Clive Chin

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 October, 2010, 12:00am

Tonight, 9pm, Phonograph;
tomorrow, 10pm, Backstage Live

At last year's Clockenflap music festival, a reggae legend got a kick from a young lad who came to shake his hand.

'I really felt honoured to play at that event,' Clive Chin says. 'It's the first time a kid walked up to me and he held out his hand and he thanked me and said, 'Mr Chin, I really liked your set'.

'I thought, 'Oh God, a kid!' That really made my day.'

The kids, it seems, are ever-more important to 50-something reggae veteran Chin (right), who as a producer worked with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Alton Ellis, and the Skatalites, among others.

Chin is on an educational mission to keep the spirit of the music he lives and breathes alive, and to spread the reggae love to China. To help him achieve that, he's doing a special Q&A session at Phonograph tonight followed by a DJ performance tomorrow night.

'It's very important, because China is now opening up and I feel that there's a need for the Chinese people to know about the music and where it came from, how it got started, the elements behind it,' Chin says of his trip to our shores. 'So I'm really not just playing the music, I'm bringing a different dimension. It's best for them to know it first-hand, not coming from a third-party source.'

Chinese-Jamaican Chin lives in New York but was at reggae's epicentre during its heyday in Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1960s and 70s. His father owned the influential record store Randy's and later added a studio in which Chin took a leading role.

The Chin family moved to New York in the mid-1970s to establish independent reggae label VP, and in 2007 Clive started his own spin-off imprint, 17 North Parade, to reissue classics from the archives.

In recent decades, reggae has taken a dive in its homeland, according to Chin. 'The reggae today in Jamaica has lost its direction a little,' he says.

'Since the computer came in during the mid-80s, it has lost its flavour.' All the good music, he says, is to be found in the back catalogues.

Chin seems to hold brighter hopes for this part of the world. In Hong Kong he'll be playing alongside Shanghai's Uprooted Sunshine Soundsystem and young diva Chacha, who performs reggae in Putonghua.

'It's coming up, mon, it's happening,' Chin says of mainland reggae. 'They're really, really anxious and they're hungry for the music. I can see it in a couple of years, they will master it - just like the Japanese did.'

Chin says Bob Marley would approve of this mission to China. 'He'd be so happy,' he says. 'I feel that had he lived longer, he would have made that exodus - it's just that his life was short.'

Phonograph, 2 Austin Ave, Tsim Sha Tsui, free; Backstage Live, 1/F, 52-54 Wellington St, Central, HK$180 (before midnight), HK$220 (after). Inquiries: 9180 8426