Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vintage Music for a Vintage Market

As diverse as our own backgrounds might be, the Ramblers are a Taipei band. And though we've traveled the island a fair bit in our mission to bring our music to the people, it is always to Taipei, the Muddy Basin, that we return. This weekend, we are going to perform in the very heart of the Taipei basin, the old neighborhood of Dadaocheng.

With the recording and editing of our second CD completed, the mastering process is under way.  The album name, song titles, and lyrics are being translated into Chinese by a noted Taiwanese poet. We're planning some type of premiere for the release of the CD, probably in October, but the date and venue are still up in the air. There's a lot going on in October, and we don't want to make our friends choose between seeing us and the Flaming Lips, or attending Daniel Pearl, or going to a wedding in Hsinchu.

As far as recent gigs, we've played twice in recent weeks. At the end of July, when the Blues Cruise was postponed, we'd had our hearts set on performing outdoors on a river at sunset. To fill the hole, we headed down to our local riverside park in Bitan for an impromptu practice session. Our friend Steve Kim was there with his camera (and his dancing shoes), and he captured this short video of the Ramblers jamming along with Sylvain on a Django classic.

You could call it a performance, but when the security guards come around and say that performances are not allowed, it's a rehearsal. That's what we did, anyway, when two black-clad renta boys tried to shut us down. And we kept on, till the crowds had thinned on the bike path and all the songs that needed to be played had been dusted off. Dave found a story on the Net that tells a similar tale from 1949 New York. Musicians to the rescue!

This past week, we played on the Forest Stage at the Formoz Festival on Sunday 7 PM. We followed Sangpuy, an indigenous Taiwanese performer with a large following. Unfortunately, when his show ended, his fans all followed him away. With a big sparsely settled amphitheater in front of us, we performed our new songs for the first time in public since recording finished.

Photo by Steve Kim
We were not alone, however; old friends from Taipei had come to share the evening with us. Along the steps were fans and friends who'd spent the day sampling rock acts at the different stages; dancing on the wooden floor that fills the area in front of the stage, stalwart members of Taipei Swing stirred the sultry air with their limber limbs.

Photo by Steve Kim
Just two score minutes later, we were off the stage, carrying our gear back to our luxury tent. Our name was above the door, and our personal attendant was ready to pull the canvas door aside as we entered and exited. We were treated well by Formoz, from the competent sound crew, to the guy in our tent, to the hundreds of blue-shirted volunteers who kept the festival orderly, the crew of the artist's lounge we commandeered Sunday evening, and the kids who checked our ID bracelets when entering a venue.

Photo by Formoz
The Ramblers have a history with Formoz, not that we'd played here before, but as attendees. In 2005, we met Michelle Shocked here and through that association were invited to perform with her at the Wall a few evenings after her gig at Formoz. Years before that, several of the Ramblers attended Formoz at Huashan Artist Village and saw Biohazard perform. I don't know what's become of Biohazard, but I have read some shocking news about Michelle.

As for the Ramblers, we're here in Taipei, where we belong, and we're preparing for a performance in the Dihua/Dadaocheng neighborhood, perhaps our second favorite outdoor locale to play, after Bitan, of course. The event is billed as a Vintage Market happening on the square outside of the Yongle Market on Dihua Street. That's in Taipei's historic commercial district, where restored 1900-era brick shop buildings line the narrow streets.

It has been suggested that we are playing without the benefit (or hindrance) of amplification. We love to mingle with the people when we play, so throwing us out into the crowd will be just what the Medicine Show ordered. We've done it before in this neighborhood, and we always cause a traffic jam as people crowd in to get a look and a listen.

If you can handle the heat, come on down to join the Rambers, a vintage band, at the Vintage Market. We'll be there around 3 and ready to fill the air with our jug band swing at 4. If you're not sure where the Yungle Market is, have no fear; they have maps for that very concern.

1 comment:

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