Nevada: a satisfying rocker in Kunming

John Nevada Lundemo, from the USA, has been impressing people with amazing energy, humor, attitude as well as fantastic rocking noise to share in his two bands, War Horse and Blues Duo. Even approaching his golden years, Nevada, with his bands, continues to captivate the hearts and minds of rockers with their rock-ladened interpretation of American country and blues-rock. He called himself Rock’n’Roll Uncle, and speeds up the beating hearts of old and young audiences with many memorable songs, such as Don’t You Know I Love You, Baby.

Nevada met Lynn, a reporter from InKunming, at Slice of Heaven on May 25. He recounted his music stories in which he plays roles as an avid reader, veteran traveler, loving teacher, skilled guitar player, and outstanding singer.

His story really began back in his childhood when he played the classic piano for 4 years and started playing guitar when he was 20. The consistency makes him a guitar player for 44 years. Growing up with legendary bands, Nevada is still in music of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles today. He plays many styles with an infusion of rock, blues, jazz, American country and, of course, the love of music.

He describes his present life as satisfying, owing to his heart-loved music career and some fundraising campaigns they launched to support people in need.

Nevada teaches in a college in the city. He has received his Master's degree in education and been a teacher for half of his years. He said he feels challenged to teach because he always wants to reach more students. He always regards music as challenging, because it is a never ending pursuit. There is always a new song to write and a new way to express.

He has completed three arena tours around China. With characteristic humility,he concluded his acceptance and popularity among Chinese audiences, to some degree, as their missing of the music from the 1960s and 1970s . "When they hear it, they usually say it is pretty good and interesting. They don’t really know this kind of music too well. They don’t always have a wide sense of the history of blues rock."

InKunming:What do you feel like as a musician in Kunming?

Nevada: When we are playing, they say this guy is old. He may be important. But our band is really humble. Most of the bands both foreign and local are really humble, because they always meet someone better. They are just trying to enjoy audiences. It’s not adoring them. What they are doing is sharing from heart for the joy. Musicians in Kunming are very friendly everywhere. We often do shows with foreign bands and Chinese bands.

People from France, Canada, Germany, Brazil or Italy, they all have their own languages. When they are in Kunming, they perform their country songs in their languages and some in English. That’s fun to hear their own country languages. I like that.

InKunming: What makes your bands different from others?

Nevada: We write a lot of our own music. Seventy-five percent are original music. I think this is No. One separating us from other bands.

The other thing is that there are 4 nationalities in our band. Pasquale, the bass player is from Italy. Guitar player, Jan, is from Germany. I’m from the USA. Matu, the drummer is from China. That makes it interesting for people.They see how musicians from all over the world can get together and create in one band.  

I’m not sure why people like our music. Maybe because of the energy. Maybe because we try to sing clearly so that they can hear every word. It is very important that people who understand some English can know about the stories of our songs, at least, to hear most of the words. When I sing, because I’m a teacher, I also say the words very clearly. "Don’t you know I love you, baby", so the Chinese, can really hear clearly.

Some music is difficult to dance to. We have blues rock beat. It’s not too fast or slow. When people hear the beats, if they want, they can move to the beats.

InKunming: What’s your favorite song?

Nevada: My favorite song is called Don’t You Know I Love You, Baby. That’s my most popular song. I wrote for my wife. It’s a song that I never get tired of. Many Chinese and English audiences can sing it. Once I went to the Mask Bar and have a beer, a Chinese waitress said it’s free because she loves my song. I did’t know her. I felt surprised to find my song in her mind.

InKunming: What do you want to share in a show?

Nevada: We are trying to share our joy, passion, so audience are feeling some of them. When the young kids saw me playing, they may think "he plays his lifetime. I can do that, because music is really in our whole life."

InKunming: What reactions do you expect from the audiences?

Nevada: When we go to a show, we don’t expect too much, because they are not used to expressing clapping. Most Chinese are shy when they attend a performance. Probably, they really like it, but they don’t want to scream or shout. They can tell, scream, clap and release their feelings. It’s OK. But what I do expect to receive is smile. When I’m playing, when I’m looking down, I see boys and girls. Their faces are full of joy. They can feel the freedom of music.

InKunming: You may appear to become the focus when playing with young people, do you like staying with younger people?

Nevada: I like being around with young people. When I am in a show, I feel energy from the young people. I exchange energy with them. They get energy from me, because I’m still doing it. I get energy from them, because they are young. That’s myself when I was at their ages. Young people keep you young.

InKunming: Where has been your favorite place to stage a show?

Nevada: Camel Bar. I love playing there because the stage is big enough to move back. I also like Deng Ling, the owner of the bar. She has an interesting life. I love the Mask, but it’s difficult to play at the Mask, because it’s too small. However, I just try to enjoy each part of it. I like Alex at the Mask. I also love Mooddog as well as Joost and his Chinese wife.

InKunming: Which word do you prefer to describe your present life?

Nevada: Satisfying. I’m helping students, playing music which I love, and sharing my music. At my age, I’m still useful. I feel good for my contribution to others. I’m lucky.

InKunming: How do you define life?

Nevada: Life is like Alice’s Wonderland. Why Alice does all that is because she is curious. She takes a risk and tries. Then she goes down to a hole with the rabbit. The hole is what I define life. But if you don’t take the risk, you just stay above the ground and see the same trees.

Editor’s Note:

Navada’s energy hangovers the interview. It’s not easy to keep young, but my young people may be easily eclipsed by his refreshing positiveness and upbeat. He really moves me with his warmth and charm.

Aside from characters, what makes him absolutely worthy of being called an amazing rocker is his consistency in providing us with rockin’ great sound.

He will play at Camel Bar with Xiongbao Band on June 22. Just rock and roll.

(Editors:Lynn,Minnie Mao)

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