The Yoshida Brothers rock out on the shamisen

I went to see a show by the Yoshida Brothers last night. They’re real brothers who play the tsugaru shamisen, a three-string traditional instrument, but they add elements of jazz, samba, and rock’n’roll to their tunes. It was really entertaining! They also had this awesome charismatic percussionist in a pink-ish beanie had an amazing collection of noise-making tools — wind chimes, rain sticks — that sounded so amazing when they were synced with the sounds of the shamisen. They’re from Hokkaido and are in their early 30s. Super fun! They’re on tour in the US now; you can get tickets to their final SF and LA shows this week on their web site.

Captain EO returns to Tokyo Disneyland

Michael Jackson’s movie, Captain EO, has returned to Tokyo Disneyland as a limited attraction. It’s a 17-minute film that was part of the regular lineup of attractions from 1986-1994. I think it’s also showing at the Epcot Center in Orlando starting today. If you missed it or were too young in the 90s, you should definitely check it out.


Judith Hill, the “girl from Michael Jackson”, on Studio360


In November, I blogged about Judith Hill, the mysterious half-black, half-Japanese woman who sang at the Michael Jackson memorial and in the movie This Is It. To celebrate the one year anniversary of MJ’s death, I visited Judith at her home in Pasadena and produced a radio segment for PRI’s Studio360 about her life and music. Her super-cute mom, Michiko Hill from Tokyo, makes a cameo appearance too. Enjoy!

Video: Enka-R&B song about Kansai Airport

Who knew R&B and enka went well together? Apparently this guy, Freddie, who has become somewhat famous in Japan for this love song, called Kansai Kuukou (Kansai Airport). I have never heard of him before and am finding very little information about him online, but according to the Asahi he’s an ex-marine from Alabama who used to perform at bars and lounges in Kobe but was inspired several years ago to incorporate a Misora Hibari song into his repertoire. He calls this genre “ensoul” — enka + soul. Interesting…

(Thanks, Kazu Y!)

Nujabes dead at 36

Inter Sad news — the amazing musician Nujabes (real name Jun Seba) is confirmed dead today. He was in a car accident late at night on February 26 when getting off the Shuto Expressway. He was only 36 and ridiculously talented. I first discovered his music at a tiny wine bar in Golden-Gai, and have been a huge fan ever since. He will be missed.

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