performances and talks (mostly to university audiences) about definitions and functions of American folk music. Most of the programs end up being 50% talking and 50% singing/playing, with lively Q and A at the end.

I’m really reveling in the hodgepodge aspects of the programs, playing Cajun, Tex Mex, ragtime, Hawaiian, bluegrass, and tossing in a few of my own – and to such receptive audiences, to boot. A recent one in Harbin featured an ad hoc classical guitar showcase featuring me and one of the audience members.

The audiences have been a real delight – enthusiastic, interested and intelligent – and their perspectives are so different. (Campfire songs? Johnny Cash? Better explain a little bit.) I’m also trying to take full advantage of the opportunity to investigate more Chinese rock/folk/pop and to understand how some of the stuff I’ve gotten into ranks according to the tastes of these college kids.

Two of my favorite unexpected post-program questions:

Audience member: “I’m very surprised that you didn’t mention the famous American song ‘Copacabana’ in your presentation.”
Me (busted): (Break into an a cappella rendition of “Copacabana,” which I happen to love.)

Audience member: “I was hoping you would explain why the Backstreet Boys are no longer popular in America.”
Me: “They still reign supreme in the charts of our hearts.”

Abandoned wonderland in Changping

Sunday, October 26th, 2008


In the middle of the hazy Chinese countryside about 40 km NW of Beijing stands this pretty creepy, never-finished amusement park. I’ve come to find out it was meant to be called “Wonderland” and was abandoned 12 years ago. The skeletal junior Neuschwanstein pictured here is imposing enough, but there’s much more to it than this mere sample. Really, it’s virtually impossible not to screech to a dead halt when the whole spread comes into view. Thanks to a contributor at the Urban Exploration Resource, you can browse through a photo gallery (scroll down and find “photo galleries”) culminating in a snapshot of a girl with a gun. There’s a so-bad-its-great movie plot in there somewhere.

Free Sound Records (Fu Sheng Chang Pian)

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008


Got back from Beijing late Monday and when the wheels touched ground I heard Chuck Berry in my head right on cue (“oh well, oh well, I feel so good today…”). In truth, though, I would have gladly spent another few months.

So here’s the deal with record shopping in that enormous city – it ain’t easy because you can count the only worthwhile shops on one hand. If you’re looking for good, homegrown Chinese yaogun (rock), then, I’d recommend blowing all your RMB at Free Sound Records. It’s on the southeast corner of the Ping’anli intersection right there by the “guitar street” (where, if you’re like me, you’ll salivate over all the pipas, guzhengs, and erhus). Anyway, it’s a little nook but it’s got everything worth a Mandarin hoot. I went looking mostly for Xiao He, Wild Children, and other folk rock stuff, but came back not only with all that but also a whole sackful of other goodies from Cui Jian to Carsick Cars. The staff (two people) is beyond helpful, and I’ll always be grateful to them for not letting me leave without the full discography of Zhou Yunpeng, who I’m ready to start a fan club for.

(Fu Sheng Chang Pian, XiCheng District, Di An Men Xi Da Jie, No. 40 SE corner of Ping’anli intersection, 6613-6182. Again, that’s where Xinjiekou – “guitar street” – intersects with the intersection called Ping’anli. Ah, this feels so travel writer-ish.)

ActiveChinese – Learn Chinese Christmas Video (2006)

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

After hearing the ringtone here, I may decide to use one.