Vietnam a century ago was occupied by the French but still retained many of its former traditions.
The Dan Nguyet or “Moon Guitar” was a popular instrument played in Vietnam before guitars were introduced in the 20th century.
Moon guitars can still be seen today in Vietnam hanging on the back walls of antique stores like a memory of a distant time. Continue reading
Although Penang is an island just off to the north east of peninsular Malaysia it seems like a world apart. Unlike Malaysia’s capitol of Kuala Lumpur, there are many streets that have been left just as they were over a century ago.
Back then carts were pulled by strong men. Continue reading
Coming to Malaysia from Oregon was almost like entering a fairytale world of endless summer (95 degrees every day of the year!), palm trees, and exotic foods and products reflecting a multicultural and multi-ethnic people.
Hovering just above the equator in the South China Sea it has for centuries been a trading stop for many peoples of the region. In addition to the indigenous and Mayla people, there is a strong presence of Chinese and Indian Culture. Having been taken into the British Empire in the 18th century English is the common language spoken on the islands. Continue reading
I returned to Xi’an China for the second time this year and was received at the airport by the concert promoter Yilin Wang and our guitarist friend Adam Varjavandi.
There is nothing quite like being greeted with a bouquet of flowers (even though I had to fight to get into the picture).
John Doan is on tour in China after being so graciously welcomed at the airport. These are the first peeks of his first concert in Xian.
The debut concert was held at the Qujiang Theatre in the heart of Xi’an. It is a beautiful and intimate facility that soon filled with local people and those who attended at the invitation of my wonderful host Hongquan Wang and the Shaanxi Musicians Association.
I had written out my program and text that I would normally say in English so that it could be read in Chinese (as my Mandarin is currently limited to about 3 words). Yilin Wang excellently interpreted my text before each song (at least it sounded very authoritative). I am so use to speaking myself to audiences so as to provide them a bridge to my music so by not being able to speak I initially felt mute and somewhat awkward.
Everything changed once I hit the first note. I instantly realized that I actually was speaking to the audience directly by playing my music on the harp guitar. Even the notes sounded a bit Chinese as there was no more distance between us. They burst to applause after each piece. Some recording engineers in a sound room were talking to each other and didn’t know that they had a microphone on so my music drifted over some speech in the hall. Some people in the audience began to shout out to have them be quiet. I said “Shay Shay (Thank you”). Once they stopped talking I gave the audience a thumbs up and said “how” (good). “Hung how” (very good) and the audience erupted in applauds.
The host wanted to have a question and answer session just before starting the second half and many people called out. One man shouted, “Where do we get your recordings?” Another asked in Mandarin, “How is the harp guitar different than the guitar?” and so on.
After the concert the audience rushed the stage and wanted to have photos with me. Everyone waited for me to greet an important man in the arts community. Then it was another half hour of little children, teens, middle aged to elderly people coming up and posing with me the “Rock Star!”
I made many fans that evening but beyond all that I felt an implied “East meets West” turned into an evening among friends.