On The Scene: Jianghu Bar 01-04-2012


To kick off the holiday I decided to take it easy and check out Jianghu Bar for the first time and dip my toes in some traditional music from the Tibetan region. The placed was packed, literally with people pushing and shoving with iPads and camera phones to catch a glimpse of the lovely Yunggiema, alongside Dawanggang, who has been making a name for himself for some time now. While not exactly an ideal place for a big show, the venue’s great atmosphere and décor, and home brewed beer was all quite welcoming.


Opening was Belgian duo JVK (short for Jan Van Kelst, the frontman) who with his self-invented instrument the Kelstone, a nine-string guitar played over the top very much like a piano, and beatmaker Thomas Vaccargiu, treated us to some poppy, kind, laid back tunes, a mix of covers (Paul Simon, Sting) and original material. Pleasant is the word that comes to mind – lounge music for sure, but done with true class and professionalism.


However the real stars of the night were Yunggiema and Dawanggang and boy did they put a spell over the crowd at Jianghu. As soon as Yunggiema, who is half Tibetan and half Bhoutan, opened her mouth, the whole place went silent.


Yunggiema’s voice is simply wondrous, it’s almost as if there’s a valley within her vocal chords, as notes bounce off each other and echo before even leaving her lips. Dawanggang’s guitar sounds like it’s been dragged through the mountains, you can practically hear the dust and dirt spring from the strings with each pluck. And the man’s deep tortured voice that utilizes throat modifications is something that needs to be heard.

Wild, and deeply rooted, and combined with Yunggiema’s voice is an audile feast for the ears. Even Yunggiema got in on the throat singing as well, which is perhaps as BeijingDaze pointed out, was the first I’ve heard from a women.

The Belgians even joined in on the fun, especially the drummer Thomas who seemed at ease playing alongside the two luminary acts. My accomplice Oli begged me to let him say a few words, as he was quite smitten too…
YunGieMa est assise à une table, discrète, personne ne la remarque vraiment et même moi, qui ai eu l\’occasion de la rencontrer au Hot Cat Club le 16 Mars après le concert de Steve Mackay, j\’ai eu du mal à la reconnaitre. JVK démarre avec son drummer, donner un nom a l\’instrument qu\’il utilise s’avère impossible, la meilleure comparaison que j\’ai pu trouver est une guitare à 9 cordes jouée a la façon d\’un piano. Nous nous approchons de la scène et commençons a enregistrer. Les mélodies sont propres mais le drummer reste plutôt timide, la guitare-piano semble offrir un nombre impressionnant de combinaisons mais l\’artiste parait n\’en utiliser qu\’un nombre restreint. Après quelques chansons, la très attendue YungYieMa fait enfin son entrée. Celle qu\’on aurait pu voir sur la chaîne de télévision chinoise CCTV Music le 20 Mars dernier est juste la a quelques mètres devant nos yeux ébahis. Elle porte l Pratiquement indescriptible, sa voix, un don et une tradition ancestrale Bhoutan transmise par sa famille est si puissante et claire qu\’elle s’apparenterait presque a de l’opéra. On nage dans un bain vocal imprégné des montagnes du Tibet. Le reste du groupe se relais pour garder une instrumentale minimaliste.ELLE nous enchante, pour sûr on n\’est pas près de l\’oublier! Dommage que ce soit si court, on en redemande!


A stellar night at the hutong joint, a great start to the Sound of the Xity festival, as well as to the holidays. Check out some more videos below as well soundbites. 


Yunggiema & Dawanggang

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