Thu, Sep 14, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Rocking rural Kinmen

Now in its fourth year, Local-M Village Live brings people and music into the island’s various traditional villages

By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

Scenes from last year’s Local-M Village Live in Kinmen

Photo courtesy of Local Methodology

Like many schoolchildren in Kinmen, Wang Wei-kang (王維剛) couldn’t wait to grow up and head to Taiwan — in her case to study the erhu and fulfill her dream of watching a performance and even playing at the National Concert Hall.

“I didn’t really know about the culture or history of the place I grew up in,” she says.

But a trip to Germany changed her outlook. She visited several tiny villages, and was enthralled by how they were able to retain their ancient beauty yet provide a comfortable, modern life for its inhabitants. It was a stark contrast to Kinmen, which had equally charming villages but their inhabitants were leaving for the county seat of Jincheng (金城), and Jincheng for Taiwan.

As part of an effort to preserve and revitalize the villages, Wang and a team of volunteers will be putting on the fourth annual Local-M Village Live (土豆音樂祭) from Oct. 7 to Oct. 10. Events are held in villages across Kinmen, with seven main acts from Kinmen, Taiwan (one by way of France) and China. It’s also a chance for many Kinmen natives who once couldn’t wait to leave the island to do something for their homeland.

EVER EXPANDING EVENT

Wang did eventually make it to the National Concert Hall, but she moved back to Kinmen after college per an agreement with the government for funding her studies, working as a schoolteacher in the rural northeast of the island.

About four years ago, she took a trip through the countryside with a ragtag group of musician friends, playing rearranged folk tunes for the mostly elderly residents. It was a simple idea conceived partially to show her visiting Taiwanese musician friend rural Kinmen — but soon it took on a deeper meaning.

Event Notes

What: Local-M Village Live

(土豆音樂祭)

When: Oct. 7 to Oct. 10

Where: Zhushan (珠山) and other villages, Kinmen County (金門縣)

Admission: Free

On the Net: www.facebook.com/villagelive


“I realized that most of Kinmen’s resources are concentrated at the county seat of Jincheng,” she says.

“It’s like how I desperately wanted to go to Taipei because that’s where all the resources are,” she says. “But I wanted people to also be able to listen to live music where they lived and not have to go all the way to a concert hall.”

That tour became the first edition of Local-M Village Live. The next year Wang managed to get three bands together, this time adding spots that represented Kinmen culture to their tour list. Attendance jumped from about 300 people to more than 1,000 — and Wang knew that she had something special.

Last year, Wang’s sister Wang Ting-chi (王莛頎), who had returned to Kinmen after many years in New York City, joined in with her workshop Local Methodology (敬土豆), which focuses on various cultural and community building activities in Kinmen.

“Before that, the festival was purely focused on music,” Wang Wei-kang says. “But now we have products and visuals designed by Kinmen designers. It’s turned into a platform for people of all professions who are interested in contributing.”

The team has grown to about 30 professionals who offer their talents at no charge, cobbling the festival details together through late-night Internet conferences.

“Many don’t usually have a chance to do anything for Kinmen,” Wang Ting-chi says. “And there are also Taiwanese who like our concept and, not knowing anything about Kinmen, joined our team as well.”

VISIONS OF A MODERN VILLAGE

The festival’s grassroots spirit continues in the selection of the musicians — they must be independent acts that write at least two-thirds of their own material, which preferably relates to society or the land.

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