Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

When Irish bands are playing

Posted by Kimberly on March 13, 2008

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
March 13, 2008 (883 words)

Three-man Irish band Bahouki may not be well known in Macau but come St Patrick’s Day, March 15 with the celebrations planned at Starworld and it’s likely the whole neighbourhood will be entirely familiar with their music by night’s end.

Consisting of David May (fiddle), Oliver Quinn (boron, mandolin, flute, bazookie) and John Hutton (singer and plays guitar, harmonica), Bahouki have been around for more than a decade in Hong Kong but have never played at any of that SAR’s Irish bars. Both David and Oliver come from Ireland originally, although John hails from Scotland.

The trio sat down to an hour (or three) of beer and questions about their music, beginnings and goals.

Oliver: Our base is in Celtic music and from there we find something to do that’s punchy and we do swing, music form the 1920s and 1930s. We do a lot of songs from the 60s, 70s, 80s.

[on beginnings]

David: Oli and I were living in the Republic of Ireland, not together, but about 100 miles apart. There was a radio show that were looking for an accordion player and an Irish fiddle player to go out and play music in Bangkok. So we met each other there and played there [in Bangkok] for a while and then moved on to Hong Kong, and played there for a while. At that time, Oli had never had a drink in his life, smoked a cigarette or been with a woman. He’s still never been with a white woman!

[All round laughter]

David: So anyway, about a year and half later, [about 1998] we were thinking that we needed somebody to sing, maybe play the guitar. So I got talking to John [Hutton]. You remember that?

John: Yes! I remember like it was ten years ago…

David: So he said yeah, he’d love to do it and he’s been regretting it ever since.

[All round laughter]

David: It’s been a rocky road but mostly its been quite progressive and that’s how we met. The core of the band [has been going for 12 years].

[on highs and lows]

Oliver: One of the lows was during SARS in Hong Kong and we couldn’t get any concerts because nobody was hiring and we ended up busking at the Convention Centre and selling our CDs on the street.

David: Oh yeah, that was great…

Oliver: Well that had an upside because we had a song called ‘take off your mask and kiss me’ which had been caught by the news camera when we were busking. So at that time, we went to Taiwan and other parts of China [to perform].

[On returning to Hong Kong after SARS]

Oliver: I remember at that time we were doing other jobs. I was doing a bit of acting and a bit of teaching. We started off with the basics again and eventually we started getting more and more contacts and we started moving up again. There’s going to be ups and downs.

[On keeping up with the competition]

Oliver: In Hong Kong, even though there is a higher expat population the music doesn’t differ from, I would say from experience, Macau. It’s much better here.

[On the reception in Macau]

Oliver: They seem to like the music more [in Macau]. They seem to want to get into it and on some level, even understand it whereas perhaps in Hong Kong there isn’t that sense of wanting to be anywhere near the music. It’s more as a background. Here and in other places we’ve played in, there’s far more interaction and therefore we play a lot better!

John: There are nine Irish bars in Hong Kong and we don’t play in any of them.
Oliver: It’s a different type of culture.

[On the possibility of Australia]

Oliver: It’s definitely something we’d like to try. I don’t see why not. I’ve never been there.

[On trying to get ahead in the business]

John: I was sitting inside a washing machine box one time in Japan. I covered it in tin foil and got someone to write in Hiragana the name of two songs. So I’m sitting there in the box, with a little hole. Eventually, one pissed guy came up and chose an Elvis Presley song. So I stood up, out of the box, did the song and went back in. He kept standing there and eventually he came back up to the box and asked me, ‘aren’t you lonesome?’

[On dreams and goals]

Oliver: Eventually there’ll be some sort of world day, incorporating entrainment from different cultures. I’d love to be involved in something like that. You turn on the news nowadays and there’s a whole lot of negative comments about what’s happening in the world. You have to look up the internet to find information about anyone doing something good.

John: We’ve never played in Europe as a band, only in Asia. Just never been to Europe at the same time.

The St Patrick’s Day festivities is an annual Macau tradition hosted by the Irish Bar which will include Bahouki and another band. It will be held this year at Galaxy Starworld’s ballroom. Further information and the possibility of still-available tickets can be had by phoning +853 82 0708.

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