Five years ago, on April 9, 2009, we lost one of the great English voices of Chinese rock: Ian Sherman, who succumbed to the cancer he had been fighting—and about which he had been writing—for just over a year.
I think it’s fitting that my five-year anniversary post comes in a few days after the actual anniversary. Not because Ian was ever missing deadlines, but because his writing wasn’t concerned with anything so pedestrian as surface details. It was the experience of the thing in question. It’s not the date: It’s what happened.
Continue reading “Ian Sherman: Five Years Ago”
Pete Seeger is one of many Western artists to whom Cui Jian is compared, and with good reason. The two men are linked by their commitment to getting their music, and message, to as many people as possible, seeing in the art of songwriting, and the form of a song, a potent tool for reaching audiences.
With Seeger’s recent passing at the age of 95 and recent Cui Jian news, it seems reasonable to turn to a series of events that bring the comparison closer.
Continue reading “Pete Seeger, and Yaogun”
Did we all jinx it by getting our hopes up? By “we all” I mean the million reports on the invitation Chinese rock’s alpha and omega, Cui Jian, received to perform on China Central Television’s massivest Spring Festival Gala, and the zillions of zeros and ones involved in the multi-lingual speculations as to whether he’d play “Nothing to My Name” if he accepted.
Alas. Call it the Year of the Hoarse. The New Year will not kick off with a yaogunny bang. At least not on CCTV.
Continue reading “Year of the Yaogun: UPDATE”
Spring Festival, aka Chinese New Year is upon us. The first day of the Year of the Horse is January 31, which means that on the eve of January 30, a ridiculous number of people will be in front of their television sets, en famille, to watch the always-extravagant and never understated New Year’s Gala (春节联欢晚会). Broadcast on China Central Television, the massive event is something akin to the Superbowl Halftime Show meets Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve by way of Jerry Lewis Telethon and American Idol finale—only bigger. Sketches, musical performances, comedy routines, celebrity appearances and more ring in the new year as only Chinese variety-show television can. Recall, when you imagine the scale and scope of such a performance, what Beijing did for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in 2008, and you start to have an idea of what it all looks like.
Though there is nothing that could be less yaogun than the Gala, there are hints that this year’s gala just might get a little dose of rock and roll.
Continue reading “Year of the Yaogun…”
I have, in this space and others, previously written of yaogun’s experiences with and breaking into the mainstream. There is yaogun’s appearance on The Voice China (中国好声音)’s past episodes as well as the show’s recent addition to the judges’ panel of rocker Wang Feng (and this little ditty, “I Want To Rock,” sung by Liu Yating who says she started singing rock when she “got fat”); Cui Jian’s best-known song sung, in competition, by a Super Girl contestant; yaogun soundtracking CCTV’s World Cup coverage; and more.
Now, more news from yaogun’s adventures in the mainstream—or is it the mainstream’s adventures in yaogun…? 逃跑计划, the band formerly known as Perdel, and now known by the translationally more accurate (though not as much fun) Escape Plan.
Continue reading “Voices, Idols, Yaogun, Midi and the Mainstream”