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R I T I N G :
H E L L O - B I G - V I G O R
Japan Tour, 5/2002
"Shall I open another one?" the stewardess said, as she waved a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label in our direction. "Sure, why not!" Toasts and laughs and another drink, trying to knock the steel tube angst into a quiet corner, celebrating the upcoming adventure, and cherishing the fact we got bumped to business class. Got pampered on our way to the land of the rising sun. Treats and goodies to indulge our excited brains. Room to spread our legs. Dreams of samplers shaped like soccer balls.
5 performances in 4 cities in 6 days:
Friday, May 24 - Airegin, Yokohama: jazz feel, bop-sense, nice piano, small club, "how the hell did they get it in here?!" Beer. Set-up. Power problems? Hans' Nord Lead 3 flickered and wavered unable to comprehend, "where are we?" off-on-off-on. Damon's Line-6 units buggy? A frustrating start, full of what-ifs, and shit, fuck, piss. More beer. C-batteries took care of Damon's problem, and, Hans sat at the piano. We delivered two sets, a good stream of music for an attentive and supportive audience pleasantly surprised by our sound.
Saturday, May 25 - Yokohama Jazz Promenade, Kaiko Kinen Kaikan, Yokohama: What?! Sure, we're jazz musicians. We caught the first 15 minutes of Han Bennink's set then cabbed it at 3:15pm to Kaiko Kinen Kaikan, check-in at 3:30, performance at 4:30. Old brick building, big stage, nice sound system, lots of help. A packed house...a theatre. Yes, we're part of a theatre. Many cables and blinking lights, no horns, no drums, no bass, yes, one guitar. Blinding lights, our 200 + audience? Invisible.
We prepared a special set for the tour, a blend of our new CDs: Marcelo's "Hello," Donkey's "Big Sur," and Marcos' "Hybrid Vigor." Yes! That's why the tour was titled "HELLO BIG VIGOR" very good. The first 5 minutes featured us all together, then, 10 minutes of Donkey, 10 minutes of Marcos plus our "comments," 10 minutes of "Hello," then all off to a blend of samples and spaces heard on our previous releases. Overall, an engrossing set with a wide range of sounds, styles, textures and beats. I don't think the audience thought of it as jazz though. We didn't think of it as jazz, but, isn't that what jazz is all about?
Sunday, May 26 - Big Apple, Kobe: Probably the highlight of the tour, performance-wise that is. Christopher Stephens, a very old friend of mine, and bandmate in the elusive Fresno punk group The Assholes, met us at the train station and picked up our gear. Chris, who lives in Kobe and is married to Haco (of After Dinner fame), Brad Quinn and myself opened up the evening. We improvised a piece called "D" which was basically 3 guitars with every string tuned to D. Since I was the guest, I got the 12 string, which after a couple of minutes of interaction I stopped trying to keep in tune. We strummed, plucked, picked and rubbed our way out of 30 minutes of harmonius jingle jangle.
HELLO BIG VIGOR followed and we delivered a punchy, high-energy hour of sound, Trummerflora-style. Sweat and humming ears. The bartender was so pleased after the show, he told us he was out of beer and that we had to drink Scotch...hmmm.
Tuesday, May 28 - Cafe/Antique Futuro, Osaka: This was our "lowercase" gig. Small venue with attentive listeners. Performed with Tim Olive/Masafumi Ezaki, and Takeshi Kojima. Delicate sounds, interesting spaces.
Wednesday, May 29 - Binspark, Tokyo: Ah, here we got to experience the famous Japanoise. I knew we were in for a treat when I saw the bartender put on protective headphones. Our host, Naoya Iwamitsu (GRIND HER TEETH) opened the evening with a set of extremes. Bleached blond hair and rock'n'roll skinny spitting out harshness then bowing venerable. We followed and pulled through with good marks and jagged edges. After us, Kentaro Harada a young clarinetist improvised, hypnotized and looped. HARDDISKO, a laptop/electronics and rapper duo closed the night with a sort of cool, cyber-punk hip hop.
We were done. Time to do some shopping and watch the World Cup get started.
HELLO BIG VIGOR was an exhilirating experience. We managed to keep it all together and flowing through torrents of beer, very little sleep, and the most wonderful noise pollution. We made good connections and got treated to "wiggling" food...quite an experience to eat a sea creature while it is still alive! Henry (Marcos' dad) was a most gracious host, Marcos was a most able guide, and the help we got from Rocco, Natsuyo, Tsuji, Takashi and Chris was most appreciated. A successful tour. We even had girls come up and ask if they could have their picture taken with us, go figure.
PS: This trip was highly documented. Comically so. We came back with some 11 hours of video and approximately 16 hours of audio! Now to weed....We'll have something ready for you soon. Thanks!