Good music and hotel lounges are not just an oxymoron; they are very often nowhere to be found.
I know that W in New York tried to change this perception by hiring a Music Creative Director, but how they are faring is anyone’s guess.
In Asia, music in hotels means hiring an attractive female chanteuse- usually a Filipina- and having her sing some Norah Jones covers and anything that is not too gaga.
After all, some old guys are hired to back her up and they can barely make it onto the stage.
You want them to perform something strenuous and do themselves some serious harm by trying an acoustic piano and double bass version of “Judas”?
Sure what they perform is boring, bland shit, with the singer hired more as eye candy than anything else.
She’s there doing Okay versions of popular Adult Contemporary songs- the obligatory “New York, New York” and “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”- for all those lonely, horny male tourists who think they have a chance with her and who come back night after night, have drink after drink and bumble their way through cliché-riddled chat-up lines that go nowhere.
At least the one-time head of EMI who when at the Champagne at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong and smitten by the resident singer at the Champagne Bar, screamed, “I have THE POWER to make you a star!” tried a more different tact. Or tack-y. He was also soon on his bike.
So, when walking into the Four Season’s very popular Blue Bar in Hong Kong and watching a trio being given all the freedom to create their own music and let it take you wherever it might go, well, that was a pleasant surprise.
The group is a make-shift one called Goodlife and comprising singer Gigi Marentette, saxophonist Blaine Whittaker and keyboardist Jeff Young aka “J Styles- and they played together for the first time last Friday from 6pm to midnight. (They will be playing there on Fridays and Saturdays for the next few weeks]
It was a very smooth jam- an impromptu musical journey and with no Norah Jones cover within sniffing distance.
For a first night featuring three musicians just going with the flow, it was great and something that only improve and get better and become more musically adventurous.
Whoever at the Four Seasons who took the chance to go with this idea of having these three musos simply hit a groove and riff on it and explore the musical possibilities should be applauded.
It certainly makes the safe ways which many music companies still hang on to look lame and archaic.
Yes, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia are now seeing a new breed of concert promoters bringing in International acts who would never have bothered with this region before.
Okay, some come over with the daft notion of cracking “the China music market”, but others make those usual 4-5 regional stops which beats the hell outta twiddling one’s thumb and waiting for the economy in the West to improve. It won’t. Not for a very long time.
But it’s the local acts which interest me- a band like Killer Soap, a duo like The Weathering- and what they are doing to make themselves heard and who is supporting others like them.
Already, the one-time stodgy Hong Kong Jockey Club has started up a series titled Music Rocks The Valley and which brings together local bands, horse racing, and a great atmosphere, all at the incredibly unique Happy Valley racetrack.
With the Jockey Club re-opening the venue known as Adrenaline, this should mean another new venue for local acts- and new venues mean new opportunities for local talent.
Like the For Seasons and its Blue Bar and the above-mentioned initiative by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, it’s these new supporters of music who interest me.
All local music industries need support in the way of venues and gigs which PAY.
Being an opening act for Grade A headliners mean nothing.
It’s only good for the CV and hype.
The Blue Bar, the Hong Kong Jockey Club and others outta left field are those who with the money and who will be the real game changers.
By doing what they have been doing and taking these initiatives further, they’ll show those actually IN music how sadly lacking they are in balls and brains.