All posts in the "Tour Diary" category.
All posts in the "Tour Diary" category.
After our last performance at SummerSounds, we got in our cars and drove straight up to Mt. Shasta for ShastaYama. A long 10 hour drive up I-5 in 110 degree weather, we arrived around midnight and checked in Eien, Sumie, and Abe into their hotel. I went to my parents’ with my wife, Courtney (who is the best for supporting me and On over the years), and Shoji went home to his parents’. We all got a few hours of sleep and then had a morning tech rehearsal. The weather was starting to get nice and toasty. Close to 100 degrees!
Nevertheless, ShastaYama was magical as always. This year, Shasta Taiko, Taiko Trekkers, Tadaima (my mom and dad’s jazz group with Gary Fitzgerald), Steve Cervantes, and Unit Souzou performed and we closed the show. It’s always the best to perform for the home crowd!
ShastaYama will always make me emotional because it’s home! My mom and dad, Jeanne and Russel, obviously mean a lot to me, and to pull ShastaYama off for 10 plus years is quite a feat. Plus, it means I get to perform with them, my bro, Shoji, my wife, and some of the best people and musicians in the world. I will always treasure these memories that have built up over the years.
We also had a photo shoot in the beautiful countryside of Mt. Shasta. I’m looking forward to seeing the results. Stay tuned!
After the photo shoot, Abe and Courtney drove back to LA, Eien dropped Sumie off at the Medford airport on the way back to Portland, and Shoji and I are staying to work on some new material.
It was a great tour. Full of awesome music, beer, food, and company. Thanks to all for helping us along the way!
Getting some dinner and hanging out with bears and a statue of sasquatch at Granzella’s!
Circling up before the show.
Me and my mom!
Dad on the sax.
A view of the audience.
On Ensemble takes the stage!
Abe and Sumie hanging out at the photo shoot!
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…)
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!
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.
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.
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!
I’ve finally updated the calendar with our summer of crazy taiko madness! I’ll be teaching at the North American Taiko Conference this coming weekend then will be teaching and performing at the UK Taiko Festival July 3-5th followed by a taiko intensive held in Germany from July 10-12! After that it’ll be off to Hawai’i for a week long Summer Taiko Intensive from July 20-24th. Maz will be performing with Taikoproject and Shasta Taiko at Shastayama on August 1st. Then he’ll be headed to Hawai’i for a series of workshops from Aug 7-10th! We’ll end the summer with an On Ensemble performance at Descanso Gardens on August 4th then we’ll be heading out to Chicago, Denver and Minneapolis in the fall. I’ll update the calendar again soon with more dates!
I spent the last week in Minneapolis working with Mu Daiko and then Chicago working with Ho Etsu Taiko. Last year Ho Etsu Taiko was the first group I taught Lion Chant to outside of On Ensemble. Working with them was instrumental in developing the piece for other taiko groups and they helped me debut Lion Chant at the World Taiko Gathering last summer. This year they are bringing On Ensemble to Chicago in the fall for a series of concerts and we are using the work we did together last year as a foundation for developing new pieces and putting together a truly collaborative concert series.
With Mu Daiko I started teaching them Lion Chant, worked on Ready Set kaDON and material for another collaborative concert in the fall! I was amazed at how much we got accomplished over the weekend. The artistic director Jennifer Weir had been using the kaDON courses to prepare her group for our workshop time together very well. The result was that we got so much further with each of the pieces than we would’ve if I had just come to teach the pieces. Usually in a weekend of workshops I would be happy to teach the basic kecak part of Lion Chant and the exercises to get those parts nice and solid without worrying about the arrangement. Instead because of the prep work Jennifer and Mu Daiko did we were able to get through all of Ready Set kaDON, Lion Chant and part of another song in a weekend of working together.
It is really exciting to see how kaDON resources are being used in the community and SO EXCITING to realize just how much more can be accomplished in short periods of time working with a group using kaDON. As a workshop leader I’ve often felt the limitations of teaching within the workshop format. You have to keep what you teach very simple and it is hard to get to the deeper and more involved aspects of the art form. It often feels like I’m just scratching the surface. The depth can come from working with the same people repeatedly over a longer period of time and it is super exciting to be able to get to that depth much more quickly because people are using kaDON as a resource. It is very inspiring and inspires me to keep working on making kaDON the best resource it can be for the taiko community!
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!
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.
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.