MK Milk Magazine

Issue 121 November, 2003

Article by Ah Kay; photography by San Sun

 

In November 2003, HK Milk Magazine conducted interviews with some of the musicians playing at 48th Street. In the November issue, they gave considerable coverage of the interviews and published some of the pictures taken of the musicians. As a musician and the owner of 48th Street, I am truly grateful. In Hong Kong, the overriding impression, if you play music, is that most people are apathetic to music. Apart from Cantonese pop music, there is almost no coverage of any other kinds of music whether in the music press, on television or on the radio. I had had interviews with so-called music reporters who kept asking me why I like to play Jazz; I cannot play one single Jazz note; they ask me why I play the “Blue”; apart from B.B. King and Eric Clapton, they know no one else, as if Blues music is just B.B. King and Eric Clapton. I find such interviews both irritating and nauseating. Music reporters don't even know what they are talking about and wanted to understand answers to their nonsensical questions. For these interviews, we felt we were being interviewed by someone who knows music, someone who is a musician himself and understands what music is about.

For those of us who play not play commercial Cantonese pop music, we feel, or at least I do, like an orphan. It seenms in Hong Kong no one really cares, no one gives a damn about music. So many young guitar players strum the chords to Hotel California when they pick up the guitar and play; older people who play guitar invariably play Reflections Of My Life to try and impress; they know nothing else; these two songs are to them the whole world of music. For one thing, they are not playing those tunes at 48th Street. We are proud of 48th Street. In this commercial music wasteland, we try to maintain a place where real music is played, a place where whatever few people interested in music in Hong Kong canstill come to listen to music played by those who really love music.

On behalf of 48th Street and the musicians interviewed, I would like to thank HK Milk Magazine and in particular Ah Kay who interviewed the musicians and wrote the articles, San Sun who took the pictures.

Tommy


No dice games, no kaaroke, the one and only that 48th Street sell at 2A Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui is music. Almost every night there is live music; Monday night is the Jam Night when you can bring your instruments and jam on stage. Every Saturday, Hong Kong's top notch Blues act Tommy Chung and his band The All Blues play. On Sunday nights are for local Indie bands, you will see many new bands playing here. The rest of the time? Jazz, Fusion Jazz, Bossa Nova, Rock, you name it you got it.

 

Tommy Chung

Blues Guitar Player/Singer

 

If life is a jigsaw puzzle, I was missing a piece of it before I found the Blues. Now I have found the final one.

Just over 40, been practicing as a barrister for well over 10 odd year, he recently gave up his legal practice and became a full-time musician. He is now planning on recording a new Blues Cd and he runs the one and only club in Hong Kong with live Blues music. 48th Street provides the venue for Blues/Jazz musicians to showcase their prowess in their music, 48th Street also provides a venue for young musicians to play and get to get the all-important live experience. “As a barrister, there is money to be made, but I never really felt happy. It is now time to do something I really love in life”.


“I was already really into Rock music when I was 10 years old and I got in touch with the Blues when I went to study in England. I absolutely went crazy over it, I felt the most important thing in life is to play the Blues, I can’t even tell you why I felt that.”


Tommy is the best known Blues musician in Hong Kong. He was the first in the music history of Hong Kong to have two Blues recordings released and he is working in collaboration with the famous Kazuo Takeda of Japan. In the eyes of many, Tommy is a top Blues act. But according to Tommy he felt he was just beginning to learn. “Say, for example, if you want to be a lawyer, you go and get a degree and the requisite qualifications and you can say you have done it. But with music, you can never say you have done it. You always learn, you always have to learn, no one can say he has done it, this is one of the attractions of music; you can never quite say you have done it.”

 


Blues is not all about technique; the most important thing is feeling.

Don’t think Blues and Jazz are for old people, in this new music generation, there are outstanding Blues players, Blues band Helter Skelter and Vincent are some of the outstanding examples.

Vincent is now 26 years old and he feels you don’t need mind-dazzling technique to play Blues; yet he can conjure up the music and the feel, that is something. He has his own Blues band Helter Skelter. “The scales we use in Blues are like boxes. It is really quite simple. Unlike Rock music, the Blues doesn’t have so many frills. But is not easy to get the Blues feel; you would have to have listened to lot of Blues music to understand it. I always listen to a lot of Blues music before I play.”

Vincent likes Johnny Lang and Buddy guy and he openly admits he doesn’t like “white” Blues; only Black people can play the real Blues. “Eric Clapton has always been regards as guitar maestro, but he can’t play the Blues and doesn’t have any Blues feel.”

Vincent Lam

Blues Guitar Player/Singer

 

 

Fun

Blues Drummer

"I love Blues, Rock and Funk. I cannot say I really understand Jazz and I don't do much Jazz tunes."

Fun or Stephane Wong, age 22, is one of the best drummers of the younger generation; he plays drums forh Wong Ka Ku, in Wild Child, in Whence He Came and in Helter Skelter. Fun's father is an amateur drummer. When Fun was 9 years old he went to a Beyond concert with his elder sister and watched the drummer of Beyond the whole time and he fell in love with the drums. His father gave him the first drum kit when he was 10, the kit was from Toysurus. Fun feels that Blues seems to be a very simple music, but in fact it is not easy to play. The difficulty lies not only in technique but to conjure up the Blues feel. "A 12 bar Blues song is not very complicated in terms of music form, but Blues is full of emotion, even where the guitar player plays a long guitar solo, it can still be interesting. As a drummer I have to follow the ebb and flow of the music and the emotion of the solo. It is not an easy thing to play Blues with the right feel."

Fun's idols include Dennis Chambers (he played with Santana at one stage), Taylor Hawkons of Foo Figherters and of course Yip Sai Wong (drummer of Beyond). "The muisicians I like may not necessarily be the greatest, but they are all influential. Like Yip Sai Wing of Beyond, he really inspired me to become a drummer. Without him I would not be playing the drums. For the younger generation, many of us were brought up with the music of Beyond and many drums started playing drums because of Yip Sai Wing."

I like what Fun said, many young people these days don't know their roots and never give enough credit to those who inspire them.

 

 

Tommy Ho

Jazz Guitar Player

“I produced a lot of records, but it is Jazz I love.

Tommy Ho was a record producer, he wrote many commercial hits and is also a guitar teacher with many students, he is know in the scene as “The Master”. Be that as it may, Tommy is still working on his music. He found that Jazz is his music, his real music. Tommy is playing 5 nights a week in a hotel. Not all hotel customers are into music, and I had to ask him how he felt playing in front of people who are not into music. Bored? “Of course not, this a great chance to learn, I jam with some of the best musicians, I discover a lot of new things, I keep improving myself, with music, the road is a very long road indeed.”

Before this interview, I thought The Master has had it all. Little did I know even with a player like Tommy Ho is still learning.

Koya Hisakazu

Blues Bass Guitar Player

"Blues is not all about technique; it;s improvisation and rhythm."

40 years old, started playing music since he was 5, Koya san settled down in Hong Kong in 1998 and is the owner of the well know Mark 1 Stuido. Koya loves the Blues. Apart from being a member of Helter Skekter, he goes regularly to 48th Street to jam with Tommy Chung. "I love the Blues, because you don't need a lot of technique; sometimes one note says it all, and I feel really happy. Improvisation is an important element in Blues music, it is all about rhythm and convey your feeling through the music. This is the what I love about music."

 

P.S. Koya is one of the founding member of Tommy & The All Blues. I reallyt wouldn't know what to do without him. Koya is the pillar of my band.

Tommy