Last weekend we were invited to perform at the graduation party for the son of a colleague. Our 60 minute program went over well and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves. We were worried about the weather since they had been forecasting storms all week long, but as it turned out, we had blue skies the whole time. It also turned out to be our hottest performance yet. The sun beat down on us the whole time. Playing Miyake in the late afternoon sun is a lot more exhausting than playing it indoors.
Entries in taiko (81)
Friday evening we performed Mushi Okuri at the Michigan CAPA chapter's 2010 annual Splendor of the East showcase. The performance went well and we hear a lot of positive comments afterwards. It was fun to perform in a nice theater for a large audience. For two of our performers, it was even their debut performance. Stephanie (left side) and Laurel (right side) are two students from the Monday evening class, who committed to learning the Mushi Okuri music in order to perform with us on the stage. They did a great job and we are grateful for their hard work, traveling all the way from Lansing, sometimes twice a week, in order to get ready for this show. As the summer progresses, we hope to provide more opportunities for the rest of our students to perform as well. (We offer classes in taiko drumming for all ages, please check out the taiko classes page for more information.)
But the most exciting thing about last week we discovered while getting set up for the show Friday night. As I mentioned in the previous post, during the rehearsal on Wednesday, a feature film (Salvation Boulevard) was being shot at the concert venue. I also mentioned that Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear and Marisa Tomei were part of the cast. Anyhow, on Friday, as we were getting our Odaiko up on the stand, some of the theater staff were admiring the drum and were commenting on how loud it was at Wednesday's rehearsal. This reminded one of them about something exciting that happened on Wednesday. (Exciting for us, at least) She told us that Pierce Brosnan, curious about the loud drum, peeked in the theater and ended up sitting down to watch us rehearse for about 30 min or so. Cool! We played taiko for James Bond! We all thought that was pretty exciting. I mean, movie stars are showing up in Michigan more and more these days, but we're still not used to it. Well, Mr. Brosnan, I hope you enjoyed our rehearsal, and next time you need taiko drums in one of your movies, I hope you'll keep us in mind!
Here are more pictures from the performance day, backstage, getting ready, etc. Also found in our photo gallery.
The empty theater before the show.
Mayumi before the show
Brian and Mayumi before the show
Everyone before the show
Us with the dancers who danced on stage during Mushi Okuri
I also ended up accompanying the Philippine group for their number. This is Dan, the leader of their group.
At the afterglow party, Mayumi and I with Natsuko san, a CAPA board member who was very helpful and supportive.
A few other places have posted some pictures of our performance as well, here are the links.
Finally, we got a van for the Great Lakes Taiko Center!
After a long search, we found it on Craigslist. We experimented with renting trucks whenever we needed to move our big drums around, but after one unpleasant experience with Budget Trucks (Northville Trucks and Supply, to be specific) and a few other pleasant, but rather expensive experiences, we decided that we needed to invest in our own vehicle that could meet most of our needs. When we need more space than this van provides, we'll simply rent a trailer, which is easier and much cheaper than renting a truck.
I think I've been sifting through Craigslist ads since last November. First I was looking for small cube vans, then I thought a cargo van would be ideal, then a passenger van. After looking through enough ads and test driving a couple I new pretty much exactly what I wanted. I missed out on a couple nice vans while I was trying to find out what I wanted, but I'm glad I waited because this one is a beauty. The only negatives I found were that it has slightly higher mileage than I wanted (but apparently these guys will run forever. (Check out this guy, who has driven his van for more than 1,000,000 miles on the original engine and transmission!) And if you can't tell from the pictures, this van is in mint condition. It seriously looks brand new. The other negative was that I really wanted white, but that's not impossible to fix if I really wanted to. In the meantime we'll have to get some car magnets to get our logos on it and I will need to take care of getting plates for it.
Let's hope this van is a money saver (won't have to rent trucks any longer) and opens up new opportunities to bring taiko to even more of the people in Michigan.
Perhaps you recall when we last visited Marshall in February for our debut performance (sort of). Thanks to that performance, we were already invited back to Marshall for a second performance. This time, we were invited to perform at the WD Boyce 100th anniversary Historic Camporall (a Boy Scouts of America event) held at the Calhoun County Fairgrounds, in Marshall, MI.
This visit to Marshall was quite different than our first. We were outside, it was rather cold, very windy and this time there were only three of us performing. Challenges all around us, but we still worked hard and put on a good show.
Notice in the picture above, there is an orange ratchet strap holding the drum on the stand. Normally we would take that off except when moving the drum around on uneven surfaces, but it was so windy that day, we were worried about the drum blowing off the stand. Although that never happened, at two points during the performance, the wind blew strongly enough to move the stand over an inch or so, in spite of the wheels being locked. Needless to say, it was a very windy day and because the sun was usually behind the clouds, it made it that much colder.
Unfortunately the audience was not as large as we hoped for. See picture below:
Yes, it looks small, but actually, this is probably about three times as much as the groups before us had. Well, what can you expect when you have to compete with riflery, archery, rc planes, rock climbing, combat techniques and numerous other events going on simultaneously. I mean, what would you pick if you were a 12 year old boy? Shooting guns or sitting in cold bleachers listening to music.
As you can see, though, the surroundings were very sandy. Combine that with several dry weeks and a strong wind, and you get a lot of dust blowing around. We tried to avoid it as much as possible, but when I got home with the drums, I had to carefully wipe off all the dust and shake the sand out of the cases before putting them back in their proper places.
We still had a great time and we got to debut a new song, Umi Nari, and Tom got to debut at Odaiko on Raigun, a song which we eventually hope to add all of our members to.
After we finished our performance and packed up, it was on to Fort Wayne, Indiana. This time, we were the ones who got to relax. We were not performing, but were on our way to see one of North America's premiere taiko ensembles, TaikoProject.
We enjoyed their concert, (re)generation. It was very well presented and enlightened us about a good deal of taiko history in North America. I had met TaikoProject's leaders, Bryan Yamami and Masato Baba last summer at Asano's 400th anniversary celebration and it was nice to have a chance to connect with them again. We also had a chance to meet several other members of TaikoProject. Here we are after the show:
Next time TaikoProject comes out this way on tour, we hope that we can get Michigan on their tour schedule.
TaikoProject's high level inspired us to work hard and keep practicing and Bryan Yamami's Odaiko solo wearing nothing but a fundoshi inspired Tom and I to keep working out. Don't expect to see either of us in a fundoshi anytime soon, though.
Many more pictures can be seen in our photo gallery.
A couple weeks ago we performed at the Japan Student Association's Japan Festival at University of Michigan. Our performance got a little write up in the Detroit area Japanese language newspaper, Japan ニニュース倶楽部 Here is what they wrote about us:
雷が落ちたかと思うような音でスタートしたのはＧｒｅａｔ Ｌａｋｅｓ Ｔａｉｋｏ Ｃｅｎｔｅｒ 主宰するソウル夫婦と仲間による和太鼓グループ ‘雷音‘のパフォーマンス。大きさも形も様々な太鼓を体全体を使って叩く姿はエネルギッシュで颯爽としていた。目を離さず見続けていた女性は｢すっかり引き込まれてしまったわ。とても感動した！｣曲風の異なる数曲を太鼓の種類を変えたり、横笛を加えたり、変化のある構成で披露。祭りムードを一気に盛り上げた。
and here is my loose English translation:
The performance by Raion Taiko, a group from the Great Lakes Taiko Center led by Brian and Mayumi Sole, started with a thunderous sound. Using their whole bodies and including many different types and sizes of taiko drums, the group gave an energetic and gallant performance. One woman who did not take her eyes off the performance the whole time said, “They really drew me into the performance. I was very impressed!”.
By changing the style of the songs, using various types of drums and even adding Japanese flute to some pieces, they offered a program with variety. Suddenly the feeling of a festival atmosphere had increased.
Also, before that, we had performed at the Michigan Japan Quiz bowl. We didn't have anyone to take video of us, but with a room full of teenagers, you have to expect that at least someone has a cell phone out and is recording. And just as I thought, they were. The other day I found our first unauthorized video posting on YouTube! Do I pursue the copyright infringments? Or just let it go... I think I'll just let it go for now. Here's the video if you're interested