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":