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岡崎 (okazaki), june 2006

zurr deutschen site, jawoll

su-pa- oyaji bandfestival

on june 4. (no connections to whatever happened in the u.s. that day) the oyaji bandfestival in okazaki's eon took place. the hard-to-read japanese name of the festival goes like this: スーパー親父バンドフェスティバル.

this year there were two criterias for participation:
1.) at least one member of the band must be an 親父 (oyaji = an uncle, an elderly gentleman) and to make it short, it was NOT me and
2.) at least one of the three songs must be a beatles cover.

the performance would be judged by the following criteria: overall impression, quality of the music, english.
the winning band would be able to play at the national competition in osaka on july 21st. (okazaki was a regional competition).

we decided to go for three beatles songs right away for two reasons: rather than a full-blown band we were a project whose sole goal was to participate in the band festival (followed by conquering the world, muahaha....) so we didn't have any songs written by ourselves. also, 深谷(fukaya)-san had already selected the songs. as band name, he chose トゥーゲザー (the japanese pronounciation of "together").

the songs
-here, there and everywhere
-while my guitar gently weeps
-back in the u.s.s.r.

the band
-深谷(fukaya)-san - electric guitar
-永井(nagai)-san- bass, background vocals
-牧野(makino)-san - background vocals, percussion
-大須賀(osuka)-san - piano
-大輔(daisuke*) - drums
and myself doing the lead vocals, folk guitar and electric guitar.

*daisuke is actually just the first name - unfortunately i can't remember daisuke's last name.
funny side note: as i have a hard time remembering names (and japanese names in general), i try using mnemonic tricks to overcome that weakness. in daisuke's case the mnemonic trick was the following: in japanese, the word "sukebe", pronounced "skebe" which means more or less "pervert". no problem memorizing that. from "skebe" to daisuke, pronounced "dieske" it's just a small step. then again i had to be very careful not to calll him "dai-sukebe", which means something like "big pervert" ("dai" as prefix can mean "big" - there are other meanings as well).

nagai-san und fukaya-san
nagai-san and fukaya-san, last practice before going on stage

the becoming
once a week i teach german. my students are osuka-san and makino-san (fukaya-san's niece by the way). the location is a classroom in cam-hall in okazaki, which is being used by both fukaya-san and nagai-san. fukaya teaches guitar, banjo and erhu (二胡 ("niko") in japanese - the same kanji as in chinese). nagai teaches flower arrangement western style ("フラワーアレンジメント" as opposed to the traditional way of arraging flowers etc called "ikebana").
apparently daisuke helped building the classroom (at least one wall but so far i haven't found out which).
strewn throughout the classroom are at least 6 guitars, a banjo, an ukulele, an erhu, a piano and some other sounding devices. it wasn't before long that i started plucking a string here and there (and everywhere). fukaya and me jammed a little and some time later he asked whether i'd like to participate in that bandfestival. he also asked osuka-san and makino-san. nagai-san who's playing and has been playing in other projects with fukaya-san before was a logical choice.
osuka-san by the way studied piano at university and plays very well. she was also the most reliable person during the rehearsals.

makino-san und chris osuka-san und nagai-san
makino-san, 俺様,osuka-san, nagai-san

the gig
the gig took place on july 4th. 2006 in okazaki's aeon shopping center. all in all, there were six bands. whether only 6 bands applied or whether the jury weeded them out by criterias, i don't know. anway, we were in.

the band age the teddy bears
"the band age" und "the teddybears", bands playing before us

we were in the fourth slot and as far i know, everyone was slightly nervous. the sound was not ideal, especially the monitor but being a pro and all, things like that don't unsettle you *cough*.
in two spots i gobbled up the lyrics (shame on me) and used my own syllable creations instead mixed with some mumbling. i don't think anyone noticed. not even steward, a yamasa-student from england whose job in the jury was to judge the quality of English in the performances noticed. the day after when we met he said he hadn't noticed anything. well, all the better.

rockin' the house mik test everybody look to the right!
rockin' the house

the award
everything was over before it really started. that's how long we felt those 13 minutes of fame on stage lasted.
winner of the festival was the all-female "the teddybears" (link to their japanese website). according to voices in the audience they had a better presence on stage than we had. anyway, they played quite well.
there is one thing though that leaves some bitter aftertaste. there was a camera team collecting footage before and behind the stage. although we were six bands the camera team practically just followed them and even recorded them while applying make-up. *sarcasm on* if had a different band had won the contest all that footage would have been wasted, right? *sarcasm off*
you know what i mean...

the moment of truth

the conclusion
whether all the trouble we went through were worth those 13 minutes of stage presence, i can't tell. it was fun though. going on stage is fun every time, especially after a while (my last concert playing in a band was a x-mas concert 2003 in küsnacht, switzerland). at the yamasa speech contest 2005 we performed with a mini-choir that i accompanied on a 12-string accoustic guitar.
another fact is that i was, as it is the case quite often, the only non-asian person on stage which renders the whole thing even slightly more exclusive. as everything around was in japanese (good listening exercise) and i was able to understand most of it i'm happy with that too (just a reminder: this was not in a class room where the teachers speak all super-clear slow-mo japanese). probably not that many people can say they've been to a foreign country and played with foreign people on stage (すまん、自慢だね).

thanks for reading!


p.s. friday, june 16th. 2006, working visa: no news