Hong Kong's underground jazz clubs share at least one thing in common: an obscure location in and around Central. A residential clubhouse in Robinson Road, tucked away on dimly lit Wo On Lane and in an office building in Pottinger Street. They are also Hong Kong's last small, well-priced venues providing quality home-grown jazz and blues entertainment. The oldest of these is the Rickshaw Club, a quaint Mid-Levels joint based on 1930s Shanghai. The high ceiling fans, 1930s Chinese posters and rattan chairs create a unique piano bar hideaway amid dry-cleaning outlets and residential buildings. Owner Jon Benn came across the venue 3.5 years ago. 'There was a clubhouse in an existing building that wasn't being used,' he said. 'I made the developers an offer to have a jazz bar in the basement, they accepted and I got a grand piano and drum sets, so people can come in and jam when they want. I liked the high ceilings, we end up having really good sound.' Since coming to Hong Kong from California 27 years ago, Mr Benn has been in the restaurant industry setting up various establishments throughout the territory. So when it came to opening a piano bar he was already his element. 'I always thought there should be a place called the Rickshaw in Hong Kong. Finally I had a rickshaw made in Guangzhou, bought a baby grand piano and we had a Rickshaw piano bar.' The Rickshaw offers different forms of jazz entertainment nightly and is always open for musicians to have jam sessions. Regulars here include blues artists William Tang and Larry Allen and a Japanese jazz group, Kenny and His Flying Machine. 'If a group want to play here regularly, they come to me and audition. They're invited to come in and jam once or twice on any night. This is a small place, so an ideal band is no more than four to five people with good sound who fit in with the atmosphere. We can't afford to bring in big names, this is good jazz but not high-priced jazz. 'Being in the Mid-Levels, we have an ideal situation. There are 200,000 people who live within a 10-minute walk. Sometimes they get home from work and don't feel like trekking down to Lan Kwai Fong, and our prices are lower. Once people find it they keep coming back.' Somewhat more rustic with more of an underground 'working man's' jazz club feel is Swing, in Wo On Lane. The club is owned by Jason Ho, a Singaporean whose hobby is playing jazz. 'I have a lot of musician friends, and we were all running out of places to play. I had a party in this place, it looked comfortable, I thought something could be done with it. That was in July 1996. I started the club in two weeks. I was providing something that was needed. I needed it.' For the first few months Swing was solely a weekend bar, but by last October, once the scene had started to pick up, Mr Ho opened it nightly. The club, a Thai restaurant by day, is attached to Woodstock, a live pop-and-rock venue Mr Ho describes as an MTV Unplugged-inspired bar. 'With two venues, people have a choice. The bigger room is more comfortable with better sound, the smaller room is the acoustic room.' Mr Ho's inspiration was similar to Mr Benn's: 'When I first came here I thought the music scene here would be very vibrant; to my shock it wasn't. There are good places for live music but you have to pay quite a bit. The concept of Swing is very simple. I always wanted to keep it simple as the music is what counts.' Swing's atmosphere is relaxed, as is the scheduling of live entertainment. 'Sometimes musicians are recommended to me, some just come down and jam. A lot of musicians come to jam here. I can tell straight away if they are suitable.' Equally unorthodox is Visage 1. Situated in Pottinger Street, this cubicle-sized club is a hair salon until Saturdays when it throws its doors open at 9pm to freelance musicians and folks who want a dose of bluesy, jazzy jam sessions. This being the closest this town will ever get to a funky, artsy New York street cafe, you automatically leave all the pretensions of Hong Kong night life when you enter this little dive. With a collection of antique bottles in the corner, as well as donated books and beautiful black and white-framed photos on the wall, Visage 1 is unlike most Hong Kong bars.