Fri, Nov 08, 2002 - Page 19 News List

Grassroots folk heroes hit Huashan stage

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

While Chen Ming-chang (陳明章) is no stranger to the stage of the Huashan Music House (華山音樂館) -- a venue he just happens to co-own -- adherents of grassroots folk will get a rare opportunity to catch the local music legend brewing-up a heap of very Taiwanese vibes with a couple of very special guests tonight, when he teams up with Lee Ping-hui (李炳輝) and contemporary folk songstress, Hung Fei (黃妃) for a one-off gig at the popular Taipei venue.

A major music industry mover-and-shaker -- both behind the microphone and the mixing desk -- for the past 11 years Chen has played a major role in building the careers of both of this evening's guests. Discovering Lee and his one-handed guitarist partner, the late Wang Ying-tan (王英坦), better known as the King of Kinmen (金門王), in a tea shop in Tamsui in the early 1990s, Chen went against the grain as well as the advice of record company executives when he produced the duo's much lauded 1997 nakashi-driven debut, Wandering to Tamsui (流浪到淡水).

Along with establishing Chen as a studio guru, the album sold a staggering 700,000 copies nationwide and turned Lee and Wang into Taiwan's most unlikely pop-stars almost overnight. After the death of his musical partner earlier this year, however, Lee's live performances have been few and far between, which makes tonight's appearance even more exceptional, as it could be some time before the accordionist returns to the stage with his hybrid brand of nakashi.

Although he has yet to repeat the huge success he enjoyed with The King of Kinmen, Chen's constant search for originality in the recording studio saw him weaving his magic once again last year, when he collaborated with Hung on her second album, Red Peach 12 (紅桃12). Under Chen's guidance Hung veered away from the folksy pop style of her chart-topping hits Very Woman (非常女) and Chase, Chase, Chase (追追追) -- both of which were taken from her euphonious 2000 debut. Now blending traditional Taiwanese folk riffs with varying forms of music including Latin, bossa nova and mild electronica, Hung has found herself in the enviable position of being one of, if not the most, unique of all the nation's female folk artists.

Chen's longtime backing group, the Tamsui River Band (淡水走唱團), will add a heap of heavy bass licks and percussion to the evening's traditional, yet diverse folksy forms.

Chen Ming-chang, Lee Ping-hui, Hung Fei and the Tamsui River Band will hit the stage of the Huashan Music House at 8pm tonight. The venue is located at 1, Pate Rd., Sec. 1 (台北市八德路一段一號2樓). Tickets cost NT$300 and include one free drink.

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