Beijing Pickers

Bluegrass and Old-time in the Northern Capital

The Caravan Open Mic and Upcoming Shows

Badr Benjelloun is no stranger to bringing people together. The tech-savvy Beijing restauranteur and berimbau collector is the renaissance man behind the DazeFEAST gathering that saw hundreds of music lovers sit side-by-side with local Beijing bands to devour whole roast lambs at Dos Kolegas for several years in a row on his birthday.

Tonight several Beijing musicians have something different in mind to celebrate his birthday.


According to Badr, “people here are looking for kindred spirits,” and they are likely not only to find other Americana enthusiasts here, but also a whole wall of painstakingly selected spirits from his collection.

Tonight is an unofficial launchpad for his upcoming new open mic, which promises to focus on country, folk and Americana, of the likes of Johnny Cash, Townes van Zandt, and the kind of old-timey fair covered by Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band.

“I’ve had the idea for quite some time, but the situation around it wasn’t ready. There hasn’t been a country band around for a while,” Badr says.

Badr wants to see more bands to keep the trad music alive, like the Redbucks, The Randy Abel Stable, and the Hutong Yellow Weasels–all bands who came out of local opens mics and jams.

By hosting the open mic at his restaurant, Caravan, he hopes to foster more bands by giving them a place to hang out and create. “It’s about time we get another bunch of kids doing that,” he says.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Be on the lookout for the new open mic in Beijing, which promises to start as a bi-monthly or monthly affair, with the hope of working it up to weekly.

Having witnessed Badr’s love of Johnny Cash first-hand, I’m looking forward to seeing him sing “Moraccan country songs” he’s working on with his new band, Moor Hick.


China Arts Podcast, Episode 10: Andy Eversole & Ben Singer

On Episode 10 of CAP: Andy Eversole and Ben Singer, who came to China last October for their Banjo Earth project. Check out the links below to get more info.

“As soon as I get out, and start spreading out, I expand…whenever I’m expanding, then I know I’m doing the right thing.”


Banjo Earth (and on Facebook)

Cumberland Ghost

Beijing Subway Plan

Hyperloop (and The Nerdist podcast’s episode about it)

The Redbucks

Teahorse Straps

China Arts Podcast, Episode 9: Alex Damboianu

On episode 9 of the China Arts Podcast, my guest is Alex Damboianu, a Romanian architect in Beijing. He stopped by the Empire of Awesome, aka our apartment, for some coffee and morning conversation.



China Arts Podcast, Episode 8: Dave-Bob Gaspar

Former manager for Home Plate’s restaurant in Beijing’s bustling Sanlitun, Dave-Bob Gaspar, sits down with me for just the kind of good conversation befitting a man of F&B. Onward!



China Arts Podcast, Episode 7: Dr. Liz Ashforth

“External rumen!”

On this episode: Dr. Liz Ashforth, aquaponicist, improv actor and event manager joins me to talk about how she ended up in China as a microbiologist and switched gears to become a member of Beijing’s improv scene, and what it actually means for a sea worm to “lyse.”  Check out more at her blog.

Dr. Liz Ashforth


China Arts Podcast, Episode 6: Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson joins me today on this episode of the China Arts Podcast, in which I cackle overly much. Nearly a decade of experience in China has led him through Traditional Chinese Medicine, a career in lighting design, and much more. 

Daniel Richardson

China Arts Podcast, Episode 5: Paul Meredith


Paul performing Rhose at Animation Awards, Manila 2

“Sharing it in a good way with the world.”

For this episode of the China Arts Podcast, I met up with musician, former UN relief worker, Paul Meredith in his beautiful old home in Shanghai. He’s been a songster since he “started trying to get over all [his] broken hearts, and tried to write good songs.” It’s good he did, because he now has a ton of great songs, some of which you can hear live in his living room on this episode (he even let me use his tenor guitar!).

You can check out more of Paul’s music here, and his wife Caroline Cheng’s amazing pottery here.

China Arts Podcast, Episode 4: Ewan McDonald

On CAP episode #4, my guest is Ming dynasty literature expert and doctoral candidate, Ewan MacDonald. We met up at the end of the first warm day of Spring in Ditan Park.

Ewan has since left Beijing for the warmth and sun of London, to finish his doctorate, but we look forward to seeing him again real soon!


Caravan Jam, Monday 5.25

Beijing Pickers will host a jam at Caravan next Monday, the 25th, at 7:30 pm. Hope to see you!

Here’s a picture from last time:


Jam Monday Night: @ Caravan

This Monday evening, May 4, join us at Moroccan restaurant/venue, Caravan. It’s Game of Thrones screening night, too, so if you need your fix, bring your instruments,  watch the show, and stay late singing the ballads of yesteryear.

Tues 2012/09/11