Wu Man performed a wide-range of Chinese folk-music for a truly memorable night

Stephen Kahn

Wu Man performed a wide-range of Chinese folk-music for a truly memorable night

Wu Man and the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band Delivered One Surprising Moment After Another

Uproarious Night of Traditional Chinese Folk Music

If you measure the heat of a band by the freshness of its sound, then the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band is hotter than the latest indie-rock sensation, even though its music is centuries old. From the moment it took the stage with Wu Man at Campbell Hall on Thursday, March 8, the group delivered one surprising moment after another. Whether they were shouting and chanting in unison over swirling strings and percussion or calling for the bench player to come forward and pound his musical bench with a wooden block, these Chinese folk musicians were never less than 100 percent committed to raising the roof. While their wild, energetic style may at first seem like an odd match for Wu Man’s sophisticated pipa playing, it quickly became apparent when she joined in that with her mischievous streak and Hendrix-like virtuosity she can riff and rave with the best of them.

By Courtesy Photo

Huayin Shadow Puppet Band

Indeed, much of the credit for this irresistibly crowd-pleasing program has to go to Wu Man, who crafted a fascinating and wide-ranging sequence of pieces that showed off the remarkable diversity within these various Chinese folk-music forms. The shadow puppets of Huayin fought noisily as expected, but at another point in the show, they engaged in a delicate dance accompanied by the pipa alone that was largely contemplative. Won over to silent awe by the exquisite nuances of Wu Man’s artistry, the audience then burst into laughter and applause whenever the Huayin band struck up its jaunty antics again. This was a truly memorable night; the pairing of Wu Man and the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band represents a distinctive achievement in the spread of traditional Chinese culture to the West.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Folding Bikes Added to ‘Last Mile’ Transport for New Train Service

Pilot program to get commuters from station to work.

Gaviota Coast Matriarch Passes Away

Singer Elizabeth Hvolboll held a trove of Refugio region memories.

Both Sides Draw Blood in Dario Pini Trial

The courtroom drama opened with questions about who should have control over how many properties.

Pair of F-22s Buzz Santa Barbara City College

Turbulence rattles windows and nerves on Monday morning.

Mandatory Evacuation Called for Fire Zones in Santa Barbara County

Heavy rains expected Tuesday-Thursday; debris flows feared.