Woodie Alan Band
From Music-China Wiki
Woodie Allan Band, Beijing based Blues band
- Vocals and Guitars: Alan Paul
- Dobro, Lap Steel and backing vocals: Woodie Wu 武萌科
- Sax: Dave Loevinger
- Bass and back vocals: Zhang Yong 张咏
- Drums:Lu Wei 卢炜 (Maya, Zhang Tie & Band, ex-AK-47)
(taken from Alan's home page)
Woodie Alan, Beijing’s premier blues and jam band, is a collaboration between three Chinese and two American musicians. The result is a powerful amalgamation of sound. After just over a year together, the quintet was named 2008 Beijing Band of the Year by City Weekend magazine, after winning the English language magazine's Reader's Poll. That was just the beginning of the story.
After winning the award, the band began touring in earnest, covering much of China, bringing their Beijing Blues to Xiamen, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Changsha and Shenzhen. Though blues music is not well known in the country, Woodie Alan has received rapturous welcomes everywhere they have gone.
The band headlined the Xiamen Beach Festival in front of 5,000 people in that beautiful coastal city and performed on some of the country’s leading radio stations in the media center of Changsha, Hunan province. The radio appearances and intensive media coverage led to three consecutive sold-out performances. In front of highly charge, deeply appreciative fans.
"Woodie Alan has really pushed forward the development of blues in China by playing hundreds of well-received shows,” Guitar China wrote on its widely read website. The site’s principals were so impressed that they signed the group to their record label, releasing the debut CD, Beijing Blues, in May.
The CD features eight originals, including the band’s signature song and title track, “Beijing Blues,” as well as two tunes written and sung in Chinese by bassist Zhang Yong. The songs by both Zhang and Paul are not standard blues fare, evoking the Allman Brothers Band, Bob Dylan, Govt Mule and many others, while sounding like no one but themselves. The disc also includes unique takes of Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” and the American classic “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”
"We won't cover anything if we can't make it our own and I can't sing a song unless the lyrics feel as if I could have written them," says singer/guitarist/songwriter Alan Paul. "We try to reinterpret everything with our own distinct stamp."
The band’s namesakes are the American Paul and Chinese guitarist and dobro master Woodie Wu.
“I never would have guessed that the blues collaborator I sought for years was waiting for me in Beijing,” says Paul.
American saxophonist Dave Loevinger and a powerful Chinese rhythm section of Lu Wei (drums) and Zhang Yong (bass) complete the band.
The interplay between Wu’s weeping slide guitar and Loevinger’s wailing sax lies at the heart of the group’s sound.
“I met and jammed with Woodie and Dave separately, then started hearing a sound in my head with the sax in one ear and the slide in the other, with my acoustic guitar and voice in the middle,” says Paul. “I had to get together to see if this vision was brilliant or insane.”
It turned out be the former. After several acoustic trio gigs, Woodie recruited Lu Wei and Zhang Yong, whose fiery push and solid foundation kickstarted the band.
“The name Woodie Alan is obviously tongue in cheek,” says Paul. “But it’s also just our names and that’s a statement; this is us. We don’t have any pretense or personas. We don’t wear costumes or have stage names. We get on stage and pour ourselves into the music and hopefully listeners can hear that passion.”
Woodie Wu has been a fixture on the Beijing rock and blues scenes for over a decade, performing and recording with many bands before spending three years making a name for himself in Melbourne, Australia. He returned to Beijing in 2005.
A gifted guitarist, Woodie is now focused on harmonica and the 8-string lap steel guitar, the rich, evocative tones of which are at the core of the group’s signature Beijing Blues sound.
As a senior writer and editor for Guitar World magazine for over 15 years, Alan Paul has interviewed and written about countless guitar greats, including B.B King, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia and the Allman Brothers’ Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman.
“I have had a great career writing about music, but it’s nice to now spend more time playing it than talking about it,” he says.
After moving to Beijing in 2005, Alan began writing the popular , award-winning Expat Life column for the Wall Street Journal Online while also contributing to the Wall Street Journal, Slam, The Insider’s Guide to Beijing and many other publications.
Saxophonist Loevinger, who plays alto, tenor and the beguiling midi breath controller WX-5, played for 10 years with the renowned D.C. R&B band Jimi Smooth & Hittime. They recorded two CDs and performed countless gigs at embassies, frat houses, bars and festivals.
Loevinger, who oversees the U.S./China economic relationship for the Treasury Department, attacks his horn with intensity, building masterfully dynamic solos that kick every song into overdrive.
“Dave raises the stakes every time he solos,” says Wu. “Playing with him is so much fun. We’re at our best when we are all listening closely to each other and every note anybody plays can subtly shift the direction of any song.”
Lu Wei and Zhang Yong lay down the band’s bedrock foundation. Lu Wei, who is sponsored by the drum company Troyan and the cymbal maker Paiste, is a Chinese legend, with a thriving website and a growing fanbase. He is fast becoming Beijing’s first-call drummer, performing with dozens of artists across all genres.
Zhang Yang spent years in the popular Chinese band Zi Yue (Confucius Says). He also plays ukelele and is a master of the traditional seven-stringed Chinese instrument the guqin. He brings a distinctive melodic flair and a keen sense of musicianship to the band.
Together, these five very different musicians form one kindred core, Woodie Alan.
“Best Chinese blues band I ever heard. Who knew?" - Billy F. Gibbons ZZ Top
“Simply Amazing.” - Col. Bruce Hampton
“A can’t-miss Beijing phenomenon. Always TsingTao time when these guys are playing.” - City Weekend
“The very essence of world music.” - Brad Tolinski Guitar World
- Celphone: ++86-139-1172-8921
- Email: email@example.com
Beijing Blues (Woodie Alan Band) May 2009