Popular Folk Culture of Local Flavor

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Popular Folk Culture of Local Flavor

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Glory of Four Singing Stars; Giving You an Acoustic Appreciation of Various Instruments and Vocal Music


Some people hold that the musical performance in Jiqing Street is a kind of vulgar art other than folk music. But what makes Jiqing Street outstand all the other night markets all over the city is just the most characteristic performance full of local flavor, which helps the street out of the fate of clampdown to be the single one granted the permission of using road.


From the little girl who had to make a living by playing violin during the early days, there are now more than 300 folk performers in Jiqing Street. Thanks to them, the street has been endowed with something more tempting and enchanting apart from the joy of drinking and enjoying the cool in the open air.

With the noises and shouts from guests in various trades combined with undulating sounds of either unaccompanied singing or all kinds of instruments from acrobatic and singing performers adding to the fun, a concentrated air of town prevails in this narrow and noisy street, creating a stage-like atmosphere. Furthermore, there are also cigarette and flower sellers shuttling back and forth among the throngs and the guests would completely forget all the other things in an instant but to enjoy themselves in such an atmosphere.

The fame of performers grows with that of Jiqing Street. Four have been chosen from the 300 performers to be 「Four Singing Stars」 and given separate titles, i.e., 「Laotongcheng」, 「Sparrow」, 「Cucumber」 and 「Xiaosa」. We can see this change from the head of them, 「Sparrow」.

Zhang Desheng, the true name of 「Sparrow」, is only a 51-year old vagrant singer from Anhui Province. Having been to nearly every corner of China, he makes a living by singing accompanied by erhu (two-stringed Chinese fiddle) he himself plays. Finding Jiqing Street by chance one day, he discovered his talent gradually through his performing experiences here, because to his surprise, some guests felt a great sense of joy and interest after listening to his playing erhu. From then on, he started to ponder over how to please more guests.

As soon as he performed Love Sparrow with funny words revised from the well-known song, Love Bird, it became incredibly popular throughout the street, which won him a position as one of the 「Four Singing Stars」 with the title of 「Sparrow」. In Chi Li’s Life Show, a famous novel portraying people’s life in Jiqing Street, she wrote: 「Sparrow is such a noisy man that he doesn』t allow himself to rest even for a second. It can be seen easily that he has never been a trainee in singing skills, but is a noisemaker, an emotion agitator indeed, and always feigns madness and wags his head. He is so good at revising the words of songs offhandedly that nearly all the pop songs seem to be especially made for his listeners, each of whom can not help laughing after being flattered quite much by his singing.」

With the broadcast of the TV play adapted from Chi Li’s novel Life Show, more and more people come to know him, even including the guests coming a long way to Jiqing Street from remote cities especially for him. It is now not so easy if you would like to listen to his singing, because so many people are awaiting him for his performance.

Musical performers playing all kinds of instruments and vocal music have become a special night spectacle in Wuhan. They are regarded as a tribe of 「night cats」, because they usually work a long time from 6 p.m. until 4 a.m. next morning. When the lights in other places declines, you can still appreciate the songs and music appealing to your ears in the brilliantly illuminated Jiqing Street

Many musical performers who come from other parts of Hubei as well as other provinces join in Jiqing Street to perform either for a living or for revealing their talents.

Those musical performers are just the secret of tremendous allurement of Jiqing Street.