China’s Dick Clark

Dick Clark’s passing has elicited much ink over his role, via American Bandstand, in bringing rock and roll into the households of America at a time when the heads of those households wanted to bar the music from ever getting into the ears of their familes’ younger members. Ditto the reports on Soul Train‘s Don Cornelius and his role in popularising — legitimising, even — African-American music among the mainstream, when it, too, was left at the fringes of popular culture. The deep marks of both men remain on popular (and unpopular) music, despite the void left by their passing.

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Yaogun Can Still Change Lives…

Reading positive reviews of one’s own work is, to be sure, a great feeling. But reading Han Huilong’s recent article was feeling beyond anything that a good, objective reivew might bring. From my recent travels through China and speaking to a few Chinese audiences — not to mention the period I was researching the book, or those living in China prior to that — it is clear to me, like so many elders from so many places, that, in short, “kids today…”

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Festivals Season, again

As lineups are announced at music fests around the world and as summer music festival season encroaches, a look China-ward reveals that it’s just about festival time. In glorious China-fest fashion, lineups are only just being announced, at t-minus barely a month to the big fests – e.g. Midi and Modern Sky’s Strawberry Music Festival, both of whom are doing Beijing and Shanghai versions. Meanwhile, new-ish-comer China Music Valley Festival is set to have some big names, though not yet officially…

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Toronto: We Are Official UPDATE: Now with Video!

A belated and large thanks to all involved in March 24’s Red Rock launch at the Gladstone Hotel…!

(Thanks to Anna Withrow for shooting pics!)

I did some yappin’ (here, on China’s journey from Mao  to now via Deng Xiaoping’s Journey to the West and beyond)…


Through Cui Jian’s career, and onwards, to the present…




Nova Heart did some playing (here, lead singer Helen Feng and bassist Bo Xuan, he formerly of Hedgehog)…

Al Di, former journalist (ALDTV is something that must be experienced to be understood) and current Live Nation China promoter/booker/man-about-town; Helen Feng, she of Nova Heart; and I did some more yappin’…

…And folk-yaogunners Shanren played a final set, that had the crowd doing what the band called Chinese Disco Dancing.

Highlight of the afternoon: An audience member approaching me in advance of the talk to ask if I was, in fact, the drummer from RandomK(e), which, luckily for both of us, I was. He’d seen us play a few years ago and dug it. Then he found out I wrote the book he was there to learn about and, well, the rest, is history.

Big thanks to the folks at TINARS, as well as those who traveled from China to participate, and, of course, to all who came, in person and in spirit.

Stay tuned for video evidence… Here’s the video evidence, with big thanks to Meredith Wright:

Red Rock from Meredith Wright on Vimeo.