Archive for August, 2008

Dream home = mobile home?!

Friday, August 29th, 2008

One of my greatest dreams is to build my own home.  Hiro and I have been designing and collecting ideas and photographs for the past 5 or 6 years.  We’ve been using our various apartments as test grounds for different storage and furniture ideas.  And we take monthly overnight trips by bike and train to explore towns along the Metro rail to better know where we might want to live.

But despite all this work, the dream home feels far, far away.  Financially, building a home anywhere near Los Angeles will be a stretch.  Despite experience with basic woodworking and a few welding classes, the skills required to build our home still feel out of my league.  And we still don’t know what’s important to us in picking a place to live.

But two weeks ago, I had a breakthrough!!!

I’m going to build a mobile home!

Trailer home design concept

Trailer home design concept


Stevie Wonder, Take 6, Barack Obama and the DNC

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Holy freakin’ cow, I just had one of the most amazing days ever! I performed as one of the “Drums of Unity” with Stevie Wonder and Take 6 at the Democratic National Convention. I can’t even believe it. Stevie Wonder and Take 6… Between the two that’s like 36 Grammys, 6 of the most amazing vocalists I’ve ever heard and ONE MUSIC GOD. DemConvention has posted this video as well as many others on YouTube. I had to watch it twice just to believe it actually happened.

Being a part of the “Drums of Unity” was very special. Munyungo Jackson on cajon, Fausto Cuevas on congas, Steve Haney on snare and tambourine, and Glen Ahhaitty and Mark Makai on Native American drums. I feel so humbled to have had the chance to share the stage with all of these amazing artists.

The atmosphere of the convention was absolutely phenomenal. 75,000 people is definitely the largest audience I’ve ever played for! Looking out from my drums into a sea of people was quite a moment.

After the performance I made my way onto the floor of Invesco Field to watch Obama’s speech. It was amazing to be a part of. A historic moment and Obama gave the most inspirational political speech I’ve ever heard. I’m filled a hope and optimism about our country that I’ve never felt before. This is definitely a day I’ll be telling my grandchildren about. “I was there when President Obama gave the speech that defined a generation… really… no really…” Finally a leader that seeks to inspire us to a higher purpose rather than speak down to us like a bunch of idiots.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe all of the places this art form has taken me. I’d like to thank Stevie Wonder and Munyungo Jackson for this amazing day and amazing opportunity!

Hosting your own website

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Ever considered running your own web server?  As On Ensemble finishes upgrading our system, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject, and a few links to get you started in the world of Free Software!

For about 7 years now, has been hosted on modest computers running in the various apartments I’ve inhabited.  The server hums away 24/7, serving On Ensemble’s website to visitors around the world.  Although it’s required quite a bit of study and a few late nights, I’ve very much enjoyed managing the server.  It feels good to be a part of the internet infrastructure.  I’m a big believer in the power of the internet to distribute control and power from centralized authority, to little musicians like us.  It’s also quite handy to be able to create unlimited email addresses on the fly.  There are no storage limitations, and no expenses above and beyond what I’d already spend for DSL service.

And it’s fun!

But it’s probably not for everyone.  (more…)

Democratic National Convention

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Flew into Denver this morning for the DNC gig. There is a ton of activity everywhere and the excitement is infectious. Today we had a sound check today at Invesco field and I am looking forward to tomorrow! It’s an amazing honor to play with a music god like Stevie Wonder at such a historic event. I totally have Obama fever, this is the most excited I’ve ever been about a presidential race and that’s saying something because I usually get pretty worked up. More later!

Keep the great feedback coming! Especially links!

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Thank you everyone who has provided feedback about our new site. We’ve received lots of positive support and some great suggestions! As we switch the new design over to our standard address,, we will likely have broken links here and there. Please help us track them down if you’ve got a moment!


Very catchy design!

Great background!

I like the simple layout, with only 5 menus at top…

About page: Maybe some kind of secondary navigation for all of your h3 headings would be useful. That way, I can tell right away that this page also contains performance, outreach, workshop, etc. info, and can access that info directly without scrolling. -RESPECTFULLY PASS (more…)

It’s not everyday…

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

It’s not everyday you get a call in the morning to perform with Stevie Wonder at the Democratic National Convention and by the end of the day find yourself at Wonderland Studios rehearsing with the legend. Crazy… I need to pinch myself.

Anyways… I don’t want to give away too much, but I’ll be heading to Denver next week for the Democratic National Convention! Woohoo!

Back in 2004 I got to go to the Boston convention with Hiroshima got stuck in an underground parking lot for three hours and we all know how that election turned out. It was also the tour that I lost my job as primary navigator… Heading back to the hotel from dinner I missed the hotel exit four times in a row and the worst part about it was that every time I missed the exit we had to pay a toll! That was the last time I got to be band navigator. Now we have a GPS instead.

Maybe in 2012 On Ensemble will be famous enough to get invited to perform at a DNC! We’ll have to win a grammy first, so there is still work to be done, but we might as well aim high! More later…

What’s coming up for On Ensemble

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

In early September we’ll be heading up to the Seattle area for the second time this year. This time it’s for the 2008 Western Arts Alliance Annual Conference. We have two affiliated showcases on Tuesday, Sept 2nd and one on Wednesday Sept 3rd. Check the calendar section for more details.

We’ll be making a number of stops to give workshops along the way. So far our workshops stops include Eugene, Vancouver and Stockton. Every time we’re on the road we try to connect with as many taiko groups as we can. If you are a taiko group on the way from Los Angeles to Seattle and are interested in workshops contact Kris!

We also have two more big road trips planned for the not too distant future. In November we’ll be heading out to Minnesota for performances in Collegeville and Minneapolis and in January we’ll be making a trek out to New York, Boston, Montreal and Burlington (Vermont). We’re setting up workshop and performances for both of these tours now so contact Kris if you’re interested in having On Ensemble stop by for workshops or performances.

We’re also finalizing plans for our annual concert to held at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center on November 8th! We’ll be posting updates on this as soon as we can!

And finally the recording and mastering of our second studio album “Ume in the Middle” is done and it’s now in the final design stage! We’re working with a great design firm, Chen Design Associates for the CD packaging and we’re really looking forward to this release. I can’t give you all a firm release date yet, but we’re getting closer and we’ll posting updates along the way!

Welcome to 2.0

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

We’re finally starting to make our new site public!  Whew!  Those who have signed up for our email list will get the first look at the site.  Please let us know what you think and what improvements can be made!

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