I’ve been living and working in China for nearly ten years – eight of those in Guangzhou. I’m always a bit bemused, however, by the mystified reactions from former classmates, friends and even family when I tell them where I live.
Historically, this area has been known as Canton, which probably accounts for some of the confusion. However, there really is no excuse for not being more informed. After all, the Guangzhou agglomeration is the world’s second largest*. Only the Tokyo agglomeration is larger.
What’s an agglomeration? It’s easier to describe than define. The Guangzhou agglomeration has a population of some 32,300,000 people. This area includes the Northern Pearl River Delta, Dongguan, Foshan, Jiangmen and Zhongshan. The Tokyo agglomeration** has an estimated population of 34,900,000.
story by Simon Edward Smith – reprinted by permission from that’s PRD magazine
Rocking and rolling around Guangzhou, Ridwan and Ron are currently causing waves on the city’s music circuit. Formed six months back after meeting via a mutual friend, the duo make up the aptly named RnR.
Ridwan Amir, from Singapore, has been here since 2009. Ron Hendricks, who hails from Walla Walla in Washington State, has been here since 2006. The former takes up the vocals while the latter supports on backing guitar. Together, they sing covers of a broad range of popular songs – according to Amir, the twosome has “a book of standard stuff geared toward Chinese audiences” – with a few original tunes thrown in for good measure. On any given night you’re likely to hear a rambunctious, jangling version of Jason Mraz’ ‘I’m Yours’ alongside a loud, balls-to-the-wall cover of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You,’ plus RnR’s very own ‘My Girl,’ a hybrid of early days Rod Stewart and Credence Clearwater Revival’s foot-stomping beat.
Amir has a powerhouse of a voice; it’s raw and unrestrained. Understandably, rock bands like the Smashing Pumpkins are a major
influence. As Hendricks says of his bandmate, “When Ridwan sings people focus. Audiences want to stay for the whole thing. My job is to harmonize.” It’s not surprising, then, that Amir was runner-up for best vocalist at Yamaha Asian Beat back in Singapore.
Hendricks’ tastes on the other hand are earthier and folksy; singers more mellow and subtle in delivery appeal to him, like Simon and Garfunkel, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger – an interest made evident by his free-wheeling, Dylan-esque phrasing.
A fun duo with good rapport between themselves and the audience, make sure to request their comical ‘No Man, No Cry.’
// You can catch RnR at Hooley’s (Tue), Rebel
Rebel (Sat), The Brew on Jianshe Liu Malu
(Thu), The Brew Panyu (Friday) and Covent
Garden (Sunday) from 9.30pm.