The legendary Blues Club in Hong Kong
March 2001 to April 2004
After some 4 years, 48th Street closed its doors after its 4th Anniversary on 9th Saturday April, 2004. In the last 4 years I played more music than in the last 40 years. In the last 4 years, I made more friends than in the last 40 years. In those 4 years, my life revolved around 48th Street everday; 48th Street was music, it was never simply a business, 48th Street was a place unique in Hong Kong. 48th Street was the only club in Hong Kong where the Blues could be heard regularly live on stage, and it was probably the only club in Hong Kong which accommodated all kinds of music, Jazz, Fusion Jass, Rock and just about any kind of music you can think of. At 48th Street, musicians were free to play the music they liked and in the manner they liked free from any commercial considerations usual club owners are proned to take into account. I would rather book a band who played music with heart and soul than a band that would pack the house with customers. Music without heart and soul is not music. Music was always the priority at 48th Street, business always took a backseat. Closing down 48th Street I turned a new page in my life, yet another page.
Music, like wine, takes time to mature. Over time, bands playing regularly at 48th Street gradually picked up on their music, they began to have more depth and control over their music, they got used to playing on stage and their music was getting better and better. Over time, we also developed a culture at 48th Street. You could hear customers and musicians alike talking about music, comparing notes, sharing musical ideas. After a show, musicians would sit down and discuss their performance, they would talk about what went wrong during the show and how to play better next time. Everyone playing at 48th Street were working hard and had only one aim : to play better music. They did it for the love of music. I never managed to pay much by way of musician fees. Maybe that was the key. Bands come to play at 48th Street because they love music and they know every customer who walked into 48th Street was looking for just one thing : good music.
On Sundays, we had our Sunday Showcase for young bands. We usually started at around 8:00 p.m. and 4 or 5 young bands would come and play on stage. In order to play good music, you need stage expereince. But if you are not good, they won't let you get on stage but if you never get to play on stage you will never be good. So it is a chicken and egg situation. 48th Street provided the platform for young musicians to acquire the necessary stage experience. Over the years, some young bands had emerged to become great bands. One of them is Never N. In the short span of one year, they went from playing on Sunday nights to headling shows on Friday and Saturday nights. Amongst musicians playing at 48th Street, many found it hard to be believe that in the mere span of one year, a green and unknown band could metamorphasie into one of the best Rock bands in Hong Kong. Many people found that absolutely disguisting and I absolutely agree. At the same time I felt proud. I felt proud of them and proud of 48th Street.
Quite a few customers and musicians said 48th Street is like a music school, a music acadamy. 48th Street provided for all of us a platform to refine our music. Without 48th Street I would not be half the musician I am now. I am a lot of musicans felt the sane about at 48th Street, we all graduated from 48th Street.
48th Street is now history, we may never walk this way again. But many customers and friends and musicians told me that they would never forget 48th Street, the good times we all had, the good music, the whisky sodas, our friendship and camraderie. As musicians, we must strive for perfection. We will never get there as we are all human, but that is no reason not to strive for it. The aim is to be a better musician, play better music and hope one day....one day....... What is life without dreams? That is the 48th Street spirit. I am truly grateful to all the musicians who played at 48th Street, they made 48th Street. Without them, 48th Street would have been just another bar in Hong Kong.
I have decided to preserve the meomories of 48th Street. The following are links of the original 48th Street Chicago Blues website. If you have been there before, take a stroll down memory lane. If you have not been there before, there is only way to visit it now and that is to browse through the pictures to get a feel of the place.
9th Saturday April, 2005
The last night of 48th Street was memorable, if only for the sheer number of people who turned up. 50 or 60 people inside 48th Street was really crowded. From 9:00 p.m. onwards there were more than at least 140 people inside. You could not move an inch. Yet more friends, fans and customers turned up. At one stage there were were about half as many people outside 48th Street waiting to get in. None could get in and they bought drinks from the nearby 7 Eleven and stood or sat outside 48th Street listening to the music. Hart Avenue was simply flooded with people who came to say goodbye to 48th Street. One of my best friends Paul Leung stood outside all night and never managed to get inside.
On the night, we had Mad Mud, Alfred Wong and Mike Yip, Helter Skelter, Reload, Razones, Never N, Speed King and my band on stage. We had the cream of 48th Street playing on stage that night. I had never heard music such good at 48th Street. Everyone knew it was the last night, there would be no tomorrow and everyone played their heart inside out. When I got on stage I found that I could hardly breathe. There were so many people inside the air conditioners just could not handle it. I literally started sweating when I played the first notes of "Tommy Guitar". I got on stage at around 1:15 a.m. and when I walked off stage it was around 3:30 a.m. I was soaking wet. It was our last night and I really enjoyed playing on stage for one last time at 48th Street.
48th Street was a place that did not belong to Hong Kong but for 4 years, we did something that on one had done before in Hong Kong. I am proud to have been part of it, to have created a dream for all those who love music, to have created a place for people who love to play music from their heart and soul.
Thanks to all those who turned up, thanks to the musicians, thanks to our staff. It was a night me and all those who were there will never forget.