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'We showcase the good, the bad and the indifferent'

MUSIC really matters to Scotsman Anthony Caw who's throwing a marathon concert, "The Longest Day," featuring African xylophone, indie rock, punk, poetry, guitar and comedy. Sam Riley reports.

Despite performing in front of students all week, a group of Shanghai English teachers likes nothing better than getting up on stage, belting out a tune and letting their hair down.

Whether they are weekend warblers or accomplished musicians, Scotsman Anthony Caw will put them in the spotlight through his popular musical show, Music Matters.

Punk rockers, aspiring poets, guitar-strumming singer-songwriters and even a rapper, mostly expats, have all made the Music Matters line up, which has played events at pubs and nightclubs around the city.

Started last year by Caw and Lottie Harrison, the organization aims to give expat amateur musicians a chance to perform in front of an audience.

While Caw says he is happy to give all comers a go to realize their musical dream, sometimes the performers' ambitions are grander than their talents, by far.

Not everyone likes the show, however, because as Caw says, "sometimes the music isn't great but by putting on a variety in the evening we showcase the good, the bad and the indifferent."

"I don't mind who performs, I am happy to let everyone to have a go, but I often have doubts about our name. I don't know if you can call it Music Matters when sometimes the acts are atrocious."

A 24-year-old English teacher in Shanghai, Caw will be showcasing the musical talents of some of his colleagues in the profession as well as other expats at Music Matter's biggest event, to be held on June 21.

A veritable music marathon, Music Matters' "The Longest Day" will feature 25 acts from an African xylophone player to an indie rock band.

Held at the WTF nightclub on Huaihai Road W., the event will start at 2pm and run until 3am.

"This is about as varied as you get, we have poets, a comedian, punk rock bands and DJs," says Caw. "It could be a disaster if it doesn't work out, but it would be great if it does come off. Whatever happens, I will be back with another crazy idea."

Caw says his home city of Glasgow's energetic live music scene and cultural life inspired him to stage his own event here.

"Music has always been a part of my life and Glasgow has such an amazing live music scene," he says. "It's a fantastic city with lots of cool people living and working there, doing interesting things. They don't take themselves seriously and there are lots of great places to hang out."

Caw completed studies in English and history before taking on a sales job. It was his father who encouraged him to come to China and he arrived in Shanghai in 2007.

"The nine-to-five thing had already frustrated me and I came to Shanghai looking for a different experience," he says. "It's a comment I heard a lot from other expats but I suppose it's true, I feel like I am living the dream here, it is an amazing lifestyle."

While this is the most ambitious Music Matters project so far, it started from humble beginnings with a small event in Minhang District at the beginning of last year.

Despite being in Minhang, the event attracted more than 100 people and its success convinced Caw to take his music caravan to downtown Shanghai.

Music Matters first found a home at the Mural Bar and Restaurant before moving to the Bulldog Shanghai in Luwan District.

The first event there, a Beatles-themed evening, attracted more than 250 people.

Following on from that success, Music Matters now holds a weekly unplugged night at Longitude Lounge on Sundays.

Romance has also become part of the Music Matters repertoire, with the Bulldog Shanghai also holding a monthly "Blind Date" event.

Based on the popular British television show of the same name, a contestant will sit behind a partition and ask questions of two potential dates, eventually choosing one.

The events have proved a hit and while they have resulted in a few dates, Music Matters is yet to be able to claim responsibility for a marriage.

"No, we haven't seen any serious romances yet," says Caw, "although I did get a date out of it once."

"The Longest Day"

Date: June 21, 2pm-3am

Venue: WTF, 570 Huaihai Rd W.

Admission: 50 yuan, or 150 for free-flow drinks

E-mail to for details. Anthony Caw

Nationality: Scottish

Age: 24

Profession: Teacher and event planner


Description of self:

Wild, crazy, funny.

Favorite place: Great question ...

Strangest sight:

People riding a bike (perfectly satisfied/happy) with what appears to be the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Worse experience: I can't remember, but it was bad.

Motto for life: Love one another and be friends with all.

How to improve Shanghai:

A Fish 'n' Chip shop.

Advice to newcomers:

Shanghai has an amazing and unbeatable lifestyle. We are on the crest of a wave in Shanghai at this point. But be careful, don't lose the plot as I have so nearly done on many occasions.


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