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Age no barrier to playing music

Reporter: Derek Li

Sitting against the backdrop of Central’s skyscrapers, in his dark business suit, crisp shirt and tie, 51-year-old Steve Bernstein looks every inch the banker that he is.

By day he moves funds but in the evenings, the tie comes off, he picks up his mandolin and has audiences moving to his music.

Currently, Bernstein performs acoustic sessions with the Joven Goce band three to four times a month. Prior to this, he had his own band playing improvisational rock with other finance professionals.

The media have come up with the term “dad bands” to describe groupings of amateur middle-aged and senior rockers living out the musical dreams of their youth.

Bernstein grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and has been a big music fan since he was young. He recalls one of his older brothers bringing music albums home and how much he enjoyed listening to them.

But merely listening to music was never satisfying enough for Bernstein. “My personality is really more do it than watch it,” he says.

He picked up a mandolin at the age of 16 and has been

playing it ever since. His musical influences include Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead. He started playing gigs more than a decade ago and at one point he quit finance to run a record label in New York.

Moving back into finance and to Hong Kong in 2000 did nothing to dampen his passion for music. Instead, he noted the music scene was a lot less vibrant here than in New York, and was motivated to form a band.

Bernstein says he found Hong Kong a small community with only a handful of live music venues where bands perform. “When you walk in, you will see either fans or musicians,” Bernstein says.