Archive for the ‘Live in Okinawa’ category

Mutsumi Aragaki – Live in Naha

November 9, 2017

On Monday evening I was invited to the first solo concert by Okinawan singer and sanshin player Mutsumi Aragaki who was recently featured in the UK magazine Songlines. Her performance was at ‘tomari’, an art space close to Naha port. The tomari venue is small, friendly and flexible and is used for exhibitions and ‘all kinds of creativity’.

Aragaki invited her audience to enjoy ‘another world of Okinawan music’ and performed original compositions and her own take on old favourites such as ‘Asadoya Yunta’ and ‘Tinsagu nu Hana’ as well as a video collaboration. Many of the songs were given unusual treatments with the use of loops, drones and sound effects added to voice and sanshin and it reminded me in some ways of Anna & Elizabeth’s latest experiments in Appalachian music.

There is always the fear that such things can end up in directionless noodling but Aragaki kept it interesting and relevant throughout. Her singing is already becoming well-known but even more rewarding was the adventurous use of sanshin as an instrument in its own right as well as just an accompaniment to vocals. The audience were understandably impressed.

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Okinawa Americana – Live in Chatan

October 15, 2017

The duo David Ralston and Merry who go under the name Okinawa Americana have been touring far and wide this year with dates across America and Japan as well as their home base of Okinawa. Their recent shows have been in support of the release of their self-titled album which has already been reviewed on this blog.

On Friday I finally managed to catch the tail end of this tour when they played at Live House Mod’s in Chatan, This was the full band version of Okinawa Americana with the pair joined on stage by an electric bass player and a drummer to flesh out some of the songs from their album and also to rock loud and hard on several other songs and instrumentals.

 

This line-up probably suits David Ralston’s slide guitar and vocal style best but Merry’s singing, sanshin and sanba were hardly neglected either and she showed what an important presence she is, especially on the three ‘acoustic’ songs that began the second half of the set.

It was also unusual to find an audience with such a large and vociferous contingent of Westerners who seemed to appreciate ‘Waido Bushi’ and some of the more traditional Okinawan songs just as much as the more familiar rock and reggae. The soaking I received from a sudden downpour on my way to the venue was soon forgotten as Okinawa Americana revived the spirits with a fine performance.

Harry & Mac – Road to Okinawa

June 19, 2017

Road to Okinawa is billed as a ‘Talk Show’ by Harry (Haruomi Hosono) and Mac (Makoto Kubota), who have been for many years two of the most well-established musicians and producers from mainland Japan. Both also have strong connections to these islands. The Talk Show takes place on Saturday in Naha.

Hosono is probably best known for his work as a member of electronic music pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra and he has released many solo albums covering a wide range of styles. Kubota has also had a long interest in the music of Okinawa and is a musician, engineer, and producer. His Blue Asia projects and his work with singers in the Miyako Islands have attracted much attention in recent years.

What actually happens on Saturday is anyone’s guess but it seems likely that the pair won’t just be talking. They also have guests from Okinawa who will be playing live. The guest artists are Shoukichi Kina, Tetsuhiro Daiku, and Banjo Ai. It’s hard to imagine that Kina at least won’t have something to say if he gets half a chance.

Shoukichi Kina

Banjo Ai

Harry & Mac’s Road to Okinawa is presented by Takara Records and starts at 19:00 on 24th June at Sakurazaka Theatre (Hall A). Tickets are 3,000 yen in advance and 3,500 on the day.

http://www.sakura-zaka.com/

Uchina World Music

March 11, 2017

On Friday next week (17th) an Uchina World Music evening is being held at Sound M’s in Naha. This will feature live music from singers and sanshin players Mutsumi Aragaki and Kanako Horiuchi as well as Mina from London who is a singer, composer, sanshin player and violinist.

Mutsumi Aragaki, Kanako Horiuchi & Mina

Aragaki and Horiuchi were included on CD compilations presented at WOMEX and both took part in the ‘Music from Okinawa’ showcase this year at the Trans Asia Music Meeting. Horiuchi has travelled the world to promote the music of Okinawa and she made the acclaimed album Hana Umui in Senegal in 2015. Meanwhile London-based Mina took part in Sven Kacirek’s Songs From Okinawa project and appears on the subsequent album released in Germany.

Things get under way at Sound M’s at 20:00 on Friday and the entrance fee is 2,000 yen plus a drinks charge. (Phone: 090-1067-8055).

Trans Asia Music Meeting

January 23, 2017

The Trans Asia Music Meeting 2017 was a very successful event which enabled an open exchange of music and ideas. It took place over last weekend in Naha at three venues and featured lots of music showcases as well as fascinating talks and chances for people to network. The conference brought together speakers from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, India, South Korea, Mongolia, Russia and the UK.

Here is just a small selection of photos from the ‘Music from Okinawa’ organisers.

Keynote speaker Kazufumi Miyazawa

Keynote speaker Kazufumi Miyazawa

Miyako Island singer Hirara

Miyako Island singer Hirara

Presentation by Kwangmin Seo from South Korea whose band Laybricks also performed a great set

Presentation by Kwangmin Seo from South Korea whose band Laybricks also performed a great set

Sakishima Meeting

Sakishima Meeting

The conference on Sunday afternoon

The conference on Sunday afternoon

Musicians and music people get together

Musicians and music people get together

http://www.musicfromokinawa.com

 

Trans Asia Music Meeting 2017

January 13, 2017

The Trans Asia Music Meeting is being held again in Okinawa and takes place this year on the weekend of 21st/22nd January. Organised by ‘Music from Okinawa’, the focus of the conference is on introducing Okinawan music overseas and on ways to build an Asian music network.

transasia

The keynote speech on the 21st will be given by Kazufumi Miyazawa, former leader of The Boom whose hit song ‘Shimauta’ has become a classic in Okinawa. There will also be live music on the 21st from Hirara and Sakishima Meeting. The music showcase on the 22nd features thirteen different performances and includes music from South Korea and Taiwan as well as Okinawa.

Full details are on the Music from Okinawa website:

www.musicfromokinawa.com

Bottle Mail

December 3, 2016

Ship of the Ryukyu is a theatre company of singers and dancers from Okinawa. Last night I went to see their performance of Bottle Mail (Message in a Bottle) at Tenbusu Hall, Naha. The one hour show is written and directed by Megumi Tomita and has already been performed to great acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, and in France at the Festival off d’Avignon.

The story depicts the small ancient kingdom of Ryukyu and how its people sent messages across the sea in bottles to make contact with the wider world and to tell people there about life on these islands. It’s no surprise that Bottle Mail was so well received in Europe as the entire show is full of warmth, energy and vitality.

bottle-mail

Songs and dances are alternated with a video backdrop that tells the story with subtitles in Chinese and English. The performances, by just eight members of the collective, cover songs and dances from the Ryukyu court as well as the everyday lives of the people. Included are ‘Tanchame’ which is performed as a duet, ‘Kurushima Kuduchi’ from Yaeyama, and the cheerful work song ‘Inishiribushi’ plus the ever popular Eisa.

bottle-mail1

Bottle Mail can be enjoyed by anyone and by all ages. It was a great evening and managed to be both entertaining and informative at the same time. If you are in Okinawa and want to have your spirits lifted it’s still possible to see the show today (3rd December) or tomorrow (4th) when there are two afternoon shows at 13:00 and 16:00.