By Hans Ebert

I was listening to the debut record by Hong Kong-based duo The Weathering last week made up of Jeff and Leora Caylor, one of the more inventive musical attempts to come outta this city and which made me think about a few things.

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Mainly, I was wondering why, in a city that offers so much to so many is so tepid, flaccid and arid when it comes to music.

Perhaps it has to do with many of us being bad mentors by being selfish and not offering any guidance to the next generation?

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Perhaps it has to do with the many music “legends” in this town being so busy lining their pockets when running music companies and television and radio stations quashing creativity like a bug as it wouldn’t have gelled with their personal agendas?

Or perhaps, it’s all in the water and which stunts creative?

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The Weathering record is bursting with so much creative from the music to the DIY marketing approach the duo has taken it makes me proud to know them as a few of my favorite people without any hint of the Bullshit Factor, another hurdle which stunts Hong Kong from producing even averagely good music.

It’s all one lazy, recycled circle game and nothing to do with the usual whinge about the lack of venues. Uh Uh. It has to do with a lack of talent and total ignorance when it comes to to what’s out there- musically.

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This is why those five-star hotel lounges keep dealing with the same promoters they have been working with for decades who are onto a good thing and shovel the same mediocre lounge singers to hoteliers who don’t know music from Muzak.

These are also hoteliers with no balls to make changes and are happy being lemmings.

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There also exists in Hong Kong, that peculiar thing called Canto-pop and which is more derivative claptrap like the putrid music of a band like Mr and who are guided by a nincompoop like Duncan Wong, head of Universal Music’s Hong Kong.

How guys like this survive and why mediocrity and incompetence is promoted is why there exists a Peter Principle when it comes to music in this city.

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The most innovative thing about Mr are their hairstyles and even these are contrived.

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So, forget the music companies ‘cos apart from Calvin Wong, who is realistic about bottom lines and can smell a hit for his company, the others are gremlins who couldn’t lie straight in bed.

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They actually believe the bullshit that comes outta their mouths and are happy being legends in their own lunchtime. They are this generation’s Paco Wong, who became one of those “legends” mentioned earlier, thanks to having the media on his side, a Hitler hairstyle and dressing up like a bad dictator.

I worked with the guy and never knew what he did- but had an idea what he probably shouldn’t have been doing.

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Away from these Canto-pap smears, there are the usual Hong Kong oldies where one is almost forced to go and watch their far too frequent shows as “support” when you’d rather stay in with the girlfriend and watch BBC Lifestyle. Still, you go almost outta sympathy to hear the same schtick and wonder how to escape without anyone noticing.

There are then those who think they are jazz artists when, in reality, they are jizz artists who move in packs from Gecko to Joyce Is Not Here to Grappas and Backstage and Peel Fresco.

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It’s lovely that the latter venue has been renovated. Can the same be done for that small pool of musos who “blow” there? Please? If not, it’s a bit like What If They Gave A War And No One Came.

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What’s missing in Hong Kong is real competition. There is no one to push “the best” in Hong Kong and so they get older, they never improve, they make records no one hears and are passed from venue to venue like a sack of potatoes and believe their own hype when, in truth, they are mediocre.

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This came through loud and clear to me when singer-songwriter Ben Semmens dropped by Hong Kong to record some music with me and gigged at The Beer Garden and Adrenaline venues at the Happy Valley racecourse- the reason I couldn’t attend the only gig I have wanted to: The launch of The Weathering record.

Others have performed at these venues whom I’ve thought to be okay and even good mainly ‘cos they were saving me from watching the usual suspects.

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Ben Semmens was and is the real deal leaving the Jockey Club with an interesting problem: How the hell do you follow a talent like this who exudes an ATTITUDE that others cannot.

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Why? They have become fat, lazy and tired on too many dim sums and which is why Ben Semmens is coming back in March and we are looking very seriously at bringing this duo from Sydney to town.

Hong Kong needs some shaking up win, lose or draw, I am damn glad The Weathering is here and who are multi-media artists who will use their great new record as building blocks which will morph into many other areas of creativity.

This thinking is lost in the ghetto and in the Gecko.

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