By Hans Ebert

It’s all become so formulaic, but how does one politely tell someone who believes they have written something original that it’s derivative?

My singer friend Jennifer remarked the other day that she didn’t know whether it was just her, or was “Pop” music all sounding the same- meaning almost a nursery rhyme lyrics and melody line repeated over a backing of synth bass, drums and percussion.

Of course, it is because success or a hit creates the sausage factory syndrome of manufacturing recordings “like” this and “like” that. And right now, there’s an awful amount- and most is truly awful- of recordings that simply regurgitate what Justin Bieber recently recorded. Bieber’s recordings are wonderful pop music. But they belong to Justin Bieber. We don’t need more of the same. But that’s what happens when followers become sheep and lemmings.

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By Hans Ebert

We have to first switch it all off, take a deep breath, exhale and switch it back on. Switch off that television. Switch off those 24 hour news channels with their non-stop avalanche of politics and lies and deceptions and “world leaders” playing roles.

Switch off everything and everyone that has become a distraction to you moving from here to there for the sole purpose of progressing and evolving and building your own portfolio. There’s nothing wrong with being selfish. There’s everything wrong in being weighed down with unnecessary baggage.

Have we become so numb and so dumbed down that we can no longer see who’s genuine and who’s the plastic fantastic? Who are these people many listen to and believe that everything they’re saying is the truth? Anderson Cooper, Megyn Kelly, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Wolf Blitzer, Bill O’Reilly…Who ARE these people with a television programme as their pulpit and from where they spew forth their self-serving, sanctimonious agendas?

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By Hans Ebert

Either something is very wrong, or everything is completely wrong, and with inspiration in such short supply. And without inspiration, how can one create? There’s just so much of everything that finding that something- and someone- special today becomes almost an impossibility. It wasn’t always like this.

Where did we make that U-turn down to Rue Morgue Avenue and cosy up and settle for mediocrity- mediocre music, mediocre people, and we tolerate and accept mediocre everything. It makes me wanna cut off my ear, and yell, Can you fucking hear me?

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By Hans Ebert

It takes a lot to laugh, and a train to cry, and, sometimes, it takes someone or everyone to plant a seed for inspiration to grow. These days, inspiration is in short supply around the world where brother no longer trusts brother, and the world’s power brokers are trying to convert this choreographed hatred into even more divisiveness. But that’s another subject for another day…

In Hong Kong, a small city currently engulfed in rookie politics, where nobody’s right when everybody’s wrong, there’s a fledgling music scene trying to find its feet and get off the ground.

It’s been fledgling for around four decades, because of those who once controlled the local music industry. They saw the money to be made from what this writer coined Canto Pop when writing for the trade publication known as Billboard. This was when singer/songwriter Sam Hui, below, fused his vast knowledge of Western pop music from the British Beat Boom era, and the various chord progressions of the hits from this time with colloquial Cantonese lyrics that spoke to local Chinese through a genre of music they had never heard before. It was tremendously commercial music that’s stood the test of time.

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By Hans Ebert

Again, you need to go back to where you came from to gather your bearings and remember what you either might have forgotten or never appreciated at the time.

Listening to the back catalogue of Mr Chuck Berry, I only now truly understand what a “backbeat and you can’t lose it” really means. Mr Berry might have sounded like playing simple three bar blues or boogie woogie at the time. But his guitar playing always had that backbeat- a non-stop rhythm guitar going on which effortlessly blended in with his leads and gave his vocals probably some of the beginnings of what was slowed down and became funk or soul or whatever black music was labeled.

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By Hans Ebert

Last week, my favourite ‘live’ band in Hong Kong ran through an extremely funk-driven version of the Sam and Dave hit “Hold On I’m Coming”.

The saying that “It’s all about the song” really rang true. The song pushed everyone in band, especially the two singers. Play great songs, and their power goes through you. What was surprising was to discover that one of the singers had never heard of Sam and Dave or any of their other recordings. I sent him a video of the duo performing “Soul Man”, and quite rightly, he was blown away.

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By Hans Ebert

Much has been said about the power of music, but one has to wonder if this is truly understood or celebrated, and just how much healing power it has.

Some of us have tried climbing those 12 Steps, but, for whatever reason, too often, that Higher Power is either not at home or else he or she might have passed you by without realising it.

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By Hans Ebert

(Courtesy of Fast Track)

Some of us learned to play cricket in our backyards. Some of us had to make do with a plank of wood for a bat and bowled with a ball made of socks or a coconut husk before ever holding a real cricket ball. And how good did gripping that cricket ball for the first time feel?

There was then the idol worship of watching local cricket heroes play. Those batsmen were knights in shiny whites with their gloves and pads standing up to warriors running down the pitch and hurling missiles their way. The knights would duck away from these bouncers, keep the googlies out and seize every opportunity to drive, cut, late cut and simply wallop that ball over the fence for six.

And then, there you were, suddenly at the centre of a real cricket pitch- bowling, batting, fielding and understanding how the game all came together. Some of us had mentors who fine-tuned whatever strengths we had and introduced us to cricketing legends like Everton Weekes, Clyde Walcott, Frank Worrell- all those wonderful cricketers from the Caribbean who played their own version of the game.

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By Hans Ebert

Here that? Listen carefully. That’s the sound of silence. Hello, darkness, my old friend, indeed. And, of course, there’s been a darkness ever since The Orange Buffoon and his crooks and cronies lumbered into the White House spewing forth his own brand of fake news, vitriol and racism and just about everything we have not come to expect from any previous leader of The United States Of America.

Joe McCarthy was never President, but what we have been seeing is far more fearful than McCarthyism, especially when you throw Chief Advisor and the puppet master Steve Bannon into the mix.

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By Hans Ebert

No one said it would be easy. But no one also warned that it would be so damn tough to make it in music. Of course, it wasn’t always like this. But there’s always hope. It’s about finding it that’s what is inspiring and keeps one from falling off the edge or steps or trees.

Back in the day, it was as easy as learning to play the guitar or drums, forming a band and getting a recording deal at a time when music companies really were music companies and in the business of supporting their acts and marketing and selling music.

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