Like I warned yesterday, you’re not done reading the name “Jon Campbell” on this blog, at least not for this week. I believe I’ve already interviewed Jon before before, albeit more for gigs he was playing in. This time around, it’s different! He’s in Beijing as part of Jue Festival and the Bookworm Literary Festival promoting his book, Red Rock::The Long, Strange March of Chinese Rock & Roll. I read the book a while back and I’ve also been following Jon for quite sometime.. this was an opportunity to catch up and get some extra details out of him. 1- How is post Beijing life treating you and what’s been keeping you busy now that Red Rock is out? Post-bj life is great. Mellow. Very not rock and roll, really. But nice. My wife and I own a house and a dog and a backyard and it’s great. I work as a publicist for Harbourfront Centre, a cultural organization and venue on Toronto’s waterfront that hosts all kinds of festivals, events, exhibitions, dance/thatre performances, concerts, etc, most of which is free. 2- I’m curious.. What made you decide to write the book? Was there a sort of Eureka moment or was it a long process? The short answer is that Earnshaw Books put out a call for writers. I answered it. The longer answer is related to that feeling I think many expats have, which is, I have a perspective that is worthy of getting out into the world. I [...]
Of all the good people that have left their imprint on Chinese rock n roll, or Yaogun, as he likes to refer to it, none deserves more kudos than Jon Campbell as far as I’m concerned. He’s been a true trooper, participant, supporter of Yaogun and we do miss having him in Beijing. ( Jon, how about some Norwegian Death Metal Bands??? ) Well, since Jon is coming for a visit as part of the Bookworm Literary Festival to talk about his book, Red Rock, -the quitters retirees slackers good folks that made up hell raising, bourbon and white russian guzzling bloozers- Black Cat Bone will take out the suits from the old closet, put a little deodorant or baby powder on them and head over to 2 Kolegas friday night for the farewell performance they never gave. This will happen after the regularly scheduled show with Devils at the Crossroad, Flaming Heat and End of the World So, the flyer says it all….. This.will.be.rough…… Don’t forget Jon’s talk at the bookworm Saturday March 17th at 4:00 pm. He will be joined by music critic Han Fan in a talk moderated by Nathaniel Davis of Split Works. It’s a joint Jue Festival & BLF event.
Yaogun 搖滾 is the Chinese term for Rock n Roll. It’s made up of 搖 Yao ( To Shake) and 滾 Gun (to Roll) so the term does make perfect sense! For the longest time, that’s the only way I understood the term and thought of it…. A little over a year ago, I was standing at the 2 Kolegas Bar with a certain Ningxia Bass player, looking at a band onstage when i asked him what he thought of them. He looked at me, ever so slightly inebriated, and snickered: “It’s good but it’s American Rock n Roll, not Chinese Rock n Roll.” I looked at him, pondering at his answer and fired back in not-so-good chinese: “Rock n Roll is international, it doesn’t have a country” to which he answered in English: “World have Rock n Roll, China have Zhongguo Yaogun” before falling asleep on the couch there. Took me a while to digest that one! Fast forward a few months! Second Hand Rose is playing at the starlive to a packed house with 1400 bodies. Halfway through the show, frontman Liang Gong goes into a tirade about music in China and about how Chinese Yaogun is no longer a little child but not yet an full adult but it’s setting itself apart from Rock n Roll. Well, now, the man that helped put the words “Yao Gun” on the international scene through his articles in pop matters and the like has managed to make good on his [...]
It’s been a weird year in music for Beijing with a lot of knowledgeable folks leaving, disappearing etc… Peter Baird is gone, Pete de Mola is MIA, Tofu not a 2 Kolegas and finally, Jon Campbell, one of the more instrumental behind the scene figures trying to bridge the rock n roll gap between east and west. You probably know Jon as that bearded guy sitting behind the drums for Black Cat Bone and Random(k)e. Some of you know Jon as that guy sending emails about those weird Scandinavian jazz artists coming to Beijing (hey, how about some Norwegian death Metal? ) Well, he was all that and more! The web is filled with Jon’s writings about the music scene from 2000 onwards and one can only hope that he finishes the book he’s working on which will hopefully be the Ultimate Guide to Rock n Roll in China. In the meantime, you could do a lot worse than head over to http://www.ygtwo.com/crew/ and read more about/from him. Jon’s departure brought Random(k)e out of semi retirement for a party at 2 Kolegas a week ago where all the friends, musicians and families came to see the (k)e one last time and pay tribute. Truth be said, I was never a huge (k)e fan and the performances I had seen before didn’t rock my world. The last one at 2 Kolegas was by far the best one I had witnessed and saw the band playing with an amazing intensity. Emotions were [...]
Someone forgot to close the tap up there last friday night because it rained and rained and rained… then it rained some more! In Beijing, that is basically recipe for the city slowing down to a crawl with crappy traffic and no one going anywhere… and that’s what happened last week when Abigail Washburn came back to Beijing for a jolly good time at The One Club with Hanggai and other friends. This was my first time ever going to The One despite it being closer to my house than any of the other live venues but somehow, it just never worked out. Still, this was as good of a reason to go there as any…. and the rain was not about to get in my way! The show started a bit late while Abigail waited for a few more people to arrive.. having lived in Beijing, she’s intimately familiar with the clusterfuck the city becomes when wet! Things got kicked off with Abigail and her quartet consisting of Kai Welch, Jamie Dick, Rob Hecht and Bryn Davies. This was quite a departure from the last time I saw her and Kai play. Having drums, violin, trumpet added lots of depth and dimension to their set. The song they played were classic Abigail with Kai joining in on vocals and harmonies most of the time. The pair is quite amazing folks! The way their voices combine to make words and melodies dance together in harmony is quite magical. ( and [...]