The First Swing of the Axe – Hong Kong Beat selects favourite iconic rock songs

A single spotlight… A lone guitarist… The opening chord of a classic rock song… The crowd is instantly on its feet in recognition…

So many of the great rock songs start with an iconic guitar opening with nothing else except perhaps a lone cowbell or muted snare to accompany the guitarist, hunched in concentration over his guitar, lit by a sole spotlight… Perhaps it’s a driving riff or maybe just a sustained single note, maybe a big crashing sweep or an intricate pick, or an accident like Lennon’s feedback on I Feel Fine…

We all know our favourites. Instant recognition of the art of the lone axe man… and pure inspiration for the air-guitar heroes 😀

Hong Kong Beat presents just a few of our favourites in this 2 hour salute to the First Swing of the Axe.

50 years on, at the closing of Woodstock, Hong Kong Beat offers ‘Woodstock 69 – Missing In Action’

It’s said that Woodstock was remarkable, not for what happened but for what didn’t happen, the expected mayhem. As the festival closed to Hendrix’s never- to-be-equalled free jam of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, nobody was thinking of what else didn’t happen, such as the huge bands that didn’t make it.

So, for your pleasure, Hong Kong Beat offers the Woodstock 69 MIA Festival of bands who were invited (or might or might not have been invited, some of the memories of organizers are a little fuzzy from back then) but either turned it down or didn’t make it. The song choices are of course mine, but as these were all songs in their catalogues from before Woodstock, it’s a good bet they would have been played, if they had been there. Continue reading to the end and click on Max Yasgur’s farm to go to the mix-tape.

The Young Rascals – They were big at the time and ‘Grooving’ was a summer of love anthem, but turned it down to work on their new album.

Tommy James & The Shondells – Another big summer of love band with ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’, but turned it down when they were told “Yeah, listen, there’s this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.”

Chicago Transit Authority – Were billed to play but their promoter pulled them out for a gig at Filmore West the same weekend, and substituted new act Santana instead. I loved CTA in those days, but thank you Bill Graham for pushing Santana’s breakout that weekend. I’ve seen Chicago twice, and Santana three times since then 😀

Blues Image – Another big band of the summer of love, but their manager convinced them not to play because of the rain and chaotic roads.

Jeff Beck Group – Booked but broke up week before apparently because he didn’t want Woodstock to be a memorial for the band.

The Byrds – Felt burned out by festivals already that summer and didn’t think it was going to be a big issue, together with concerns over payment. Later said they regretted their decision.

Jethro Tull – Ian Anderson had an aversion to “drugged out hippies” and was “put off by naked women, unless the time is right”, also saying he didn’t want to “spend the weekend in a field full of unwashed hippies.” Played Isle of Wight two weeks later though…

The Moody Blues – Were originally billed to play but had a clash with a gig in Paris.

James Taylor – Was considered but was under contract to the Beatles label, Apple, and his appearance didn’t pan out when the Beatles hoped for appearance fell through.

Joni Mitchell – Wanted to be there and was originally planned to play but her manager advised against it in case she missed the Dick Cavett TV show a few days after.

Simon & Garfunkel – Were invited but turned it down as they were too busy. Art was in the middle of filming Catch-22 and the duo were busy getting songs together for Bridge Over Trouble Water. They can be forgiven for missing Woodstock on both counts.

The Doors – Jim Morrison was reported to have agoraphobia and a fear of being shot. Later the band said that it was because they thought it would be a second class Monterey Pop Festival.

Spirit – They were an influential West Coast band of the 60s, who were headlining supported by Led Zep just a few months before (and who may have been the “inspiration” for ‘Stairway to Heaven’). Were invited but declined to instead launch a promotional tour.

Rolling Stones – Some reports say they weren’t invited because, when first approached, Mick said he was too busy filming ‘Ned Kelly’ in Australia. A huge mistake, on both counts.

Iron Butterfly – Billed and were on the way, but got stranded at the airport because of the roads to Woodstock being closed. Asked for a helicopter but the organizers didn’t want to pay for it, probably in case every other band wanted one (and by day one, they reportedly already knew they were in the hole for about US$1m!)

Frank Zappa – “A lot of mud at Woodstock…We were invited to play there, we turned it down.” Zappa later said he never regretted it as he loathed hippies. My selection of ‘Willie The Pimp’ was only recorded some time in July or August of 69 and wasn’t released until October that year, but it’s my bet that a raw free jam of the 9+ minutes song would have been one of the highlights of the festival, if Frank had taken the Mothers there.

Free – Turned it down for no known reason, but played Isle of Wight two weeks later instead. My theory is it might have been because they almost needed parental permission, as bass player Andy Fraser had only just turned 17 at the time!

Procul Harem – Were invited but were tired out after their own long tour, plus the impending birth of Robin Trower’s first child.

Pink Floyd – A bit of a mystery, were they invited or were they not? Accounts differ, even from reliable sources. Several reasons for not being there, first they weren’t invited (as they weren’t yet known in the USA); they were invited but were touring Europe at the time (true); they were invited but turned it down because as a band they were suffering issues, like Syd Barrett’s mental condition (also true); not invited because their kind of music didn’t seem to fit the billing, but I reckon 9+ minutes of  ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ would have made some of the “bad brown acid” pretty unnecessary.

Led Zeppelin – Were invited but were also headlining at a nearby festival that same weekend, and it’s said that their manager didn’t want them to share the line up with other bands. Rock stars? Egos? Nah…

Bob Dylan – Lots of reasons given, sick son, hated the chaos near his home near the actual Woodstock, originally intended festival site, but actually he set sail for UK on Aug 15th to play the Isle of Wight festival two weeks later.

The Beatles – Were supposedly asked (through John Lennon it seems), but as they had all but broken up and hadn’t performed in concert together for 3 years, it’s unlikely in the acrimony between them, that they would have reformed just for this. Other suggestions say Lennon was invited but thought his drug convictions would get in the way, whereas another theory suggests it was because his request for Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band to perform was turned down. As Lennon might have said “Imagine nearly half a million people singing ‘Give Peace a Chance’” What a missed opportunity.

(click on the photo to go to the music link)

Max Yasgur’s farm.

Hong Kong Beat tripping with the Summer of Love at Woodstock 50 years on!

1969, The Summer of Love and Woodstock, 50 years on. Wow!

In this blogcast, Hong Kong Beat brings you a selection of tracks from the band set lists, in appearance order, from the three days of music and a dawning of a new age that, even though it wasn’t the biggest, best, or even the first music festival of its kind, it set down a marker in modern history of music and human culture.

At 14, it marked something in my life too, when on 15 August 1969 in UK, a friend of mine said he wanted to hitchhike there and I asked him how he hoped to get there in time and over the ocean. “Don’t be daft” he said, or something similar, “it’s at Woodstock, over near Oxford” (about 20 miles away from where we lived) – so, I learned that some people are dimmer than a burned out light bulb!

While it was all a bit mysterious to me at the time, it sent messages about music and its power to move people, something that struck a note with me as I had just had my first DJing experience a few months before, which led to my first kiss!

Peace out ✌️

(Click the picture for the music link)

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To the Moon and Back – Hong Kong Beat’s musical tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing

Whether you believe what was broadcast around the World to billions of people fifty years ago today, or believe it was just a huge hoax, what can not be disagreed upon, mankind changed this day, July 20th 1969.

The human race had stepped away from its home and planted feet on an extraterrestrial body (okay, I’m with the it happened crowd, but even if we didn’t, mankind has the belief that we did, a belief that has forever changed us).

In selecting music to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, it was tempting to do what many others are no doubt doing, going for catchy tunes about space and the moon, but which owe nothing to the extraordinary exploits of the men, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, who went there. So while it hurts to leave out ‘Space Oddity’ (it was inspired by Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey, not Apollo), ‘Rocket Man’ (inspired by a 1950s science fiction story), Police ‘Walking on the Moon’ (a drunken night in a room in Munich), and REM’s ‘Man on the Moon’ (about comedian Andy Kaufman, not Armstrong), I’ve selected some of the actual songs that they suggested to a music producer friend to put together for a small pre-Walkman type cassette player, intended for them to make spoken notes, and which they played while on the journey, or on the moon itself.

Okay, I’ve allowed myself some artistic license with the opening selection, Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, because there is no evidence that I’m aware of that they took it on their playlist, nor that it was actually written about the moon, but instead to me, the song has all the right gravitas one might expect of the situation in those final moments before launch. Also, The Byrds selection and John Stewart’s tribute ‘Armstrong’ were released after the epic journey, but have direct relevance; and Zager & Evans apocalyptic song spent most of July and beyond, at the top of the charts, no doubt receiving considerable boost from the events being relayed from Houston.

All of the other songs were choices made by the three astronauts, as suggestions to their friend for what else to include. They reflect emotions of the time such as patriotism, equality, and war; thoughts of humbleness, as well as a good deal of romance and fun, including the oddest of all, Armstrong’s personal choice of the 1940s jazz-exotica piece ‘Music Out Of The Moon’ that, if some accounts are to be believed, he played over the radio as they returned to Earth, eliciting an ironic ‘thanks for ending that’ comment from Houston. His sense of humour, or really his taste in music? We don’t know, but it was just an example of how these men undertook the greatest leap of exploratory faith that man has made since the development of the sail, with a dash of flair, a touch of humour, and a huge helping of humility.

Cantopop All-stars 80s Dance Party with Hong Kong Beat wedding and party disco

Music in Hong Kong in the 1960s was mostly a choice between Chinese folk, and western pop and rock from the likes of the Beatles, the Carpenters, and such like.

Then, in the 70s, the advent of what was to be termed ‘Cantopop’, Cantonese language songs, mostly written for the city’s burgeoning TV and film industry, brought new stars, as well as crossovers from traditional Chinese music and opera, to the popular market.

Most songs in the 70s were still strongly influenced by pop and folk, as ballads or mid-tempo two-step, jive, and cha cha, however the end of the decade saw the birth of music for a younger generation, the ‘late boomers’, who demanded dance music like the disco, synth pop, and hi-nrg of the West.

Many of the songs were covers of Western hits, but there was creativity and showmanship among the talent as well, and this created new idols, leading to the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop, and more Queens than you could shake a sceptre at.

Here are just some of the hot tunes Hong Kong Beat played back then.

 

Hong Kong Beat wedding and party DJ wishes all my Irish friends, followers and clients a great St Patrick’s Day!

“May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,

And may trouble avoid you, wherever you go.”

Have a great St Patrick’s day listening to this selection of great rock, pop and reeling tunes from some of the Emerald Isle’s finest artists.

Hong Kong Beat wedding and party disco celebrating International Women’s Day with some R&B and dance music

This year, International Women’s Day has perhaps never had more relevance.

Hong Kong Beat expressing support for all women resisting and speaking out against harassment, abuse, neglect, discrimination.

Come on guys, if somebody treated you the way some men treat women, you’d floor them.

Show respect.

Hong Kong Beat

James Brown sang “it is a man’s world”, asserting things like ‘man made the car, the train, electric light, the boat, the ark’…

Unfortunately some men stop thinking at that point, as proof of their supremacy, but James went on to say “it would be nothing, nothing, not one little thing, without a women or a girl.”

He was right, but only to a degree, because, without a woman, none of us would be here. Period.

Men, this is the 21st century. It really is time for us to cherish and respect womankind as an equal.

Wishing all women a happy and hopefully fulfilling International Women’s Day and, although I know there are many parts of the World where this means nothing at all, just wishing that at least one more man will find enlightenment towards our better half.

(Dedicated to my dear wife and wonderful daughter)

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Hong Kong Beat wedding and events DJ wishes all a Happy Year of The Dog!

February 2018 marks the start year of the Earth Dog in the Chinese almanac bringing with it masculine energy, an outgoing and fun-loving vibe, and maybe even getting a little reckless…

So what better way to celebrate such a year with Hong Kong Beat than a mix of some heavy rocking and belting tunes about dogs, and well, their canine cousins.

Kung Hei Fat Choy, and wishing all a healthy, prosperous and successful Year of the Dog!

Shhh! Silent DJ at work! Hong Kong Beat wedding and event disco on iconic silent events

You’ve probably been to great parties where the DJ was just starting to swing when it’s been time for him to pull the plugs and put the tunes away, and you’ve maybe been one of those – I know I have – urging him to play one more song, then another. But sadly, you’ve been left a little disappointed. Yes?

Those of you who’ve been to Clockenflap in Hong Kong (if not, have a look here) will probably know about the ‘silent disco tent’. A surreal place where everybody jumps and dances around, singing along to their favourite tunes… Except there’s no music. Well, there is, but only in the wireless headphones they are wearing. And they have a great time.

Sounds odd? Well it’s actually a great way to cater for a lot of different musical tastes in one room, with three channels on each headphone that can play different music genres, or different styles of DJs, all at the same time.

But it’s not only a great way to satisfy multiple tastes in music, but also a way to bring music to a party and event environment when audible music is otherwise not allowed or is inconvenient; making it a solution to those party unhappy-endings!

I’ve catered to several parties where the venue’s noise control policy, or just simply polite consideration for neighbours, meant an early end to the night, or prohibited audible music completely. This has included some iconic venues where we have had to close down quite early and usually just as we were starting to get going – rooftop terraces and pool sides; beach front restaurants; elegant ballrooms in majestic hotels; restaurants, gardens, and marquees in grounds in residential areas… Even on board Hong Kong’s heritage trams!

Not every day you get to do a party with such a dramatic setting. The Beach House, Cheung Sha, Lantau.

All were in prime, high-end fabulous venues for wine, food, setting, and ambience, but the one thing that detracted from the full satisfaction of the function was the need to call ‘last tune’ at around eleven pm! Not the kind of party nightlife Hong Kong is famous for, or that Hong Kongers usually expect!

So ‘silent disco’ is an answer, and allows for longer parties that can simultaneously cater for all tastes, from the 20 somethings dancing to chart hits, to the mums and aunties ripping it up to 80s and 90s classics, to the grans with 60s and 70s pop and disco, and any combo in between. Or, western pop for one side of the family, Chinese pop for the others; even maybe a channel especially dedicated for dad dancing!

Hardly anybody will be left unhappy with the music choices at the end of the night, or with an early ending. And the excitement of so many different styles happening at the same time creates a great buzz and adds to the enjoyment, leaving your guests talking about the party for years to come.

But ‘silent disco’ doesn’t have to be for just dancing… The concept’s application is almost endless for any place or event where you might have a noise restriction policy, or a need to cater to different audio needs, or the ambient noise levels are too high for the event audio. Some examples might be: multi-cultural events; outdoor events; viral marketing campaigns; shows requiring simultaneous languages; multi-product launches. More ideas can be found at my website here.

Hong Kong Beat works with an experienced Worldwide silent event provider who uses only high quality audio transmitters and headphones and, in terms of music, Hong Kong Beat will work closely with you to craft play sets, either played by a live DJ or professionally pre-mixed, to your exact needs. Take a look here to check and listen to the variety of music I offer and music FAQ, and here for iconic party ideas.

If you do not want silence for the entire event, perhaps pre-dinner cocktail and dinner background music, or for speeches, Hong Kong Beat can provide the traditional audio equipment as well for that part of the evening, or work with your chosen venue to provide music through their in-house system, with the ‘silent’ event kicking in later when the audio levels have to be muted.

Want to build a party and dance floor mood, or enhance an event décor, with intelligent lighting? Hong Kong Beat also has several options on lighting, ranging from packages with computer programmed wash lighting, up to club-like ‘full house’ lighting and atmospherics effects.

More information on comprehensive packages offering audio and/or lighting can be found here.

The great benefit in selecting Hong Kong Beat, is dealing with just one supplier for all your music, audio, and lighting needs, cutting down costs and tricky liaison between different suppliers or the need for an event coordinator, and ultimately giving you peace of mind and a successful, memorable event.

The possibilities are endless really, not just as solutions to venue noise controls, but as a way to stretch your imagination and host the iconic events that people will always remember.

So, don’t make a noise, but make a big impression with your next ‘silent’ iconic party or event with Hong Kong Beat wedding and event solution.

For more information, or a chat about what is possible, drop me a line.

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Hong Kong Beat party and wedding disco lines up a bunch of stiffies, with punk and new wave from Stiff Records

Probably the first really influential indie label, Stiff Records was founded in 1976 at the leading edge of the wave of punk, and later, new wave rock movement, and brought together an eclectic set of artists from the UK and US counter-culture and pub rock culture of the time, and bringing the new music movement to public attention through its Stiff Tours around UK, Europe and USA.

Although many of the acts signed to the label remained or became obscure as the 80s wore on, some became icons of the movement with wider success and fame – like Elvis Costello, The Damned (with ‘The Rose’, acknowledged as punk rock record 001), Madness, Ian Dury, The Pogues, and Devo.

Delving into my collection of Stiffies to bring music as diverse as punk, ska, psychobilly, southern blues rock, synth pop, and even some Burt Bacharach and gospel, in tribute to an era and label that made a huge impact on rock music, even though it was only relatively short lived

(click the image for the show)

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