Archive for September, 2013

Boo for dropped batchi, yay for risk taking

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Well, the Kokuritsu Gekijyo show has ended. Things went smoothly for the most part, and the show was really great. All the groups were really unique and the theater staff were amazing. It was a really great honor to be there and to be a part of the show.

Everything was great… save a wardrobe malfunction in Jack Bazaar. My obi came undone during the crazy bachi sharing stuff, causing us to drop a batchi and my mic pack to come lose. I had to stop and take the mic off. And Maz and I messed up both ITC and Tar Pits, despite our feeling really good about it in recent rehearsals. Alas… Such is the pain of being an artist-in-development.

But I’ll take the embarrassment and disappointment over playing it safe. Here’s to risk taking. And a second try on Oct 3! Now to find practice space in Tokyo…

On Ensemble arrives in Tokyo

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

After arriving at Narita with our gear, being denied sending equipment by takkyuubin (Japanese UPS, won’t take “instruments”), and subsequently being saved by Saburo-san’s wife, Yumiko-san, with a ride to our hotel, we’ve settled in here in Tokyo. Our first day was a whirlwind of wonderful things. Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten took us to their storage facility to pick the instruments we’ll be borrowing for the Kokuritsu Gekijyo performance. The facility is full of hundreds and hundreds of drum bodies in production, stacked on gargantuan moving shelves, plus an assortment of finished drums and stands. It’s a miraculous place and I feel so lucky to have seen it.

After picking our equipment, we loaded in at Kokuritsu Gekijyo, spiked the stage, and then rehearsed a bit on the third floor. We worked out an arrangement of Jack Bazaar including Chris and Daisuke of Amanojyaku and I’m really excited about it. They have a few Midare-esque solo bits, and then have worked out a wonderful take on the ending of the piece, with moments where their movements and rhythms interlock with ours. It’s going to be really fun!

So the trip is off to a great start. We’re headed to Miyamoto Studio to practice with Kenny this morning, and then big-group rehearsal at Kokuritsu this afternoon. Thank you to Yoshi, and Ai, and Kudo-san, and Watanuki-san, and Yumiko-san, and everyone here!

Shoji Kameda, Kaoru Watanabe and Sumie Kaneko Trio

Friday, September 13th, 2013

I will be in Houston performing with Kaoru Watanabe and Sumie Kaneko for a special trio performance this Saturday September 14th. The performance kicks off the Asia Society Presents 2013-14 season. Come check it out if you are in the area!

From Asia Society Presents website:
Kicking off our 2013-14 performing arts seasons are multi-instrumentalists Shoji Kameda and Kaoru Watanabe. These leading lights of Japanese music in the United States are known for infusing traditional taiko and flute with jazz and world music elements such as Central Asian throat singing. With music described as “completely original and brilliantly conceived,” they are at the forefront of young musicians who seamlessly bridge East and West, old and new. These sonic adventurers have invited virtuoso koto player Sumie Kaneko to join them for a not-to-be missed evening of music designed to complement the exhibition Universe Is Flux: The Art of Tawara Yūsaku.

A life upgrade

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

When I gave up my car last year, it was a sacrifice in support of the environment. In the 10 months hence, the switch to biking has instead proved to be more convenient and more pragmatic than driving.

When I owned a car and needed to get across town, I would often compare my driving and biking options. “If I drive, I can get there in 45 minutes… if I ride my bike and take the bus, it’ll take 90 minutes.” The conclusion was often, “I can’t afford to ride my bike.”

Since ditching the car entirely however, I’ve adjusted to the new lifestyle in ways that reverse the conclusion. I now have a “bus work” category for my task-list, which includes note-taking, rough planning, music memorization, and listening to review exercises. Now the calculation goes, “If I drive, I’ll be sitting for 45 minutes. If I ride my bike, I get 30 minutes of exercise and 60 minutes of bus work.” The new conclusion: “I can’t afford to drive.”

Ditching one’s car involves a fair amount of work, and I’m still devising solutions to certain challenges, like the desire to purchase multiple watermelons, the occasional need for lumber, and my solo taiko work. Trailers are in the works.

But while the adjustment has required commitment and work, switching to biking and public transit here in Los Angeles has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made. I’m healthier. I save thousands of dollars per year. I have more time for my work and study. And I’ve achieved my original goal of reducing my impact on the environment.

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