Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jun 10 2005

We had our second performance with Sheng Xiang and…

We had our second performance with Sheng Xiang and Water3 last Saturday at the Witches House near NTU. Our first joint concert had been a little rough, probably because the mostly Taiwanese audience was composed of Sheng Xiang fans and didn’t quite know what to make of the Ramblers’ style. This time, however, everyone was really into, creating a nice feedback loop between us and the audience. Halfway through some Tuvan throat singer friends showed up and sat in. They included Xiao Bang, Zhenya, and Albert. Xiao Bang played a one-string instrument like an erhu, Zhenya played the drum, and Albert played guitar. They all spoke Russian, so I got a chance to prove to myself just exactly how much Russian I’ve forgotten over the years. With Sheng Xiang on stage, Xiao Bang on the steps, and the Ramblers crammed in the aisle, the two bands and extras played several songs all together, and the result was simply beautiful.

Afterwards we all went out to the sports track on the NTU campus and jammed some more. The handle on my poor trumpet case, after nearly a quarter century of use, finally disintegrated, so I had to carry it with the one remaining rusty wire digging into my hand. At the track I set up the tub on the dirt surface, which worked well enough for our purposes. Sandy and I played an incredibly long extraneous…duet thing, with Zhenya on the drum. Xiao Bang retuned David’s banjo in interesting and mysterious ways, while Conor took flash photos of everyone for our Flickr site. Occasionally late-night/early morning joggers, mostly elderly people, would shuffle by, thowing us curious glances. The sky was lighting up with dawn by the time I climbed in to the Thumpermobile and, after dropping Zhenya and Xiao Bang off at their hotel, headed home.

The next day I met up with my old college roomie DJ. It had been years since I’d seen him, and while I’ve gotten a bit wider, he looks basically the same. We shared a suite at Washington & Lee one year, probably the best time I had at that school. He’s teaching at William & Mary, but he’s doing research in Lugang for a couple of months now. If only Clar had made it out here, we could have had a real reunion on our hands. Alas.

Anyway, it was fun talking with him again. We ate veggie fare at Bitan, took a hike up to the abandoned fairgrounds on the neighboring hill, taking pictures of the intensely green water in the fountains, and then up the new path that leads over to the group of buildings overlooking the water treatment plant, the smell of baking railway ties pungent in the hot afternoon sun, and then down to the ferry and over back to Bitan to get splashed by one of the multitude of golden retrievers everyone is buying these days. It’s a little sad because I just know it’s due to some movie or tv show that people are buying these wonderful dogs; I just hope that, when the dogs are out of fashion again, they aren’t abandoned en masse like every other “trendy pet” in Taiwan.

Anyway, it was a nice little walk. We then went up to the drink/snack place on the cliff next to the suspension bridge, the one with all the cats, and chatted over fruity drinks and peanuts. The weather was perfect, the air cleaner for the distant typhoon heading up towards Japan. After DJ left I couldn’t stand the thought of going back indoors, so I walked back behind Taiping Temple to the old community there and chatted with an old retired army guy who showed me the Japanese fish he was raising in pond in front of his house. As we were talking and walking through the alleys, an old woman came towards us holding a wiggling bag. Apparently she’d been given some live fish and didn’t know what to do with them, so she was going door to door, asking her neighbors if they wanted the fish.

It’s been very pleasant recently, and the pool downstairs is open and full of cool water to swim in. The air on the mountain-side of the river where I live is always cooler and fresher than down in the city, and I’m still sleeping with the windows open, despite high temperatures during the day. The other morning I took a good bicycle ride up the river to Banqiao and back. I really should get a better bicycle, however. This piece of RT Mart-bought crap is going to fall apart on a hill someday if I’m not careful.

Tomorrow night we’re playing at The Living Room, and then at The Blue Note on Sunday. Tonight Sheng Xiang is having a party out at his place in Danshui to celebrate their winning three Golden Melody awards after being nominated for seven for their latest album, so I’m going to take the MRT out and meet up with the others before going up there. It sounds cool, though as I look out my office window I see dark clouds threatening rain.

posted by Poagao at 7:50 am  

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