Upcoming Series: Understanding Bollywood through music

This sounds totally interesting. I would be there in a heartbeat if I lived in the Bay Area.


Kearny Street Workshop presents:

Understanding Bollywood through music

Every Tuesday starting March 2nd, 2010 7:00pm-9:00 until April 6th, 2010 from 7:00pm-9:00pm.

Located at: KSW@PariSoMa, 1436 Howard St. San Francisco, CA 94110

Join Robin Sukhadia in this 6 session exploration of the magical aesthetic of Bollywood film music. Through screenings, discussions, in-class performance demonstrations, field trips (SF International Asian American Film Festival), and guest lecturers, students will deconstruct the arrangements, themes and structure of Bollywood film songs from the 1930’s to present day.

Bollywood film songs will be used to examine the larger context of South Asian culture. Film-viewing, readings, lecture, and discussion will introduce students to Bollywood dance/costume, issues of gender roles and marriage, reaffirming the values of family and duty (dharma), Hindu-Muslim conflicts, and the resurgence of nationalism. Films will be in Hindi with English subtitles; no knowledge of Hindi or Indian culture is required to take this course.

Special focus will be given to some of the great film composers, including SD Burman, Naushad, RD Burman and AR Rahman. The influences and impact of playback singers such as Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Rafi and Mukesh will also be explored. Sequences from the following landmark Bollywood films will be presented for discussion: Maqbool, Omkara, Mughal e Azaam, Dil Se, Sholay, Qurbani, Silsila, Jodhaa Akbar, Lagaan, Devdas, Umrao Jaan and more.

Registration is $180 individual or for a recession bust bring a friend! Which in turn will bring both registrations down to $150.

For more info or to register please visit kearnystreet.org/understanding-bollywood-through-music


Interview of Yours Truly in The C-Ville

The C-Ville did an interview as a part of the Open Studio series of me recently. Here's the interview:

Typhoon Relief Efforts - Mission Accomplished - Dzian, Charlottesville!

Two weeks ago, I got an old Christmas Card on yellowed cardstock (bizarre!) paper from my dad in Taiwan. What a surprise: He never mails anything. Inside the card was a small blue certificate of receipt from the Children Welfare Foundation League. The document states information related to the funds that the Nakashi Typhoon Relief Benefit Show raised.

Donor title: People of Charlottesville
Fund amount: NT$30,000
Date: 11/19/2009
Allocation of Fund: Typhoon Morakot (88 Typhoon) Relief Funds

Other information refers to my father's name (as the transactor) and his address.

All I could say is: Kudos, Charlottesille! Dzian! 贊!


Searching for a Hakka Sound - Wu Sheng-Zhi of the Sunshine Band

In the last few years, I've been on a quest for music by Hakka people in Taiwan. My dad's family is of Hakka descent. The Hakka people are known as migrants living in diaspora in East and Southeast Asia, more specifically, in various parts of Taiwan and China. Growing up, I always sensed and was fascinated by the Hakka ethnicity coming from my paternal grandparents. Both my grandparents (my grandpa=Ah-gung and grandma=Ah-ma) grew up during the Japanese occupation in rural northern Taiwan (south of the capital city Taipei). They would speak Hakka to each other only when they needed to communicate in privacy or intimacy. My father speaks very little Hakka as his siblings. I speak next to nothing in Hakka - knowing only simple phrases like "eating" and "rice." My grandparents' Hakka identification seems to me private whereas their Japanese acculturation seemed more exterior and public. Perhaps they associate their Hakka identity with their past, their early childhood and family.

This summer I attended conference for the International Association for the Study of Popular (IASPM) Music in Liverpool, UK. Serendipitously, I met and befriends a number of dear and friendly scholars associated with the Inter-Asia group of IASPM. They invited me in treating me as a junior colleague or young cousin/sibling. It was a fortuitous meeting of wonderful people and scholars of incredible resources and knowledge.

Among these scholars was 何東洪, H0 Tung-Hong. Yet another serendipitous turn - Tung-Hong lives in the town where both my grandparents were born and raised in. His wife is related to my Ah-ma's classmate who later became a well-known writer. He introduced me to a number of musicians and groups that I hadn't heard of. I bugged him with questions about the roots and historical practices of Nakashi. With patience, he told me a brief account of the history and iconic figures of Nakashi in Taiwan. He even wrote down names for me (because writing in Chinese has become more challenging over the years).

I was especially intrigued by early Hakka musicians. The name 吳盛智, Wu Sheng-Zhi came up. He was the leader, singer, and guitarist of the well-known rock group Sunshine Band (陽光合唱團). His band performed lots of "Western" songs (from British and American records) all over the island of Taiwan. He was also hired as a session musician for one of the three television broadcast companies. Wearing his hair long while playing his electric guitar, "like a hippie Hakka," W sang lots of Hakka tunes in the style of rock music, combining the Hakka mountain songs (Sheng ge) with rock music. Through his access to mainstream media, Hakka music was transmitted and distributed widely. He released the first Hakka album Not Fated in 1981. Wu passed at the age of 39 in a car accident in 1983.

Googling him, I found a short youtube video about Wu. The voice-over is in Hakka. Thankfully, this video has English and Mandarin Chinese subtitles. Zealously, I hereby announce the beginning for my discovery of Hakka music.

Wu sang a number of classic Hakka folk standards.

On a more disco side:

And I found a few resources articles on Wu:


Kite Operations Blew My Mind: Reflections and Media from Brooklyn

Kite Operations' CD Release Party was epic. The songs from their new album Festival are breathtaking. An innovation and an immense treat for music (and noise) lovers. Their performance was precisely executed with highly sophisticated intra-band signals created specifically for their musical needs.

I've enjoyed following Kite Operations creative explorations over the last couple of years. First time witnessing their live set, I became a true fan girl and melted instantly.

Most of the footage that I captured, unfortunately, has unusable audio. "Effervescence" turned out great.

Tom Lin shot "Tracing Paths".

My noise duo Grapefruit Experiment performed a short set after fighting traffic all day on Interstate 95. Here's a snippet of our bike improvisation.

More documentation of our set.


Kite Operations Launches New Album Festival at CD Release Party This Saturday

New-York-based noise rock quartet Kite Operations will be performing at their CD "Festival" Release Party this Saturday. The bill features a number of K.O.'s friends and compatriots from San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Virginia (yours truly will be performing with her duo Grapefruit Experiment. Their new disc Festival - noise charged with emotional depth and beauty - is put out by Actually Records.

They describe the sound of Festival as the following: "Filled with visceral noise spirituals, ‘Festival’ is a joyous exaltation for the no-wave set; an exhilarating testament to the band’s ability to infuse dissonant experimentation with the emotionally incisive."

Grapefruit Experiment http://grapefruitexperiment.wordpress.com/ (VA)
Faello Nor http://www.myspace.com/faellonor (Boston)
XYZR_KX http://www.xyzrkx.com/ (Chicago)
Jienan Yuan http://www.jienanyuan.com/ (Chicago)
The Gold Medalists http://thegoldmedalists.com/ (SF)
Jack Tung http://www.jacktungmusic.com/ (SF)
Kite Operations http://www.kiteoperations.com/

and DJ sets by Zach Lipkins http://www.myspace.com/zachlipkins

Doors at 6:00 PM
Admission $8, 21+ (Please bring ID)

Bar Matchless
557 Manhattan Ave.
(On the corner of Driggs ave. and Manhattan Ave.)
Brooklyn, NY 11222-3919

Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/#/event.php?eid=125361251491&index=1


Beats from the East Radio and Podcast

I just got an email about Montreal-based Beats from the East radio program and podcast series. Great resource for lovers of urban music from Asian American, Asia-based, and other Asian overseas community! Below is the description he provided:


Beats from the East is a music show playing weekly at Concordia University's radio station CJLO 1690AM in Montreal, Quebec. Focuses on urban styles of music (hip hop, R&B, etc.) from overseas Asian communities (mainly American & Canadian) and the occasional non-English Asian act.

Listen live online

Listen/download archived mp3s


Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam Released and Premiered

The documentary, shot by filmmaker Omar Majeed, follows the story of Michael Muhammad Knight, the author of the novel The Taqwacores, and a number of musicians and bands that came together around Knight's punk Islamic concept of Taqwacore: The Kominas, Omar Waqar, the Secret Trial Five, and Al Thawra.

I've been dying to see this film ever since I found out about it earlier this year. This film was received with extreme enthusiam during its premiere in Montreal, according to Omar W.

More about the documentary.


A New Taiwanese American Music Concept? My Nakashi Band Dzian!

HoChie Tsai of TaiwaneseAmerican.org posted about my new band Dzian! (贊!, "super-cool!" in Taiwanese) yesterday. It's exciting to see that Dzian! is now recognized by the Taiwanese American community.

This band emerged from s few strands of inspiration. One is the discovery of the tremendous amount of exhilarating surf and garage music from in the non-UK-and-US parts of the world in 1960s-70s (pre-cassette age). Many bloggers and music lovers have digitized these old LPs and posted them as free downloads. In particular, we have been drawn to the excellent posts by Radiodiffusion.

The other strand of inspiration comes from my personal quest for Nakashi, a Taiwanese burlesque-like performance practice circa 1960s-1980s employed for social functions (weddings, new years parties, company parties, temple celebration, strip tease...). Over time Nakashi morphed into a semi-participatory karaoke format. Because it was always a local practice, not much of it has been documented. There are a few representations in Taiwanese films (mostly about rural life driven by nostalgia). Other than, I'm reconstructing this fascinating performance practice in part as an ethnomusiologist by talking to friends and family from Taiwan and internet research, in part as a musician who's driven by the energy and performative efficacy of this practice. And I'm recreating a performance based on some of my childhood memories of Nakashi at company parties that my parents took me to.

The band Dzian! is my pet project right now. A few musician friends, most of whom I met through improvised experimental music, came together to play these great tunes. Our formation as a band solidified at the typhoon relief benefit show that I organized for last week. My intention was to recreate Nakashi performance in Virginia (perhaps the first maybe?) and to enliven Taiwanese local culture to an audience mixed between Taiwanese American students from UVa, local restaurant owners, friends, family, and the local music and Taiwanese-food lovers. With our friends The Nakashi Dancers, Dzian! played a selection selection of your favorite 1960s surf and garage rock songs from Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and US.

Here's a 60s Taiwanese pop song "Mama Give Me A Guitar" originally by Cai Mi Mi and the Five Petals, here sung by my mom Sonia Hsu and yours truly:

Here is a Taiwanese "A Go-Go" pop song "I Love You A Go-Go" originally by Wu Jin Lan, here sung by yours truly:

Dzian! is Charlottesville/Virginia’s new, one and only Nakashi band. Following the tradition of Nakashi, we have now made ourselves available for fundraiser events, weddings, holiday parties, birthdays, graduations, frat parties, TV commercials, NASA launching ceremonies, etc.

"Moon Over Ruined Castle" 荒城の月 - a Japanese pop classic arranged and performed by Dzian! [I heard and learned this song mostly from my Ah-Ma (grandma) my parents' karaoke parties:

A Khmer folk pop medley consisting of "Blue Basket" and "Look at the Owl" [from the Cambodian Cassette Archive]:

Here's a great video recap of the entire event by David Eklund:

Dzian! (贊!) - Please say our name with your thumbs up!!


"Nakashi" Typhoon Relief Benefit Was A Success!

"Nakashi" Typhoon Relief Benefit @ The Bridge PAI, 10/30/09 was a huge success! We raised over $900. All the proceeds from the event will go toward the Typhoon Morakot Relief Funds at the Children Welfare League Foundation in Taiwan. Thanks to University of Virginia's TSA, Cafe 88, The Bridge PAI, and all the talented artists, musicians, and dancers - including Peter Chen, TSA Dancers, Dzian!, Nakashi Dancers, Loren Ludwig, Erik Deluca, Jesse Dukes -who made this event possible. It was BEAUTIFUL!

video courtesy of David Eklund.

pictures by Sonia Hsu


Evaluating Me: (Reflections on) an Annual Report

I just wrote and submitted my annual report to my dissertation chair and the Graduate Committee in my department. I have a strange impulse/shamelessness to share this with 'the public.' Partly, I'm hoping that by sharing it, I will be held accountable for fulfilling the goals that I articulated for this academic year. Partly, I just want to get feedback and advice from my friends and readers on my efforts toward developing my newly carved-out professional identity of "scholar-performer."

Last note: graduate work is isolating at times. Every now and then, I need to jump outside of the 'grind' and get a reality check. Talk to me about what you think!


I completed my field research for my dissertation project during the academic year of 2008-09. I analyzed some field research data for the purposes of writing the three conference papers. This process of doing field research and writing analytical ethnographic papers allowed me to better hone my research focus while being ‘in the field.’ It also encouraged me to further flesh out the details of my dissertation chapter organization. Through the exposure of my dissertation blog YellowBuzz, my dissertation project has received some non-academic interest from national biweekly Pacific Citizen and blogs such as Boston Progress Radio.

With the financial and intellectual support from the NEH-funded Graduate Fellowship in the Digital Humanities, I will add an exciting dimension of digital ethnography to my dissertation project. In the coming year, I intend to complete 2-3 chapters of my dissertation and present my dissertation work at conferences including Cross Roads in Hong Kong and the annual meeting for the Association for Asian American Studies in Austin in 2010. In the meantime, I hope to secure solid funding for dissertation writing for the year 2010-2011.

Throughout this year, my performance life was active as a member of improvised music trio Pinko Communoids. We recorded our second album and performed at the Feminist Theory and Music 10 Conference in Greensboro, NC in May 2009 and a number of well-known venues such as The Red Room in Baltimore and ABC No Rio in New York City. With an invitation to contribute to EcoSono DVD curated by Matthew Burtner, the trio did an on-site performance recording in Bar Harbor, Maine in May 2009.With an invitation, my duo Grapefruit Experiment performed at the ninth annual Queering Sound Festival in Washington DC in June 2009. As one half of a duo with Tomie Hahn, I was invited to do a two-day residency consisting of lectures, workshop, and performance at Wheaton College in Norton, MA, in September 2008.

In the coming year, I hope to focus on personal development as an improviser in the academic world while maintaining my ties with my field research informant musicians and fellow improvisers. This includes a performance at FFMUP, an improvised music series at Princeton University, in February 2010.


The 1st Annual Independent Asian Pacific Islander Performing Artists and Writers Festival

BREAKING THE BOW: The 1st Annual Independent Asian Pacific Islander Performing Artists and Writers Festival

Over 70 Asian Pacific Islander artists participate in the 6 performance, 4 day event October 22-25, 2009 at the Miles Memorial Playhouse at 1130 Lincoln Blvd; Santa Monica, CA 90403.

Programs include play readings, an API cabaret, and Battle of the Pitches, and an innovative screenwriting pitch competition.
Sponsors include FOX Diversity, East West Magazine, and Visual Communications.

Thursday October 22
5PM Kick Off Party with Cold Tofu and Dawen($5)
6:30PM VIP Reception ($10 with invitation)
8PM: Battle of the Pitches/Ten Minute Asian Pacific Islander Play Contest Performances with Kristina Wong special performance ($10 admission with $5 Battle of the Pitches contest entrance fee) Pitch sessions with FOX 2000 and FOX Searchlight for best screenplay pitch. Celebrity judges.

Friday+Saturday October 23-24 8PM
AARGH!!, the API cabaret ($15) (Ken Choy, Jude Narita, Rodney Kageyama, D’Lo, Youtube all star musicians Seriously, Mikey de Lara, C. Kenneth Lee, Dawen, and Sue Jin)

Sunday October 25
2PM: Ken Narasaki’s No-No Boy reading ($5) Premiere
7PM: Staged reading of Ken Choy’s theatrical extravaganza Lazy Susan ($5) Premiere

Miles Memorial Playhouse 1130 Lincoln Blvd; Santa Monica, CA 90403

For more information and reservations, please contact Ken Choy at ken@mapid.us. www.mapid.us
More photos at www.mapid.us.


Yellowbuzz and HzCollective Present: "Nakashi" Typhoon Relief Benefit, 10/30/09, Charlottesville

To raise funds towards typhoon relief efforts in Taiwan, local food and performing artisans will join forces with Taiwanese artists for an evening of art, sound, live music and dance. The event will feature an one-night-only exhibit of visual and sound art installation works by Taiwan-based artists responding to the typhoon.

Dzian! will present a live set of Nakashi-inspired surf and garage rock music and dance evoking Taiwanese burlesque circa 1960s-80s. The program will also feature a set of live TPOP (Taiwanese pop) performance and "Taike" dance. All the performances are supported by members of HzCollective, WeArts, Taiwanese Student Association and the McIntire Department of Music Department at the University of Virginia. Li Chen of Cafe 88 will provide Taiwanese snacks and delicacies.

All proceeds from the event will go to Children Welfare League Foundation of Taiwan [http://www.children.org.tw/] toward their typhoon Morakot relief efforts for the affected children and families.

The event will be streamed live on the Internet. Stay tuned for details.

Friday October 30, 7:30pm
The Bridge PAI [http://thebridgepai.com]
209 Monticello Road
Charlottesville, VA 22902

non-students: $12
students: $8

Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=158275236852


Call for Taiwanese Artists: Typhoon Art | 徵件: 台灣藝術家 颱風藝術

HzCollective is organizing an arts event on October 30, 2009 to raise money for typhoon relief in Taiwan.

We're looking for Taiwanese artists to contribute art works related to Typhoon Morakot. The contributed piece can be either visual or audio. Art works could be done in any style: documentary, abstract, experimental, etc. During the event, we will project the works at The Bridge, a progressive art space in Charlottesville, VA. We will ask the audience to write notes to respond to the art.

We hope to generate much artistic response from Taiwan in order to represent Taiwan through the arts.

All submissions have to be sent by 10/27 to wendy.f.hsu@gmail.com. All work have to be submitted as digital files online [over email or file transfer services like Yousendit.com or Sendspace.com].

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Wendy Hsu: wendy.f.hsu@gmail.com. Thank you!

HzCollective: http://hzcollective.blogspot.com/
The Bridge PAI: http://thebridgepai.com/

徵件: 台灣藝術家 颱風藝術

HzCollective, 實驗性藝術組織, 在美國維吉尼亞州籌劃一個莫拉克颱風賑災藝術活動。

我們須要台灣藝術家們的幫忙,須要你們提供有關莫拉克颱風的錄像,平面攝影或聲音檔案。作品以莫拉克颱風為主軸,可以以任何方式呈現:紀錄式、寫實式、實驗式或抽象式等等,無論是當天的紀錄或是事後的創作。我們會在十月三十日將這些影音作品放映於維吉尼亞州 Charllotesville 的一個前衛藝術空間 "The Bridge" 中。屆時我們會請觀眾寫下對藝術作品的反應。

我們希望能夠招集到許多台灣藝術家的藝術作品,借由藝術將台灣帶到 Charllotesville.

所有作品必須於十月二十七日前寄送 wendy.f.hsu@gmail.com 。這些數位檔案可透過 email 或 網路提供的免費傳輸空間 (如: sendspace.com, yousendit.com) 傳送給我們。

如有任何疑問,歡迎email 詢問 Wendy Hsu (wendy.f.hsu@gmail.com) 謝謝!

HzCollective: http://hzcollective.blogspot.com/
The Bridge PAI: http://thebridgepai.com/


Taiwanese Game Show Spoofs Exit Clov's Hsu Sisters' Benefit Video

This is hilarious! A game show in Taiwanese produced a spoof performance of Emily and Susan Hsu's typhoon benefit video. HoChie Tsai of TaiwaneseAmerican.org is right to point out that only celebrities are subject to being spoofed in Taiwan. :)


Dawen's New Album Now Released!

I just got a note from Dawen about his new album American Me! - hot and right off the press! Dawen's CD Release Party will be held on this coming Saturday, September 12th in Santa Monica, CA. The album drops today September, 9 on iTunes and Amazon.

Come join Dawen and his full band for an awesome night of soul/R&B music! Kicking off his debut album "American Me" at the beautiful Dakota Lounge, get ready for a fun night of music and entertainment! RSVP now!

Special Guest performances by:
Vudoo Soul (American Idol, Kollaboration)
Sue Jin (Kollaboration)

Hosted by:
Lina So

Doors open at 7:00PM
Performances start at 8:00PM

$10 (with Facebook RSVP)
$12 at the door
No shorts, no flip-flops

For RSVP, please use first and last names of all guests.
Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=117111874359

VIP & bottle service available:
Call: 310.393.8200 or email info@dakotalounge.com

A portion of the night's proceeds will be donated to Taiwan Typhoon Relief.

Sponsored by:


Emily and Susan Hsu Make Typhoon Benefit Video

Emily and Susan Hsu of Exit Clov made a video covering a Taiwanese pop song from the 1980s as a benefit for the victims of the Morakot typhoon in Taiwan. Their cover of ""Ai-Biahnh Jah-eh Eah" is sweet. It reminds me of the Carter Family (although not quite as dark and gothic as the Depression-era SW Virginian hillbilly family trio).

Every time the video is played on Youtube, they will make a (25-cent) donation toward the funds.

On their blog post, they wrote:


We’re personally making a donation of .25 cents for every hit/view we get on this YouTube video between now and September 1, 2009 — with a goal of 500 hits ($125).

Please help us by watching the video and sending it around to your friends to help us reach our goal. Feel free to make your own pledge/donation too. Pledges can be as low as a penny per hit (=$5 at 500 hits/views) — any little bit helps. If you do so, please let us know your pledge (mousybabe@gmail.com). If we get enough responses, we’ll post a list of anonymous pledges (here on mousybabe) to celebrate the good will. :) We’re capping total hits at 500, so no worries about going broke.

Also, pledges are not binding, just the good old-fashioned honor system! You can send your tax-deductible donation to the Taiwanese Association of America (info below), or any other suggested organizations listed at TaiwaneseAmerican.org.

Taiwanese Association of America
Mrs. Ling Ling Huang, Treasurer


Play to the Wilderness of North America

I just submitted this article to the editor of SPINearth for review. Here's a sneak preview:


Meeting the Kominas

What do I know about the Kominas? They are talented musicians with chops for concocting anthemic songs. As people, they’re individuals of immense passion for the humanity. As punk rockers, they play music to defy social expectations, embrace the abject, and challenge global and local status quo.

I first met the members of the Kominas at a diner near South Station in Boston this past May. Bassist Basim Usmani threw his arms open to welcome me. Quickly our interview morphed into a party as the other band members and friends joined in. Beyond a typical “this-is-who-we-are”-kind-of discussion, our conversation was substantiated by their astute commentary on media, politics, and their impact on the Kominas and the “Muslim punk” scene associated with Michael Muhammad Knight’s book The Taqwacores.

Since their first “taqwa-tour” in 2007, the Kominas have created new musical directions and social connections. This summer, the band wrote a new song “Blackout Beach” for Waterboard, a play about torture. Crossing the genre lines, the Kominas performed in collaboration with hip-hop duo the M-Team and slam-poet Amir Sulaiman. In the midst of their recent national tour with Sarmust, they cut up a track with Brooklyn hip-hop freestyler Propaganda Anonymous. The tour ended last Saturday. The Kominas are now in studio working on a new qawwali-punk cover of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s song “I Will Worship You My Love.”

Besides reclaiming what it means to be a South-Asian fusion punk band from the Boston suburbs, the Kominas have been busily building a community of like-minded artists and friends. Usmani said that the band aims to form “solidarity with all people of color, reaching out to those in the wilderness of North America.”

Upcoming Show: Scrabbel @ Hemlock in SF TONIGHT!

Gotta love this poster! [designed by Chris Nakayama]

Scrabbel's first show in ages!

They will be playing an intimate drum-less set and sharing the bill with their out-of town friend Kelly Slusher and her band Imra http://g.virbcdn.com/imra and Pregnant http://www.myspace.com/gloomprarie

Tuesday August 18th
Hemlock Tavern


Rethinking the Ethics of Ethnographic Writing

I feel introspective about my dissertation today. After spending an eventful weekend with my cousin Sophia and her boyfriend Victor, a stream of dissertation-related ideas rushed into my head. Foregrounded in my consciousness is the chapter breakdown. Where do I fit these disparate ideas into the larger chapter outline? Where do the case studies related to the taqwacore phenomenon fit? In the chapter on transnational social networks or on racial melancholia? Or does the taqwacore narrative as a whole work better as a chapter of its own? The mathematical part of my brain began calculating the placement of data relative to the amount of space and information accumulated.

Quickly I became self-conscious of the puzzle-like aspects of this exercise. Is dissertation writing like a solving a puzzle? I began to second-guess the ethics of this endeavor. Ethnographic writing runs the risk of reducing people into “data” as examples or evidence to extend/challenge academic theories. It may be too late to question the social relevance of academic writing. But here’s what I’m thinking: how can I represent the experiences of the musicians involved in my study while avoiding the pitfall of objectifying them? How can I best position their stories relative to useful and socially engaged theories? What can I do to empower the musicians through academic writing?

Academic writing is a mediation of the field experience. Earlier today, a Google Alert directed me to read a review of the first album released by my improv trio Pinko Communoids. The reviewer Jack The Ripper of Heathen Harvest not only wrote incomprehensible prose. In particular, word choice such as “disgust” and “alien” came as a surprise. Pinkos’ aesthetics have never been intended to induce alienation or harshness. We sometimes even distance ourselves from the label of “noise” because of our discomfort with the aggression or violence implied in the genre. Surely, Jack The Ripper “understood” or mis-contextualized our sounds. This is tenable considering that Heathen Harvest as a site is devoted to promoting “post-industrial” music. The genre dissonance between our alleged position in “electro-acoustic improvisation” and post-industrial music could illuminate Jack The Ripper’s “misreading” of our tracks.

One lesson I gleaned today is to consider the position of the performer as discursively vulnerable. Cultural makers are often subject to critical and journalistic interpretations and misinterpretations. [Some people would even argue that a cultural performance in itself is a reinterpretation. No doubt.] The professional impulse to specialize often positions music scholars as music listeners and commentators. Many music scholars simply don’t have time to perform after setting off of the tenure clock.

With that said, I have decided to continue my role as a musician (as opposed to be a music listener per se) not only to satisfy my inner desire to express my ideas and state of being. Embodying the role of the performer is a humbling process. It disciplines me to think and write with empathy.

Taiwanese American Artists Benefit for Typhoon Relief Efforts

Taiwanese American musicians and artists unite to benefit for efforts to relief the catastrophe caused by Typhone Morakot in Taiwan last week. This announcement came through via TaiwaneseAmerican.org. All proceeds made from these artists' events and merchandise sales until August 31 will go toward relief funds. YellowBuzz gives a shout-out to all artists and organizers involved in this benefit!

Taiwanese American Artists & Performers Contribute to Typhoon Relief Efforts!

As of Sunday, August 16th, the government has reported over a hundred deaths and countless injuries in Taiwan due to Typhoon Morakot. Our hearts go out to the many families suffering. Indeed there has been agitation and different emotions as more developments unfold in Taiwan, but we call on Taiwanese America to see this as a time to stand together as a global community.

Showing their true colors of generosity and compassion, many previously mentioned or highlighted artists on TaiwaneseAmerican.org have risen to the occasion! Until August 31st (or other mentioned dates), the following artists have offered to donate a percentage of all their sales to typhoon relief efforts. (Proceeds will be directed towards several of the coordinating organizations and charities that TaiwaneseAmerican.org has mentioned previously.) These artists are doing some amazing and interesting things within our community! Check them out and contribute to Taiwan relief by supporting them with purchases!

Alice Tong:
We last saw her performing and wowing the crowd at Tuesday Night Cafe in Los Angeles! What an amazing and soulful voice! Check out her April 22nd, 2009 Spotlight! http://taiwaneseamerican.org/2009/04/check-out-singer-songwriter-alice-tong.html

Purchase her CD "Small" on Blacklava at: http://tinyurl.com/qkmhgu
Check out her music at: http://www.myspace.com/alicetongmusic

Kelly Tsai:
We also saw Kelly spitting spoken fire in Los Angeles earlier this month. Check out Kelly's website at http://www.yellowgurl.com for your daily dose of wisdom and sass.

All the proceeds from any CD's and chapbooks bought on http://www.yellowgurl.com/store from now until Tuesday, August 18th to the Taiwan Relief Fund! Act fast!

Dawen Wang:
With exciting news of his long-awaited "American Me" CD Release Party on September 12th, Dawen has generously offered us a space where TaiwaneseAmerican.org T-shirts will be selling next to a venue-matched Taiwan Relief donation box. If you're in the Los Angeles area, check it out!


Our July 13th, 2009 Spotlight on Dawen: http://spotlight.taiwaneseamerican.org/2009/07/conversation-with-singer-songwriter.html
Want something a bit more personal? Video interview with Dawen: http://vodpod.com/watch/1900267-conversation-with-dawen-wang

Abe Young:
Abe was quick to offer donations from sales from his thought-provoking and articulate book written as a conversation among three particular individuals. Humanity at Stake: On Why the World Should Now End China's MIlitary & Political Aggression, Understand Taiwan's Democracy, and Defend 23 Million Citizens' Human Right to Self-Determination is available on Amazon and on www.HumanityAtStake.com

Calista Wu:
Our June 10th, 2009 Spotlight, soulful and passionate singer Calista Wu debuted a wildly successful first EP "The Prologue" and didn't hesitate on giving back! Check out and purchase "The Prologue" from Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/nxnwf6

Calista's Spotlight: http://spotlight.taiwaneseamerican.org/2009_06_01_archive.html

Grace Lin:
The prolific and ever so talented children's book author of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is also donating portions of her book sales!

She has many other books under her belt that look like perfect gifts for a loved one or younger friend that's starting to read! Head on over to IndieBooks for more information: http://tinyurl.com/mprt9j

She's donating a portion of sales of her lovely artwork collection at her store: http://www.cafepress.com/gracepacy

Johnny Hi-Fi:
Feel like rocking out and giving to a good cause? Eric Hsu, lead vocalist from Johnny Hi-Fi, has upped the ante and offered to donate $2 from each ticket, CD, and merchandise sale from two upcoming performances at the Taiwan Fest in Canada (Toronto on 8/29 and Vancouver on 9/7)!

If you're in the area, this is a great opportunity to give back and enjoy an amazing concert!


Jenton Lee:
For those that just want to donate by clicking, check out Jenton! A rising YouTube sensation, Jenton has entertained us with his vibrant, likable personality, keen vocals, and such songs like "Taiwanese Night Market".

Watch Jenton's performance of the song here-- donation based on the number of clicks: http://www.youtube.com/jenton#play/uploads/13/fQFxhakOnhM


Shawna Yang Ryan:
Author of the poetically-written and recently-published novel, Water Ghosts, Shawna is donating a portion of her book sales if you forward her your receipt by email. An easy way to do this is to buy your copy online before August 31st at: http://www.amazon.com/Water-Ghosts-Shawna-Yang-Ryan/dp/1594202079 then send an email to shawnayangryan@gmail.com. Tracking sales is not automatic, so don't forget to email!

Visit Shawna's Blog: http://shawnayangryan.blogspot.com

Karen Lin:
You've seen several of the works of music video producer and independent filmmaker Karen Lin, but she's so behind-the-scenes, you often don't know that she's behind some amazing videos out there. On the side, she's been working on some independent film productions, and her current project will be set in Taiwan. Buy a DVD copy of her first award-winning short film, Perfection, and she will donate 50% of the proceeds!



Spirit of Taiwan Concert Feat. Hsu-nami + 拷秋勤 Kou Chou Ching

This should be a terrific show. The Hsu-nami will double-bill with Taiwanese indie hip hop group 拷秋勤 Kou Chou Ching on August 26th in New York. All proceeds will go toward Typhoon Morakot Aid.

This performance date falls on the first week of the fall semester and between the two days that I teach. I will be there nevertheless!


Recent Typhoon Morakot which unleashed the worst floods in 50 years in
Taiwan. and millions of dollars lost and death toll not known as of
yet. After hearing this terrible news, we instantly decided that we
are going to donate all the proceeds from this show to the survivors
and the needs. It's our aid efforts for Taiwanese victims of Typhoon

Admission: $8 (Please mention "The Hsu-nami" to the door person)

This is 21+ show

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
9:00am - 11:00pm
Arlene's Grocery
95 Stanton Street
New York, NY

"The Formosa Spirit Concert" Has the Asian Taiwan Flavor line-ups, features

拷秋勤 Kou Chou Ching - 9pm

Taiwan Indie Hip-Hop band inspired by Taiwan traditional music
elements. In 2008 the group's latest album won the best song award and
best Artist Awards in Taiwan Golden Awards.

They describe themself as "we bring samples of Taiwanese folk songs
and traditional music elements and mix them in HipHop to create a very
unique sound. Through our music, you can hear the voices of Taiwan."

the group has recently been nominated at "Just Plan Folk Music Award"
hold at Nashville, Tennessee.

website: http://www.kou.com.tw
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/koucc

The Hsu-nami - 10pm.

Named after Frontman Jack Hsu (Taiwanese-American), are known for
their virtuosic ”Erhu” melodies intertwined with heavy guitar riffs
and tasteful guitar solos signifying the “progressive Asian sound

A progressive rock instrumental band from New Jersey becoming known as
the first Er-hu Rock Group in America. Their music features a high
level of musicianship that fusions metal, psychedelic rock,
progressive rock and funk. While incorporating the use of an amplified
”Erhu”, a two-string bowed instrument that is often used in Chinese
classical music and folk ensembles to take the place of lead vocals.

Hsu-nami’s music is featured in the 2008 Summer Olympic in Beijing.
The track “Rising of the sun” was the theme music representing the
Chinese Basketball team entrance theme.

website: http://www.Hsu-nami.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/Hsunami


I-Go Slam Poetry House Show in Oakland

This is where I met up with the Good Asian Drivers in Oakland last
night. Poets and poetry lovers of I-Go united in a backyard in North
Oakland under moonlight. Black panthers. Young lovers. Hip hop
rhymers. Butch charisma. Beaut-eeezzz.

Sadly I had to leave early, before the Good Asian Drivers went on. Got
their new disc. Expect a yellowbuzz review of it. Rock on, Drivers!


Is the pentatonic scale universal? Reflections on Bobby McFerrin's Demo of "The Power of The Pentatonic Scale"

Virtuosic vocal improviser Bobby McFerrin "demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale" at the World Science Festival in June 2009. He spoke on a panel called "Notes and Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus."

McFerrin gives the audience visual cues to construct a pentatonic scale. He said at the end of the demo that this exercise has worked for audiences in any part of the world. I'm a little skeptical of the universality of this scale. In fact, there are multiple pentatonic scales. What he demonstrates here is the major pentatonic scale. Pentatonic scale as a term is a European construction of scales that 5 tones. Also known as the 'gapped scale,' a pentatonic scale sounds different from the major and minor scales in most western classical music. Over time, this difference became associated with other differences culturally and socially defined: nationality, class, geography, phenotype, etc. For instance, in the early part of 20th century, Hollywood film music constructed an Orientalist sound based on a pentatonic scale and syncopation for the purpose of depicting non-western or "Asian" characters and setting.

I assume that this particular pentatonic scale demonstrated by McFerrin has gone around the world probably due to its application in recorded music, particular recordings made by US artists. Maybe this has something to do with these audiences being a McFerrin-identified audience. In that case, they could well be familiar with the US or western notions of "the pentatonic scale."


YellowBuzz Contributes to SPINearth

I just got asked to me a contributor or "local correspondent" to SPINearth.tv, an offshoot of Spin magazine that seeks to cover music-cultures across all continents from the ground up. Another way to put it, they're outsourcing their journalistic labor to freelance/amateurs music bloggers like me. This is potentially liberating because it is a form of media decentralization or de-privatization. I'm excited to contribute to something with a wide readership.

Here's my first piece (cross-posted on YellowBuzz): "Memories from the Fourth: The Kominas Collaborate with Like-Minded Hip Hop Artists" @ http://www.spinearth.tv/articles/2354

Here's the screenshot of the North America section on SPINearth. This post is listed first under "Newest":


Poster Done! Taqwacore Fusion on 8/12 in Cville

Poster made! Show details: HERE!

If you're interested in help promoting the show, please post this flyer image on your blogs, websites, myspaces, or in the streets (if you're in Central Virginia). Follow the link to the Flickr page to download the image file of its original printable size.


Media Reflexivity: Kominas Reading about The Kominas via Taqwatweet and Yellowbuzz

A bizarre moment: here's a picture of Shahjehan Khan of The Kominas reading the new Yellowbuzz blog post on The Kominas' show in DC on Fourth of July. This picture is posted on Flickr as a part of the "Taqwatour" photostream created by Taqwatweet. Of course, YellowBuzz found out about this photostream through Twitter.

Media gazing back on media: Is this an example of what Jean Baudrillard calls "the era of simulation"?

Here's a nerdy one: How does indie media figure into the era of simulation [after Baudrillard] or "pre-programmed, objectively existing associations" [Lev Manovitch, The Language of New Media]? This is my flash-response to Zachary Colbert's post "The Era of Simulation: Consequences of a Digital Revolution" on the Adbusters blog.

Finally, Peter T, what do you think?

Memories from the Fourth: The Kominas Collaborate with Like-Minded Hip Hop Artists

I'm still blown away by the memories and sounds left over from that night.

I had the privilege to partake of the intense collaborative moments between the Boston-based Kominas and their para-Muslim-identified compatriot hip hop acts The M-Team and Amir Sulaiman. The event was "the 4th of July New Muslim Cool Screening, Jam Session and BBQ." An offshoot of the annual meeting of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), this even took place at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in northwest Washington DC.

Omar Waqar (of Sarmust and Diacritical) played a solo set pouring forth radiant love from his Sufi-inspired lyrical outcry. Basim Usmani came on stage and said, “there is the New Muslim Cool. But some people say that we are the ‘new Muslim bad.” The Kominas had a different lineup that evening with Basim and Shahjehan Khan on bass and guitar, respectively, and Imran Malik on drums and Elester Rechard Bostick-Latham on trumpet. They blasted the church auditorium with spiritual blasphemy. “Par Desi” and “Sharia Law in the U.S.A.” resounded. The Kominas hardcore fans skanked, slam-danced. I spotted some taqwa-converts in the audience.

The Kominas then collaborated with the Brooklyn-based Latino Muslim hip hop duo The M-Team (featured in PBS documentary New Muslim Cool) and the saintly poet Amir Sulaiman from Atlanta. The Kominas backed up the MC’s providing intense live instrumental sounds. The members of the M-Team took turns rhyming contestational words about politics around faith and race. Sulaiman then took center stage pronouncing heavyweight words about spiritual battles and social unrest. The evening ended on an emotional highpoint. A congregation full of social misfits, however defined, shared and expressed life's discontentment while swaying, dancing, hollering, throwing fists in the air all enveloped within a spiritual cacophony. The spirit was triumphant; the music elated.

These are some moments that I managed to capture by my camera:

Omar Waqar

Imran Malik

Shahjehan Khan

Amir Sulaiman

Basim Usmani

The M-Team

More from this photo set.


YellowBuzz Returns + Pictures of Renminbi in Charlottesville

Yellowbuzz has finally returned from the IASPM conference meeting [International Association for the Study of Popular Music] at the Institute of Popular Music in Liverpool and vacation in Ireland and England. I have a true media overload accumulating documentation of shows, events, and memories in my machine pending for blog posts.

A few weeks back, I organized a show at the Bridge PAI on 7/5 in Charlottesville. The show featured the super-rad Brooklyn-based indie rock trio Renminbi on their 2-week tour of the south and midwest. Renminbi's set, though had be cut short due to time constraint, struck an impressive balance bringing out the best of the raw and the refined in contemporary indie and post-punk sounds. In addition to their loudi-licious set, they thoughtfully provided us with earplugs.

The members of Renminbi crashed at my place. I had the privilege of chatting with guitarist Lisa Liu about her experiences of being Chinese American and a rock guitarist. We had a great time exchanging stories about family, music, and trip to Asia. [Psst, we're conspiring a tour of Taiwan with a double bill featuring Renminbi and my duo Grapefruit Experiment next summer. Let me know if you or someone you know can help with that!]

The event also showcased Wanli [one of my former students' band] from Northern Virginia and The Hilarious Posters of Charlottesville.

Here's a set of photos that I took at the show:




More from this photo set.

By the way, I just upgraded my Flickr account to "pro" status. This means that all pictures I have ever posted are now availabe for browsing on Flickr. Check out all 10 YellowBuzz photo sets consisting of 329 performance photos!


YellowBuzz and HzCollective Present: Taqwacore Fusion in Charlottesville 8/12

Taqwacore Fusion
feat. The Kominas + Sarmust + Prop Anon + Oblisk + Jdavyd Williams and the Basement Bhaktis

presented by HzCollective + Yellowbuzz
Wednesday 8/12/2009
Doors @ 7:30pm | Show @ 8pm
The Bridge PAI [thebridgepai.com]
209 Monticello RD, Charlottesville, VA. 22902
Suggested Donation

South Asian Punks THE KOMINAS (Boston) and SARMUST (DC) are embarking west on a three week tour to bring decimation along the I-80 interstate. Also joining them will be Prop Anon, whose undefeated free styles occupy a grey area between rap, and punk rock. They plan to raze venues through New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah, Nevada, California, Texas, Misissippi, up through to Virginia, Philly, and finally to New York and New England. These will be the first performances west of Chicago - concerts that have been highly anticipated since the last tour in 2007 was profiled in the Rolling Stone, Newsweek, and Maximum Rock N Roll. Garnering praise from media has been easy for the groups, who were quickly lauded for "giving disenfranchised young Muslims a voice" (The Guardian, UK), though such press is misleading. For these hooligans, the only intention is to destroy. This is not your grandfather's 1977, or your crusty uncle's 1982. These groups are here to tell you what time it is, whether they have to bum rush the show - or not.

The Kominas were formed in the summer of 2005, and have released 2 demos and one full length since, titled Wild Nights in Guantanamo Bay - which made a Boston Globe top ten list in 2008 by reviewer Siddartha Mitter. Smoked with acrid sarcasm on tracks such as Sharia Law in the USA, Suicide Bomb the Gap, and Wal Qaeda Superstore - conservative blogs quickly labled them a 'Jihadi rap group'. This is inacurate because the Kominas unload ammunition much faster than any Taliban. Like an unmanned predator drone, the group is known for providing quick blasts of bhangra infused hardcore and rap to incur maximum colateral damage. Since 2005, the band has performed with legends such as 45Grave (LA), The Genders (Tel Aviv), Riz MC (London) and M-Team (NYC).

Sarmust is a twisted splicing of anarchist sufism and indie-punk, masterminded by award winning sitar player Omar Waqar. A longtime stalwart of the DC hardcore scene, his music has become the bridge between dischord and simple harmony. The band Omar took on tour with him in 2007, Diacritical, was recorded and co-produced by Don Z at inner ear studios, where legendary records by Bad Brains, Q and Not U and Fugazi were cut. Determined to disembowel Ravi Shankar with a chipped cooking spoon, Omar Waqar's take on sufism is unapologetic - the name Sarmust is taken from a famous Sindhi saint whose condemnations of the clergy lead to his decapitation. Waqar has taken Sarmust's death on like a debt that needs to be paid in blood, and probably his own.

Propaganda Anonymous (Prop Anon) is a Situationist art experiment embodied as a B-Boy philosopher and media theorist submerged within the underground Hip-Hop scene of NYC. Rocking spots harder than semtex since 2002, Prop Anon released his first EP 'Todo Corazon' to underground acclaim. This EP is currently available for free download on his website Propanon.com. Prop is releasing his first full-length album "Squat the Condos" this summer, and is pushing the envelope of sound into a fresh genre of Hip-Hop and Post Punk. Prop also writers a column about "Hip-Hop, Punk Rock and Consciousness" for the widely read webzine Realitysandwich.com.

Band Sites:
The Kominas (Boston): http://myspace.com/thekominas
Sarmust (DC): http://myspace.com/sarmust | http://suchrecords.com
Prop Anons (New York): http://www.myspace.com/propagandaanonymous
Oblisk (Detroit): http://www.myspace.com/oblisk
Jdavyd Williams and the Basement Bhaktis (Charlottesville): http://jdavydwilliams.com/live/ | http://www.myspace.com/jdavydwilliams

Related Media:
Kominas, Sarmust on Current TV: http://current.com/items/90212670_the-kominas-taqwa-core-and-south-asian-punk.htm
Kominas, Sarmast/Such Records on MS NBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/30965845#30965845
The Taqwacores, The Kominas, and Mike Knight on NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=107010536

Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=102442527297

This event is presented by YellowBuzz and HzCollective.

Please REPOST!


Kite Operations: Music for AAIFF Trailer

Joe of Kite Operations informed me of one of the band's recent projects. Kite Operations made composed and recorded music for the trailer for the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) taking place July 23-26, 2009.


Video Alert: Taqwatour 2007-2009

I stumbled on this video that highlights moments from the Taqwatour in 2007. It features the Kominas, Omar Waqar (Diacritical/Sarmust), Vote Hezbollah, The Secret Trial Five, Al-Thawra, among others.

TaqwaTour 2007-2009 from taqwacore on Vimeo.


Hiep Le and Trang Vo Visit Summer Course on Global Pop

We had the pleasure of having guest performers Khanh Hiep Le and Diem Trang Vo in our class MUSI207/307 Global Pop this week. A song-writer, guitarist, and vocalist, Khanh Hiep Le now works an electrical engineer in San Diego. Le also played professional soccer when he was younger. Vocalist Trang Vo now works as a realtor and lives in Northern Virginia. Both Le and Vo came to the United States from Vietnam in the 1980s.

In their lecture, Hiep and Trang talked to us about their experiences of music-making in the transnational Vietnamese communities on the east and west coast of North America, and across the Pacific Ocean in Vietnam. Recently, Hiep released a solo record of all original songs. The money made from CD sales will go toward a charity group that helps families in Vietnam. In order to accommodate for the project's charitable aims, Hiep produced the CD in Vietnam. Collaborating with a Vancouver-based videographer, Hiep made a music video for “Cuoc Tinh” off of the album.

Trang has performed as a vocalist for over thirty years. She leads the Diamond Band, an 8-piece band consisting of three vocalists. The Diamond Band performs at least once a week for weddings and other celebrations and events in the multiethnic Northern Virginia. Of high demand, the band is booked up until next summer. Trang’s son Ken Nguyen explained that the mission of band is to bring people together through music. The band performs a diverse repertoire ranging from pop songs in Vietnamese to American oldies and Iranian tunes.

Hiep and Trang generously offered their talent to the class. Hiep performed a couple of songs from his album. Interspersed with stories of personal relationships and inspiration and vivid answers to the students’ questions, Hiep’s performance and talk showed not only his passion for music, and more importantly, the deeply meaningful role of music in his life. Trang blessed us with her beautiful voice. With Hiep’s acoustic guitar accompaniment, Trang sang “Noi Long” and “Crazy”, one in Vietnamese and the other in English, reflecting their linguistic and cultural versatility. According to Ken, “it was a real treat,” because Trang never performs without a proper microphone and sound system.

The class reciprocated with their loudest applause. After class, a number of students came up to express gratitude and exchange words with the guests. We thank you, Trang and Hiep!

Here's Hiep's video for “Cuoc Tinh”:


Independent Rock in Hong Kong

While browsing Rice Cooker, a resourceful blog on Southeast Asian (punk) music, I stumbled upon a video on made by Will McCallum of Journalism and Media Studies Centre, University of Hong Kong. This short video features the story of art rock group Chochukmo and other Hong-Kong-based indie rock bands who struggle in the cultural landscape dominated by Cantopop, a mainstream commercial music genre spawned locally.


Like an Ethic: What I Learned from Michael Jackson

During the first 12 years of my life in Taiwan, I was hooked to the practice of "keeping up" with the latest in pop culture in Taiwan and abroad. Through my connection to extended family in the U.S., I was able to obtain nifty cultural artifacts such as Ghostbusters model kit, Strawberry Shortcake blanket, Batman board game, Garfield puzzle set, and New Kids on the Block book covers (only then to find that American textbooks are much larger than their Taiwanese counterparts). The internationalization Toys "R" Us allowed me a more immediate access to American pop culture. I remember asking my parents to take me to the newly built Toys "R" Us in Taipei so I could pick out the items on my birthday wish list. The tremendous selection of made-in-U.S.A. toys in the store was both fascinating and overwhelming.

One day, my uncle, who's only 12 years older than me, said that he had gotten tickets to see Michael Jackson's concert in the largest indoor sports arena in Taipei. Well-versed in American pop music because of MTV (my parents were among the first people to install cable television once it became legal in Taiwan in the late 1980s), I learned of Michael Jackson's high status within the American music industry. I was thrilled to experience the real Michael Jackson live. With our inexpensive tickets, we sat way up high in the stadium among not-so-hardcore international fans of Michael. Witnessing Michael moon-walking across the multicolored stage in his white outfit, although not understanding the lyrics of all his songs, bewildered me.

The King of Pop wielded magic that night. Without understanding the context of American society--racial dynamics, gender relations, etc--I was overtaken by the performance power of Michael Jackson at the age of 9. It was mesmerizing, not like a Disney-sque fairy tale but more like a documentarian snapshot of the American life. Maybe it was the spectacular stage production, the screaming fans, or the astronomical performance venue, or some combination of these things, I remember it as a quintessential "American" experience. Maybe it was then that I became obsessed with live music performances. Maybe it was my first ethnomusicological moment.

After I moved to the US with my family, one of the first things I learned about was the entrenched racial tension between the American blacks and whites. Michael Jackson's "Black or White" suggested that there could be a middle ground, or least it was cool to celebrate social harmony across racial divide. Michael's playful, anti-binary ambiguity in gendered and racial terms compelled me like an ethic. This was my secret identification with MJ.

Like the whole rest of the world, I am mourning the passing of Michael Jackson. I choose not to talk about his life as a celebrity and judge him based on the highly mediated information regarding his biography. Instead I focus on the effects of his music, dance, and artistry as they resonate with my experiences as an Asian American individual and a music lover. Rest in peace, Michael.

Asian American / transnational musical tributes to Michael Jackson

Asian American / transnational musical tributes to Michael Jackson:

Bamboo Shoots did a mash up of the Indian (Bollywood) Thriller video with their song "Hey Girl." The syncing between the audio and the video is almost impeccable. Well done, guys!

David Choi, a self-made Youtube star, recorded a cover of Michael's song "Ben." David Choi uploaded this video two days before MJ's shocking death. The somber sincerity profused in this performance, rather ominously, coincides with the world's lament over the loss of MJ.


My Students' Creative Use of Media for an Assignment

My students in MUSI207/307 "World Music": Popular Music and Transnationalism made a video instead of a typical reading discussion today. The assignment asks them to have mastery over the assigned reading and come up with a list of discussion questions. Along with the interactive video, these questions were read by one of the students in class [not included in the video]. And following each question was a class discussion sprung off from the question. I thought that this video 'discussion' was very creative and entertaining, perhaps verging on being 'inappropriate' for a class. But - I decided to post it to 'show off' these students' creative use of digital technology. Yes, I am proud.


Video: Who Are The Kominas?

In this video, the Kominas discuss the community aspects of taqwacore. They also talk about their lyrical and asethetic ambivalence between satire and politics. They mention the South Asian affiliations and various streams associated with the Kominas. Maybe this is the reason that Omar Waqar sits with the Kominas as if he's one of the Kominas. Can I be a "Komina" too?

I'm working on booking a show in Charlottesville for the Kominas and Omar's new band Sarmust. Look out, Charlottesville!


Shilp Ray's Outdoor Acoustic Set @ Northside

Because of fatigue from my day job (now teaching a summer school), I missed the entire weekend's festivities at Northside Festival, for that matter. Thanks to blogs and other indie media outlet, I can catch some moments of fun in Billyburg this weekend.

Here's Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers playing an acoustic set at the corner of North 6th and Wythe @ Northside Festival. Video, courtesy of Johnny Diamond at The L Magazine.

Here are some pictures of Shilpa's set posted on The L Magazine blog.

Press Release: 'Hay Qua' Unveils Jam-Packed, Out-of-the-Box Line-Up of Rising Asian American Innovators

From Food to Fashion: 'Hay Qua' Unveils Jam-Packed, Out-of-the-Box Line-Up of Rising Asian American Innovators

"Hay Qua!" Mini-Fest
Saturday, June 27th / 10-4PM
The Bitter End (147 Bleecker St)
Register: www.thatsneaat.com

NEW YORK, NY (June 13, 2009) -- New York is the stuff of dreams, and "Hay Qua!" celebrates this day and night. On Saturday, June 27th, the mini-fest is celebrating big with an impressive roster of passionate, creative thinkers/performers who have continuously pursued their dreams.

In inviting the renown presenters to share their ideas/insights, projects, and anecdotes, "Hay Qua!" hopes to inspire its audience to revisit their own dreams, to draw inspiration, to connect with one another, to wonder, to take away something new, to bring something forth. To witness the beauty of the human imagination at work.

A sampling of imaginative minds at "Hay Qua!":

Alex Nguyen, Trumpet Player // www.alexnguyenmusic.com
Ali Wong, "Best Comedian 2009" by SF Weekly // www.aliwong.com
An Xuan Nguyen, Owner of 'BEP' // www.beprestaurant.blogspot.com
Bao Nguyen, Photographer // www.baonguyenphotography.com
Doan Hoang, Director of 'Oh Saigon' // www.ohsaigon.com
Ina Adele Ray, Director of 'El Paso, Vietnam' // www.adeleray.com
Jared Rehberg, 'Operation Babylift' // www.thebabylift.com
Kim Spurlock, Director of 'Buoi Chieu' // www.kimspurlock.com
Phong Bui, Publisher of 'The Brooklyn Rail' // www.brooklynrail.org
Tam Ngo, Reviewer for 'Serious Eats' // www.seriouseats.com
Thu Tran, TV Host of IFC's Food Party // www.thutranthutran.com
Tracy Nguyen, Publicist for Estelle // www.iprmktg.com
Tuan Bui, Owner of 'An Choi' // www.anchoinyc.com
Vinh Hua, Spoken Word Artist // www.vinh-hua.com
Yen Ha, Partner at FRONT STUDIOS Architects // www.frontstudio.com

But hurry, folks. The "Hay Qua!" + Kollaboration Combo Tickets are now $50 and are only available until 6/22, or until it's SOLD OUT – whichever comes first! Join others from as far as Canada, California, Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana, DC and and as close as Philly and Connecticut. And if you're in a group, email thatsneaat@gmail.com for the group discount and accommodation help!

Contact: Lisa Nguyen
Communications Director
(303) 808-136