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Texan touts Chinese rock music to the world

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

10-06-2015 09:01 BJT

By Tom McGregor, CNTV Commentator

China Radio International's (CRI) Jonathan Alpart, host of the Soundstage Web video show, loves to promote Chinese rock bands, despite being born and raised at a small town in Denton County, Texas, U.S.A., where country music rules the radio airwaves.

After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Chinese, Alpart was a pedicap driver in Austin. Within a few months, he purchased a one-way plane ticket to Beijing. "I was planning to live here for the rest of my life," Alpart told CNTV's Panview in an exclusive interview.

As a college student, he studied one semester in Beijing. He fell in love with the country and its people. "China was so full of opportunity and I was optimistic," he added.

Discovering the joys and shrills of Chinese rock

For Alpart it was love at first sound, when it comes to Chinese rock music. He recalls being a college student and the RA (residence assistant) at his dormitory posted a sign reading, "Do you like Chinese rock music, go to the What Bar ..."

Out of curiosity, he went, but was not impressed. "The bands were OK, but not great." However after the show, he met the bar's owner and they talked til dawn about China’s rock music scene. He learned that the best bands were in Beijing.

"You can find a bar with rock bands playing on stage at any night of the week here in the city,” Alpart said. “They are real bands creating real music."

Later on, Alpart formed his own band, UVB-76, and he was the lone foreigner as lead singer and guitarist. They played weekly gigs on Thursdays at the now-defunct D22 Bar.

Taking Soundstage by storm

Alpart loved his rocker's career, but realized the path would not lead him to financial security. He would teach ESL (English as a second language) before working at CRI.

"I knew I should get a more stable job and I wanted to get more experience producing videos," Alpart said. "When I started, I was excited. I was amazed British-born Robb Helmsley was hosting his own Web video show on CRI, called, ReelChina, about Chinese movies."

Alpart believed Robb was a ground-breaker, because he was a foreigner, but still hosting a popular Web video show in the Chinese media. Accordingly, Alpart had asked and received approval to launch CRI’s Soundstage, which promotes Chinese rock music.

"In my first show, I premiered the band, Mr. Graceless, they were actually engineering students by day, but Chinese rockers at night," Alpart said. "Only in China can you meet studious engineering students aspiring to become rock stars. And they were proud of it."

CRI radio tunes in

Alpart has produced nearly 100 episodes. His format is intriguing, filmed in a TV documentary format. He introduces a band, explains their unique features. He shows footage of their interviews in Chinese language with English subtitles. Band members talk about their lives and music and then the video fades into them playing 1-2 songs.

"At the beginning, we did not have many viewers," Alpart said. "But the Chinese social media site, Youkou, placed our videos prominently on its homepage and we were getting millions of clicks."

He added, "The program had grown more popular when I was hosting a radio show every Saturday night on CRI’s radio broadcast network. Fans were reaching out to me. I love my fans, they’re patriots who believe Chinese rock music makes their homeland look so cool."

Rocking with Residence A and more

Alpart believes Chinese rock music will continue to rise in popularity. He’s happy to introduce Chinese-born rockers to the world. When asked about his favorite band, "It’s gotta be Residence A. I first saw them in 2010. They were very genuine and put it all out there, a great world talent," he said.

Alpart’s Soundtage radio program is broadcast every Saturdays and Sundays at 1 pm on CRI’s radio network.



( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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