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The Beat

Chinese Rock and Joni Mitchell's 'Spark'

Megan Sukys/Dave Beck

Dennis Rea is a mild-mannered Seattle musician who found himself an unsuspecting emissary of rock n roll in the largest Communist country in the world. Today, Dennis shares his improbable adventure into Chinese rock. We also explore Joni Mitchell with Harvey Danger's Sean Nelson.

07:00 - Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson talks about his new book based on the Joni Mitchell album Court & Spark.

20:00 - Musical Encounters in China & Taiwan
In the 1980s and 90s, American author and musician Dennis Rea was an unofficial musical ambassador to the East, playing concerts in venues ranging from sports arenas to illicit underground nightclubs to TV broadcasts viewed by millions of Chinese -- frequently under bizarre circumstances and the constant threat of harassment by Communist Party authorities. Spiced with informative reflections on Chinese music and culture, Dennis Rea's new book Live at the Forbidden City interweaves vivid, often comical depictions of Rea's musical adventures with an insider's look at China's emergent rock music phenomenon. Dennis Rea speaks with Megan Sukys.

34:00 - Sounds Familiar: 'Waiting For The Robert E Lee'
Amanda Wilde, host of The Swing Years and Beyond, joins us with the little-known history of songs we didn't know we knew so well.

55:00 - Ben Lee
Ben Lee was born 28 years ago in Sydney, Australia. His mum remembers him spending most of his childhood sitting on the floor with a turntable, playing Rumours (Fleetwood Mac), Avalon (Roxy Music) and the Jack And The Beanstalk soundtrack over and over and over. Ben's musical coming out was at the age of 14 with a poppy, punk rock band called Noise Addict, circa 1993. "Discovered" by heavy hipsters Sonic Youth and The Beastie Boys, the group's profile rose quickly. As Ben describes it, "It was the perfect teenage rock thing." But clearly more ambitious than his band-mates, it wasn't long before Ben began concentrating on a solo career. We'll listen to songs from his latest album, Awake is the New Sleep, later this hour.