What’s In Your Fridge: Shon Wong

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      What’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators. 

      On the grill

      Shon Wong

      Who are you

      I am a third-generation Chinese Canadian. Personal trainer by day. Musician by night. I keep people fit during the day so they have to the energy to enjoy life. Like seeing my band Son of James (named after my father James Wong). We blend funk rock with Asian instrumentations—a Chinese Canadian sound we call Chynatruckerfunk. The sound is rooted in my Chinese culture, tough like a Canadian trucker and smooth as funk.

      First concert

      In 1989, my elementary school took us on a field trip to Queen Elizabeth Theatre to watch a live musical called The Magic of Aladdin starring Jeff Hyslop of the popular children’s show Today’s Special. I think that’s when I fell in love with theatre. Unbeknownst to me at that young age, my grandfather and grand uncle were accomplished Chinese opera performers. So I guess it was in my blood and I just didn’t know it at the time. The singing, the dancing, and the humour is what left an impression on me. I even got called up onto the stage when they selected a few kids from the audience for a bit. I got hit with the bright lights and never looked back. Since then I’ve created my own rock opera called Tale of the Eastside Lantern and we are set to release our newest story called Once Upon a Time on a Chinatown Night. A storybook brought to life. A live narrated story that weaves together rare photos, videos, and live music.

      Life-changing concert

      Nas and Damian Marley performing at Deer Lake Park in 2009. It was the combination of so many different elements that created the perfect setting for this concert. Nas’ smooth and thought-provoking rhymes, while rapping to a full band. Live musicians not just a backing track. Sitting on the grass on a hot August day with a cold beer in my hand, the sun starts to set and Damian Marley hits the stage with the band. I don’t know if it was the power of his father­—Bob Marley—coming through him, but it felt like I was at church listening to a preacher. The reggae was powerful that evening and I hung onto every word and every beat.

      Top three records

      Michael Jackson Bad  This album had so many different ranges when it came to songs. It had the perfect R&B and rock recipe in “Dirty Diana”. A super-cool charming ’80s doo wop song in “The Way You Make Me Feel”. The heart-warming “Man in the Mirror”. The mesmerizing dance piece “Smooth Criminal”.

      Jimi Hendrix Axis: Bold as Love  This album just takes you on a psychedelic journey. Hendrix effortlessly blends blues, jazz, and rock into his own unique sound. The songwriting and guitar playing in songs like “Little Wing” and “One Rainy Wish” are so delicate, soulful, powerful, and melodic all at the same time. His guitar playing is just mesmerizing.

      James Brown The Payback  What can I say about this album? The grooves in this album are so dark, deep, and thumping. “The Payback” is one of my favourite songs. It feels like you’re watching a gang going to fix a problem once and for all. On the flip side you have beautiful soulful gospel numbers such as “Doing the Best I Can” and “Forever Suffering”. Something for everybody if you love funk and soul.

      All-time favourite video

      Beastie Boys “Sabotage”  The song is timeless and the music video is timeless. It cracks me up to this day. It’s so funny and raw all at the same time. The chase scenes, the wigs, and all those poor doors being kicked in.

      What’s in your fridge

      Apple cider vinegar. I have it every morning with a bit of lemon juice, turmeric, black pepper, and water on an empty stomach. Gut health is important!

      Ground turkey. Going to make some sloppy joes with it and watch football.

      Hot and Zesty Pickles. Love them as a snack, and I use the pickle juice to make Caesars.

      Part of the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival, Once Upon a Time on a Chinatown Night follows the personal journey of Shon Wong and his search for family, identity, and purpose. A Son of James production in association with Vancouver Moving Theatre, the work features original Chynatruckerfunk music by the Son of James Band and historical visual projections by Elwin Xie, with narrator Ramona Mar and special guests. For tickets to the show (November 3 at STRETCH Studio, second floor: 180 East Pender), go here.