L to R: Steve Witt (bass), Carlos Cajilig (lead guitar), Wilson Wong (vocals, rhythm guitar), and Stephen Michael (drums)
During college, little did Wilson Wong know that finding an electric
guitar lying in the corner of his friend's apartment would lead to a fledging
music career: "I had no idea what I
was doing, but I ended up strumming two random chords that sounded decent. It
definitely piqued my interest and I immediately enrolled in a beginning guitar
class on campus."
Flash forward 11 years later, and Wilson Wong teams up with Steve Witt, Hyphen staff member Carlos
Cajilig, and Stephen Michael to form their band "Wilson Wong and the
Dudes." They soon began playing at Hyphen events, shows hosted by the
organization RAMA that feature up and coming Asian American artists, and
various East Bay spots such as the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.
This Friday, November 7, they are having a release show for their EP
"Other Side of Twenty" at Studio Grand in Oakland, California, 3234
Grand Avenue. Doors open at 8:30pm and the show starts at 9pm. Heather Nievera and the
Wesley Woo band will be opening.
Listening to Wilson Wong sing immediate made me think of Jack Johnson's
music -- soft rock with an acoustic flair, a down-to-earth singing voice that
comes naturally rather than from formal training, and simple and earnest
lyrics. Nothing at all pretentious here. Wilson Wong and the Dudes' music would
be perfect for long road trips, make out sessions, and just chillin' in front
of a good view while drinking beers. My favorite song of the band so far is
"Heart Is Growing Old" -- a nostalgic melody about a former flame.
Wilson Wong himself, based on our conversations, seems like the strong
silent type. A totally understated guy whose still waters run deep. When he's
not performing, he's not usually the type to draw attention to himself. Press
him to elaborate on his lyrics and he'll just say, "Telling anymore would
spoil the whole thing." He seems for the most part, a private guy, but you
can tell from his music that getting to know him would open up vast
Wong cites Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash as his primary musical influences
that guided him toward playing roots music. He's also into Ryan Adams, Jakob
Dylan, Tom Petty Bruce Springsteen, Oasis, and the Counting Crows. Recently, he
has been blown away by an Alameda husband and wife singing duo called KCDC that,
according to him, has an "alternative/pop/folk/twang vibe to it."
When asked about how Asian Americans are faring in today's music scene,
Wong is optimistic but notes the greater need for diversity in music being represented: "I think it's great that there's more representation in the
mainstream [of Asian American musicians] than when I was in school. Back in the
90s, there was only Filipino American R&B groups Kai and One Voice that we
had known locally [...] However, I do want to see Asian Americans that play
different music genres get their recognition. I know there are Asian American
artists that play punk, metal, indie, ska, alternative, hardcore, folk,
country, goth, and blues waiting to get some recognition from their
To listen and purchase the band's “Other Side of
Twenty” EP, click here. To further support the Wilson Wong and
the Dudes, sign up for their mailing list and like them on
social media. And if you have any upcoming events that could
use performers, contact them.