Seijin Noborikawa: Live Double Album

Veteran Okinawan singer and sanshin player Seijin Noborikawa has a live double album released on the Respect label on 23rd February. Entitled Seijin Noborikawa Live! ~ Just One Night at Cay 2010.8.29 ~ the album has a total running time of 138 minutes and it features 19 songs. In addition to the songs there are several tracks of Noborikawa chatting to the audience. In fact, there is a seven minute opening track of Noborikawa talking before he goes into the first song.

There is both good and bad about having a basically unedited recording such as this. Noborikawa, or Seigwa (as he’s commonly known), is famous for his witty talk, often in Okinawan or Uchinaguchi, and his audiences have come to expect something of a verbal show from him as well as a musical one. For newcomers to his music, or those who simply don’t know what he’s going on about, this might not be the best place to start. There are several other older recordings available of Seigwa in his prime; there’s already a ‘Best of’ album – It’s Only Seigwa – on Respect; and last year he made Fountain of Songs, a new studio album on the same label, so there are plenty of good recordings of just the man and his music. But if you want the full live experience of this important performer of Okinawan minyo then here it is.

Seigwa became 78 years old in November last year and this Tokyo venue – known in full as ‘Eats and Meets Cay’ – has hosted many important Okinawan musicians during its 25 years of existence. These included the first appearance of Nenes in Tokyo, and performances by Rinken Band, Sadao China, Misako Oshiro, and Rinsho Kadekaru.

In this show, Seigwa’s voice and sanshin is accompanied on many of the songs by two young musicians, Hajime Nakasone (vocals and sanshin) and Natsuki Nakamura (shimadaiko and hayashi). Of particular interest is the Yaeyama song ‘Tubarama’ which segues into ‘Seigwa no Rokucho Bushi’ on a 13 minute track, and his ‘Yunta Medley’ which is more than 15 minutes long. There is also a bonus track ‘Watarizo~Takiotoshi’ which was recorded live at Kawasaki’s Club Chitta in May 2009.

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