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Music to rock, arouse and awaken

Jue means to sense, rouse or awaken, and next month the fifth annual JUE independent music and arts festival promises to do just that.

Held in both Shanghai and Beijing, JUE is inspired by the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This year it features more than 80 events, both Chinese and foreign, at 45 venues altogether.

It will run from March 8-24 in Shanghai and March 6-24 in Beijing.

The festival covers seven categories including music, performance, film, literature, community and lecture, according to Mo (he uses one name), the media and marketing manager of Split Works, the organizer.

The music program will feature performers from China, Europe and America. Visitors can appreciate the best of China's rock scene.

How to Dress Well, songwriter and producer with a background from Brooklyn to Berlin, will start the playlist in Shanghai on March 8 and 9 with his new, "narcotized" strain of R&B.

Sound Fragment, a Chinese indie rock band from Modern Sky label, performs on March 9. The tracks are described as being introspective.

For those who love eccentricity, young Canadian "witch" Grimes will bring her electro pop gems to MAO Livehouse on March 20. Punk singer Frank Turner from Britain will perform at the same venue on March 23. He performed at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

JUE 2013 is expected to be richer in music genres.

Media manager Mo says that last year independent music dominated but this year, the festival will feature more sounds, such as Mandarin pop from Golden Music Awards winner Matzka from Taiwan.

Jazz will be more prominent this year in two improvisational concerts by an African free jazz band.

This year's festival also marks the beginning of JUE's independently invested activities, including Asia Cinema Week from March 16-22. Seven non-mainstream works from China, Southeast Asia and Mongolia will be screened.

"While these works are largely underground, they have gained certain credits," Mo says.

The film from Mongolia is an edgy story of a Mongolian hip-hop band. The director will attend the screening and chat with the audience. The Mongolian band will perform.

Turning to art, the JUE "Next Gen!" photography contest is seeking online submissions from nonprofessional photographers from February 17 to March 17. Winning photographs will be printed on officially circulated festival postcards.

The festival was inspired by the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, a cutting-edge off-shoot of the Edinburgh International Arts Festival.

While fewer events are planned at this festival than at last year's show (more than 110), the scope is wide and the events are diverse.

As usual, admission to most events is free. Tickets to music performances range from 60 to 220 yuan. (US$9.6-US$32.1)

For JUE 2013 lineup and schedule, check www.juefestival.com.

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