Ruby on Sand: American Style Blues, Made from Chinese
This set to be a big music weekend with the 2 Kolegas 5th birthday party on Friday and Saturday. But I couldn’t help sneaking in another gig on Friday night to get the weekend started. While BeijingDaze was at Yugong Yishan, I was not far away at one of my favourite music venues Jianghu Liveshow Bar checking out Sand or as they were mentioned on the some event listings The Sands (I did have a lengthy discussion with a friend about this while at the show. The literal translation of 沙子 is sand, however he believes band names sound better with the definite article and in plural – which he argues, are two things the Chinese language lacks. So Sand, The Sand, The Sands, Sands, all could be correct translations)
I’d never seen Sand before, although I am sure I’d heard of them. They’ve been on the scene in Beijing since 1996 and from what I hear were quite popular around 2003 to 2005 when they performed at the Midi Festival all three years. They also featured in a documentary called Beijing Bubbles in 2005, one of the 5 Beijing bands picked to represent the musical counterculture in the capital at that time.
I went along with a couple of friends, who had seen them, but some years ago and were surprised to hear they are still together (see questions about other bands). They talked these guys up a lot as one of the only bands in Beijing that plays American style blues, but sings in Chinese.
We got to Jianghu and found the place full, with a mainly Chinese crowd. The music was already pumping and we could here it from down the street. And it sounded good!
Lead singer Lao Liu sings in “Talking Blues”, a style made famous by Woody Guthrie. He sings simple songs about love, but also likes to tackle issues of the everyday person struggling to get ahead socially in Chinese culture. Here’s a taste off their first album, The Stars Fell On My Head.
But it’s his guitar playing that I like the most, for me it had a very Clapton-esque sound. The band drifted into extended solos, and there was the chilled jam session feeling that I love about going to gigs at Jianghu.
I left the show, taking the two Cd’s on offer with me. I’m hoping this wasn’t a once of show and these guys will be playing again, as I’m looking forward to hearing more of them over the summer.
Thanks To Ruby for the review! I’m definitely looking forward to catching these cats soon at Jinghu or any other place in Beijing. I remembered their name being mentioned when i interviewed Paul Alan a few months ago and for cause… they sound good and the frontman seems like quite a charismatic lad!