By Hans Ebert


The word “lounge” is not for them. At least to me- and maybe it’s being in Hong Kong- but acts performing, especially in a hotel lounge are, sometimes unkindly, pegged as being “lounge singers”. Translated this means being seen as some musical Lazy Susan of revolving shtick.

There’s then the current resident band of the somewhat strangely named BB Jazz Lounge, formerly what was the flop called Orange Peel.

Apparently, BB is a reference to the great Blues guitarist BB King. Who’d know? There’s not exactly any huge BB King branding and how many Blues acts are there in Hong Kong- and for a venue described as being about Jazz?

From the very few times I ended up at the old Orange Peel what one had to endure were vapid exercises in self-indulgence. Sure, respect one’s elders and experienced musicians, but if all the pieces don’t fit, or becomes predictably repetitive, it’s just boring or a waste of time for everyone.

What attracts me to the relatively new, but barely marketed BB Lounge in Lan Kwai Fong, is the really very good, tight house band with outstanding arrangements that make even the most “requested” songs sound fresh.

The exception is requests for another cloying version of the hugely overrated piece of overblown pathos quite correctly called “Shallow”.

Being one song comprising so many bibs and bobs from other songs, it was no surprising to read that the song’s writer- the constantly morphing Lady Gaga, who started out as the new Madonna understudy with an all-out strategy to outrage- remember the “meat dress” period?- had now become Lady Sophistikaka and is being sued for plagiarism by yet another opportunist.

Musical copycats are not what the band at BB Lounge is about. And they’re certainly no BB King tribute band. The material might be diverse, but what keeps everything humming are those very creative arrangements and solid musicianship.

Here’s the bad news: The band’s focal point- co-vocalist Mona Lopez is leaving. And leaving to be a lounge singer at the Kowloon Shangrila. But if this gig offers the single parent a less strenuous schedule and more time to, perhaps, look at other non-musical business opportunities, who can blame her for the move?

Selfishly though, a very comfortable and welcoming venue, is losing a singer who’s pretty much the total package.

Perhaps there’s a way she can make guest appearances at BB’s. The venue just won’t be the same without her. Not even the snacks of tasty spicy chicken nuggets can entice a return visit where one has to make their way through the bungle in the jungle that is the current tacky sea of bodies that is LKF.

Pity. But, then again, this is the precariously placed city that is Hong Kong today- a city where another potentially very good venue for ‘live’ music seems destined to bite the dust.

One hopes not. But here’s someone who’s not holding their breath.

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