There’s a band playing in Hong Kong that’s not really a band but should be a full-time band and get some semblance of a band scene going out here. Whew! Trying try saying THAT with four boiled eggs in your mouth.
(Source: I Food TV)
Right now, Hong Kong has about three bands- or duos- who can cut it with those from the rest of the world. No matter what anyone says, the fact of the matter is that diverse and highly respected A&R people from all corners of the world where music sells simply think Hong Kong bands are good enough. And they’re right. Very many are not and too many are legends in their own lunchtimes.
(Source: Quiz Asuna)
Blame it on the water, blame it on useless government organizations like CreateHK for not going that extra mile to create an environment conducive to a full-time band scene that pays musicians for their time and art.
(Source: Create HK)
Money buys passion, commitment and that extra mile mentioned.
It makes every gig matter, it creates professionalism and not musical doodling by hobbyist who, rightly so, dare not give up their daytime jobs. No money, no music, honey.
For the past few months, I’ve made it a point to check out Hong Kong’s fledgling underground scene and have to say though the enthusiasm is there, day jobs make the music a hobby and when music is only a hobby, it’s usually half-arsed.
The other big problem are many of those in Hong Kong who book acts into venues: They are either totally clueless about music and how the industry and riders work or are else so behind the times and led by their ears by what others think that the very good venues they, for some weird Peter Principle reason manage, are wasted on, well, crud like cheap weekend covers and an odd assortment of odds and sods.
(Source: Buck Rob)
In 2013, does anyone who loves their music want to hear an apparent Chinese superstar warble her way through Simply The Best or some Canto-rockers fake their way through Can’t Buy Me Love?
It’s not the artists fault. It’s part of the deal to get the gig: Sing a cover song and let’s see your song list. But when those doing the asking have never even heard of Mumford And Sons, what chance is there for contemporary music to blossom?
Banging away in small industrial buildings and, basically, bars that are rehearsal rooms is not exactly getting the music out there either. It’s just giving false hope to many and something for a small group of fans made up of family and friends.
The HKJC has the best venues in town by far but these are silenced through sound ordinances and various government red tape.
The Club’s Happy Wednesday nights attract the best crowd in town to the Beer Garden and now Adrenaline where having fun comes first and the racing is secondary and are great as a “music sampler.”
For $10 you join the tribal party, get to hear bands you might not hear anywhere else- some very good and others ho-hum- but 2-3 songs from each and the obligatory cover thrown in isn’t going to create a scene.
And so I come to the best band in town that’s not really a band but should be a full-time band but who need a good venue and a full-time paying gig to survive.
As for the band, when Welsh singer-songwriter Ben Semmens arrived in Hong Kong earlier this year, there were a few make-shift backing bands put together for recording sessions and gigs at the Jockey Club.
For his second visit this month, the make-shift band became a permanent one- or a semi-permanent one as Ben leaves Hong Kong in early July.
Today, this band comprises Ben, the brilliant Blaine Whittaker from Sydney on all wind instruments, bassist Ray from Philadelphia, Guitarist Pido from the Philippines and the amazing Anna Fan on drums from Hong Kong via Boston.
It’s the Benetton and United Nations of music- and the very best “local” act I have seen here in years.
They’re not the be-all and end-all, but they have all the parts that can fit into moving things along and be hosts to other acts- not necessarily all from Hong Kong.
Here’s the problem however with this plan: Each are full-time musos without the security of day jobs.
To continue doing what they do best and musically better than anyone else here, they need the security of a full-time, steady gig.
Hotels that hire lounge singers based on music marketing thinking from forty years ago that those who frequent their lounges want to hear someone/anyone belting out New York, New York don’t fucking get it.
Years ago, when the Grand Hyatt in Wanchai opened up JJ’s, it proved how much Hong Kong needed a venue for those who have the money to go overground, spend money, drink champers, mix with their friends and enjoy ‘live’ music.
Yes, it wasn’t great music and more covers by shuck and jive brothers but this time by show bands from places like Winnipeg who were billed as being “direct” from New York, Vegas or Chicago. But that was years ago.
Now, the demand appears to be clubs from the same clone factory and music from highly-paid DJs.
For me, it’s all the same and clubbers as lemmings moving to the same House beat.
Go to dragon-i and you’ve been to every club in Hong Kong and met the same mindless group of dudes and wannabe dudes and dudettes still looking for Mr and Ms Goodbar in 2013.
(Source: Trip Advisor)
As for The Ben Semmens Band, Hong Kong needs them as audiences are demanding something different.
Is anyone listening to these consumers? No. They are listening and looking to do what everyone else is doing, joining the same dots and never thinking that over-supply has killed off the Club scene.
Yes, send in the clones and tell yourself you’re making a difference.
(Source: Rainbow Arts Project)