Tag Archives: Shanghai

WVC TRiO+1 China Tour 2014: the story so far…

Hi all,

This is Julian reporting live from Home Hostels, Beijing! As I’m writing this, we are bunking in a hostel dorm where the five of us – Cher Siang, AJ, KJ, Choo Harn and myself – are bunking in the same room, for once.

We are on our ninth day, from our one-month long tour of China. So far, we have been to four cities and have done four performances, and we’ve got another fourteen to go. It’s been very interesting so far, to say the least.

Over the last nine days, we have performed at the following clubs in their respective cities:

1. JZ Club (Hangzhou)
2. Blank Space (Changzhou)
3. Wuxi Xie Tu Lu Bar (Wuxi)
4. JZ Club (Shanghai)

The trip has been interesting, and also quite challenging. Unlike the more high profile tours I’ve been on, this one (and the ones I’ve been on) is a lot more closer to the ground, where we are quite literally “on-the-road” – we have taken local transportation (buses, taxis, high-speed trains, hired vans, domestic flights) and stayed in their budget hotels/motels (Jin Jiang Inn, Hostels International, Motel 268), ate their local food (both of the street variety and more luxurious ones, thanks to some really good friends who hosted us) and walked around on foot from one place to another, whether it’s getting food or going to our performance venue. All of this while lugging around really heavy backpacks and also instruments.

Of all the four places we’ve played so far, JZ Club Shanghai was probably the most satisfying one in more ways than one. The rest were generally alright, but always had something that was a bit of a compromise, whether it was sound, equipment, and also the crowd. In some places, the crowd was good, but the equipment and sound wasn’t, or the venue itself was somewhat not as suitable for our kind of music. On the other hand, some venues were nice, but the crowd was not so happening. But I think it was somewhat understandable, Shanghai is a much more developed city compared to the rest, and the people in the other cities are still somewhat “catching up”.

We’ve also had the pleasure of the company of really nice, gracious and interesting people over the past week. Our good friend and brother-in-arms and photographer extraordinaire, Wong Horngyih, also joined us for a week until the Shanghai show and took some amazing shots of the shows (not to mention a lot of humour and stories on the side). We also reconnected with our hosts from the previous tour, Gugu (Wuxi) and also Yang Chen aka Chester Yang (Shanghai). What’s also interesting personally was that I got to meet up with Singapore legends – pianist Jeremy Monteiro and drummer Tama Goh, of whom I have the pleasure to consider good friends and mentors – during their tour with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra here in China. Definitely was a good hangout session as well.

Anyhow, we have quite a few more cities and shows to do over the next three weeks. I will report a little more as we go along. If I have time and adequate internet connection, I may post some photos.

Meanwhile, if you would like to keep yourself updated with little blurbs on the tour, please follow us on Twitter (@wvctrio) and Facebook (wwww.facebook.com/wvctrioplusone).

WVC Trio +1 China Tour 2013: Log Entry #4

27 May (Mon):

Today was our day-off. We basically chilled out and walked around a bit, had Shanghainese lunch with Jasmine, and dinner with Chester.

Lunch with Jasmine, was basically typical Shanghai-nese food. We then went to a nice bohemian part of downtown, about 30 minutes walk from where we were staying. It was a very nice quaint area, where it consists of a lot of small shops selling quaint stuff, speciality restaurants and other non-typical things.

Dinner with Chester was at a porridge place in one of the big shopping malls in Pudong area, near where the World Financial Center is. After dinner, he took us up that new World Financial Center building, or as the band calls it the giant Bottle Opener. It does looks like a giant bottle opener with a square hole at the top of the building. Anyway, it was an interesting place as we could see the skyline and the entire city area from quite a few hundred meters from ground level.

28 May (Tues):

We didn’t do much today as well. Had Muslim food for lunch and Siang and I walked around checking out some bookstores. We had our soundcheck at La Vida around 4.30pm and headed back to our hotel right after. The La Vida club was about 20 minutes walk from our hotel. KJ was so excited because the drumset at the club was a really beautiful Gretsch set, and it was brand new and one of the top range sets. And yes, it did sound really good, until he didn’t want to get out of the drum stool.

Our gig at La Vida was also really nice, tight, and fun! We had Jasmine to guest sing a few songs as well. We also had one really talented guitarist who sat in on two songs with us, and we found out he was to go to New England Conservatory to continue his music studies in the Fall. The show also had several friends from Malaysia, but had stayed and worked in Shanghai for quite a few years, who came to check us out, among others. We even did several tunes as encores, which of course delighted KJ as he could spend an extra few more minutes with the Gretsch drum set.

It was a tiring night as well, but very musically satisfying.

29 May (Wed):

We left Shanghai in the morning to take the high speed train to Nanjing for our next show.

When we got to Nanjing, there were some slight delays in terms of getting accommodation. So we actually hung out at the nearby KFC for a little bit before getting our room. But even so, we could only get ONE room at that time. So we all hung out and chilled out at the room until getting to the gig, which was 5 minutes walk away. But at least the hotel had free working wifi. Haha.

We had a quick dinner before heading to Don Quixote for a quick soundcheck. There wasn’t much of a crowd that night at all, as compared to our last tour. We basically only played one normal set and a second really short set, because we had to stop playing before 12am. There were residential apartments next to the club, so I guess they must have had difficulty having late night music. Even so, the band still kicked ass! Didn’t matter if there were little people or a lot.

30 May (Thu):

It was our day off, and we had thought about doing a little sight-seeing. Unfortunately our plan was marred by the fact that it had started to rain. Even though it wasn’t heavy rain, but it was heavy enough to put a damper on our plans. So we ended up just chilling around the hotel, and AJ and myself went checking out the surrounding IT malls. When we got back, we also ended up watching a movie on the iPad. We had dinner with the Don Quixote owner, and visited the Confucius Examination Hall cum Temple a short drive away. As expected, it was extremely commercialized and made into a tourist trap. Nothing terribly special.

That’s it for now!

Next up: Wuxi.

Stay tuned and thanks for dropping by.

WVC Trio +1 China Tour 2013: Log Entry #3

Greetings from Shanghai.

24 May (Fri):

We’ve been here since the 23rd after our Tianjin leg of the tour. We stayed overnight in Shanghai before going to Suzhou the next day to perform in Mofun Loft 2. While we were here for the night, our friend Chester (or Yang Chen as we know him) was gracious enough to take us to the new JZ Lounge at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Shanghai.

That night, great jazz songstress Roberta Gambarini was performing, backed by some musician friends we’ve met last year – Charlie Foldesh on drums and Brian Hurley on bass. To say the least, it was an awesome show. She started the show by singing Stardust….acapella! We were just totally blown away! It’s probably the first time in a very, very long time (or probably even the first time literally) that I’ve heard anyone singing Stardust, live! And she not only nailed it, she just owned it! What a singer and a musician!

What a great ending to a long traveling day.

25 May (Sat):

We left for Suzhou in the morning, had lunch, checked in into our motel, then went for our soundcheck at Mofun Loft 2. It’s located at a relatively developing area, and it sort of gives it a rather Euro-Sino, albeit rather superficial, vibe. From what we’ve been told it is developed by some Singaporean developer and also conceptualized by a Singaporean team as well, the same group of people that designed the Tianjin Financial District.

Anyway, Mofun Loft 2 is the second branch of three. We played at the first one, during our last China tour. Not surprisingly, the crowd that night was no different from the ones from that last tour. Most of them weren’t there for the music, although we did have some listeners that were enjoying it, as well. If I had describe what it was like, I would say it is similar to our Malaysian equivalent of Wings Cafe, or Halo Cafe, or similar livehouse, kind of vibe. Bands or any performers were there functioning almost like musical wallpaper. In fact, some of the crowd there were just there to indulge or partake in their own activities – drinking, playing games…albeit rather loudly too. But sticking true to our code of performance, we didn’t really care and just played the ass off the music. And as we watched our performance video for a post-mortem, the band sounded tight, and quite kick ass, I must say. Seemed like a good show cum rehearsal for our Shanghai show at JZ Club, and generally we enjoyed it, even if the audience didn’t really bother about us at all.

It’s only too bad we didn’t get to stick around Suzhou to check out some of their attractions, as we had to go back to Shanghai for our JZ Club show.

26th May (Sun):

We drove back to Shanghai and ended up in Hotel 268, a decent motel near the JinAn Temple Station. The vibe around this place is quite nice. It has an interesting mix of Bohemian and Hippie influences. Little coffee shops with fruit stalls and Muslim food all in the same row; little boutique clothes store with Italian restaurants just in the adjacent corner. It’s relatively close to JZ Club as well as La Vida (where we play on Tuesday). After lunch with Chester, we basically hung out at the hotel until our night soundcheck at JZ Club.

Our soundcheck at the club, went relatively quick. The guy who was doing sound did a great job in making sure the sound on stage was just nice. We didn’t have to work too hard during the gig. It was basically a debut for me, KJ and AJ here at JZ. I’ve been here at least twice, but it’s definitely my first time as a performer, which is something I’m really happy for.

The show itself was a real blast. It helps so much that the sound on stage was really good, and couple that with a very attentive and appreciative audience – something that we weren’t putting a lot of expectations on, being from Malaysia and not another western country like the US and all. I guess we may be doing something right after all, I can only hope. The band, again, was just kicking so much ass! Shanghai singer, Jasmine Chen, also joined us for a few of her tunes, so it was also really fun to have played with her again. Couldn’t really ask for more. We played two sets and the shorter third set. So, to say the least, we were all wiped out after the gig, cos we played HARD that night!

We have one more show in Shanghai tonight, at La Vida. Jasmine will also be joining us for a few tunes. Looking forward to it.

Well, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for more updates as we go along

WVC Trio+1 China Tour 2013: Log Entry #2

Greetings from Shanghai!

We’re here to stay overnight before we head out to Suzhou tomorrow to play at the Suzhou Mofun Loft 2. And without fail, we got to meet up with Cher Siang’s old friend, Yang Chen, again. SInce it’s our off-day, Yang Chen is taking us out tonight to watch Roberta Gambarini, a great singer that has worked with the late James Moody, Jimmy Heath, among others. So we’re looking forward to that.

Anyway, just a little epilogue on our Tianjin stop:

We got to perform another showcase last night, at Nankai University, with the Tianjin Conservatory Youth Jazz Orchestra, conducted and led by UMKC’s Joe Parisi. We also got to do a short set of four songs – two with Joe and another two with just the quartet. With Joe, we performed “Body and Soul” and Bennie Moten’s “Moten Swing”. It was such a refresher to listen (and play alongside) a trumpet player that has deep knowledge of the tradition (with Joe being from Kansas City, Missouri). I’ve learned a lot over the last few days, just from that.

The Tianjin Youth Jazz Orchestra was also something that was inspiring to watch. To see them grow so quickly with just over three days of training with Joe Parisi, was really something. And this is coming from a country that doesn’t have a deep concept on what this music is all about – and to see how hungry they were for the experience and the exposure. I’ve seen some of the students improve so much, and one of them I have to admit is kicking my ass!! Gotta get working harder, Julian!!!! I wish I could stay a little longer to share any kind of experience and knowledge that I have, with them. But I’m pretty sure we’ll get to meet and share stuff again.

Alright, more on our Shanghai leg of the tour later. Until then, see y’all later!