Chinese band "Dublingers" puts the Irish in Beijing

Mon Mar 16, 2009 12:33pm EDT
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By Lucy Hornby

BEIJING (Reuters) - The crowd is happy, the music is swirling, and two men jump up, Guinnesses in hand, for a quick jig. It could be any Irish pub on St. Patrick's Day, except that the musicians are Chinese and the pub is in Beijing.

"Dublingers" is a unique band, bringing together four Chinese who taught themselves Irish music and a French jazz player living in Beijing. Their name shows they have one foot in the Chinese capital and the other on the Emerald Isle.

The stories that led the band to perform Irish music are as unusual as their line-up.

"Years ago, I saw the movie Titanic, and I was really taken by the scene when they were all dancing below deck," said Cheng Yafei, a burly coal mining machine salesman by day and blues guitarist by night.

"I thought, Hey! this music sounds great. Where does it come from?"

Cheng, who had migrated to the blues after discovering the guitar and the Beatles in college, then taught himself to play Irish music.

He was invited to join the infant Dublingers by percussionist Li Hong, who learned Irish music while playing in a rock-and-roll band at an Irish pub in Beijing. He picked up the bodhran, or Irish drum, at a music fair in Shanghai.

Violinist Zhang Yang rounds out the band, which plays about three times a month in Beijing and had a busy round of gigs this week.   Continued...

<p>The band "Dublingers" performs at a pub in Beijing in this February 3, 2009 handout photo. REUTERS/Handout</p>