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It’s tough to understand, but then Hong Kong is getting more and more illogical every bloody day. It’s kinda where some will insist that Monday is Friday and that 2017 is 1985. The stupidity of so many in Hong Kong make the Three Stooges look like a three-headed Einstein. There are those days when it seems there are negative forces working in Hong Kong to make the city fail. Or, at least, not make it succeed.

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Here, for the sake of simplicity, let’s stick to what’s affecting the ‘live’ music venue down Peel Street called Peel Fresco: Because of the constant complaints about “noise” emanating from here, one of the only clubs in Hong Kong to host ‘live’ music on a regular basis, audiences are already putting on their Hush Puppies from 11pm in preparation for the final switch off at midnight- and to reiterate, because of the complaints from one resident who is known to be a serial whinger.

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One has to wonder if the police have even tried to come up with a compromise, or if this is another example of arbitrary bureaucracy at work where the tail is wagging the dog? Where the police are being held to ransom because of the complaints of one person- a Canadian, by the way. One cannot help but wonder what might NOT happen if this neighbour were from India or Nepal or, gawd forbid, the Philippines. Would the police be this diligent? Doubt it.

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We can talk about “cosmopolitan Hong Kong” until the cows come home, but we know this isn’t true. Hong Kong has had racial overtones since the Sixties and it’s getting worse and worse. A person with a white skin, no matter how ineffective, has had a free pass to being part of the local finance sector, the hospitality trade, the advertising industry, and, on a musical note, why five star hotels have always had a soft spot for lounge singers from the West no matter how mediocre they might be.

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Welcome to the real Hong Kong and part of the reason why, at least the music for a more “mature” audience, and those looking to find something new, musically, are often greeted with more appearances by either the usual suspects, or those who should never be on a stage. But in a city that’s always happily taken in third and fourth rate musicians, and with many music fans never having seen all the amazing young original talent out there- in Shanghai, in Melbourne, in Copenhagen, yes, even in Singapore- one takes in what’s offered. It’s like restaurants, supposedly, French, Spanish and Italian, which are more like kebabs dunked in the outpourings from a can of Campbell’s Mushroom Soup.

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As for Peel Fresco, what’s its future with the need for the sounds of silence hanging over its head? It’s hardly comfortable for the musicians who want to get up onstage and play whereas audiences start looking at their watches knowing that the bewitching hour is nigh.

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Some say they remember Peel Fresco being open until 4am. Really? With ‘live’ music going on? From what this writer remembers, going back to around eight years ago when under different ownership, the owner was by the door keeping a lookout for any police who might have been passing by and would ask that the volume not be pumped up.

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Fair enough as Peel Fresco is supposedly located in a residential area of Hong Kong. But despite this, sanity prevailed and the music was allowed to play on.

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But what’s happening today and with everything having to be unplugged and the music having to end because of the complaints of one neighbourhood Scrooge shows how little music means to Hong Kong’s lawmakers and why the local music scene is so stunted.

Next month, James Taylor performs in Hong Kong with a band that includes the great drummer Steve Gadd.

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Musicians enjoy chilling out after a concert by jamming in an intimate setting. Let’s say, having heard of the venue, James Taylor and friends head over to Peel Fresco around midnight to unwind onstage- but can’t because of the law in place. Who loses out? The image of Hong Kong and music fans.

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