By Mark Tjhung , Featured Writer, Time Out Hong Kong
Here at Time Out HQ, we’ve often thought there was a big rockabilly-shaped hole in the heart of Hong Kong – one that pined for a few more high-riding, slicked-back coifs of hair, a bit more 50s American bravado, much more broad-collared, bluesy, retro-channelling, Elvis-referencing sounds of yesteryear. But, alas, for the longest time, and despite the fairly strong blues-rock bands we’re boasting, only a couple of acts – perhaps most notably the excellent El Destroyo – have ever taken up the rockabilly mantle. Enter… the Red Hot Rockabilly Festival – a celebration of all things throwback, featuring bands from around Asia in one big rockabilly love-in.
“We can’t turn Hong Kong or any place into what Japan is [yes, Japan, no surprise, has a thriving rockabilly subculture], but we want to do something for rockabilly and our place,” says SzeChai Bluesman, co-organiser of the festival as well as a member of Big Rod, one of the only (Szechai claims ‘the only’) all-Cantonese rockabilly outfits trading around HK-parts. “Rockabilly is not very well known in Asia – each city or country may have only one rockabilly band. To unite bands from different cities is a good thing. We hope we can lead some people to rockabilly music.”
Taiwan veterans Sugar Lady and Manila’s The Bembol Rockers (who are no strangers to Hong Kong, having played here three times previously) join Big Rod to take part in the HK-leg of this rockabilly project which, ambitiously, will culminate in a compilation CD featuring 15 bands from across Asia – including from the Mainland, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand. “The CD can be spread to larger audiences,” says Bluesman. “They can listen to the music from different countries at the same time. The bands can reach audiences that they could not before.” We’re preparing our hair (and dancing shoes) already…
The Red Hot Rockabilly Festival is at the Fringe Club on Sat Jul 28. Tickets: Fringe Club, 2521 7251.