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Magic Dick & Shun Ng - (7PM) - 1/6/18
at City Winery Boston
Born in 1945 in New London, Connecticut, Magic Dick arrived in post-war America to the Atomic Bomb, World Peace, Bebop and Rhythm & Blues. Dynamic change and growth in the arts and technology would be the hallmark of this era and by the time he was eight Dick knew that music, painting and physics would be his primary interests. The trumpet was his constant companion and served as a springboard to the harmonica in his sophomore year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts where he met J. Geils and Danny Klein and became a founding member of the J. Geils Blues Band in 1968.
By 1969 the band had moved to Boston and joined forces with Peter Wolf, Stephen Jo Bladd and Seth Justman. In 1970 the J. Geils Band recorded their first of nine albums for Atlantic Records and toured incessantly, jamming with many of the blues greats including Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells and James Cotton. The band developed a reputation for 'getting crazy' and devastated audiences for fifteen years with their high-energy style of Rhythm & Blues and Rock & Roll. These recordings showcase Magic Dick's innovative harmonica playing, which served as a strong distinguishing sound for the band.
A series of five albums for EMI America followed culminating in the Platinum album Freeze Frame, released in 1981, which ascended to #1 on the Billboard album charts, spent four weeks there, and remained on the charts for a total of 70 weeks. The album's first single, "Centerfold," spent six weeks at #1 in Billboard. Freeze Frame's title track followed "Centerfold," peaking at #4.
Subsequent to The J. Geils Band, Magic Dick performed as a guest artist harmonica soloist for Patty Smyth, Debbi Harri, Full Circle, The Del Fuegos and Ryuici Sakamota, among others. In 1992, Magic Dick and J. Geils formed the band Bluestime featuring Magic Dick on harmonica and vocals and J. Geils on guitar.
Magic Dick's years of experimentation and searching for new sounds and stylings for the harmonica cultivated a strong desire to improve the flexibility and quality of the harmonica so as to better fit into contemporary music yet retain the best characteristics of harmonica sound and cultural history. This development continues to this day in the recordings of Bluestime on Rounder Records, which feature prototypes of Magic Harmonicas’ expanding the role of the harp now, and for the future. Magic Dick's intense drive to extend and enlarge the cultural history of the harmonica is shared in a balanced and fruitful union with Magic Harmonicas co-inventor and partner Pierre Beauregard.
Shun was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Singapore. Shun grew up in a non-musical family in Singapore and struggled in the rigid and academic-driven education system. At age 8, Shun was diagnosed with dyslexia and faced challenges with reading, languages and mathematics throughout his educational career and was constantly deemed lazy or a failure by his teachers. He turned to gymnastics and competed nationally at the age of 10. In gymnastics at a young age he was brought up in an environment where endurance and perseverance was a necessity but even more so, he was instilled with the determination of striving towards excellence and perfection. When Shun was 14, a gymnastics teammate brought in a guitar to the gym. Shun left the team in the next few days.
For his 14th Christmas, his father bought him a guitar and as his passion grew, Shun finally found a language to understand the world – music. While letters and numbers didn’t make much sense, music did. He began diving deeper into the world of music through The Blues. He meticulously studied the legends of the blues world, honing his guitar skills by trading licks with Blues headliners in the legendary Chicago blues bars, dedicating his entire life to the spirit of the music.
Shun decided to leave the traditional high school system at 16, hoping to pursue an Associates Degree in Music & Audio Technology at Singapore Polytechnic, but scored so far below the school’s academic requirements that he did not even qualify to apply. Furthermore, the school had already selected their cohort of 42 students for that year. Through a letter of recommendation from Singapore’s most renowned composer, Dr. Kelly Tang, the school agreed to audition Shun. After the audition, the admissions committee decided to open a 43rd place for him.
It was during this time that Shun dedicated all his time and energy into discovering his own musical voice. He explored & studied many different genres like Blues, European Classical, Jazz, Funk, Motown & Soul. One day he was challenged by a friend to play all the parts of the famous Michael Jackson song “Billie Jean” simultaneously on the guitar. That challenge sparked an exploration of the endless possibilities of the acoustic guitar and he began pushing the boundaries of techniques and what just one acoustic guitar could produce.
After attaining his associate’s degree in Music & Audio Technology, Shun served his mandatory National Service and went into the Singapore Armed Forces where he spent two years working as an arranger and band guitarist for the combo band. In these two years he began woodshedding and translating the sounds he had in his head to the guitar. As Shun’s style developed, he caught the attention of guitar-making genius Jeffery Yong.
Inspired by Shun’s playing, Yong endorsed him as an artist and hand-built him a signature guitar. Although Shun had little industry experience, Yong invited him to perform his guitars at international guitar festivals such as the Montreal Guitar Show, Osaka Guitar Show and the Singapore Guitar Show.
In January 2012, Shun released his debut album “Funky Thumb Stuff” which garnered him national recognition. In that same year, Shun was featured twice in the Asian news network, Channel News Asia and was also invited to perform for the President of Singapore on national television. Later that year, Shun was featured alongside other internationally renowned Jazz artists by Singapore’s own King of Swing, Jeremy Monteiro in the Jazzy Christmas concert series. “Funky Thumb Stuff” also came into the attention of veteran Fingerstyle Guitarist, Tuck Andress of Tuck & Patti, who said he was “dazzled by his technique and captivated by his guitar groove” and went on to describe Shun’s singing as “well beyond his years yet with the innocence of a child.” In that same year, Shun was accepted to Berklee College of Music and awarded a scholarship from the college.
In his second semester, he was selected to be on Berklee’s prestigious Artist Diploma, which is a highly selective, two-year individualized program of study designed to provide the highest level of training for musicians who have already distinguished themselves through advanced study and/or have established a promising career in music.
During his first year in Boston, he attracted the attention of Boston Manager, Ralph Jaccodine. Shun performed his first show in the United States, sharing the bill with some of Boston’s finest acts one of whom was the legendary Livingston Taylor who said of him “Shun is amazing, his talent rest on a rock-solid work ethic and the results are pure WOW!”
Shun left Berklee after two semesters and signed with Ralph Jaccodine Management. That year, he was listed in "The Top 10 Local Acts that Rock" by the Improper Bostonian.
In May 2013, Shun released a new video, Get On With It. The video soon after came to the attention of 27-time Grammy award winning producer Quincy Jones. Jones then invited Shun to his home in Los Angeles where Shun performed for him in his living room and received high praise from the producer, “When you see Shun, you won't believe your eyes nor your ears -- he belies all stereotypes, all premonitions. I was simply blown away by both his soul and his science -- his creativity and his uniqueness is astounding."
That same year, Shun also caught the attention of founding member of the J. Geils Band and legendary harmonica player, Magic Dick. The duo released a video of their take on the James Brown classic, "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag". They have toured together and will be performing alongside greats like Buddy Guy, Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise this October.
Shun is a three-time Boston Music Award nominee and in 2015 won the "International Artist of The Year" at the 2015 Boston Music Awards.
After releasing his own solo arrangement of "Bohemian Rhapsody", Shun video made it's way into the hands of Brian May, Queen's guitarist and founding member, who shared it with his fans, saying "You gotta see! Amaazing new solo and acoustic vocal arrangement of Bo Rap!"
Shun is also very passionate about social justice, his began getting involved in social work at the age of 8 when he went to the slums in Hyderabad, India for mission work. In 2011 he released a Christmas album with all of the proceeds going towards financially supporting college fees of the members from the Lahu Tribe in Chiang Rai, Thailand. He currently serves as the Director of Music at The Amber Initiative, a non-profit organization that deals with issues of social injustices around the world. He also works closely with the Next Step Organization's prgram, SongStudio, who's mission is to empower young people with life-threatening illnesses to envision positive futures, develop strong coping skills, and share their experiences through music.