A week ago I paid a visit to live music venue NEGA・POSI. It’s been quite a while since I was last there, but my visit confirmed that it is still a great spot to tap into the local music scene here in Kyoto. For 1,200 yen I got to see three acts; one I knew and two I didn’t. All were charming, talented and quirky in their own special way. I’ll let the music speak for itself. Details of how to find NEGA・POSI can be found here. Check out their scheduled performances here. Continue reading →
On June 28th Gary Bloom and I went to see my old friend, Satoko Okuda, play a solo spot at Urbanguild. These days Satoko is mostly focused on playing keyboards with Aya Oto World, so it’s not so often you get a chance to hear her sing. And as she’s got a great voice, and quite a few nice tunes up her sleeves that’s a pity. As expected, at this event she did not disappoint, putting in a typically charismatic performance that had Gary declaring, “I want to marry her!” This was also the first time I had seen her play an actual piano. Clearly she enjoyed the chance to play some proper ivories, because she thumped those keyboards with obvious relish!
Our old friend, Satoko Okuda, has a number of shows coming up, both as the keyboard player for Aya Oto World and in her own right as a singer/songwriter. In either incarnation she is highly recommended! Here’s the list:
On Tuesday night Gary Bloom and I paid a visit to the Weller’s Club to check out Aya Oto World’s free show with DJ Takanori Hirano. It’s been just over a year since I last saw Aya Oto World play at club Collage, and since then they have slimmed down from a five piece big band to a trio, but to tell you the truth – as a group they have actually gotten better. The interaction between Yamamoto “Fresh” Kohta on guitar, Okuda Satoko on keyboards and Kawamoto Teruhiko on drums is much tighter than before, and the music is kicking! How to define their music is a little tricky though; is it rock, electro, ambient? Even “Fresh”, the guitarist, admits it is a little hard to pin down as the genre of the music tends to change as each soaring ten minute epic tune progresses. But basically they are a jam band, they are fun, and they make you want to dance. Gary and I had a great time during the band’s sets and enjoyed chatting with the band members between sets too while DJ Hirano (of Bootsy’s Records) played some ambient dance tracks. They are certainly a friendly bunch of characters! Here are three tunes from their second set of the evening. Details of their regular show at the Weller’s Club and of upcoming events they will play at Urbanguild are listed below.
Just in case you’re still feeling too guilty to go out and have fun, here’s something I read today…
…one of the difficult but absolutely crucial tasks now is to go back to life’s diversity, rather than shying away from it. We need a healthy entertainment industry. The restaurant sector has to flourish. Books need to be sold and read, hotels rooms have to be filled with laughter. While investing a substantial amount of our time and energy on the rescue and relief efforts, we somehow need to keep life’s diversity. Apart from thinking about this earthquake and pondering the future of nuclear energy, we need to sing a song of the various joys of living.
From Ken Mogi’s Qualia Journal
And with that in mind here’s some news of a music event this Friday (March 25th). Our friend Okuda Satoko writes:
These days we are in a really anxious situation and we will all react to that in different ways. Why I’m writing is simply to invite you to a show, but if you are free to pass the time somewhere that night, then I’m really hoping you can come along. Next Friday evening (25th) we will have a DJ and live music event at Collage. As Viva Sherry is currently on hiatus, for almost a year now I’ve been playing hard with Aya Oto World and I will be performing with them that night… The show starts at 9.00 pm and Aya Oto World come on at 11.00 but we’ll be there all night until around 5.00 am so if you can make an appearance I’ll be really happy.
All we have is our work and our music so naturally we continue to do that now. At any rate, all we can do is put our whole heart and soul into it, right? On the 25th we are going to put everything into our performance at this great venue. If you happen to be out for a drink then do remember us and come along! Let’s all continue to do our best again today!
And what kind of music would that be, pray tell? This from the Collage website:
One night of dazzling magic from a gathering of musical nomads! Afro-delic Osakan rockers STEPAK-TAKRAW, the nostalgic rock band AYA OTO WORLD, and the trance dance music group つれづれ. These three Kansai bands play with fresh vision, rare musicianship and a transformative mixture of sensations in performances that overflow with originality. Added to this our 3 master DJs will be interweaving their characteristic first rate jazz/funk grooves. In this richly imaginative space the competing performances of bands and djs – sometimes cosmic, sometimes down-to-earth – produce beautiful chemical reactions! Enjoying to our heart’s content this essential natural flow between us – let’s all make a delicious stew!
Well, that’s a bit over the top, but I enjoyed translating it. I’m going anyway because I know Satoko is a fantastic singer… Maybe see you there?
I always find this area to the west of Kiyamachi confusing, but I think you can find it if you go north from Shijo on Kiyamachi, take the second turning on your left, then take the second turning on your right you should find it on the east side of the street on the second floor. Here’s a map.
Slow Hand is a tiny little basement bar/live house situated on the south-east corner of Marutamachi and Karasuma. When they don’t have live music the bar is dedicated to ’70s music. But they have a lot of live music. Last Thursday, I went to see our old friend Okuda Satoko and two other singer/songwriters play there. Some of you may remember Satoko from her wonderful performance at the “Voices for Umekoji” event. This is her latest song (and I think it’s lovely). Just click on the picture to see the video.
Okuda Satoko ~ Click on the picture to see her performance.
After Satoko’s performance last Thursday, a visiting American singer (on his way to Thailand apparently), named Frank Schweikhardt played a nice set of original, moody tunes with his backpacker guitar. If you like what you hear in the next video you can download his album here.
Frank Schweikhardt ~ Click on the picture to see the video.
Finally, the host of the event was a guy named Kurimoto Hideaki. To be frank, this guy, when he speaks, is a little awkward. One might even say odd. But then defying all expectation, he wraps his hands around his guitar and starts singing – and he’s transformed! Really great stuff! Click on his picture to see his video.
Kurimoto Hideaki ~ Click on the link to see the video
One Night of Musical Protest Against the Kyoto Aquarium
Good crowd, good setting, and some great performers. And a good feeling of being among old and new friends. Very heartening to see this kind of concern being shown by Kyoto residents, especially gaijin. – Ken Rodgers
The evening began with a short shakuhachi recital from Koichi Yoshida...
I wrote briefly about the event last week but it’s time for a more thorough report. For those who didn’t attend – you really missed something splendid! With three bi-lingual presentations from the anti-aquarium campaign groups, an ad hoc question and answer session, 7 fantastic musical performances and a short movie, we certainly realized our goals of raising awareness about the Kyoto Aquarium problem whilst providing some fine entertainment. There must have been 100 people attending altogether and the atmosphere was amazing. The campaigners who participated told me later that they felt cheered by the positive response they received from all those who came. Umekoji Park Project also held a whip-round that raised １５,７３２円. It might not seem like much but believe me, it helps! We also launched our “Boycott Kyoto Aquarium” postcard campaign. Everybody who attended was given a postcard to send to the mayor declaring in both languages that they would boycott the aquarium. In future weeks we are going to hand out 1000 of these postcards at Kyoto’s most famous tourist locations and pretty soon they will be available for download on our website too. Those of you who have already received one – please do send it! Let the mayor know how you feel!
This postcard will soon be available as a downloadable pdf. It's a simple and powerful design I think.
Nishimoto Masanori presents a chronology of events...
Later, I hope to get videos of the presentations from Enokida-san of the Citizens’ Network and I shall post them on our campaign website when I do. For the time being, here’s a very brief summary. Nishimoto-san of the Institute of Biodiversity presented a slideshow detailing the events leading up to our current situation. There were some interesting nuggets of information in there: an independent survey of Kyoto opinion showed that 70% were against the aquarium for example. Of the 500 aquariums in the world 100 are in Japan. To get the tropical fish they display in aquariums they use dynamite (!) and cause irrevocable damage to marine eco-systems… You can read more about it here but the main point I took away from Nishimoto’s presentation was that his group haven’t just been saying “no!” to the aquarium, they have been making alternative suggestions for a more appropriate use of this public land and have been doing their level best to work positively with the city government – and yet they have been consistently ignored by a city administration in thrall to corporate greed.
Kawagoe Yoshio points out corporate and city hypocrisy.
The second presentation was by Kawagoe Yoshio-san of the group 京都・水と緑をまもる連絡会 (The Liaison Group to Protect Nature and Water in Kyoto). Kawagoe-san is a keen conservationist, a stalwart of the campaign and also the designer of our “Boycott” postcards. He didn’t mince any words. Orix and the city mayor have claimed noble motives for their aquarium in saying that they want to teach young people about the marine enviroment. Looking at the plans though, we can see clearly that the main attraction is to be the dolphin pool and the dolphin shows they will put on there.
To borrow a phrase from Jen L. Teeter, you can clearly see here that the dolphin is the central feature of this three storey catastrophe...
There is nothing educational about watching dolphins jumping through hoops. It is purely about making money through entertainment. In other words, Orix and the Mayor Kadokawa are being dishonest, and it’s no use saying “shikattaganai” or “it can’t be helped“. They are bare-faced lying to us and we shouldn’t stand for it any longer!
Finally, Murakawa Tomoko-san of the campaign group Umekoji Park Project gave a presentation about her group’s activities and in particular about the ongoing court case. 71 local plaintiffs have taken the city to court for misuse of public land. As a matter of fact the next hearing is tomorrow and I’ve been asked to tell you all that they would greatly appreciate a few sympathetic foreign faces. The press will be there so a few foreign faces at the hearing would show that this is an issue of wide concern. If anyone is free, here are the details:
The hearing is tomorrowJanuary 27th. Supporters will meet outside the courthouse at 11:15. The hearing starts at 11:30 am. The place is Kyoto Chiho SaibanshoRoom 203. Even if you can’t really understand the proceedings the hearing itself will only take 30 minutes and your support would be invaluable!
Murakawa Tomoko-san's presentation
Throughout the presentations were translated into English by our friend Jen L. Teeter. Frankly without Jen’s help this event couldn’t have succeeded as well as it did. I think Ken Rodgers put it best when he said “Over the years I have been to quite a number of environmental events in Kansai & beyond and I thought that this one was definitely one of the most effective sets of bilingual presentations that I have seen ― basically due to Jen’s rapid, accurate and obviously caring and confident translation. Serious topics, but Jen retained a fine sense of humor (sometimes just in her tone of voice…) that really enlivened the atmosphere.” Here’s a shout out of praise from me for Jen’s husband Taka too, who helped out with translations at several crucial moments. Together they make a great team!
Another important aim of the evening that was definitely realized was that everyone had a damn good time! Throughout the night we had some fantastic and energizing performances from a variety of musicians. The flow of the music seemed to work really well too. The evening began with a short but haunting shakuhachi recital from Yoshida Koichi, then after the initial presentations were done Yoshida Koichi came back and accompanied Udonya Mentei’s Super Band in a rousing performance of soul stirring Japanese folk.
Udonya Mentei's Super Band - I don't know what "enyakorose!" means but I was singing along anyway!
Soul-pop-jazz singer Okuda Satoko then took it down a notch with her happy tunes and purrrfect vocals before Nishino Takahito came on and blew us all away with a taiko drum performance of pure passion.
Okuda Satoko - a lot of the guys told me later they particularly liked her performance...
Andy Couzens made a flaming red video backdrop for Nishino-san’s performance that worked perfectly! His other video, which he constructed largely out of Kawagoe-san’s postcard designs also seemed at times to spookily match the music it was played too…
Nishino Takahito - on fire!
The presentations over, the mood was bubbling over at this point and then on came the eccentric rock duo Booo Booo zz to play some good ole noisey metal. They told me later they had never played at an event before where they had received such a positive reaction from the audience! I think they sold quite a few CDs too!
Booo booo zz!
raw elements and DoDo then followed with a big band sound you could jump up and down to. Watching ryotaro jumping about the stage, it was pretty clear that he was really enjoying himself too!
raw elements & DoDo
Finally Das Capital Punishment took to the stage and suddenly seats were removed and everyone was dancing. Much praise to Jet Vel and Hide for their tarantistic dance-inducing beats! An excellent end to an excellent night.
Das Capital Punishment
One last word of thanks must go to my friend Sean Roe, who dj-ed throughout the event and also helped to organize it. Without the benefit of his experience it simply wouldn’t have happened. Cheers Sean!
Incidentally, all of the pictures used in this post were taken by our multi-talented friend Sean Roe. If you want to see my pictures, see below.