If you love music, then you definitely shouldn’t miss Hong Kong’s brand of jazz and blues during your visit. :)
“The music scene of a city is usually related to the city itself,” observes Tjoe (pronounced tee-joe) Man Cheung, a jazz and blues guitarist, songwriter and producer who’s performed all over the world.
“Hong Kong is a blend of Chinese heritage with an English background. It was famous back then.” It still is now. “Lots of Western musicians have stopped by during their concert tours. So far, I’ve seen Jesse van Ruller, Alex Sipigian and Nils Landgren at (the venue) Peel Fresco,” he points out.
“So besides the locals, plenty of decent musicians may stay over for a little while longer. Sometimes they’ll sit in at local gigs. This is something I like – you can make a connection with anyone who drops by Hong Kong, which is good for us and for our future projects.”
He loves the way things have evolved too. “In the beginning, in the ‘50s, musicians were all ‘imported’ from outside, like Mainland China and Southeast Asian countries. They were the first generation, working in hotels and bars,” he recounts.
“After that, more locals went abroad to study, yet they returned to Hong Kong – thus we’re getting more musicians filling up the spaces. Also, more people have started to learn jazz music, with more locals learning music in Hong Kong in the last six to seven years. The local music venues are getting more popular too.”
It’s given us a lot of good choices, that’s for sure. Tjoe, for one, has released two EPs, Flow in 2014 and Flow London in 2016, and formed a jazz band called NTBM (which stands for not-to-be-missed). They launched an album called and orange in 2017.
So if you’re looking for an unforgettable jazz and blues performance, he knows where to go (and you might even catch him playing there too).
#1 Fringe Club
“This venue is actually a multi-purpose space that includes a theatre, restaurants, cafes, and live performance and exhibition spaces. They usually host Big Band shows on weekends at Fringe Dairy. (Here’s a sample.)
“They do a lot of jazz programmes, and they always provide an open platform for jam sessions – as well as masterclasses or workshops, especially in 2018.
“Fringe Club is very close to Lan Kwai Fong, so you can still hang around after some jazz.”
#2 Peel Fresco Live Music Bar
“They host live performances every night from Tuesday to Sunday, featuring different jazz or blues artists in town or from abroad. Sometimes you’ll be surprised to see some world-class acts playing here.
“For me it's the best one. It’s a tiny, cosy venue, and you’ll be sitting very close to the musicians and watching them from a short distance. Sometimes you’ll find some foreign musicians passing by and sitting in with the house band.”
#3 Salon No. 10
“They have live music every Wednesday and Thursday night, mostly jazz and blues and featuring singers. Sometimes they have a Latin band sitting in. You won’t be disappointed here. Also, the decorations and interior design of the lounge are futuristic and classy.
#4 Ned Kelly’s Last Stand
“It’s probably one of the longest-running live houses in Hong Kong with a solid house band. They’ve been hosting live performances almost every night for the past 20-plus years.
“I love it when I’m with a bunch of friends just to hang out and drink, with easy-listening music that makes me happy.
“If you like New Orleans style and entertaining music, and are looking for a place to chill, then this is for you.”
“It’s a new venue that I’d like to put in my list. They started having live music in 2018, and now twice a month on a Friday. I included them because they support musicians playing their own compositions – very respectful.
“Wontonmeen is a very stylish place. Inside an independent, old and traditional Hong Kong building, it has a hostel upstairs, a café on the ground floor, a music venue at the back – and also an architect’s studio in the mezzanine floor. Both the music and the place itself are worth checking out. The owner collects many antique knick-knacks. But I love that the audience usually concentrates on the music.” (Here’s why.)