Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing

Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing

Alan Paul

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0061993158

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"What a romp….Alan Paul walked the walk, preaching the blues in China. Anyone who doubts that music is bigger than words needs to read this great tale." Gregg Allman
"An absolute love story. In his embrace of family, friends, music and the new culture he's discovering, Alan Paul leaves us contemplating the love in our own lives, and rethinking the concept of home." Jeffrey Zaslow, coauthor, with Randy Pausch, of The Last Lecture
Alan Paul, award–winning author of the Wall Street Journal’s online column “The Expat Life,” gives his engaging, inspiring, and unforgettable memoir of blues and new beginnings in Beijing. Paul’s three-and-a-half-year journey reinventing himself as an American expat—while raising a family and starting the revolutionary blues band Woodie Alan, voted Beijing Band of the Year in the 2008—is a must-read adventure for anyone who has lived abroad, and for everyone who dreams of rewriting the story of their own future.















Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil,” Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and everything else that I thought would be too acoustic to handle a sax. Having him by my side was reassuring; I felt my panic receding. “You guys sound great,” Jonathan said, sitting down to join us. “Let me know when you want to play here.” After two rehearsals, we already had a second gig lined up. Becky was amused by this whole operation, especially my chutzpah in inviting everyone I knew to come see me

extravagant drum fills while pushing the rhythm and driving Powell deeper into frenzy. I was banging the simple two-chord rhythm, with Zhang Yong behind me, laughing and laying down a deep, funky bass line. Our thunderous racket boomed through the otherwise empty park. Everyone inside the small club, including the bartenders and owner Jonathan Ansfield, ran out to stand on the porch and cheer us on. Woodie stood in the middle, a beer in his hand, laughing. Two sets of middle-aged German

strongly American identities. And yet we lived in China. I was just beginning to realize that there was a phrase for children raised overseas: Third Culture Kids (TCK). As David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken explained in their definitive book, Third Culture Kids, these children come from one culture, move with their parents to another, and end up feeling like they don’t quite belong to either. Instead, they create a “third culture” and can most closely relate to others growing up in similar

were getting better from playing so many shows and spending so much time together. Our performances were like conversations, becoming more intimate and cohesive and less predictable, even to us. We all listened intently to one another and filled in little gaps and aural white space, often with subtle prods that could send a song in another direction. I felt an increasing ability to connect with and pull any crowd into the music. As Woodie started playing his extended intro solo that kicked

it again, louder. “Because people in New Jersey don’t know enough about China,” Nik said. “And we need you to help us understand this place.” I thought I saw Anna rolling her eyes as she got up and walked away, but maybe I was just projecting. I paid visits to the doctor, the tailor, the rug store, and the “leather lady,” who was making me two coats. I finally took a cooking class with Hou Ayi because I didn’t want to return without knowing how to make those great dumplings; she also

Download sample