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Monday, September 13, 2010

(Probably) The Best Mandolin Player in China

This is Tom Pang of the local bluegrass duo Lan Cao (蓝草 lan2 cao3), which literally means "blue grass". His partner Jerry Liu also plays a pretty mean banjo. I love to listen to these guys play. They are both awesome musicians - & bluegrass music reminds me of home.

Tom & Jerry (they meant to do that) are from a small town in Inner Mongolia (think: Ghenghis Khan), where no one has ever heard of bluegrass. But a friend of theirs from the US gave them a copy of a Nickel Creek CD, & they fell in love with the sound. They decided to study the mandolin & the banjo, & now bring bluegrass to the masses in Shanghai.

I haven't heard them play any of their own songs yet. Most of their music is good old timey bluegrass, which would make my bluegrass pickin' friends back home happy. They do get creative with it, though. Last weekend I heard them do a rendition of Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall. "Hey! Teachers!" (banjo riff). Fun!

Although Lan Cao has changed venues several times since I've been in Shanghai, I always make sure that I know where they're playing. I guess that makes me a groupie, but I don't mind. Bluegrass makes me happy.

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