Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Mar 13 2009

Playing with Yerboli

Conor sent me a note a couple of days ago that a bunch of musicians were getting together at the Taipei Artist’s Village on Thursday night for an impromptu show with Yerboli Ahmethan and his band, a group from China in Taiwan for the Bitan Music Festival. I saw Yerboli and his band play last weekend at Bitan in front of a small crowd huddled inside a tent due to the rain. They started out slow and soft, yet built up momentum throughout the show until they were really hopping at the end, playing songs with interesting time signatures and various cultural voices. I chatted with them as we walked back across the bridge, them back to their hotel and me back home; a nice bunch of guys, from all over China. Only Yerboli is Kazakh, and his Mandarin isn’t as fluent as the others’.

As it happens, the TAV is close to my office, so I walked over after work yesterday so find the group setting up. David Chen, Lo Sirong, Dana Wylie and Jez Hallerd were already there, and later Lin Shengxiang and Chalaw showed up as well. The food, including delicious Filipino dishes, rice and salad, was laid out buffet style on the wood deck outside Jason’s bar, where the impromptu show was taking place. I spent the first set taking pictures of the group, missing having any kind of telephoto lens, and enjoying the music. The more intimate setting was really a lot more suitable to their subdued style. Yerboli really gets into the music, which is a mixture of Kazakh, Islamic, Chinese and Reggae styles; you can tell from the way he moves his body around on his chair as he sings and plays his two-stringed dombra, of which he is a master. All of the musicians are top-rate, the syncopation provided by the drums and percussion spot on, no matter how complicated and intricate they get. The band is managed by Shenzhen DJ Tu Fei, who, I must say, has some of the nicest-looking calves I’ve ever seen on a man.

For the second set I couldn’t resist joining in, so I got out my pocket trumpet and joined the group along with Conor on his harmonica. It’s been a long time since I played, months in fact, but though my embouchure got tired quickly, I managed to keep up well enough and had a great time. Playing music with friends is always enjoyable, but it’s even more fun when making new friends. I always forget how much I miss it until I actually do it. Then I promptly forget and wonder why I am so miserable all the time without it.

It was about 1 a.m. by the time we wrapped up. I talked with the guys some, and we traded albums and name cards. Bassist Joco, whom I was trying to convince should try a washtub-based setup, said the Muddy Basin Ramblers should go to Shenzhen, where they have access to a good venue. The group really liked my black pocket trumpet and insisted on having their pictures taken holding it.

I waited around for someone to share a cab back to Bitan with, but everyone had disappeared by that point, so I bore the entire NT$350 brunt myself. It’s just as well, as I was half asleep for most of the trip and wouldn’t have been up for conversation anyway.

The weather’s been nice this week, but another cold front, which I hope is the last one this year as I really want to shave my head for summer, is on its way; the cool wind coming through the window behind me as I type this is already hinting at such a change, alas.

posted by Poagao at 4:30 pm  


  1. poagao, my 13 year old daughter is very artistic. she is a good drawer and makes her own videos which she puts on youtube. she wants to try photography. could you give me a recommendation for a first camera? it shouldn’t be very expensive, it should be relatively easy to use and capable of allowing the user to express their creativity (ie the option of automatic and manual focus). also it should be sturdy. if any cameras pop into mind, i would appreciate it if you could respond here in your comments section. many thx

    Comment by v — March 13, 2009 @ 6:42 pm

  2. What? You mean her cellphone doesn’t have a camera?

    Comment by Poagao — March 13, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

  3. […] Poagao plays with Kazakh musician Yerboli. […]

    Pingback by Links 16 March 2009 - David on Formosa — March 16, 2009 @ 8:25 am

  4. I liked what I heard from Yerboli’s myspace homepage.

    Comment by Ashish — March 16, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

  5. Seriously, V: get her an old fully manual film camera like a Pentax K1000 or some other SLR.

    Comment by Poagao — March 17, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

  6. thx poagao.

    Comment by v — March 21, 2009 @ 9:50 am

  7. I went to Sarawak Rainforest Music World Festival last weekend, & saw Yerboli & his band played there. The music they played were very good & different. Me & my friend & others were really enjoyed.. very good music from Yerboli, & we bought their cd.

    Comment by zuriad — July 14, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

  8. Same here, the Rainforest Festival introduced Yerboli and his bunch to me for the first time. I was overwhelmed by the music, and bought the CD.

    I’m listening to it right now, and I’m feeling like in a bubble. Great !

    Comment by Thibaut — July 15, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

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