Henry Chung and the HK Blues Allstars

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2007, 12:00am

HK Live!, Fringe Club July 7, 10pm

Hong Kong-born (and now based) Henry Chung discovered the blues on Eric Clapton's Unplugged album, which he heard at 15, when he was at school in the US.

But his inspiration for picking up the blues harmonica came during a trip back to Hong Kong in 1998, when he heard William Tang. 'I gave it up after a few days,' he says. 'But the blues called me again in the States and I really started to learn the instrument.'

That was in 2001, when Chung met a homeless man busking with a harmonica and asked him for advice on how to learn the instrument. He told him to practise on the first three holes. It turned out to be good advice. Chung is now a highly adept blues harmonica player and also plays the chromatic instrument.

'I play folk, pop and the blues, but the blues most heavily because it really lets my feelings out. When I'm playing blues harmonica you can tell it's the real me on stage.'

Chung first made his name playing gigs around Washington DC with Jesse James Johnson and his band Jesse James & the Raiders. Johnson, who died recently, was Bo Diddley's bass player in the early 60s. Organist and pianist Bill Heid was also a mentor for Chung, who became a player in Heid's trio. He was also a founding member of the Clarence Turner Blues Band. Despite working days as a lawyer, Chung managed to share stages with bluesmen such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters' guitarist Bob Margolin, Joe Louis Walker and Tab Benoit.

After about 31/2 years working in the US, Chung returned to Hong Kong late last year. He lost no time in putting together a band and is playing gigs at the Blue Door, the new Wyndham Street club Bloomers, Grappa's Country and the Fringe Club.

'I want to contribute to the culture in Hong Kong,' he says. 'Because I was educated in the US I can bring some of that back. The blues scene in Hong Kong was quite small before and it's been so encouraging lately because I've played five sold out shows since I came back. That shows people in Hong Kong enjoy blues music.'

Chung plays an exuberant brand of electric Chicago blues. 'When a lot of people think of blues music they think it's sad, but it's not. When I play it I want to make everybody happy.'

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