Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 17 News List

A dream comes full circle

What happens when a bunch of musicians work together to help one of their own? Read on ...

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

Andre Nobels will release his first six-track CD tomorrow at the first annual Circle of Dreams Music Festival to be held at Hsichih's Dream Community.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CIRCLE OF DREAMS

Make a mental list of the world's music capitals and it likely won't include Taipei. So it might seem like an unlikely place for Canadian singer-songwriter Andre Nobels to come in pursuit of his dream.

"My dream was to make a CD; make my music happen," said the 27-year-old who came from Toronto to Taipei a year-and-a-half ago. He's since made it happen.

Nobels spent the past half year as an artist-in-residence at Dream Community in Hsichi. There, with the help of Dream Community's founder, Gordon Tsai, he recorded his first studio release, a six-track EP titled Soul Fever. More remarkably, he's gathered some of Taiwan's best bands to help celebrate the release with a two-day music festival that may well become an annual fixture on Dream Community's calendar of events.

"He's doing his best to enhance culture in Taiwan and make it evolve," Nobels said of Tsai. Gordon said, "There's NT$100,000 for your CD. Now you have to find a way to make it happen."

The idea they came up with is to hold a concert to promote and sell the CD with the hopes of raising enough money to put another musician or band in the studio next year and again bring together a community of musicians to help launch it. Proceeds from the first 1,000 CDs and all the money from the festival will go into a fund to be used next year. Taiwan Colors Music will distribute the remainder of the CDs.

If the response is good, Nobels said, it could be a sustainable, grassroots way of giving local musicians a start on their careers, as well as giving local music fans a new annual festival.

Some of the bands that have heeded the call include popular acts Milk, Chicken Rice, Neon, Rocket Girl and Sister White. That each of these groups have been busy playing the HoHaiYan and Formoz music festivals in the past few weeks hasn't diminished their enthusiasm for the project.

"You can grow a little tired of playing free gigs," said Darren Jorde, bass player for Milk, "But this is something that's a good cause. It's an opportunity to give back to the community and help the local music scene grow."

"It's great to have Milk playing," Nobles said. "They put us over the initial hump. I wasn't sure what kind of bands we were going to get. I met Darren at an AIDS benefit a few weeks ago and we talked about the festival. He was in to it and he got the band in to it."

It's been snowballing and everyone has felt the energy behind this idea and been jumping on board.

One of the ways the Circle of Dreams Festival hopes to see the local music scene grow is by promoting up-and-coming talent. Each day of the festival will begin with sets from promising local acts. The Yan Ming High School guitar club will strut their stuff alongside more experienced musicians not often heard outside the bars and pubs where they regularly play.

Nobels knows all too well that giving such young groups an opportunity to cut their teeth benefits not only them, but the more experienced musicians, too. He met the young Taiwanese musicians that became his back-up band by posting a want ad at local music stores.

"Where's a lot of young musicians in and around Taoyuan," Nobels said. "They kind of congregate at the music stores there. Our bass player is a girl. She's cute. Her bass is twice as big as she is."

And, of course, there's the hope among many of these young musicians that they might be the beneficiary of next year's festival and be given the opportunity to go into the studio to cut their own CD.

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