Over the years, SubCulture are asked many times how we managed to arrange all the artists we have brought over to Shanghai. How did you manage to get Mark Ernestus and Tikiman over to China? How did you convince Adrian Sherwood to do a live set in Shelter? How did you get to know Kode9 and get ChaCha to record 5 tracks with him? How did you get in touch with RSD? Where did you meet Disrupt and Soom T? The answer to all these questions is the same. ‘He/She is a friend of a friend’. We are now going to give away one our best kept secrets. This friend, and a person who has made a huge impact on the music scene in Shanghai and China as a whole, is one of our favourite semi-regular guests at The Shelter – Mr Steve Barker!
After a promising start in journalism, interviewing Jimi Hendrix and Yoko Ono in the same week, Steve Barker’s ambitions receded only to be recruited to Radio Blackburn in 1978 to work on the music review show RPM. In 1980 RPM became Spinoff, then in 1984 mutated into On the Wire, now the longest running continuous alternative music show on UK radio. Although a lot of the music is concentrated around reggae, dub and other Jamaican music styles, On the Wire was one of the first shows in the UK to play hip hop, house and techno music. It gave the first radio plays in the UK for Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson and the radio premier of 808 State’s “Pacific State” and A Guy Called Gerald’s “Voodoo Ray”.
At the beginning of the 1990s On the Wire was under threat from the BBC, but at the last minute the show was saved by the BBC board, with the show being described as a ‘unique BBC product’. Brian “Planet” Jackson and John Peel were key figures in saving the programme. When the programme was saved it moved to a new slot on Thursday evenings, and then to its current slot on Saturday evenings.
Steve has been living in Beijing, China since June 2002 and still records his ‘On The Wire’ show weekly, as well as being dub columnist for the highly regarded WIRE magazine. From next month Steve is retiring and moving back to the UK. Steve has made a huge impact on the music scene here in China, and without him we couldn’t have booked so many wonderful acts at The Shelter. His music selection is always second to none, and his DJ sets have been some of our all time favourite sets. To give Steve the send off he deserves, Uprooted Sunshine will also be joined by Fred-I, who will also be playing his final set before leaving China, and HangZhou’s finest – DJ Maze. Don’t miss out on, what may be, the last time Steve Barker will grace the DJ booth at Shelter!
Tonight – Shanghai By Bus feat. Steve Barker @ The Shelter, 5 YongFu Lu. 10pm Start – 40rmb