Shoji aka "Kametron - the transformable turtle robot"

Kametron has three modes. In "Kametron" mode he just sits in a corner listening to music with a pair of headphones, not terribly exciting. In "Taiko Kametron" mode he stands up and removes a pair of batchi from a secret compartment. In "Giga Kametron" mode massive speakers come out of his fore arms pounding music. The resulting energy surge usually shorts out his CPU causing him to twitch and dance uncontrollably.

Chicago/Fort Wayne/Lakewood Tour Recap

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Where to start. I really meant to be doing tour updates along the way but neglected to so get ready for the big Chicago/Fort Wayne/Lakewood tour recap! The tour started with me loading up the trailer and hitting driving to Moab UT and stayed at Hop’s house (Thanks Hop!) which is a well known touring taiko musician road stop. It’s about as far as you can possibly drive from Los Angeles in one day and sets you up well to cross the rockies so we end up staying there a lot! Also Hop is an awesome taiko nut and great fun to hang out with so a big part of it is for the company. As an added bonus Moab is beautiful and when I drove in the moonlit desert scenery almost made me forgot about the 10 hour drive.

The next day I drove through the Rockies to pick Maz up at the Denver airport. The drive through the Rockies was absolutely beautiful as the aspens were all changing color. I must have picked the exact perfect day to make that drive and a TON of people from Denver had the same idea because the traffic getting out of the Rockies into Denver was insane. But you know I live in Los Angeles so it made me feel like I was on the 10 but with better scenery. By the time I picked up Maz at the airport I was several hours late and we drove well into the night to make up time. Luckily as we were driving through Nebraska the lunar eclipse was in full view right in front of us the whole night. It made for another beautiful drive and I thought that somehow though absolute luck we must have scheduled this tour for the most picturesque driving possible.

After spending a night somewhere in Nebraska we drove into Chicago and picked up Eien and Sumie from Ohare and met up with Ho Etsu Taiko! We performed together at the Old Town School of Music on a Wednesday night to a packed house. It was a great performance and the Old Town School of Music is such a wonderful magical place! Everywhere you turn there are music and dance classes and people hanging out and art everywhere! It’s exactly what a center for music and dance should be like! After the Old Town School of Music performance we had two days of rehearsals and preparation for ROTATIONS. Followed by two great performances with Ho Etsu Taiko on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. There will be some pictures and video of ROTATIONS soon and I will post them as soon as I get them! The concert series was a HUGE success both artistically and organizationally and I’d like to give huge props to all of Ho Etsu Taiko: Jason, Tiana, Alexa, Donny, Ryan, Dana, Emily and Jamie for an amazing job well done! Also a shout out to Grace for her back stage help SOUNDGUY and to the ever awesome taiko-tech-do-everything-wonder-woman Sarah for all of her help. (more…)

Rotations Behind the Scenes

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Take a sneak peep behind the scenes of our upcoming collaborative concert with Ho Etsu Taiko in Chicago. I’ve been working with Ho Etsu for the past year and half and it’s been really rewarding to work with a group like this over a longer period of time. They were the first group outside of On Ensemble that I taught Lion Chant to and they helped debut the piece at the 2014 World Taiko Gathering. We’ve been working on more collaborative pieces and this video gives you a little behind the scenes look into that process! Enjoy!

UK Taiko Festival Awesomeness

Friday, July 10th, 2015

What an epic weekend of amazing taiko awesomeness! First of all I’d like to thank Jonathan, Lucy and all of the volunteers from Kagemusha and Tano Taiko that put so much work into making the festival a success. Also a huge shout out and thank you to the Kirby family for their incredible hospitality! The festival was packed with great performances and workshops. There was a concert of youth groups from around the UK on Friday night. A fun 10 groups play for 10 minutes style concert on Saturday during lunch and a full formal concert by Ikari Taiko from Osaka that evening. Then another intimate midday concert on Sunday featuring Ikari Taiko, The Genki Spark, Unit Souzou, Kagemusha Taiko and myself. During Saturday and Sunday Michelle, Toru and myself all taught workshops that were designed to complete each other as a workshop block. There were also the after parties, lots of hanging out and talking taiko and even an epic after after party that included a good number of us heading to the local night club and dancing the night away.

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I have had so many interesting, inspiring and enlightening conversations and so many experiences to process that I’ll have to take some time to think on it all. I will say that I come away from the UK Taiko Festival amazingly inspired by the growth of the world wide taiko community and the people who make up the community.

After the festival concluded I spent the week with Kagemusha Taiko teaching two workshops then headed to London with the group and helped out on a corporate team building workshop that Jonathan ran with 3 other Kagemusha Taiko members. Having never had any kind of ‘real’ job the corporate world feels like a foreign country with it’s own unique language. It was very interesting to see how Jonathan applied taiko principles and practices in a way that was relevant to the group of employees who were assembled for the event. Watching the group who had never played taiko before play an entire piece and seeing their smiles and energy was a great reminder of the power of taiko to bring people together.

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This weekend I’m in Germany for a weekend intensive at Schloss Buchenau. I’ll post more on it later but it’s been an amazing experience thus far! Taiko people are my kind of people and I constantly feel blessed to be able to travel the world to teach, meet and hang out with taiko peeps! Will post more on this soon!

NATC 2015

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Tomorrow I’m headed to Las Vegas for the 2015 North American Taiko Conference! I’ll be teaching two workshops at the conference and leading a performance for a group of kaDON subscribers from around the world who are going to help debut a new piece that I wrote for kaDON! We are also debuting a new piece of taiko equipment that I’ve been helping develop for kaDON at the taiko conference!

The taiko conference is always a great way to reconnect with the taiko community and I’m looking forward to seeing many old friends and meeting new taiko people!

Yamasong Soundtrack

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Back in 2010 a good friend and super talented puppet filmmaker Sam Koji Hale put together a short film for our track ‘Yamasong’ off of the album ‘Ume in the Middle’.

The first moment I read one of Sam’s ideas for ‘Yamasong’ I knew he’d be the perfect person to put visuals to our music. Fast forward 5 years and Sam has now taken the world of Yamasong and developed it into a feature length film! The full length film will follow events of the short film and greatly expands the world of Nani and Shojun. Sam has gotten an amazing cast of vocal talent for Yamsong including: Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Abigail Breslin (Maggie), Whoopi Goldberg (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Peter Weller (Robocop), Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), George Takei (Star Trek), Ed Asner (Up), and Bruce Davison (X-Men). I’m such a huge Firefly and Star Trek and Star Trek TNG fan and when I heard that Mal, Mr. Sulu and Guinan were going to be a part of Yamasong I almost fainted. I’ll be posting more about the music that I’m creating for the film soon but in the meantime enjoy the awesome trailer!


YAMASONG: MARCH OF THE HOLLOWS TRAILER from Dark Dunes Productions on Vimeo.

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Art Core in Casper Wyoming

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

After our performance in Palmer Lake, CO we hit the road to Casper Wyoming. Again I have to give a shout out to Aiko for the Starbucks cards they were put to good use!

Once we got to Casper we had a busy couple of days. We performed 3 school shows for over 2000 Casper Area students had a hands on workshop with a class of percussion students and performed a concert! We had a fantastic time in Casper and a huge thank you goes out to Carolyn Deuel for all of her work in bringing us up to Casper. Artcore is quite a series and we were honored to be a part of it!

After the performances in Casper we piled into the van hooked up the trailer and dropped Eien off at the world’s least busy airport then drove all the way back to Los Angeles. Tried to take some shots of a beautiful Utah sunset from the van and kept rolling down the window to get a better angle much to Maz and Abe’s consternation. Still it was a great way to end our tour!

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Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Wrap-up

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Yesterday we had a great performance at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts! A huge thank you goes out to Jesse and Carla for bringing us to the Tri-Lakes area and for the great hospitality and home cooked meals!

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is an art gallery and a performance space and even has an artists in residence program. It was a great intimate venue to perform in and with Jesse and Carla both being fellow musicians and taiko players we really got well taken care of! There is a great community who have work displayed at the center and some of them came to the performance (hi Joe!). It’s really great playing in a place that really appreciates art and community and playing for fellow artists and musicians.

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Also a shout out to Jon, Aiko, Yuji and all the Denver Taiko people who came down to see us perform! A special thanks to Aiko for thoughtfully hooking us up with Starbucks gift cards! What a perfect gift! They will get put to very good use! Also a big thank you to Toni and Lance who came to the show! Many taiko players already know this but Toni makes the BEST taiko and bachi bags ever! I’ve checked in taiko as regular baggage with her bags to Mongolia, Indonesia and French Guiana and On Ensemble has carted her bags around the country several times over. They are awesome.

It started snowing right when we started to play so we got excited and took some photos in the snow after the concert. Also have a fun photo of Abe’s pre-concert warm up: Super Mario Brothers 3! Next time I’m bringing my controllers and we’ll have pre-concert Final Fight II or old school Mario Kart tournaments.

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Aratani Series Wrap-up

Monday, February 9th, 2015

We had a great performance this past Saturday at the Aratani World Series. A huge thank you goes out to Judy, Anu, Marcia and the staff and volunteers of the Festival of Sacred Music for all of their behind the scenes work. Thank you to EJ for making the production side run smoothly. Thank you to Ric for the GREAT lighting design and a huge thank you goes out to Nana for making us sound so great!

Here’s a few of the tracks we played! Videos coming soon!

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