Archive for December, 2006


Update on everything

December 31, 2006

Okay, friends. I haven’t posted anything in four months now. So here comes a monster update for KIOKU, HAPPYFUNSMILE, and other random projects.

KIOKU had a very successful gig at the TANK, despite the intense heat and humidity of the day. For that gig, I crafted a three-movement composition based on different matsuri and yatai bayashi rhythms. It seemed to fit well in our set and allowed me to do a bit of a solo in the second movement. In October, we played at the GALAPAGOS ART SPACE, sharing the stage with Take Toriyama, Ben Monder, and Oscar Noriega. They sounded great with vast and subtle contours in their collective improvisations. Musically, it was a fantastic evening, but we barely managed to get twenty-five people in the audience. Oh well, it was a Sunday night after all.

In the meantime, we booked gigs for the new year and right now we’re preparing for the Rubin Museum in NYC and the Red Room in Baltimore. Additionally, we’ll be recording material for our first CD in late January.

HAPPYFUNSMILE performed at the MATSURI RESTAURANT at the Maritime Hotel, an enormous two-level restaurant with beautiful wood floors and classy decor. We brought out the full chindon experience for the cool Chelsea types. While it wasn’t exactly our crowd, we had an amazing time drinking with Chef Tadashi Ono afterwards. For another gig, Bill switched over to upright bass and Kaori took over the main female singing role. Our Halloween gig at the BAGGOT INN found us without Brian, but Rodrigo and Akiko stepped up to the plate and delivered an awesome performance. The weather was beautiful, the people were crazy, and the parade was busily marching itself up Sixth Avenue. Awesome. Our final performance for the year was at FORBIDDEN CITY, where Brian tends bar. We made absolutely no money, but had a great time. Kossan, a sanshin player, singer, and Zen monk, accompanied us on a few tunes and performed in between our HFS sets, and when he wasn’t playing, he was dancing around like a madman. Definitely HFS material! Shinnenkai coming up and then, with any luck, we’ll begin our monthly performances at FORBIDDEN CITY.

As I mentioned before, I’m back with the NYC-based taiko group SOH DAIKO. We’ve been going through a recruitment period for new players and it’s been less excruciating than I expected. Some very promising people. The group has been working with Kaoru Watanabe on a new composition and we’ll see how it shapes up in the new year. It feels really good to be back.

In September, I performed with the dancer Sachiyo Ito on her 50th anniversary concert (apparently fifty years since her debut in Japan). The concert took place on a very wide stage at Pace University. I only played one piece (matsuri rhythm on a slant stand), but I was able to hang out with some incredible Japanese, Okinawan, and JA performers.

The most bizarre gig of the past few months, however, had to be the collaboration with KORN. Myself and five other taiko players from Soh Daiko went to the SIR Studio to meet and rehearse with KORN in preparation for their MTV Unplugged show. The whole thing was fun but a bit chaotic. We received the written music for one tune, but the part was really minimal and we ended up playing something completely different once we got to the rehearsal. We never received the music for the second tune, and in fact we had no idea we were going to play a second. In any case, the KORN guys were really cool and even asked us if we wanted to play something of our own at the show. The taping for the show was crazy in itself. We showed up at the MTV studios around 5:30pm and didn’t play a single note until 1:30am. No need to go into details, but by the time we went onstage I was so tired I couldn’t tell if we sounded okay. We didn’t get a chance to do a second take, so I guess I’ll have to wait until the February 2007 airing to experience the carnage.

In other news, my brother Bryan got married! He and Chiemi had an absolutely beautiful wedding in November on the coast of Laguna Beach and tons of relatives showed up. Later that same month, I attended the SEM (Society for Ethnomusicology) meeting in Honolulu and gave a paper on “Absurdity and Authenticity” in musical practice. Then, in December, one final trip to Hawaii to hang out with the whole clan for the holidays. That’s it.

Recently addicted to Haruki Murakami, Tom Robbins, and my new record player.