19 March 2012

Monday's mp3: Tear Off Your Shirt for Shanren!

I'll admit right up front that Chinese music isn't my area of deepest knowledge. I appreciate the periodic pipa album and grok the guqin, but I also know there's a world of music from this huge country with 56 recognized ethnic groups (and other unrecognized groups).

So it was with delight and no small degree of ignorance that I greeted a recent email informing me of the first North American tour of a group called Shanren.

Here's a taste of their sound:

Through original compositions and reworkings of traditional songs, Chinese folk-fusion band Shanren present a rich facet of Chinese culture that historically has been known largely through myth. Hailing from three different ethnic groups in the Yunnan and Guizhou provinces of China—the area thought to have inspired the Shangri-La of James Hilton's classic novel Lost Horizon—the four musicians in Shanren update the indigenous music of their home provinces adding a dose of rock and influences from across the globe.

In March, Shanren embark on their first North American tour. While funding will help offset the cost of visas fees, plane tickets, and lodging for the musicians, this crowdfunding campaign is not just about making their tour a  success, but also creating a genuinely interactive cultural experience. Along with bringing their infectious live shows to the east coast of the US and to Toronto for Canadian Music Week, Shanren are offering unique opportunities for fans to experience southwestern China’s culture and music through Fuel options such as private music lessons and handmade instruments. (press release)

A good chunk of their tour is done, but they still have several dates:
Monday, March 19 - Iota Club & Café, Arlington, VA
Tuesday, March 20 - The Saint, Asbury Park, NJ
March 21-25 - Slacker Canadian Music Fest, Toronto, Canada

And a couple videos:

Shanren "30 Years" on Vimeo. (Shanren wrote the lyrics to "30 Years" to evoke the difficulty of finding love and work in the big city, like the many Chinese citizens who come to large cities as migrant workers.)

East meets Lower East Side: Shanren play mountain music at Pianos on Vimeo.

* the post headline refers to a report in Time Out Beijing that the band can work its audience into such a frenzy that they (the audience) tear their shirts off in ecstasy. The men in the audience, anyway. Which one might suppose is not a usual concert behavior in strictly regulated China.

More Shanren:
hear more Shanren songs on SoundCloud
Rockethub funding campaign

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