First Night Vancouver 2005: Gung Haggis Fat Choy Performance Review

days of anxious planning and coordinating for the premier performance
of Gung Haggis Fat Choy: First Night Vancouver – everything flowed like
a dream.

Unfortunately, the venue change caught people offguard, and the
proper sinage was not posted.  People looking for us at QE Plaza
as written in the First Night Vancouver
Program and on the website could not find us as many information
volunteer staffers did not know our venue had been changed to Library
Square, Lower Level, Peter Kaye room.  City Counsellor Ellen
Woodsworth bumped into me on Georgia Street, 10 minutes before the
midnight fireworks and asked “Where were you? We wanted to see you, and
we were told you were cancelled when we asked at QE Playhouse.”

Otherwise… once we put sinage up in the Library Promenade to let
people know where Fun Too! was… and I asked our venue coordinator to
put a “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” poster up to attract attention… then
things flowed.

LaLa and I arrived at Library Square shortly after 5pm for a sound check with Qiu Xia and Andre Thibault, the brilliant core of Silk Road Music
I ran off to do a quick radio interview for CBC Radio One's “On the
Coast,” with reporter J.J. Lee, and with Margaret Gallagher as guest
host while Pria Ramu is on holiday.  JJ set it up brilliantly
talking about singing Robbie Burns' Auld Lang Syne in other languages
such as Chinese, then introduced me as the creator of Gung Haggis Fat
Choy, which I described as a collision and colusion of Scottish
Hogmanay and Chinese New Year.

6:15pm and our show started.  Andre, Qiu Xia, Lala and I sat on
stage, as I introduced the show about being like a Living Room or
Kitchen Party, where everybody has brought a song to sing.  For
each show, I introduced the performers to the audience, and at
different times would make comments about Scots and Chinese Canadian
pioneer history, as well as about the similarities of Scottish Hogmanay
and Chinese New Year.  LaLa and I started things off with
“Scotland the Brave,” followed by a chinese piece by Andre on guitar
and Qiu Xia on pipa (chinese lute).  We took turns and also took
time to talk about how we celebrated New Years in our own
cultures.  LaLa and I also perform “My Chow Mein Lies Over the
Ocean” where I recite a poem about homesick travelers, then substitute
“My Bonnie” for “Chow Mein,” “Haggis,” and “Chicken Feet.”  The
audience laughs as soon as I say the title… They get the the joke
really fast!

6:45pm, our show is over, the audience applauds and we congratulate
ourselves on what feels like a good show.  Good positive feedback
from well-wishers and friends affirm our perceptions.  After
grabbing some coffee and something to eat, LaLa and I head off with my
girlfriend and her friend to see Dal Richards and his band at the CBC
Ballroom.  It is Dal Richard's 60th New Year's Eve celebration in
a row.  Great music for swing dancing!d

7:40pm… Karen Wong and Zhongxi Wu (“Jonesey”) arrive.  We
fill them in on how things are going.  Zhongxi warms up his
bagpipes in the Library Square parking lot.  They are greeted
warmly by Andre and Qiu Xia – who haven't seen them for over a
year.  For the 8:15 show, we each take turns.  Sometimes
joining in on each other's songs when we can.  We all play
together for Auld Lang Syne, then finish up with Scotland the Brave.

At 8:50 pm, a reporter from Channel M, wants to grab mandarin
speakers Zhongxi and Qiu Xia for a very quick interview for the
cameras, as they also film the “Midnight in Montreal” fireworks for 9pm.

We start our 10:15 show early… at 10pm, as the crowds were already
lined up.  It is our best show yet.  Zhongxi and Karen play a
Scottish song “My Home” on Chinese instruments, then later play a
Chinese song “Jasmine Flower” on Scottish instruments.  Andre and
Qiu Xia play a tango-influenced song from Venezuela.  LaLa and I,
after some coaxing from the audience, premier our version of “Haggis
Rap” where we take 4 verses of Robert Burns' imortal “To a Haggis,” and
we rap it with an added chorus.  It was great fun… then we
closed with Auld Lang Syne, with everybody joining in.

My girlfriend, our friend Chris and I, stay to watch the
Construction Ink performance, which alternated sharing venue space with
us throughout the evening.  Then we rush outside to watch the
fireworks and midnight celebration.

A fine fine successful evening.  Pictures to post as soon as possible.



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