Western Japan Stick Seminar at M.I. Hiroshima and Hiroshima Stick Night, 17th & 18th May 2008
I flew up to Hiroshima from Kagoshima a couple of days before the events, having posted the equipment I couldn't carry on the plane, and stayed at Ramuji's place in the city. The idea for the events had gradually taken shape via e-mail and 'phone discussions and was finally a reality.
M.I. (Musicians' Institute) Hiroshima let us in to set the equipment up on the Friday night and were extremely helpful and accomodating, providing us with a sound engineer for the two days of the seminar and allowing us to use their PA and other equipment more or less as we pleased - we couldn't really have hoped for better facilities, in fact.
The seminar started at 10:00am on the Saturday, all the participants quickly got to know eachother and there was a relaxed and friendly atmosphere throughout. I taught on both days with assistance from Ramuji, (who was both teacher and interpreter) and we were joined by excellent Japanese stickist Toshiaki Kanamaru on the Sunday who shared the teaching with us. We worked as a group on the Saturday and on the Sunday Toshiaki and I took turns in giving thirty minute individual lessons to each of the participants under headphones while the others worked as a group.
At 5:00pm on Saturday, we wound up the class for the day and headed off into Hiroshima city with our Sticks as a group, walking and travelling by streetcar, pausing for photos by the famous Peace Dome monument before making our way to cafe Organ-za, where we ate and drank and all played a well-known song together on the stage, as well as short solo sets from Tak Tarui, Ramuji and myself.
Sunday's lessons at M.I. began at 10:00am and by the time we finished at around 3:00pm everybody had become firm friends and we had all learned from and enjoyed the experiences we'd shared.
Ramuji, Toshiaki and I then headed for Rakuza to soundcheck for the Stick Night concert which started around 7:00pm and was a really perfect end to the weekend's activities. All the seminar participants came to the concert, which was great, as we could show them three quite different approaches to the Stick and three pretty different sounds. Ramuji was using his laptop rig, Toshiaki used the house back-line amps and I used my trusty old Dynacord. The result was a fairly wide spectrum of styles, effects and sounds and the audience seemed to appreciate that. I have to say it was great having Toshiaki there not only for his great playing on ten-string and alto but also his ability to charm the audience with his easy manner.
After my set we got an encore and the three of us took to the stage together and played a piece written by Ramuji.
All in all the whole weekend was an uplifting experience for everybody and finishing on a high point like that was just excellent. I'd happily bet that nobody who came will ever forget the weekend's events - I know I won't... I really hope we can do it all again next year, and every year...