by Steven

Interview: Travis Taylor

March 13, 2011 in Music by Steven

Australian blues musician Travis Taylor shares his thoughts and experiences about playing music in Qingdao. Special thanks to Conan and Karyn at The Australia China Development Company for their help with this interview.

Do you have any upcoming gigs in Qingdao?
I just returned from Hong Kong and Zhuhai after playing 4 gigs in 3 days and during March I will playing at The Copthorne Hotel in the Lobby Lounge and some private shows. We are hoping our Premier of South Australia will visit Qingdao during April as part of the 25th Anniversary of Sister State Relations between Shandong Province and South Australia and there is talk that I may again perform at the Government Gala Dinner. Qingdao and Adelaide (my hown town) have a Friendly Cooperative City relationship which we hope to upgrade to full sister city status this year during the 25th Anniversary year.

Now that I am back in Qingdao I am doing some gigs around the Qingdao bars as well as some private functions. I was supposed to leave China in early February and just visit to prepare for a summer tour but now due to the interest in the blues and jazz scene I will stay until mid-April. I will be returning to Qingdao again in August to play during the Qingdao International Beer Festival and this time I am planning to return with my support band. I would really like to show my friends here the full show. I have also sat in regularly with the bands at Club New York bar and Intercontinental Hotel during my stay and hope to continue doing this as it is very enjoyable and have made some firm friends through these impromptu jams.

What is your impression of Chinese music fans? Have they responded to your music in similar ways as Australian fans?
Chinese music fans have been very responsive to the music I have been performing. They have a very good understanding of the energy (Qi) required to perform in front of many people which is not always the case back in Australia. In 2008 when I last toured China with Conan Fahey and The Australia China Development Company I was concerned with the language barrier but my concerns dissipated very quickly after a couple of performances. It seems the Chinese audiences respond to the emotional content of the songs rather than the lyrics in particular. This has made it very enjoyable and personal for me because the blues is all about emotion and depth of feeling.

Do you play with any Chinese musicians?
Not yet but I would like perform ‘Chinese” versions of the blues and would certainly like to meet and play with any Chinese jazz or blues musicians. I would like to play and jam with any Chinese musicians I meet from Reggae to Hip-Hop. My goal is to collaborate with a wide variety of musicians and performers, music is a universal language and a great “Healer”.

Why do you like the blues?
I like the blues because I feel it is honest music, direct from the heart. I like all types of music but as a performer I feel most comfortable in the blues genre. As a songwriter/producer I have written and recorded music for film and television, jazz, Latin, country and even children’s music. I have performed as a sideman in bands of all types including reggae, folk and even heavy metal. When it comes to performing, the blues is what I feel I do best. Since I arrived in China I have added some Chinese songs to my repertoire which is appreciated and well received. It has certainly added to the little Chinese I know. I intend to keep expanding my Chinese set list and would like to perform a number of blues duets.

You have recorded many CDs over the past 20+ years. Any plans to record in China?
Whilst in China this time I intend to press a CD for the Chinese market that I recorded last year in my home studio. I have no immediate plans to record in China though I have been writing and recording songs with my mobile studio whilst here. I would dearly love to record or produce some music with any Chinese bands or solo artists. I am interested in producing a music video that can incorporate the attractions of Qingdao and the vibrant music and club scenes.

Which Chinese bands have impressed you most?
I did a support gig for a great Chinese band, Free The Birds, at Redstar magazine’s HQ in January and was very impressed with their high energy performance. I think they could play anywhere in the world and get a favorable reaction. I was particularly impressed with their drummer who I found out later had only just joined the band. He certainly drove the band with great groove and precision. I thought they had great original songs and their delivery was very polished.

How does Qingdao compare to other venues for music?
I have found the venues I have performed at in Qingdao all very well equipped. They have have good production and PA equipment and very helpful technicians. They all have been well set up for live music which is not always the case elsewhere in the world as music is sometimes secondary to other forms of entertainment. For example in Australia many venues now are full of poker machines and gambling facilities which causes music to be relegated to a form of secondary entertainment. I am not the only musician to have noticed these changes in the last few years.

What is your most memorable experience while performing in China?
My most memorable experience was the first time I performed a Chinese song at a government function for the Qingdao CCPIT. I was very worried that my pronunciation would leave the Chinese audience wondering what I was singing. They recognized the song and told me my pronunciation was spot on. I put this down to having a very good and patient teacher (thank you Rose). The song was Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin (The Moon Represents My Heart), a very famous and romantic old song.

What do you see as the future of music (and specifically the blues) in China, in Qingdao?
I see music in China expanding very rapidly. With very responsive and appreciative audiences, great technicians and equally good production and PA equipment. Venues hold a high regard for live performance values and thus set up their venues to cater for this. It is my belief that many more musicians will make the trip to China for this reason. Once China is exposed to more blues music I know the people who find it to their liking will do research on the blues long and deep history. This will very quickly make them a very discerning audience and I look forward to being a part of this future growth. I haven’t been in Qingdao for the summer yet but I know that sunshine, sand and sea make a good setting for a party atmosphere and this is when blues music steps to the fore.

Relevant Links:
Free The Birds in Qingdao
The Australia China Development Company

by Steven

Sinan Sailing

March 13, 2011 in About Qingdao by Steven

Sinan Sailing is a major part of the sailing scene in Qingdao. In 2010, the club organized 2 youth group regattas authorized by the Qingdao Yachting Association, one in May sponsored by Yew Chung International School (YCIS) and a second in October sponsored by the National Organisation of Community Sailing Programs (NOCSP).

Sinan Sailing recently announced the extension of their sailing season to 8 months of the year for 2011 (April 1 to November 30) and is presently seeking sponsors for a group of recently acquired Spanish boats- Itakas which carry around 8 people- suitable for learning and sailing with a small group. This year Sinan Sailing will upgrade its club facilities and open the May/October regattas to adults. Contact them for more info about on-sail advertising and brand promotion in China’s Sailing City.

Sinan Sailing Qingdao China

Relevant Links:
Sinan Sailing

by Steven

2011 Sudirman Cup 5.22-29

March 11, 2011 in Events, Sports by Steven

The 2011 Double Star Badminton World Federation Sudirman Cup will be held in Qingdao from May 22 to 29 at the Qingdao Sports Center at Haier Lu and Yinchuan Dong Lu. The Sudirman Cup is an international badminton competition named after a champion badminton player from Indonesia, Dick Sudirman. The Badminton World Federation sanctioned event began as a tribute to Sudirman at the World Team Championships in 1989 and is now one of the top badminton events in the world. Defending champs China are seeded first for this year’s tournament, followed by Denmark, Indonesia, and Chinese Taipei. Full seeding table available here. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) governs the world sport of badminton and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

More info from the Badminton World Federation

The Sudirman Cup – the World Team Championships – is held every two years and is one of the most prestigious titles for badminton. It is also the only BWF world event for men and women competing together in national teams. The event was first hosted in 1989 with 28 national teams. It now attracts more than 50 national teams. Only three nations have won the Sudirman Cup since its inception – Indonesia (1 – once), Korea (3 times) and China (6 times).

The first Sudirman Cup tournament was played in Indonesia in 1989 and it became a biennial event with the first few competitions staged in conjunction with the World Championships. The idea of a mixed team event first came up during IBF Council meetings in 1986 and by 1988 the IBF had accepted and approved the regulations for the competition to be staged in conjunction with the World Individual Championships. The IBF accepted from the Badminton Association of Indonesia, a memorial to the late Dick Sudirman in the form of a cup to be known as the ‘Sudirman Cup’ and to be presented to the winners of the World Mixed Team Championship. Dick Sudirman, as well as being a long-serving member of IBF Council, first as a Councilor and then Vice-President, was known as the father of Indonesian badminton and was a champion player in his own right. He was a founder of Bulutangkis Seluruh Indonesia (PBSI – The Badminton Association of Indonesia) and served as its President for 22 years.

By the 8th Sudirman Cup in the Netherlands (2003), the event had grown sufficiently in world stature for it to become a stand-alone tournament in the world badminton calendar. There is no prize money for this event – just the prestige of playing for ones country. In addition there are valuable BWF World Ranking points to be earned and this is particularly important for countries in the lower groups in an Olympic Qualifying period.

Relevant Links:
Badminton History and More Info
Badminton World Federation Official Site
Badminton World Federation on Wikipedia

Photo Credit @ China Daily

by Steven

Qingdao Sister and Friendly Co-op Cities

March 10, 2011 in About Qingdao by Steven

Qingdao has Sister City or friendly cooperative city guanxi with a host of cities around the world. These two types of designations for city links are close enough to be considered as one big family, though some see the friendly cooperative relationship as less committed. View a list of Qingdao’s sister cities below.

The first sister city tie was in 1979 with Shimonoseki, Japan.

Qingdao’s sister and friendly co-operative city ties include places in Australia (Adeleide, Cairns), United States (Long Beach, Miami), and Russia (Perm, St Petersberg). Sister city relationships are designed to foster trade and cultural exchanges between the 2 cities involved and it seems to be working for Qingdao – check out some more info on a delegation from Qingdao visiting Long Beach, CA to invest, sign business deals, and have a look around the area.

More from Long Beach’s Gazettes.com:

The United States Employment Development Lending Center (USEDLC), along with the Long Beach Qingdao Association, will greet the visitors. “This group and future groups our company will be bringing in will focus more on these aspects of joint ventures with both cities and both countries,” said Leo Zhou, USEDLC president. “It will be more business-oriented.” USEDLC, located at One World Trade Center, has gained the credentials to work within the U.S.’s EB-5 program — which is an employment-based visa preference category. Essentially, USEDLC helps facilitate investments from Chinese entrepreneurs that link to businesses in the U.S. through Small Business Administration 504 loans and commercial loans. If the investment creates (directly or indirectly) 10 sustainable jobs, that entrepreneur could be granted a green card in three years (normal processing could take as long as 10 years). We have this particular group — all from our sister city Qingdao,” Zhou said. “Some of them have already agreed to invest, but mostly all of them are conducting this business trip to get a better understanding of our environment in Long Beach.”

List of Qingdao Sister Cities:

  • Shimonoseki, Japan
  • Long Beach, California, USA
  • Acapulco, Mexico
  • Wilhelmshaven, Germany
  • Odessa, Ukraine
  • Daegu, South Korea
  • Nes Ziyyona, Israel
  • Velsen, the Netherlands
  • Southampton, UK
  • Galway, Ireland
  • Puerto Montt, Chile
  • Paderborn, Germany
  • Perm, Russia
  • Iloilo City, Philippines
  • Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Klaipėda, Lithuania
  • Bilbao, Spain
  • Nantes, France
  • Miami, Florida, USA
  • St Petersburg, Russia
  • Makassar, Indonesia
  • North Shore City, New Zealand
  • Vila Velha, Brazil
  • Pattaya, Thailand

List of Qingdao Friendly Co-operative Cities:

  • Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Mannheim, Germany
  • Incheon, South Korea
  • San Francisco, USA
  • Chisinau, Moldova
  • Port Sudan, Sudan
  • Orlando, Florida, USA
  • Tangier, Morocco
  • Rijeka, Croatia
  • Pyeongtaek, South Korea
  • Naruto, Japan
  • Västergötland, Sweden
  • Adelaide, Australia
  • Da Nang, Vietnam
  • Nicosia, Cyprus
  • Edmonton, Canada
  • Oakland, USA
  • Los Angeles, USA
  • Skagen, Denmark
  • Brest, France
  • Kobe, Japan
  • Fukuoka, Japan
  • Busan, South Korea
  • Gunsan, South Korea
  • Cairns, Australia
  • Iloilo, Philippines
  • Veneto, Italy
  • Braunau, Austria
  • St Louis, USA
  • Vento, Italy
  • Kitakyushu, Japan
  • Houston, USA
  • Saint Petersburg, Russia
  • Rhine-Ruhr, Germany
  • Vila Velha, Brazil
  • Richmond, Canada
  • Regensburg, Germany

Relevant Links:
Long Beach and Qingdao Celebrate 25 Years as Sister Cities
Qingdao on Wikipedia (includes Sister City and Friendly Co-operative City lists)

Photo Credit @ The Australian China Development Company

by Marcus

Qingdao Birdspotting

March 10, 2011 in About Qingdao by Marcus

After 19 Years, the Ancient Murrelet Returns!
On the March 8, 2011 front page of the Qingdao Evening Newspaper (Wan Bao/晚报) was talk of an extremely rare sighting of an Ancient Murrelet, which occurred just off the southern coast of Qingdao on Monday, March 7. Although the bird is quite common in the northeastern Pacific off the coasts of Canada, it has not been spotted around Qingdao since 1992.

In China it is listed as a Susceptible Species in the Endangered Species Red Book, although populations in the Pacific Northeast seem to be less at threat, and do not even make the endangered list. Supposedly reasons for decline in the Yellow Sea include coastal oil pollution as well as predation on their eggs, mostly by fisherman that is (and we are going to surmise that the use of fishing nets as traps has also played no small part in the decline of local populations).

According to local engineer and ornithologist Wang Ximing, the Ancient Murrelet frequently breeds on the Japanese archipelago, but within China, they only tend to breed on the rocky islands off Qingdao’s coast, as they are not the most courageous birds and like to hide their nests away in the precipitous rock cliffs found here. The birds usually arrive in the area around January and mate during February-March, which is one of the earliest mating seasons of any local bird. At this time crustacean populations flourish in the sea, which is one of the main parts of their diet. Wang Ximing also point to the decrease in Qingdao fish populations as another factor in the birds’ local decline.

In Chinese, the Ancient Murrelet is often referred to as a small penguin, with its black body and white belly resembling that of its flightless cousin. The etymology of its Latin scientific name, Synthliboramphus antiquus, extends back to the first sighting by a European, who decided its white eyebrows and sideburns resemble that of an old man’s, thus the Ancient.

Wang Ximing would also like to push to make the bird a type of ‘mascot’ for Qingdao, bringing not only more attention to its decreasing numbers in the local area, but also more to promote bird conservation ideas in general. It is quite a peculiar bird in that it is the only member of the auk family that raises its young entirely at the sea. Just a few days after the eggs hatch, the fledglings scuttle out to sea at night (to avoid terrestrial predators) where they will swim almost five miles out to sea where the parents are waiting while calling for them. Once in the ocean the parents care for it for several weeks.

More on Qingdao’s proposed mascot from PBS:

“But the bird with least connection of all to land is the ancient murrelet, filmed at Buldir in the Aleutian Islands. This strange bird has dispensed altogether with the need to return to land to feed its chick, unlike most seabirds, which return to land to breed and feed their chicks on land until they are almost fully grown.
The murrelet lays its eggs in burrows. The chicks hatch and, for the first day, feed off their egg sac. Then, at dead of night, two days after the chicks hatched, the parents fly out to sea, calling their young to follow with a continuous sparrow-like chirping. The fluffy black and white chicks, still unable to fly or feed on their own, pour in a living flood down the hillsides. They evade killer mice and insomniac ravens, and hurtle for the surf like downy toys on clockwork legs, heeding the call of their parents. They don’t stop when they reach the water, but pursue their parents into the breakers and swim five miles out to sea. Once here they will continue to be fed for a few more weeks until they can fly.”

Relevant Links:
Qingdao Newspaper Group Online

Photo Credit @ Birds Korea

by Steven

Nanwu 4.01

March 10, 2011 in Events, Music by Steven

Nanwu performs at the Owl Bar (aka sHooters) in the Olympic Sailing Center on April 1, 2011. Nanwu is a folk rock band that mixes traditional Chinese vocals and instruments with modern pop and rock elements. Read more about the band on the Rock in China Wiki.

Listen to Nanwu on Myspace.cn.

When: April 1, 8.00 pm
Venue: Owl Bar (sHooters) / 猫头鹰酒吧
Location: Olympic Center Bar Street / 奥帆中心酒吧街
Tickets: Door 40 yuan (RMB), Advance and Students 30 yuan (RMB)
More Info: 136.6886.6600

Relevant Links:
Nanwu on Rock in China Wiki
Nanwu on Douban
Nanwu on Myspace.cn
Nanwu Blog

by Steven

Dude 3.25

March 7, 2011 in Events, Music by Steven

Dude performs at the Owl Bar (aka sHooters) in the Qingdao Olympic Center on March 25. The punk band based in China was influenced by the American group Me First and The Gimme Gimmes. The band describe themselves as “a punk rock cover band that covers only the most famous and infamous pop songs throughout China”.

Listen to Dude on Myspace.com and Myspace.cn. Watch a video of Dude playing Nobody on Tudou.

When: March 25, 8.30 pm
Venue: Owl Bar (sHooters) / 猫头鹰酒吧
Location: Olympic Center Bar Street / 奥帆中心酒吧街
Tickets: Door 40 yuan (RMB), Advance and Students 30 yuan (RMB)
More Info: 136.6886.6600

Relevant Links:
Dude on Rock in China Wiki
Dude on Myspace.com
Dude on Myspace.cn
Dude on Douban

by Steven

Little Mermaid 3.27

March 7, 2011 in Arts, Events by Steven

The Little Mermaid (小美人鱼) will be performed by Queensland Ballet at the Qingdao Grand Theatre on March 27, 2011. The adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s famous fairytale was choreographed by Queensland Ballet Artistic Director François Klaus with special elements to appeal to children and adults alike. Queensland Ballet is touring China as part of the Year of Australian Culture in China.

When: March 27, 7.30 pm
Venue: Qingdao Grand Theatre / 青岛大剧院
Location: 5 Yunling Lu, Laoshan district / 云岭路5号
Tickets: 50-380 yuan (RMB)
More Info: 8066.5555

Qingdao Grand Theatre Little Mermaid

Relevant Links:
Queensland Ballet Official Website
Queensland Ballet on Wikipedia

Photo Credit@ Rachael Walsh as the Little Mermaid with dancers of Queensland Ballet; Photographer (main image): Ken Sparrow, Photographer (mermaid): David Kelly

by Steven

Qingdao Liuting International Airport

March 6, 2011 in About Qingdao by Steven

The Qingdao Liuting International Airport is Qingdao’s main civil airport. It is located in Chengyang about a 45 minute drive from downtown Qingdao, depending on traffic – going by Highway 308 can shorten the trip a bit if there’s no traffic jams while the Qing-Yin Expressway makes for about an hour trek from Qingdao’s CBD. The airport was expanded in 2006 partially in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also to accommodate the rapid growth and projected increase in cargo and passenger volume. The design for the new airport expansion was done by the Australian firm Woodhead, an award winning company who have designed airports in Singapore and Sydney.

The IATA 3 letter airport code for Liuting Airport is TAO, reflecting the former spelling of Qingdao as Tsingtao which still appears on Qingdao’s greatest export, Tsingtao Beer. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) ID of the airport is ZSQD, which stands for Zhongguo Shandong Qing Dao.

Statistics from JCDecaux website show that passengers are mostly Chinese – 87% on domestic flights and 50% on international flights. Total passenger volume in 2010 was 11 million, up from 9.8 million in 2009, with a projected record breaking figure of 12 million in 2011.

Relevant Links:
Airport Codes ICAO/IATA
Qingdao Liuting International Airport on Google Maps Place Page

Image Credit @ Woodhead

by Steven

Qingdao Double Star vs. Dongguan Leopards 3.06

March 6, 2011 in Events, Sports by Steven

The Qingdao Double Star Eagles are hoping to improve on last year’s less than stellar performance when they play at home against Dongguan on March 6. Come out and cheer the Eagles’ league leading scorer Charles Gaines against the 2nd place team in the CBA. Tickets range from 60 to 200 yuan (RMB) and are available at the venue (enter via south gate on Hong Kong East Road).

When: March 6 (7:30 pm Tip Off)
Venue: Qingdao University Arena
More Info: 8268-4351

Relevant Links:
CBA 2010-11 Schedule and Info (English)
Official CBA website (Chinese)
Official Qingdao Double Star website (Chinese)
Qingdao Double Star 2010-11 Roster (Chinese)
Qingdao Double Star 2010-11 Schedule (Chinese)
Qingdao Double Star on Sina (Chinese)
NiuBBall (CBA news and more)

by Steven

Qingdao Symphony Orchestra: Dvorak 3.05

March 5, 2011 in Events, Music by Steven

The Qingdao Symphony Orchestra opens the 2011-12 Concert Season with a tribute to Dvorak at the Qingdao People’s Hall on March 5. Conductor Jan Latham-Koenig (“one of the finest conductors the United Kingdom has ever produced”) and Concertmaster Liu Yuxia lead the QSO through a program which includes Violin Concerto in A minor, Op.53 with Lv Wei on violin and Slavonic Dances, Op.46, No. 1. There will be a pre-concert talk at the music corner in the hall at 6.50 pm and the concert begins at 7.30 pm. The Qingdao People’s Hall is on the corner of Taiping Lu and Daxue Lu near Xiao Qingdao and Zhan Qiao.

When: March 5, 7.30 pm
Venue: Qingdao People’s Hall / 青岛人民会堂
Location: 9 Taiping Lu / 太平路9号
Info: 8289-7211

Qingdao Symphony Orchestra Lv Wei Violin

Relevant Links:
Qingdao Symphony Orchestra Official Website

Photo credit @ Moriya

by Hunter

Qingdao Double Star vs. Foshan 3.04

March 3, 2011 in Events, Sports by Hunter

The Qingdao Double Star Eagles are hoping to improve on last year’s less than stellar performance when they play at home against Foshan on March 4. Come out and cheer the Eagles’ league leading scorer Charles Gaines against Foshan and ex-NBA standout Stephon Marbury. Qingdao (10-18) is presently in 13th place in the 17 team league with just 2 home games to go. Foshan (9-19) isn’t faring much better in 15th place. Tickets range from 60 to 200 yuan (RMB) and are available at the venue (enter via south gate on Hong Kong East Road).

When: March 4 (7:30 pm Tip Off)
Venue: Qingdao University Arena
More Info: 8268-4351

Relevant Links:
CBA 2010-11 Schedule and Info (English)
Official CBA website (Chinese)
Official Qingdao Double Star website (Chinese)
Qingdao Double Star 2010-11 Roster (Chinese)
Qingdao Double Star 2010-11 Schedule (Chinese)
Qingdao Double Star on Sina (Chinese)
NiuBBall (CBA news and more)