Ajiru Music Festival

Posted May 27, 2018 by powerofokinawa
Categories: Live in Okinawa

The Ajiru Music Festival is organised by the band Kachimba and was held iyesterday in hot and humid conditions at Futenma Shrine in Ginowan. This was also the last live appearance in Okinawa by Mikel Urdangarin who returns to the Basque Country next week after a successful five week visit to these islands. At yesterday’s festival he played a solo set on the small shrine stage.

Here are just a few photos of some of the many other musicians who played at the festival.

Miyako Island singer Hirara

ghen – multicultural Okinawa-based trio

Unaigumi featuring the great Okinawan singer Misako Koja

 

Advertisements

Basque Night in Naha

Posted May 25, 2018 by powerofokinawa
Categories: Basque Music, Live in Okinawa

Mikel Urdangarin’s concert on Wednesday (23rd) in Naha played to a full house at Sakurazaka Theatre and was the best so far of all his live shows in Okinawa as the first Basque Ryukyu Project nears its conclusion.

Last week’s successful Basque Night in Ginoza featured a live performance plus a talk on culture and identity with a backdrop of Basque-style food and wine. By contrast the Naha concert focused strongly on the songs and music with Mikel Urdangarin playing a solo set of his own compositions first accompanied by guitar.

He then handed over the stage to his guest Mutsumi Aragaki whose remarkable voice and sanshin blended in an experimental piece embracing loops and effects. She began her contribution by singing the words of thanks in both Basque and Uchinaguchi – “Eskerrik asko” and “Nifee debiru” – surely the first time the two languages have been fused in this way.

Mikel returned to combine with Mutsumi and with Makoto Miyata on percussion to form a trio for the final third of the concert. In this part things were taken up to an even higher level with some superb singing, playing and arrangements of Mikel’s original songs and some songs from the Ryukyu Islands.

The audience were clearly won over not just by Mikel Urdangarin’s heartfelt and passionate but controlled singing but crucially by his willingness to engage with Okinawan music, people and culture and to share his own thoughts, feelings and stories from the Basque Country. Not surprisingly he was called back for an encore which turned out to be his first ever live performance of the familiar Okinawan song ‘Tinsagu nu Hana’.

Mikel during rehearsal time before the concert

Mikel and Mutsumi after the concert

Before returning to the Spanish Basque Country next week Mikel Urdangarin will join the Ajiru Music Festival on Saturday (26th) at Futenma Shrine, Ginowan. The festival opens at 14:00 and Mikel is due to appear at 17:20. Among many other guests are Unaigumi (with three original members of Nenes), Miyako Island singer Hirara, Suming from Taiwan, and festival organisers Kachimba who will perform first as Kachimba4 and then with an expanded line-up as Kachimba Mundo.

Basque Night in Ginoza

Posted May 21, 2018 by powerofokinawa
Categories: Basque Music, Live in Okinawa

Mikel Urdangarin’s visit to Okinawa as part of the Basque Ryukyu Project continued last Saturday evening with a Basque Night at Ginoza Farm Lab, a newly opened cafe and live music venue. The event was sold out and was a great success with Mikel giving a concert after a half hour talk session on culture and identity together with Daniel Lopez.

The evening also included much food and drink with Basque-style pintxos and wine available. In the concert that followed the talk Mikel performed solo at first and was then joined by Mutsumi Aragaki (sanshin, vocals) and Makoto Miyata (percussion). The trio concluded a very enjoyable and enlightening evening with a performance of the Yaeyama song ‘Tsuki nu kaisha’ with a newly written verse in the Basque language.

Yesterday Mikel gave another live show at Coconut Moon in Onna where he was joined by Mutsumi Aragaki. This Wednesday (23rd) is the final Basque Night concert at Sakurazaka Theatre where Mikel Urdangarin will play solo and again as a trio with Aragaki and Miyata.

These photos from Saturday at Ginoza Farm Lab were taken by Garaman Hall photographer Yuta Nakama.

Basque Ryukyu Project in Okinawa (2)

Posted May 12, 2018 by powerofokinawa
Categories: Basque Music

There has been a change of venue for Mikel Urdangarin’s Basque Night in Ginoza on 19th May. It will now be held at the more spacious Ginoza Farm Lab which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and will start at the same time, 19:30. The concert is preceded by a Talk on culture and identity between Mikel Urdangarin and Okinawa-based filmmaker and photographer Daniel Lopez.

Film director Oier Aranzabal and his crew have returned to the Basque Country after spending a week shooting on the island. Oier has subsequently been interviewed on Basque television about the making of the film Margolaria (The Painter) which features Mikel Urdangarin and he talks about how the connection with Okinawa was made and about the history and culture of the Ryukyu Islands.

The interview is in the Basque language but includes footage from Okinawa in which Mikel rehearses with singer and sanshin player Mutsumi Aragaki. (See link below). Mutsumi will be Mikel’s guest at the Sakurazaka Theatre concert on the 23rd.

http://www.eitb.eus/eu/telebista/programak/ahoz-aho/bideoak/osoa/5581460/bideoa-oier-aranzabal-mikel-urdangarini-buruzko-margolaria-dokumentalaz/

Basque Ryukyu Project in Okinawa

Posted May 6, 2018 by powerofokinawa
Categories: Basque Music

Basque singer-songwriter Mikel Urdangarin has already been collaborating with musicians from Okinawa and immersing himself in the local culture since his arrival on the island at the end of April. He has also performed in public as a guest of Miyako Island singer Isamu Shimoji.

Mikel Urdangarin and Isamu Shimoji meet for the first time.

Mikel and Isamu playing together at Slow Jam, Naha.

After a week in Naha where he was followed by a film crew from the Basque Country who are making a documentary about him, he has joined us to stay at our home in the south where he has been rehearsing and collaborating with Mutsumi Aragaki and they will play together on the 23rd at Sakurazaka Theatre. From what I’ve already heard it will be a unique and very exciting meeting of Basque and Ryukyu musicians.

A rehearsal with Mutsumi Aragaki.

Mikel meets Lucy

He also met Lucy and will be a guest on her radio programme tomorrow at 11 a.m. on Ginowan City FM. In fact, it has become a very musical home over the past few days as we were also visited by Merry and David Ralston of Okinawa Americana who treated us to a house concert.

Hedy West: From Granmaw and Me

Posted April 16, 2018 by powerofokinawa
Categories: Roots Music from Out There

Hedy West was one of the greatest of all Appalachian singers and banjo players. She died in 2005 at the age of 67 after a lengthy career with much time spent away from her roots which were in the hill country of northern Georgia. After making two albums in America in the early 1960s and gaining a reputation as a leading light of the folk revival, she moved to England where she stayed for seven years performing regularly and releasing more albums before moving on to Germany in the 1970s and then a final return to America.

West was from a background of poor hill farmers and was about as authentic a traditional singer as could be imagined which set her apart from the more city based contemporaries of her generation such as Joan Baez and Judy Collins. Despite being ‘the real thing’ her albums gradually went out of print and by the time of her premature death she had become neglected and in danger of being forgotten.

This all began to change when three albums recorded in the UK for Topic Records were released again in 2011 as the double CD Ballads and Songs from the Appalachians.  The release (reviewed on this blog) won the fRoots award that year for best re-release/compilation and helped spark a renewed interest in her work which led to her two American albums being re-released on CD soon afterwards.

Now that her reputation is being rightly restored comes the release of this short album  From Granmaw and Me – a  collection of songs she learned from her grandmother Lillie Mulkey West (hence the title). The album is previously unreleased and contains some of her last recordings. Granmaw was a great influence on the young Hedy who was always learning songs from her family, and her grandmother not only chose the selections but also narrates as we hear her voice between some of the songs.

This could have been an unwanted intrusion but turns out to be quite the opposite. In fact the use of these spoken recordings only enhances the atmosphere rather than detracts from it and this strangely puts it much in line with work being done by contemporary revivalists such as Anna & Elizabeth with their sampling of voices from the past.

The song selection is diverse and although we’re treated to some of Hedy West’s gloriously rhythmic banjo playing – especially on ‘Sally Carter’ – there is also the addition of some guitar and fiddle by Tracy Schwarz (of New Lost City Ramblers fame) and harmony vocals from his wife Eloise. The opening track ‘Lil’ Old Mountain Shack’  is co-written by Hedy West and her father while all other songs are traditional. Outstanding among many are ‘Two Sisters’ (part of which evolved into Bob Dylan’s ‘Percy’s Song’) and the gospel song ‘The Uncloudy Day’

From Granmaw and Me is released by Fledg’ling Records.

www.fledglingrecords.co.uk

UK Night in Okinawa

Posted April 12, 2018 by powerofokinawa
Categories: Live in Okinawa

Ishigaki Island singer-songwriter Tidanomiyuki’s album Now and Then was reviewed here earlier this year. Now she is organising a UK Night in Naha later this month when as well as her own songs the live show will introduce  some of the indie bands from Okinawa who have been influenced by UK rock music.

Tidanomiyuki’s album focused on her voice and acoustic guitar but she also loves music from the UK and spent a year there studying in London and Norwich. She is planning to arrange her songs with a band sound for the UK Night event. The bands joining her on the evening will be The You, Viridian, and Mekarujin.

UK Night takes place at Live House Output in Naha on Saturday 28th April. It starts at 19:30 and advance tickets are 1,500 yen.

http://tidanomiyuki.wixsite.com/officialwebsite