HIGH TIME MISS VANDETTA TAKES HER BROKEN WINGS AND FLY

By Hans Ebert
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My longtime friend Munir (Alsagoff) in Singapore shared some music videos with me last week of another friend from the fairly old days: Vanessa Fernandez.

What stopped me in my tracks was seeing a very familiar name on one of them: Leland Sklar, one of my musical heroes and a bass guitarist who’s played with everyone who’s anybody. James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Toto, Carole King, Phil Collins, and part of The Section with Russ Kunkel, Craig Doerge, and Danny Kortchmar.

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BACK IN THE DAY THERE WAS A JEW AND TWO TURKS WHO CHANGED THE FACE OF MUSIC FOREVER…

By Hans Ebert
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It seems to have all happened back in the day. It probably did. And because “back in the day” was a much more simple time, we seem to keep needing to go back there often to understand how so much happened to change the world and educate ourselves on those game changers.

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Respecting the music and where it all came from

By Hans Ebert
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The song “Respect” is such an amazing history lesson. Written in 1965 by Otis Redding for Speedo Sims, what first drew me into the song was the guitar playing of Steve Cropper. I bought any recording that featured him. Was he white or black? Black, I thought when things like this mattered. Times change. Maybe. We grow up. We embrace the music. We go back and learn where it all came from. It’s a rainbow connection.

Those were the days when some of us bought records because of the session guys involved. Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Booker T Jones. Jones was one of the first musicians I interviewed as a young journalist. It was at a dinner at the Aberdeen Floating Restaurant. He had been married to Priscilla Coolridge, and here I was sitting next to the man who had given the world the instrumental “Green Onions” and released as Booker T and the MGs- drummer Al Jackson, Dunn and Steve Cropper. I was with greatness.

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THE TIMES THEY ARE-A-CHANGING. THIS TIME, FOR REAL.

By Hans Ebert
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It’s signalling the end of an era. It’s heralding something new about to happen. Some of us are wondering what’s in store next.

Some of us are facing our own mortality. And though trying to live life to the full in the allocated time given and move forward, there’s the nagging feeling that the race has been run and it’s time to coast. And so you wait for things to happen. The answer is on Netflix because it’s hipper than Facebook. Really?

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Where and when the Hong Kong music scene lost its way…

By Hans Ebert
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Hong Kong has been Canto Popped and Jazzified. When it comes to music and something remotely approaching a music scene, there’s no middle ground. One is in one camp or the other. Rock was forced to roll over and disappear. There’s a sad story to why that happened.

As for where music in this city is today, and though loathe to bring ageism into this subject, what comes out in the wash is a very tired ‘look’ with the usual suspects going round and round in circles.

Let’s stop with the Lack Of Venues mantra. Why not think about the lack of musicians? Especially very good musicians. How many are there in Hong Kong? Twenty? Ten? Less? And musicians playing what?

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STILL WAITING FOR ROLLING STONE TO GATHER NEW MOSS

By Hans Ebert
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One didn’t know them, but their writing drew us into the world they inhabited. They were teachers, they were guides and we learned and understood more about music and musicians and songs from them, because they were there- part of that inner circle. They knew the secrets. They were, to some of us, our Book Of Knowledge. It gave us a direction. We didn’t need Wikipedia and all the other online clutter. We needed a spliff and time to read every page. And then re-read it all again. It was about the MUSIC and the MUSICIANS.

These were writers like Cameron Crowe who hung out with Led Zeppelin and went on to write and direct and produce the semi autobiographical “Almost Famous”. And if you haven’t listened to the Soundtrack, do. It’s a wonderful lesson in music appreciation.

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THE RUNAWAY TRAIN THAT IS MUSIC…

By Hans Ebert
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One friend was wondering if we’d ever hear what he termed “real songs by real songwriters”- tunesmiths like the teams of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and Lennon and McCartney.

There were then those songwriters who wore their hearts on their sleeves led by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Jimmy Webb, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the musical stories of Dylan, the Brill Building commercialism of Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Sedaka and Greenfield, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Boyce and Hart, Neil Diamond and so many others.

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SPOT A FLY AND SPOTIFY: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE

By Hans Ebert
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When the majors talk about the money they’re making from the streaming of music, they’re not lying. It’s more than a good soundbite. Where the real truth lies is that only around twelve of their most important artists with big back catalogues that continue to sell and are protected by armies of legal crossfire hurricanes share in the financial repast. And even though those golden days of these artists are spluttering to an end where even the Asian region which used to take in any touring act from the West are now saying, Thanks, but no thanks, there’s that association through name. It’s an attractive magnet for similar deals and ammunition for the future in case anything new might come up.

Where things are on hold right now is that the old business mantra of “It’s the economy, stupid” is baaaaack. Today’s consumer has a much greater choice of everything than ever before, and music is being pushed further and further back. It’s not important anymore.

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WHY THE HONG KONG MUSIC SCENE REMAINS STUNTED

By Hans Ebert
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“We’re not pushing the envelope. We’re licking the envelope.” I said that to a musician friend of mine recently who shan’t be named as he has to work in Hong Kong and do what he has to do to make a living.

As for myself, I’ve now come to a point where I really don’t care what anyone thinks and am spending more and more time away from the usual chatter that doesn’t seem to have an Off switch. It’s boring as none of it leads anywhere except maybe to a Facebook page that has no relevance to where I’m heading.

Forget the tiresome excuses about there being a lack of venues. There have been venues and they closed because they went bust. The Morrison Cafe comes to mind. So does the doomed-from-the start Orange Peel. There’ve been more.

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MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE REAL WORLD…

By Hans Ebert
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It’s about sheeple. Gawd knows where we took the wrong turn, but we did and all individuality and independent thinking has gone out the window.

It’s now all about conforming, but this new “conforming” has to do with aimlessly following some invisible Pied Piper of Hamlyn who’s taking us everywhere and nowhere. It’s like an old Jeff Beck hit called “Hi Ho Silver Lining.” “You’re everywhere and nowhere, baby, where did you go?” I really don’t know.

It’s become a chore to find people one wants to be around, let alone work with to create The New. Everywhere, and no matter where one travels, it’s listening to those who say they “get you”- but they don’t- and others who blabber on while you order another drink and try to numb the pain of listening to, well, stuff. Irrelevant stuff. But it’s the only stuff around.

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