Orion Music Fest

The Orion Music Fest is a two day event held in Ginowan’s Seaside Park. Its purpose this year was to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the foundation of Okinawa’s very own island beer company. It’s an ‘invitation only’ event and the audience are provided with free beer and food as part of the campaign to promote Orion beer. The headlining performers on both days were Begin, Diamantes, and Isamu Shimoji. The festival was originally scheduled to take place over the last weekend of August but the typhoon which hit the island at that time caused its postponement until last weekend.

The singer asano (in better weather)

The island gods must have something against Orion beer because yesterday’s concert, which I attended, ended in disappointment again with the performance brought to an early close after just one hour of music owing to torrential rain, high winds and a storm. The weather forecast had been ominous and the expected heavy rain began to fall even before singer and guitarist Akira Ikuma took to the stage with his band to open the proceedings in the afternoon. He was followed by Okinawan-Argentine singer Claudia Oshiro. By this time the audience were already thoroughly drenched in the open air arena and a ban on the use of umbrellas compounded the misery. Undeterred, the interesting young singer Asano Irei (now known just as ‘asano’) sang and played her sanshin with great determination.

Hoptones

All eyes were then on Hoptones, the veteran male choral group who had such an unlikely success with the re-release of some of their versions of 1960s Okinawan songs on the Ryukyu Rare Groove compilation a few years ago. I had been looking forward to this rare chance to see Hoptones and they came on stage smartly attired in matching blazers. However, as they began their first song the storm gathered force and, despite the canopy protecting the musicians, wind and rain lashed across the stage causing Hoptones to flee to safety – to howls of laughter from the audience. Almost immediately there was loud thunder and lightning and an announcement was made that the event was being suspended. Deciding not to wait any longer we made our way back to the car for the journey home, soaked to the skin, through streets where the water was ankle-deep in places. Let’s hope the next Orion celebration is accompanied by some much better weather.

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