Kris, Maz and I will be headed down to San Diego this weekend to lead workshops for the 19th Annual Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational hosted by Asayake Taiko. See you there!
Last month on the way back from our tour in the northwest, I had the pleasure of stopping in San Francisco to catch the last staging of Byron Au Yong’s Stuck Elevator. In short, I loved it.
It was a relatively large production and part of me worried that Byron’s vision and the avant-garde music would take a beating. But my first impression: yay for large-production staging! The musical tells the true story of a food delivery person trapped in an elevator for 81 hours. How does one stage a whole story that takes place in an elevator?! The answer: A wall-less steel frame elevator car suspended center-stage with a moveable floor and ceiling, fly-in elevator doors, and projections of a live-feed overhead surveillance camera on the back wall. It was really artistic. In less capable hands, the play’s most interesting staging moments would be moments of escape from the elevator, during a flashback scene when we’re free to leave the space. But the open-walled elevator, the camera work, the changing heights of the floor and ceiling made the elevator itself the hero of the staging.
Byron’s music was just my preferred balance of quirky and catchy. The last piece was particularly moving for me, and provided a bit of satisfaction that the story could not (more on that in a moment. The performers voices were great and save for a few spots, the music was able to handle the hard task of carrying the story and being musical. In other musicals, I often feel the lyrics are burdened with the telling of the story.
The play had more levity than I was expecting. Although I might prefer a darker overall tone, I didn’t mind the comedy. I was surprised how much I liked the silly “Orange Beef” scene. It felt somehow “refined”, with polished timing, interesting music, and clever staging. I laughed out loud a number of times during the show.
I really, really liked the end of the story; the uneventful opening of the doors, without rescue personnel to recognize and give sympathy to Guang. I walked away thinking, “Thank goodness that amazing experience has been captured in ‘Stuck Elevator’.” Thank you for capturing this, Byron!
Well that does it! I’ve sold my car to Maz and I’m officially carless. For the last six months I’ve been experimenting with getting around by bike and public transportation and it’s been a major life upgrade. It took actually getting rid of the car before I could really give up the driving habit. I’ve had to adjust my scheduling of events to leave more time for travel, but slowing down a bit has been great. When I arrive after having ridden my bike or taken the bus, I feel refreshed and energized. And with the tandem, I’ve spent more time with Hiro. We take afternoon errand trips that are some of my favorite time now.
I still need to build a trailer so that I can transport large items like lumber and watermelons, but aside from that, I’ve been surprised how much I can do with my old bike, a good rack, and some panniers. And I feel really good about doing something concrete to reduce my carbon footprint.
That having been said, one of my concerns is that I’ll inconvenience my friends with my reduced flexibility. I don’t want to be that guy who always needs a ride. So I’ll do my best to increase my maximum biking distance and get familiar with the bus routes. To friends, family: in the coming months and years, if I’m ever an inconvenience, please be frank! I want to try and live car-free in a way that doesn’t put the burden on you. And I hear a company similar to ZipCar will likely be coming to Torrance so I’ll even have a backup plan.
And now Hiro and I are off to the market!
Thank you for the fun and enthusiasm, Stockton Taiko!
Our Pacific Northwest tour is coming to an end. We have one more performance tonight in beautiful Anacortes. After our weeklong residency in Edmonds we had a great concert at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. Quite a few taiko folk for the Seattle area came the concert and it’s always great to reconnect at a concert. We had a great time in Edmonds and a huge thank you goes out to Lisa and Joe and all the staff at the Edmonds Center for the Arts who brought us to their beautiful city.
After the Edmonds concert we loaded up the van and took the ferry to Port Angeles which was equally breathtaking. In Port Angeles we had a hands on workshop for local middle and high school students then an evening concert. Thank you to Dan and all the great volunteers of the Juan De Fuca Festival for their work in making our concert a success and for the batch of home made cookies for the road.
After Port Angeles Maz flew back to Los Angeles and our guest artist Eien Hunter-Ishikawa drove down from Vancouver to join us for the second half of the tour. We headed to the Seattle area where we spent three days doing educational outreach programs for the UW World Series. Huge thank you goes out to Sonya, Mina and Gene for all their work in setting up the school performances and making sure we didn’t get lost in Seattle.
Eien is quite the beer aficionado and every time we tour with him we get a guided tour to the local breweries, pubs and other bastions of beer geeks. In Seattle he took us to Chuck’s Hop Shop, Bottleworks and Epic Ale’s Gastropod. Few things are better than playing music then hanging out with great company and great beer.
Our final stop on this tour is Anacortes. Yet another stunningly beautiful Northwest city with great food. We knew this was going to be a great city when one of the presenters Christina brought us fresh smoked salmon and homemade rhubarb coffeecake. We performed for the local middle and high school and the senior center and will conclude the tour with a public performance tonight at 8:00pm.
It’s a been another great On Ensemble tour filled with meeting great people, eating great food and yes drinking great beer. After this tour I’ll be flying out to the East Coast for two performances with Hiroshima while Kris, Kelvin and Eien head home. Kris will be stopping for workshops in Stockton and to see Stuck Elevator on the way back to Los Angeles. Next month we’ll be at the Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational and we’ll be announcing the release of our new album Bizarre Heroes. Here’s a sneak peek: