I couldn’t help but mention that to Furze. He replied that, yes, Smith is indeed quite active in London’s LGBT community.
“I feel like I’m an honorary lesbian,” says Furze, somewhat abashed. “She hangs out at a place called The Joiners Arms, along with Rory [Croft] of The XX and a lot of other people. They at least let me in.”
“I remember when I was growing up and people couldn’t even admit that George Michael was gay, so things have changed a lot. I love that people can take it as a positive. But, yeah, to be honest, I’ve never really thought about it that much.”
The Big Pink with P!sco tomorrow 7:30pm at The Park (公園展演空間), B1, 27, Fuxing S Rd Sec 2, Taipei (台北市復興南路二段27號B1). Tickets are $1,675, available through www.books.com.tw or www.indievox.com.
Muddy Basin Album Release
This Sunday, David Chen and the Muddy Basin Ramblers will release their second album, Formosa Medicine Show. The 23-song collection of mostly original tunes has been more than three years in the making and will show Taipei’s favorite expat jug band to be more than just a bunch of atavistic hillbillies and hucklebucks. I am quietly hoping for a breakthrough, meaning some real recognition from the Taiwanese music industry and media. They certainly deserve it. Ohio native David Chen assembled the band in 2002, specializing in the music of early 20th century Americana and especially 1920s country blues. In the last decade, they have become one of the most accessible, entertaining bands on this island. The Ramblers perform on vintage steel guitars, mouth harps, earthenware jugs and a plastic washtub bass bought in a local night market, but they have also come to embrace local sounds. The new album features a swing version of the Taiwanese classic Wang Chun Feng (望春風), a local virtuoso on the three-stringed Okinawan lute, the sanshin and other collaborations.
The Ramblers got their start in expat pubs in the early 2000s, where they are still favorites because they play fun music and make people dance. But Chen has also gone on to more “serious” projects. He has worked with highly regarded local musicians like Hakka singer Lin Sheng-xiang (林生祥), and last year Chen and Muddy Basin’s harmonica player Connor Prunty shared a Golden Melody Award for Best Folk Album with local singer Lo Sirong (羅思容). In the last couple years, says Chen, “We are getting more invitations from government music festivals, and now the whole swing dance trend has taken off.” In other words, the band is crossing over, albeit in baby steps.
The upcoming Muddy Basin Ramblers album release tour starts this Sunday, 4 to 7pm at the Xinyi Public Assembly Hall (信義公民會館), Building A (A館) 50 Songqin Rd, Taipei City (台北市松勤街50號). Admission is NT$100. Space is limited. The Ramblers will also play tomorrow 3pm at the Taichung Jazz Festival (www.taichungjazzfestival.com.tw) and have nine more shows around Taiwan through December. For info, check www.muddybasin.com.