Live music jazzes up revitalized rail station in Taitung, Taiwan

Tiehua Music Village is one of the most unique cultural centers and live music venues in the country

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Musicians from home and abroad perform at Tiehua Music Village. (Image courtesy of Tiehua Music Village)

Musicians from home and abroad perform at Tiehua Music Village. (Image courtesy of Tiehua Music Village)

TAIPEI (Taiwan Today) -- As evening falls, the sounds of pop, rock and folk fill an outdoor space next to the decommissioned railway station in Taitung City. Tiehua Music Village is one of the most unique cultural centers and live music venues in the country and delights all those who have ventured to this sleepy seaside town in southeastern Taiwan.

Overlooking the old station, the site includes buildings that once served as dormitories for rail workers. It hosts concerts by emerging and established artists as well as markets showcasing arts and crafts and local agricultural products.

Hand-painted paper lanterns in the shape of hot air balloons light up the night in the area alongside Tiehua Music Village. (Taiwan Today Image)

Local and overseas musicians perform at the village every Wednesday to Sunday night. Occasionally major acts, in particular musicians from indigenous groups, are among the lineup including pop star A-mei from the Pinuyumayan tribe and Amis musician Suming Rupi.

Every Wednesday is open mic night. According to Tiehua Music Village Executive Director Hilo Wang, the aim is to give newcomers a chance to perform to the public in a professional setting.

Operated by Taipei City-based Lovely Taiwan Foundation and opened in July 2010, the village was set up with support from the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

Visitors survey local handicrafts at a market stall at the music village. (Taiwan Today Image)

With Taitung County home to many members of Taiwan’s indigenous communities, Tiehua has become a powerful platform for aboriginal singers and groups.

In an effort to nurture local musical talent, the village collaborates with producers, songwriters and engineers in holding workshops and practice sessions for local artists. In addition, every summer since 2011 it has organized a contest for rock groups.

Music aside, Tiehua hosts the Slow Bazaar from Friday to Sunday each week. The fair, which reflects the laid-back mood of the region, offers visitors an opportunity to sample locally grown produce and admire traditional handicrafts such as woven goods.

Revitalization work has been extended to neighboring structures. The county government converted the station building, platform, warehouses and adjacent tracks into Taitung Railway Art Village, where visitors can cycle or stroll along a wooden walkway, take photos of the renovated facilities and view art installations.

The renovated railway station is now a popular tourist attraction (Taiwan Today Image)