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The Hairfarmers hit Hong Kong

Whistler rockers build fun side career with international friends met at resort

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Hong Kong called and The Hairfarmers had to help them out with a little rock 'n' roll.

And it turns out that Whistler's long-time longhair rockers were just what the financial capital of the Orient needed.

"It's a really far out city," says vocalist Grateful Greg, a.k.a. Greg Reamsbottom.

"Most of the stuff we do for shows like that is for private or corporate parties. It is usually people who know us from Whistler and who live or work there part time. When they have a big event they will fly us anywhere to do it!"

Reamsbottom says they never dreamed there would be opportunities for overseas gigs from simply building a music career in Whistler.

"No way. If someone had told me that would be happening when we started 15 years ago, I would have laughed," he says.

"It really is the unique thing about performing in Whistler. You have the opportunity to be in front of a fairly well-heeled international audience. That doesn't mean that everyone who walks through the door has the means to fly you off to somewhere exotic, but what it does mean is that you never know who is in the audience."

This is the second time The Hairfarmers have been to Hong Kong, they returned last Monday (Nov. 17) from China.

Reamsbottom says he and the other half of the band, Doug Craig, a.k.a. Guitar Doug, discovered that most of the live bands in Hong Kong come from the Philippines.

"There is quite a bit of live music in Hong Kong," he says.

"What we do, when we have a night off, is try to go out and find these places. More often than not we'll end up sitting in with them and jumping up and singing a song with them."

This time they sang "Kung Fu Fighting" with one band, which was a buzz for both the performers and the audience alike.

"The most fun thing I have about being a singer is that I can sing like a girl, I can sing really high or really low. I've got a great range; I don't know why it is there but I am not going to question it," Reamsbottom says.

"The band we hung out with and the audience had never seen us before. They had no idea what we could do and they sure weren't expecting that a girl's voice would come out of a really hairy, 200-lb biker-looking guy."

Reamsbottom says men with long hair and beards are more than a little exotic there.

"You really stand out over there. Most of the people from North America over there are there to work, usually in the financial industry, so they are rather clean cut compared to your average Hairfarmer," he laughs.

Similar invitations have come for them to play in such places as Jamaica, Mexico, Australia and the U.K., with a 2012 wedding gig in London leading to a Hairfarmers reunion at a pub, with former Whistler workers from England showing up en masse to party. In September, they performed at Burning Man for the third year in a row.

Craig wanted to add his own observations via email:

"We learned about this at Burning Man — gaining actual fans... we don't need social media for international tours, by simply opening up to our audience in 'real face' time!  We actually harvest more interest genuinely and this translates well in Hong Kong."

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