Woodie Alan

Woodie Alan

BandBluesWorld

Beijing's premier blues and jam band. Voted Beijing Band of the Year by the readers of City Weekend magazine. We feature a mix of Chinese and American musicians and have performed throughout China, at festivals, clubs and on TV and radio. we are now booking our first North American tour.

Biography

Woodie Alan, Beijing’s premier blues and jam band, is a collaboration of three Chinese and two American musicians, resulting in a powerful amalgamation of sound. After just over a year together, the quintet was named Beijing Band of the Year by City Weekend magazine, after winning the English language magazine's Reader's Poll. And that was just the beginning of the story.

The band then began to tour in earnest, covering much of china, with performances in Xiamen, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Changsha and Shenzhen. Though blues music is not well known in the country, Woodie Alan has been received rapturous welcomes everywhere they have gone.

"Woodie Alan has really pushed forward the development of blues in China by playing hundreds of well-received shows,” Guitar China wrote on its widely read website. The site’s principals were so impressed that they signed the group to their record label, releasing the debut CD, Beijing Blues, in May.

The CD features eight originals, including two sung in Chinese, as well as highly unique takes on Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” and the American classic “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”

The band’s namesakes are Chinese guitarist and dobro master Woodie Wu and American singer/guitarist Alan Paul.

“I never would have guessed that the blues guitarist collaborator I sought for years was waiting for me in Beijing,” says Paul.

American saxophonist Dave Loevinger and a powerful Chinese rhythm section of drummer Lu Wei and bassist Zhang Yong join the duo.

The interplay between Wu’s weeping slide guitar and Loevinger’s wailing sax lies at the heart of the band’s sound.

“I met Woodie and Dave separately and jammed with each of them,” says Paul. “I started hearing a sound in my head with the sax in one ear and the slide in the other, with my acoustic guitar and voice in the middle. I had to get together with both of them and see if this vision was genius or insane.”

It turned out be the former. After several acoustic trio gigs, Woodie tapped into his vast reservoir of former bandmates and recruited Lu Wei and Zhang Yong, whose fiery push and solid foundation kickstarted the band.

“The name Woodie Alan is obviously tongue in cheek,” says Paul. “But it’s also just our names and that’s a statement; this is us. We don’t have any pretense or personas. We don’t wear costumes or have stage names. We get on stage and pour ourselves into the music and hopefully listeners can hear that passion.”

Jonathan Ansfield, manager of the Stone Boat, one of Woodie Alan’s regular performance venues, dubbed the band “workingman’s blues” and they took that as a superb compliment. Some groups check the clocks to see how soon they can get off; Woodie Alan wants to know how early they can start and how late they can play.

Woodie Wu has been a fixture on the Beijing rock and blues scenes for over a decade, performing and recording with many bands before spending three years in Melbourne, Australia. He made a name there before returning to Beijing in 2005 and forming Woodie Alan with Paul.

A gifted guitarist, Woodie is now focused on harmonica and the 8-string lap steel guitar. These traditional American instruments enliven many country and blues classics and their rich, evocative tones are at the core of Woodie Alan's sound.

As a senior writer and editor for Guitar World magazine for over 15 years, Alan Paul interviewed and wrote about a host of guitar greats, including B.B King, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia and the Allman Brothers Band’s Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman.

“I had a great career writing about music, but it’s nice to spend more time playing it than talking about it,” he says.

Since moving to Beijing in 2005, Alan has written the popular Expat Life column for the Wall Street Journal online and contributing to the Wall Street Journal, Slam, The Insider’s Guide to Beijing and many other publications and websites.

The Woodie Alan repertoire is now dominated by original compositions, including several sung in Chinese by Zhang Yong. The other material focuses on blues and American standards, as well as material by Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia and others.

"We won't cover anything if we can't make it our own and I can't sing a song unless the lyrics feel as if I could have written them," says Paul. "When we started writing our own material it also brought the other songs into a different light for me and allowed us to reinterpret everything with our own distinct stamp."

“Some of these songs are written by famous people like Bob Dylan and others come from relatively obscure guys like bluesmen Little Miiton and Johnny Copeland but I consider them all American heroes. Singing these songs in China makes me feel a deeper connection to America than anything else does. And the band make them all come alive for me.”

Saxophonist Loevinger, who plays alto, tenor and the beguiling midi brea

Discography

Beijing Blues -- 2008 CD release on Guitar China Records. Steady radio play throughout China.