Being an older rocker with comfortable finances means Kwan can afford his own equipment. It is a far cry from when he had to beg his father for an acoustic guitar when he was young, and his mother threw his guitar away and urged him to focus on his studies.
For Kwan, devotion to music is central to his being. “If I were to forget all the [music] I play, life would have no meaning.”
Dad rockers may gain self-fulfillment through their music, but that is not all. Age is not necessarily a barrier to gaining fame and fans. Lam Fat, a 56-year-old retired taxi-driver known as “Lam Sir”, first started performing solo on the streets of Tai Po. Today, Lam has a fan club with hundreds of members. He makes a living from the fees fans pay for events such as karaoke gatherings.
Lam’s musical career took off a year ago, after he met two guitarists playing in Tung Chung. When they discovered a shared interest in nostalgic English-language songs, they formed a band named “The 3L Band”. All three band members are in their 50s and their surnames start with the letter L.
These days, Lam’s silky vocals and his bandmates’ guitar chords can be heard on the pedestrian street in Mong Kok. At first glance, it is hard to connect the crooning of English oldies like Unchained Melody and Massachussets with the slim, unassuming Chinese “uncle” wearing a trilby.
But soon, some members of the audience sway along to the tunes. The trio attracts large crowds, some of whom stand to listen throughout the three-hour set.
Word soon spread about the three uncles performing in Mong Kok and they were even interviewed by Phoenix TV. The programme brought the band more fans, many of whom are teenagers.
Lam enjoys interacting with people through the band. “Sometimes I will crack some jokes,” says Lam. “I like chatting.” Among those who sing and dance along to the tunes are foreigners. “Music has no boundaries,” Lam adds.
Lam sometimes jams with young people, but he finds they had different styles of music. “They play new songs; and we play folk and pop,” says Lam. “But we can adapt.”
For Lam, being in a band is not just about the performances, or the interactions with the audience, although he enjoys those. It is also about the music itself. “People who play music are happier.”
Being older just means he has more to bring to his music and music has more to give him. “We have been through all the bitterness there is in life,” says Lam. “Music adds colours to my life.”