By Hans Ebert

There are horses for courses and there comes the time when it’s also all about the right music for venues at racetracks along with horses for courses as the sport evolves and a changing of the consumer old guard takes place in the name of progress.


(Source: Ronsaari)

For example, singer-songwriter Ben Semmens from Wales came very close to stealing the show from the racing on Wednesday at Happy Valley, which, despite a somewhat tepid card and missing some trainers who are at the Karaka Sales in NZ and Dougie Whyte sitting in limbo with a three-day suspension, attendance and turnover was still up. Remarkable.

As for, Ben Semmens is- by far- the best act the HKJC has managed to secure since introducing ‘live’ music to enhance its Happy Wednesday nights.

Those usual Go To singers in Hong Kong like Gigi and Tess and Ginger and Nicole have been Okay at Adrenaline whereas some of the local bands who have performed at the Beer Garden have ranged from good- by Hong Kong standards- to just plain bloody awful and totally alien to the very international audience that gathers at Happy Valley every Wednesday in search of something different to what can be found in those samey same clubs in Soho, Lan Kwai Fong and Wyndham Street.


(Souce: HKJC)

Ben Semmens managed to get the crowds at Adrenaline and The Beer Garden on their feet, clapping for more and understanding that quality always shines through- and is appreciated.

A karmic encounter with Hong Kong-based saxophonist Blaine Whittaker and Italian percussionist extraordinaire Davideo, has created a totally new sound for the singer-songwriter and which is both a boost and problem for the HKJC: How does it get better than this act now that the bar has been raised?

More MOR loungey Muzak disguised as something hip? Nah, those days of riffing on a few chords are gone.


(Source: Toon Pool)

An overrated local band like Mr with their very derivative brand of Bon Jovi Canto rock? Gawd no. It’s embarrassing -and laughable to the crowd at The Beer Garden.


(Source: Mask 9)

No, Ben Semmens is a very hard act to follow- almost impossible- and makes me think just how quickly we promote musical mediocrity as it’s the only talent available in Hong Kong.


(Source: ASC – Ohio State)

‘Live’ music- the right ‘live’ music- DOES enhance the overall experience for racegoers.

Last night, Ben had the TWENTY FIVE long legged models invited to Adrenaline by an owner with something to prove wobbling on their long legs and strutting their stuff while quietly chucking away the Champers being ordered for them. It was the old dragon-i come on for suckers. But, hey, there’s no fool like an old fool and it comes down to personal needs.

Meanwhile, waitresses stopped taking orders to smile and listen to the trio onstage along with Jo McKinnon, Lucy, Melissa and Will, a dead ringer for Piers Morgan. Poor bloke.

Cameras clicked away as customers liked what they were hearing as all that white noise of chit chat from the racing gurus downstairs before the races fell on deaf ears.

Hear this: No one at the Beer Garden, Gallery or Adrenaline is listening. It’s purely for television audiences. Keep the visuals but switch off the droning. No one cares. It’s an irritant and not music to anyone’s ears.

As for music at the Valley, when local artist GEM performed at the track in-between the races, she was good and might have brought in her fans- BUT, I have watched them and they have squat interest in the racing and betting. They get their autographs and pictures taken with the idol and they’re off.


(Source: HKJC)

Ben Semmens is different. He and his music ADDS to it all- the horsepower, those twenty odd minutes between races- and even kept Adrenaline going long after the last race had been run and won.

The HKJC has succeeded where many other bona fide music venues have failed: Finding someone new and not dipping into that same small pool of jaded musos which many think is the only game in town.


(Source: Amazon)

What to do? Ben Semmens returns to Wales tomorrow. Bring him back and have a real A&R person think of music that is all about horses for courses and not just an after-thought.


(Source: Sean Ruttledge)

Just because some local band has won some goofy award on TVB Jade doesn’t mean they will have an impact on that very International crowd at The Beer Garden whereas the ‘new’ hip Hong Kong- locals and expats- discovering the new, improved Adrenaline from where they can bet in comfort are also looking for a musical rush.

You have had to be there at Happy Valley to understand how the entertainment factor of racing is evolving and metamorphosing into something completely new. Time will tell what it will look like but I like where it’s heading.


(Source: Annamilo)