ST. PETERSBURG – Chinese rock and roll takes center stage with a lecture by author/musician Jonathan Campbell and the first concert in the area by ReTROS (Rebuilding the Rights of Statues).
These special events will be presented in conjunction with the major exhibition, “My Generation: Young Chinese Artists,” which continues at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg and the Tampa Museum of Art through Sunday, Sept. 28.
Red Rock: The Long, Strange March of Chinese Rock & Roll – An Introduction to China’s Contemporary Music Scene by Jonathan Campbell, will be presented Wednesday, July 16, 6:30 p.m. Cost to attend the lecture is $5 and includes admission to the entire museum.
Campbell lived in Beijing from 2000 to 2010 and was immersed in the rock scene as a drummer, chronicler, promoter, agent and friend. His writing has appeared in a range of international publications. He has booked Chinese tours for dozens of bands from around the world and taken Chinese bands to Europe and the United States.
The lecture will focus on the history of yaogun (Chinese rock), which emerged not from underground music scenes, but from a near vacuum after the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and its resulting disillusionment.
Campbell has attended international music conferences as part of Chinese delegations and preached the yaogun gospel at music and literary festivals, schools, universities and venues around the globe. He has been called a “stalwart of the Chinese music scene,” “an instrumental behind-the-scenes (figure),” “the busiest man in Beijing showbiz,” and “the Dr. [Norman] Bethune of China’s rock scene.” He now lives in Toronto.
“Red Rock: The Long, Strange March of Chinese Rock & Roll” is Campbell’s first book. Copies will be available for purchase in the museum store. He will sign copies after his lecture. For information, visit jonathanwcampbell.com.
A concert planned to coincide with the museum’s recurring UNCHartTED Random Acts of Culture, which are presented third Thursdays, 5 to 8 p.m., the Chinese rock band ReTROS (Rebuilding the Rights of Statues) has been canceled. The band was expected to perform offsite Thursday, July 17, 7 to 11 p.m., at Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
The MFA announced Monday that the concert had been canceled because the drummer was unable to receive his Visa.
Tickets were $12 for the concert only or $15 for a combo ticket that includes the concert and lecture by Jonathan Campbell on July 16 at the MFA. Ticket refunds are available at the MFA welcome desk. For more information, call 727-896-2667.
ReTROS released their debut EP, “Cut Off,” on Modern Sky Records in 2005. During the recording sessions, the group attracted the attention of the legendary Brian Eno, who provided guest keyboards on several tracks. ReTROS has combed the Internet (which is strictly regulated in China), black-market CDs, mix-tapes and the music they have heard abroad for inspiration. Frontman Hua Dong cites bands like Bauhaus, Joy Division, Television, and Pere Ubu as some of his greatest influences.
Raised by Nanjing intellectuals, Hua Dong was exposed to rock at an early age and began writing songs and playing instruments in his teens. After studying abroad in Germany, he returned to Nanjing, where he began drumming for seminal Chinese rockers PK14.
He met bassist Liu Min in the Nanjing underground music scene, and the pair eventually drifted to Beijing in 2003, where they were introduced to drummer Ma Hui. Hua Dong switched to guitar, and the indie-rock band Rebuilding The Rights Of Statues was born. The trio soon began electrifying Beijing audiences with their darkly riveting, powerful performances.
In 2007, ReTROS toured the United States and performed at SXSW (South by Southwest Festival) in Austin, which garnered press in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Village Voice, among others. While in New York, the band appeared on ABC’s “The Mix” and was later featured on NPR. ReTROS has since released its first full-length album, “Watch Out! Climate Has Changed, Fat Mum Rises.”