Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Story About Jazz

 Down the road from where were staying for our training is an entertainment district full of bars, restaurants and street stalls selling everything from hotdogs to necklaces to shoes. Since were not in our seventies we didnt really feel like having dinner at the training mandated hours of 5.30-6.30pm, plus we got back late from Seoul Tower, so we wandered round the area and found a small Italian place with the blandest spaghetti Bolognese and the strangest pizza Ive ever eaten. We ordered the margherita, which came with mushrooms, capsicums and some other stuff on a bready, slightly green base. It wasnt as bad as it sounds, but I wont be going back.
On the walk home we stopped at an ATM and discovered wed been paid for the first time. Sweet! Extra exciting when its in Won, since we ended up with about four million in our accounts with our entrance allowance added in. Flush with cash I decided I felt like a beer, so we stopped at the Beer Castle. Inexplicably this wasnt a raucous beer hall serving huge steins of German lager, but a rather upmarket restaurant where the Korean waitress looked down her nose at me when I asked if we could just have a drink. Moving on we checked out a few other places and ended up outside a sketchy bar in a building that looked like it was held together by gaffer tape and hope. On one side was a sign made out of at least a hundred brake lights and indicators that said simply Jazz Story.

The inside of Jazz Story put any eclectic café’ in New Zealand to shame: it looked like someone had done a half-arsed job of demolishing two adjacent buildings and then an even lazier job of turning the resulting cavity into a bar. There was a line of exposed concrete pillars where the wall between the two original buildings had been, and evidence that several others had been removed to give a better view of the stage. There were electrical wires hanging all across the roof like a giant spider web and obscene drawings on the bathroom doors. All around the walls were more LPs than most record shops have. I wouldnt want to guess how many, but it would be in the thousands. We were shown to our table: a row of aeroplane seats with a table made out of a bathtub with a sheet of glass on top.

On checking the menu we discovered that every night they have a concert which attracts a 5000 Won cover charge, and they also charge more for drinks when the concert is on. This made it a more expensive drink then we were expecting but worth it for the experience, though I dont think Ill be drinking there every night. Oh, and some of the drinks come in Pyrex jugs with straws.
Airplane seats, bathtub and pyrex jug - that's the piano player in the gap.
The band for the concert was a bass player, drummer, guitarist, an amazing piano player on a grand piano and three singers. These three took turns singing lead and did backing vocals and percussion when they werent singing. The music was not jazz, or even really close to it, but the band was tight and the dude singer in particular was amazing. He did Jason Mrazs Im Yours (told you it wasnt jazz): a song I always thought was kinda stupid until I heard this guy sing it. I usually prefer people with interesting voices to those who can hit all the notes perfectly; too many singers hit the notes and miss the point. But this singer was something else: he got all the notes but still sang with real emotion and inventive, clever phrasing.
Sneaky picture of the toilets - the lady on the left is squatting
Today we took a walk through the district again and on our way we happened across two guys playing an impromptu show on the steps up to our building. One was playing guitar and singing and the other was banging a drum and yelling out a few lines of the song. A good sized crowd had gathered, and it wasnt hard top see why: the songs were fantastic even though I didnt understand a word and the drummer was doing a great job of working the crowd. Its this kinda stuff that makes me love Seoul: theres always something going on and its usually awesome. Too bad theres nothing like that in Buan, but I have a guitar now so maybe Ill start playing some gigs on the corner in between classes.
Bigger update coming soon, going to be super busy with training over the next few days.


  1. Anna took a couple, but they told her not to take any more. Will see what I can do.

  2. Yeah, same thing happened to us when we went to Passion 5 (that patisserie) for the first time. Only thing we got to take pictures of was that big chandelier and our pastries.