Xianese Magazine reviewed The Belgian Bar in the March issue.
The Belgian Bar in Xi’an was proud to host the team from MONOCLE Magazine for drinks mid-March. We enjoyed many Duvels, Tripel Karemeliets and Vedetts while discussing the future of Xi’an and what it feels like to be an expat living in this fast-developing metropolis in North West China. Their visit was facilitated by the Municipal Government of Gaoxin District and the Xian International Business Forum (XIBF).
Ali from Ali’s Rock Band is a regular live music act performing at The Belgian Bar, Xi’an every Friday and Saturday night. An exceptional live performer and guitar genius, Ali has been described as The Chinese Jimi Hendrix, yet despite his massive following he is largely unknown outside of Xi’an, a situation not dissimilar to the life story of Rodriguez (Cold Fact, Sugarman, etc.)
This interview with Ali was conducted at The Belgian Bar, Xi’an in March 2014.
Today we bring you our exclusive interview with Xi’an’s very own old man of rock and as you will see we call him old not because of his age but due to his status as a local rock music pioneer!
Hello Ali, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed by The Belgian Bar blog.
Q: We can all see that you are an extremely talented guitarist. How old were you when you started to play guitar?
A: I started to play guitar around 1990, I wrote my first song in 1991.
Q: Why guitar and not another instrument?
A: Guitar is very creative and great for performing. I think it is also quite emotional instrument, also can be free-style with a lot possibilities. It’s easy to take with me, so suits me well.
Q: When did you start to perform as a rock artist?
A: In 1991 I started my first band called Ye Zhan Pai (Field Army Team). I was the lead guitarist and singer, since that time I started to play rock music.
Q: Sometimes we get to hear your own songs, which we all love. What artists have been your greatest musical influence?
A: In China, Cui Jian and Luo Dayou are my favourites, overseas, the music from the 40s to 90s has influenced me a lot, I listen to a lot of their music and I am crazy about the foreign bands of those times.
Q: Where do you see the future of rock music in China?
A: It is just started, I feel now we have chance to express our true feelings, so I feel good about the future.
Q: Before becoming a regular feature of The Belgian Bar, which famous early bars in Xi’an did you play at?
A: Before The Belgian Bar I played at Music Man every weekend until it closed.
[Jano's Note: It was in fact at Music Man that I met Ali for the first time. He was the last act of the night and all the customers would wait for him to finish before going home. Music Man was the first live music bar in Xi'an and I used to go there often while we were building The Belgian Bar as Music Man was on the other side of the city wall, unfortunately Music Man is gone now due to the redevelopment outside of the South Gate, but they were the pioneers of live music in Xi'an.]
Q: You have been described as the Chinese Jimi Hendrix because of your passionate playing style. What do you think?
A: I’m so glad they say so, it’s a big honor and I will do my best!
Q: You are not a traditional rock star, we never see you drinking alcohol or flirting with girls. What is the secret of your self-control?
A: I need to put all my energy on one thing so I have to keep myself concentrate and live simple and pure. As you know I have a religion and I believe this makes a difference.
Q: Finally, do you have any words for your fans here in Xi’an?
A: At the end I want to thank all of you for supporting me and I will offer play more good music for you in the future and wish everyone the best!
Thank you Ali, we look forward to many more enjoyable nights listening to your hard rock music at The Belgian Bar!
You may be wondering where to drink in Xi’an? For us the answer is so obvious that we immediately move onto the next question: what to drink in Xi’an?
Recently we have been enjoying the delights of the beers of St Bernardus Brouwerij. Currently in stock at The Belgian Bar in Xi’an are St Bernardus Pater 6, Prior 8 and Abt 12. The beers are served in the authentic glassware.
The brewery was founded in Watou in 1946. Despite it’s rather recent pedigree (in Belgian brewery terms), the beers are absolutely fantastic. These beers can be hard to get outside of Belgium and they represent the taste and style of the now discontinued but much longed for range of St Sixtus beers.
Enough theory, the task at hand now is clearly to drink… Ave!
One of the great cocktails we serve at The Belgian Bar in Xian is the Vedett Orange Rocket…
It’s simple, it’s delicious and it’s very, very strong!
Spring is upon us in Xi’an here in the middle of China. While locals and expats alike are starting to enjoy the odd sunny day and lower levels of pollution, tourists crowd in and start to explore this ancient but rapidly modernising city of ours.
A visit to Xi’an would not be complete without a trip to the Terracotta Warriors (bleeding obvious!!!!) but also without a walk on top of the city wall. From the Xi’an city wall you can really appreciate what the city is all about. As you start your walk towards the east of the wall, after about 2 or 3 minutes have a look over your left shoulder and you will see the traditional Chinese hutong or siheyuan building that houses The Belgian Bar in Xi’an. If the weather is good you will see locals, expats and travellers sitting outside enjoying some quality Belgian beers so don’t forget to wave!
One Belgian beer that we will certainly be enjoying this spring and summer is sure to be Peche Mel Bush from Brewery Dubuisson, a Belgian family brewery founded in 1769!!! This brewery is perhaps most famous for its whopping, power punching 12% Bush Amber (now that’s a strong beer…) however the Peche Mel Bush which we currently have IN STOCK at The Belgian Bar in Xi’an is a real treat. It is a solid 8.5% that tastes mildly peach, feels almost like a champagne but tastes like a real beer. While it is a great beer for date night (hint, hint) more often than not we see the guys enjoying this beer. After all are you a man drinking your “is-there-really-alcohol-in-this-Tsingtao-and-is-it-even-a-beer” or are you more of a man drowning your thirst with an ice cold 8.5% quality Belgian peach beer? Clearly. #realmendrinkpechemelbush #yourdatewilllovepechemelbush