Archive for February, 2014

Convincing Kitri to brush her teeth

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

In my last post I mentioned my daughter adores the ballet Don Quixote and will often pretend to be Kitri, the main heroine in the story.  It’s become pretty elaborate.  I downloaded the music of the ballet for her and she’ll dance through the entire thing on  our little rug that serves as her stage complete with three acts and the necessary costume changes.  Here’s a transcript of our conversation as best as I can remember it from the other night:

Momma (calling from the bathroom) : “Time to brush teeth!”

Little one ignores Momma continues dancing.

Dadda : “Little one you heard Momma it’s time to brush your teeth.”

Little one : “But I’m dancing.”

Dadda more sternly : “Little one listen to your Momma and go brush your teeth!”

Little one : “I’m not Little One I’m Kitri!”

Dadda : “Okay Kitri it’s time to brush your teeth.”

Little one : “But Kitri doesn’t brush her teeth.”

Dadda : “Yes she does everybody brushes their teeth.”

Little one : “But I don’t see her brush her teeth.”

Dadda : “That’s because she brushes her teeth off stage.  Nobody wants to watch a dancer brush her teeth on stage but when you see her run off stage she goes to brush her teeth.”

Little one continues dancing but is now starting to think about it.  The music stops and she runs off stage to brush her teeth.

Dadda: 1  Little One: 45,731 (rough estimate)

The biggest cooking disaster since that green tea syrup incident

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Okay. So round one of soba making did not go well. It was an unmitigated disaster. A catastrophic failure of epic proportions. And let’s set one thing straight. This isn’t a “hahaha isn’t it funny when you let your husband into the kitchen” kind of post. No not at all. In my family I’m the one that does the cooking and I take a certain amount of pride in my domestic abilities. But not this night. No. The gods of soba have seen my pride and have humbled me.

I have a few excuses. But none worth writing about. It turns out that soba actually being noodles is kind of key. Soba pellets are not nearly as delicious. Not at all.

I actually made my wife laugh out loud at the dinner table. She was really trying to be a sport. She knew I’d be upset at how it turned out and was trying to not make eye contact. I took one bite and said “this is a disaster” and she burst out laughing. Yep. Soba pellet comedy.

She opened a can of refried beans and made a burrito for dinner. A bean frigging burrito. I couldn’t cook something better than a bean burrito… from a can. I just embarrassed a thousand generations of my ancestors.

I’m am humbled but undeterred. I will give the wife a little break from having to eat soba disasters but will be back at it after the weekend. What is that saying about a thousand mile journey starting with… an unmitigated disaster.

On Ensemble music featured in new Panasonic LUMIX GH4 video

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

This is exciting news! Our music was recently used in the first video that shows off the amazing 4k video capability of Panasonic’s new LUMIX GH4 camera. Our track “Yamasong (Campagna remix)” from the album “Ume in the Middle” provides the soundtrack to these stunning visuals. The video is titled “Light of the Yucatan” and was done by filmmaker Bryan Harvey.

On Ensemble with Sumie Kaneko at the Getty Center

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

We had a great weekend of performances at the Getty Center for the Sounds of LA series with special guest Sumie Kaneko. The performances were free and reservations for tickets for both shows were sold out. Personally I couldn’t think of a better series to play for than “Sounds of LA”. I always feel like On Ensemble has a very Los Angeles sound. We are all about the particular mix of cultures and influences that happen here in SoCal. Where else would a taiko, throat singing, drum kit, koto, shamisen, vibraphone playing band seem so natural?

We brought out a special guest Sumie Kaneko from NY for this performance and it was really great performing with her. I had performed with her for a separate project in Houston but this was the first time she came to perform with On Ensemble and it was a perfect match. Sumie really adds a whole other layer of possibility and depth to our music and I’m really excited about working with her again in the future.

Lastly we’d like to give a shout out to Sabrina and Laurel for bringing us to the Getty Center. To Sarah, Caitlin and Tony for taking such good care of us and to Chris, Gus, Michael and Bill for making us sound and look great on stage! Thank you!

Also thank you to Kim, Ayano and Joe for volunteering and helping us sell merch! Kim also took these great photos of the performance and rehearsal. Thanks Kim!



Soba Bowl

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

It all started from a text from my mom. She had just heard an NPR story about Sonoko Sakai’s quest for soba and teaching soba making workshops in LA and knew it would be something I’d be interested in. I immediately took to the internet and found her website and signed up for her next soba making workshop. I love soba and in my on going quest to get geekier about food the opportunity to learn how to make homemade soba was something I couldn’t pass up! It wasn’t until two days after I signed up for the class did I realize it was on Super Bowl Sunday right during the game. I mean I love football and all but soba vs. football is no competition. So off I went to the soba making class.

There is a lot of overlap between cooking and music. Both are about improvisation, aesthetic and craft. There are so many parallels that I firmly believe that taking cooking more seriously has made me a better musician and I can apply many of the things I’m thinking about music to my cooking. Of course I’m far from the first musician who fancies himself a chef… I often wonder if chefs also fancy themselves musicians…

One of the many things I’m constantly working on as a musician is to be able to do something very simply very well. It’s not really in my nature to gravitate toward simplicity. I’m much more prone to over think and over complicate things. Though recently I’ve started to understand more deeply the beauty of doing something simply very well. It has also occurred to me fairly recently that I should work on this in my food as well.

All these ideas have been swirling around in my head and they crystalized into a plan when I read my mom’s text. I’ll do it with soba! I had already started trying to prepare dashi from scratch. Eien had already been doing this and during our last trip to Japan we took a trip to the Narita fish market with his father to find a bonito shaver so I could shave my own katsuobushi. I now have a dream to make the perfect bowl of soba before I die. Not sure if I’ll ever get there but I’m sure the journey will be well worth it.

If you interested in taking soba workshop Sonoko will be teaching a workshop in Highland Park on Feb 22nd. Find out more at on her website

I was going to post a pic of my noodles but they were embarrassingly bad! They did taste good but I definitely must up my game. Right now I’m not even a padawan learner. I’m like a level zero soba ninja with a -3 skill check penalty. Sheesh.

Eien Hunter-Ishikawa Workshops and Private Lessons

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

After our On Ensemble performances this weekend at the Getty Center Eien will be giving a series of workshops and private lessons at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute. He’ll be teaching two workshops: Small Drum Technique and an Introduction to Edo-Bayashi and will be available for private lessons.

Eien is one of the most technically skilled and musical taiko players in the North American community. He is also a great teacher and his depth of knowledge and experience is a great resource for those who are into taiko and want take their playing to the next level. If you are into taiko and live in SoCal this is a great opportunity to learn from one of the best! Check out the LATI website for a complete list of Eien’s workshops and private lesson availability.

Private Lessons with Eien:

Small Drum Technique:

Intro to Edo-Bayashi:

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