Wu Force: a magical mix of banjo, guzheng, trumpet and guitar
It was almost exactly 1 year ago to the day that I got my first taste of Wu Force at Capital M. With Abigail Washburn based in the US and WuFei here in the Jing, I’ve had to wait until now for them to get back together to get a second helping of their unique blend of East meets West.
This show came about because Abigail has been on the road in China with her Silk Road tour along with her friend multi-instrumentalist Kai Welch. If you went to the last Wu Force show (or read BD’s review of it here) you’ll remember Abigail and Fei were joined on stage by a Pipa which added much needed depth to the combination of banjo & guzheng. This time round no pipa, but instead Kai added guitar, trumpet and piano to the mix and Fei had not only her guzheng, but also a guqin.
The show started some good old Appalachian foot stomping from Abigail with provided the perfect percussion to accent the plucking of the guzheng. The set moved seamlessly from bluegrass infused tunes where the banjo lead the way into traditional Chinese songs with the guzheng in control. We learnt the best way to choose your guzheng is to stand it up and sing to it, which Fei demonstrated to us while Abigail tuned her banjo and Kai told jokes. Highlights of the night were the fun ‘Uighur Gaga’ and the silly ‘Da Yali’. They even got the crowd to join in singing an old Sichuan tune.
The show was over much too soon, so naturally the crowd wanted an encore, but with nothing planned they took the opportunity to turn this into a bit of a jam session. Thought Abigail’s only in town a few days, the trio managed to sneak into the studio with Daze Central friend Martin Rawlins and record some of their tracks. They’re taking this back to the US to mix, but hopefully there will be an EP out in the New Year.
If you missed the show (I’m looking at you in Aust BD!) then you missed out of a great night of original music, east meeting west, rarely seen in this city. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another year for Wu Force’s next performance.