Matsutoyo Kai 50th Anniversary Show
Minyo is a form of traditional Japanese folk music, typically performed by a group of musicians who play taiko drum, flute, and [almost always] a shamisen (a three-stringed banjo-like instrument). Originally, it was music made and played as music to work by. The flow of the music lends itself to manual labor and is richly designed to express the emotions, pleasure, and sometimes pain of the working class person.
My journey with Matsutoyo Kai began about seven years ago. I had the great pleasure of playing bass and taiko drum with Matsutoyo Kai in the U.S. and Japan. This experience taught me a lot about the richness and resilience traditional Japanese culture.
Currently based in Southern California, Matsutoyo Kai has since grown to about 50 or so members and continues to thrive. Everyone in the group is very serious about their craft. Matsutoyo Sensei is fun-loving and generous but when she picks up her shamisen, watch out! It’s serious business from then on.
For the Matsutoyo Kai 50th Anniversary show we are honored to have Shohei Naruse (成世昌平) as the featured performer. Mr. Naruse is an esteemed Enka and Minyo singer, originally from the Hiroshima Prefecture. Mr. Naruse performs throughout Japan and is often seen on the NHK Holiday programming. Accolades aside, he’s a fabulous singer and I am delighted (and honored) to perform on the same stage. Ramping up on the shamisen has been a steep learning curve. Hours of practice, listening, and learning have been spent while traveling and working on multiple projects, in an effort to prepare for the upcoming performance. As I said before, Minyo is a form of music for those who labor— this definitely applies to studying shamisen!
I am nothing but grateful for the timing of my reconnection with Matsutoyo Kai, before my return to Japan. The event has set off fireworks in my brain, with regards to the wealth of knowledge I hope to gain from my travels, in relation to Minyo.
If you’re in Los Angeles on November 29th 2015, please join me at the Matsutoyo Kai 50th Anniversary Performance, featuring Shohei Naruse. It will be a show to remember. Tickets can be purchased directly through me or via the contact information on the Matsutoyo Kai website.