Blues News from Japan

February, 2000


The new CD by Roy Gaines & Mitsuyoshi Azuma that I mentioned in the last issue was released on March 25. It's titled "Guitar Clashers from Gainesville, Tokyo" (P-Vine PCD-5583). This was recorded right after Roy finished his last stage in Tokyo and was finished before he flew out the next day. According to the folks at P-Vine, there were only about 6 hours available for making this record, and there were no prior rehearsing. The results came out rough for sure, but there are plenty great guitar playing that spark fire. Especially, Azuma's playing is really great. His licks have soft and jazzy elements of jump/jive music, yet he plays that with the sharp edged touch of Albert Collins. It's all here. Roy and Azuma do standard numbers like "Take the "A" Train" and "I Want A Little Girl", but also there are some songs on it that Roy penned for this recording. "Tokyo Woman", an up-tempo blues in minor key sung by Roy is one of them. "Moonlight in Vermont" played as a guitar duo is also a nice one.

There will be a festival titled "Blues Ni Kanpai (translation: Cheers to the Blues) Vol. 1" on April 30 at the Hibiya Outdoor Amphitheater. All the artists scheduled to appear are Japanese artists, and this should be a great opportunity to get acquainted with the blues in Japan. On the bill are some of the top-notch artists with wide variety of music styles. Jirokichi Allstars (featuring Paul Jackson and Shinji Shiotsugu), tRICK bAG lead by ex-West Road Blues Band vocalist Takashi "Hotoke" Nagai (they just released a new CD), Atsuki Kimura Band, Blues File, Shinji Miyake, Toshirow Higurashi, Kotez & Yancey, Nihil Brothers, Southbound Water, and Black Bottom Brass Band with Kyon. After this one, there will be Japan Blues Carnival in May. Also Otis Rush is scheduled to appear at the Blue Note Tokyo in July.

Now for the new releases of Japanese blues...The album by tRICK bAG is titled "Debut! Last Exit" (ZAIN Records ZACL-1054) The band had been around for about two years, but this is their debut CD. Mad Words has just released their third album titled "Mirai No Tokei" (translation: Clock of the Future) (Nihombare Records JCUR-052). Great band with music in the jug band style. The members include Fumio Ishikawa (vo., harp), Mooney (vo., gt., spoon, washboard) and Toshirow Higurashi (vo., dobro, mandolin). They are well known as solo artists as well. Also Koichi Fujii and Hitoshi Seki has a new one out. A very nice duo doing jump/jive blues in their unique style definitely worth checking out.

March 26 was the last day of "Blues & Gospel Hours", a program on Musashino FM which had been aired once a month for the past five years. Sure is sad to see a precious blues program go away. I think this leaves only one more periodically aired blues program throughout Japan, that is "Osaka Blues Spirits" on MBS radio in Osaka which is aired weekly.

Blues Ni Kanpai
Flyer for Blues Ni Kanpai

Gaines & Azuma
Roy Gaines & Mitsuyoshi Azuma
"Guitar Clashers..."
(P-Vine PCD-5583)


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