Archive for February, 2012

Good in Gardena Performer Profile: Hakodate / Tokyo Crew

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Along with Katsuyukie Sensei and Katsujyuuro, an additional three singers and three shamisen players are coming from Hakodate and Japan, specifically for Good in Gardena! These are some of Sensei’s most accomplished (and friendly!) students and I am tremendously excited to have them join the lunch and concert! Here are brief introductions of the members.

Good in Gardena new moves and grooves preview

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Good in Gardena debuts a ton of new material! We have a new shamisen arrangement and two brand-new On Ensemble pieces. It will also be our first time doing the slant-drum battle in LA, with more than a dozen participants! These friends have been working on new movements and rhythms for the last six months and I’m excited the world will get to see their creations! Here’s a short preview with clips from a few of the battlers, including Maz and my dorky batchi-switching stuff!

Please order your tickets soon to join us March 11!

Good in Gardena Preparations

Good in Gardena performer profile: Kineya Katsujyuuro

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Tickets to the lunch and concert are available now! Please join us!

I’m tremendously excited to bring Kineya Katsujyuuro (aka Sawada Seijyuuro) to Good in Gardena, to perform at both the lunch and concert. One of the up-and-coming members of the Kineyakatsu guild, Katsujyuuro is a rare, crossover shamisen player, with stage names in both tsugaru-shamisen and the Kabuki world of nagauta shamsisen. In fact, Katsujyuuro was ranked number one in Japan for tsugaru-shamisen in 2006 and 2008, and even at the young age of 33, is currently performing with top Kabuki stars like Tamasaburo. He will be at the Good in Gardena lunch playing selections of tsugaru repertoire and giving background about the music. At the afternoon concert, he and Katsuyukie-Sensei will demonstrate the differences between tsugaru and nagauta shamisen!

Please come see this amazing player (and get shamisen insider info)!

Good in Gardena performer profile: Kineya Katsuyukie

Friday, February 24th, 2012

My shamisen teacher will be joining us for both the lunch and concert portions of Good in Gardena! Here is a bit of background about this wonderful woman!


Good in Gardena menu preparations

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Tickets aren’t selling as quickly as expected, so I need to work on getting the word out about Good in Gardena! Toward those ends, here is the first in a series with details about the lunch, battle, and concert!

Mabo-tofu with 50% polished brown rice, chard goma-ae, lettuce salad with maple dressing

Hiro and I have been doing test batches of our recipes for the Good in Gardena lunch. I’m really excited about each of the dishes! We’ve managed to design the purchases, cooking, and presentation to produce no trash thus far! Meiji Tofu will be making tofu just for us on the morning of March 11. The chard and lettuce at the farmers’ market this year are particularly good. And oranges are just coming into season and it seems like it’s a really great crop. My mom is helping us bake 15 batches of Hiro’s cinnamon cookies too!

With music by Suwada Seijyuuro (winner of the 2008 All-Japan Tsugaru Shamisen Contest), we’ve pulled out all the stops!

Please, please join us! It will be so fun to have On Ensemble friends there!

Good in Gardena tickets and details

Next up: Good in Gardena!

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

I’m tremendously excited to announce “Good in Gardena”, a self-produced concert and meet-the-performers lunch! For the last few years, Hiro and I have been working on our ideal musical event; an intimate On Ensemble concert with exciting guest artists and an opportunity for performers and audience members to interact over vegetarian, local food! We’re bringing eight musicians from Japan to showcase large-ensemble nagauta (the music of Kabuki with shamisen and singing), alongside On Ensemble’s newest music in an intimate, all-acoustic setting. I can’t wait for this show!!!

Read more here!: Good in Gardena details


Good in Gardena – Lunch, Battle, and Concert

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Join On Ensemble and guest artists for good food and good music! At noon, a meet-the-performers lunch features local, vegetarian food and music by top-ranked tsugaru shamisen player, Suwada Seijyuro. At 1:15pm, enthusiastic slant drummers convene for the Los Angeles debut of the Matsuri Crashers Battle, with audience voting! The events culminate in a 2pm concert featuring On Ensemble contemporary taiko alongside selections from the Kabuki musical repertoire. Held on the 1-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the concert debuts “9.0” for taiko and oboe, dedicated to musicians in Fukushima, Japan.

Good in Gardena
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Lunch: 12:00 noon, $25
Battle: 1:15 pm, free
Concert: 2:00 pm, $25
Gardena Valley JCI
1964 West 162nd Street
Gardena CA 90247

$5 discount for cyclists and indoor bike valet

Lunch Details

Sunday, March 11, 12 noon
Reservations required ($25)
JCI Gardens Apartments (next door to Gardena Valley JCI)
Social Hall
2000 W 162nd St
Torrance CA 90504

Parking available in Gardena Valley JCI parking lot at 1964 W 162nd St, or free street parking.

The meet-the-performers lunch features home-made, vegan food with locally sourced, organic ingredients. Special guest, Meiji Tofu, will be on hand to explain the making of fresh tofu. A “No Trash Event”, attendees bring their own plates, drinking cups, and napkins. Sawada Seijyuuro, first-place winner of the 2006 All-Japan Tsugaru Shamisen Contest, will perform musical selections and explain the music’s background and inspirations.

Menu (subject to change)

  • lettuce salad with basil-olive oil, ponzu, and maple-syrup dressing
  • hand-made hiyayako (cold tofu) with fresh toppings, served with 50%-polished brown rice
  • mabo tofu (spicy, soft tofu with green onions)
  • chard goma-ae (sweet Japanese greens and sesame)
  • yaki imo (baked Japanese sweet potato)
  • seasonal fruit and cinnamon cookies

Battle Details

Sunday, March 11, 1:15 pm
Outdoor, free and open to the public
Gardena Valley JCI parking lot
1964 W 162nd St
Gardena CA 90247

Parking available in Gardena Valley JCI parking lot at 1964 W 162nd St, or free street parking.

For the past six months, more than a dozen slant-drum enthusiasts have been preparing new moves and rhythms for the Los Angeles debut of the Matsuri Crashers Battle. Players face off on a single drum in singles and doubles competition. The audience surrounds the action and chooses each battle’s winner with the “shobu” voting system: stand up to vote for the standing player, squat down to vote for the kneeling player. Individual battles utilize one of six available “structures” with fixed length, speed, and base-beat. These structures, named for Los Angeles freeways, involve call-and-response between players and audience. The 30-minute, outdoor event is free and open to the public, held in the Gardena Valley JCI parking lot.

Concert Details

Sunday, March 11, 2:00 pm
Reservations required ($25)
Gardena Valley JCI Veterans’ Hall
1964 W 162nd St
Gardena CA 90247

Parking available in Gardena Valley JCI parking lot at 1964 W 162nd St, or free street parking.

On Ensemble is joined by 12 (!) guest artists to present a combination of contemporary and traditional music in an intimate, all-acoustic setting. Alongside established repertoire like Little Man and Watashi Watashitachi, On Ensemble presents the Los Angeles debut of Re-Recycled Beats for bonang and uchiwa-daiko, and the premier of upbeat jam-song, Tally Ho. Commemorating the 1-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the concert will also debut 9.0 for taiko and oboe, dedicated to musicians in Fukushima, Japan. With master musicians from Japan, the concert will feature the large-ensemble Kabuki classic, Kagami-Jishi, and the evocative Fuji Ondo with traditional dance. Kineya Katsuyukie joins On Ensemble for an original arrangement of the contemporary shamisen piece, Dagakki.

Bring a blank CD to take home a free, live recording of the concert!

Program (subject to change)
(“*” indicates Los Angeles debut)

  • Little Man
  • Watashi Watashitachi
  • Dagakki*
  • Fuji Ondo
  • Hisashi
  • 9.0*
  • Tsugaru vs Nagauta shamisen demo*
  • Kagami Jishi
  • Re-Recycled Beats*
  • Jack Bazaar
  • Tally Ho*


  • Masato Baba
  • Kristofer Bergstrom / Kineya Katsukoujyu
  • Shoji Kameda
  • Kineya Katsuyukie
  • Kineya Katsujyuurou / Sawada Seijyuurou
  • Kineya Wayukiji
  • Matsunaga Wakikou
  • Kashiwa Etsuko
  • Kineya Katsuyukio
  • Kineya Katsukoushin
  • Matsumoto Masako
  • Kineya Yasoyo
  • Nakamura Narumi
  • Brady Fukumoto

On Ensemble 2012 Winter Tour Fun Facts

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

On Ensemble recently went on tour to Wyoming and then to Texas. As you know, we drive EVERYWHERE. It helps save cash and, even though it’s still burning fuel, it’s better for our carbon footprint versus flying. Fun time on the road!

-Approximate miles driven in the van – 5,563 plus
-Shoji and Kelvin’s approximate time spent in the van – 49 plus
-Maz and Kris’ approximate time spent in the van – 90 plus
-States passed through – California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas
-Time zones passed through – 3 (Pacific, Mountain, and Central)
-Number of Lecture/Demonstrations – 7
-Number of Concerts – 3
-Times chains had to be used – 2
-Approximate cups of rice made – 30
-Approximate curry lunches (Punjab Choley from Trader Joe’s) consumed – 13
-Approximate tofu dinners consumed – 10
-Times our gas light went on – Once. There was a stretch of the 10 freeway in Texas where there were no gas stations for like 150 miles. Abunai!
-We actually had time to watch the 49ers vs Giants NFC Championship game! It was fun, but we wished for a different out come!
-Times I got asked if I was “that guy in the Hangover” – 4. Dang Ken Jeong. Is this a good compliment or a bad one? Maybe it’s time for a haircut.

-Times Kris got asked if he looked like Scott Hamilton – Once, but this was probably the 2nd or 3rd time someone asked him that. Other people Kris has been compared to: Chris Martin of Coldplay, Paul Bettany, Ari Shapiro (voice only), and… Arnold Schwarzenegger???
-I asked Shoji and Kelvin who they’ve been compared to. Shoji said Jake Shimabukuro. Kelvin said Saul Williams.
-Kris won the “Man Card” of the tour. He was the best at backing up the trailer. I had to give up being the driver and he had to take over.
-Kris and I stopped at “The Thing” off of the Interstate 10 Freeway. I can’t tell you what it is. You have to google it. Silly stuff… it was only a dollar, so why NOT? Gotta do at least one silly thing on tour right?

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