|From L to R, we have: Liu on bass, Monk on lead (if you can say that in music terms, check with Rolling Stone) and Patterson doing his opera-trained vocal "thang." (Photo source:china.org.cn/宋"Siren"阳)
By Elsbeth van Paridon
BEIJING,Sept. 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Patterson, "Everything was new when I got here, of course; and very grey; black and white I might add. I just wanted one thing in my life here to be more or less the same as back home, something comfortable, and that was music."
Whether these three Beijing-based part-time musicians are gentlemen pur sang, I shall leave in the middle for now, but one thing's for sure: this ain't about country ‘n' western folks -- though their music does have a folksy touch to it. All three men grew up in the countryside on both sides of the pond that is the Atlantic Ocean. Representing the United States, we have John Patterson (26), vocals and tambourine y'all, from good ol' Tennessee and bass player Ashton Liu (27) from, well, basically all over the place. With a U.S. passport to boot, that is. Third (lone) ranger and lead guitar Greg Monk (24) hails from Yorkshire, England. Who? What? Why? How? I had the men face the music, just let me have this one, of my myriad questionnaire. I'm no Rolling Stone employee and cannot tell a Fender from a Gibson, but still I present to you: the Country Gentlemen.
That Beijing zing
Liu, "The people, the friendships [with both Beijingers and foreigners] forged over the course of five years; we've grown up together, embarked on our careers together, and now some of us are starting families. It's the people here that do it for me."
Different strokes for different folks. Every year, China's capital, Beijing, welcomes flocks of foreigners to the gates of its Forbidden City; some are just tourists, some come here for travel and end up staying and yet others come to the city with specific goals in mind. All three "gentlemen" belong to the latter category. Unsurprisingly, their motivations do still vary like different chords. Liu, who works on the client side of a Chinese-foreign app development company, has held an interest in all that is China since his early teens. Having grown up across the U.S. and Singapore (where he first studied Mandarin in school), he came to China to live with a host family in his high school years (2002) and made his definite move here after graduating from university. His interest in the language together with the U.S. recession of 2008, made it "the natural choice to make," he explained. Patterson arrived at Beijing's Terminal 3 in early 2013, flying in from South Korea, as he wanted to be part of the bigger global picture. "China is the world, so to speak, and in 10 or 20 years, we will benefit from the time and effort we invest in it now – such as in learning the language and experiencing life here," he explained.
You only get one chance at a first impression. And Beijing, or China for that matter, sure does know how to make one. Now an English-Chinese translator for a Chinese online gaming company, Monk first arrived here when on his (typical British) gap year, to find himself surrounded by the vastness that is Xinjiang. He found China to be "an assault on all your senses – the noise, the smells, simply everything." When he made his way back to the nation after finishing his Bachelor degree in Chinese Studies in England back in 2011, he opted for Beijing, where he upon arrival thought it was "quite polluted; cliché but true." I think we can all agree on that. Nevertheless, the "colorful night scenes of the city stand in stark contrast to its grayness"; a sight for sore eyes I'd say.
All three men agree on one aspect of the city: its development and pace of life is "crazy-fast" and Beijing surely does have that special zing to it. What way will that zing swing then? Will it evolve into world domination in 10 to 20 years time or will the city or nation reach the point of implosion? That remains to be seen, according to the band, yet rest assured, "China will have a significant role on the global stage."