Thursday
Jun172010

Beford Library Anime Convention and Michigan Genbukai Karate Spectacular

 

Last Sunday (June 13), we packed up our new van and a trailer and the five of us piled in and drove an hour south to Temperance Michigan. The Bedford Library was holding an Anime Convention and invited us to perform.  It was our first outdoor performance since January, when we played Mushi Okuri outside of the University of Michigan Mochi Tsuki event.  The weather on Sunday was a lot warmer than it was back in January. We performed in the parking lot in front of the library. As we were setting up, we even attracted the curiosity of several passers by.

"Where are you guys from?" One lady asked.

"The Great Lakes Taiko Center in Novi," I answered.

"And what brings you all the way down here?"

"The Anime Convention."

"The enemy convention!? Who's the enemy?"

"No, no. The anime convention. You know, like Japanese animation?"

"Oh, I see..."

It was very hot and most of us got some sunburn, but we enjoyed ourselves very much. I hope we can perform again next year. See pictures from the event in the photo gallery.

For residents of the Northeast Detroit suburbs, we, along with about 8 of our students, have a performance on Friday evening (June 18) for the Michigan Genbukai Karate-do school. We are a guest performer at their Karate Spectacular: a showcase event to benefit the Special Olympics. The performance is at 7:00 PM and tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under. See all the details on the Performances page.

 

Thursday
May202010

日本語が読めれば、見てください。

If you can read Japanese, please check out the link to a write up about us on the blog of a Japanese relocation service (REDAC).

海外赴任blog - Great Lakes Taiko Center - 五大湖太鼓センター

 

Monday
May172010

Splendor of the East 2010 and 007

 

Friday evening we performed Mushi Okuri at the Michigan CAPA chapter's 2010 annual Splendor of the East showcase.  The performance went well and we hear a lot of positive comments afterwards. It was fun to perform in a nice theater for a large audience. For two of our performers, it was even their debut performance. Stephanie (left side) and Laurel (right side) are two students from the Monday evening class, who committed to learning the Mushi Okuri music in order to perform with us on the stage. They did a great job and we are grateful for their hard work, traveling all the way from Lansing, sometimes twice a week, in order to get ready for this show. As the summer progresses, we hope to provide more opportunities for the rest of our students to perform as well.  (We offer classes in taiko drumming for all ages, please check out the taiko classes page for more information.)

But the most exciting thing about last week we discovered while getting set up for the show Friday night.  As I mentioned in the previous post, during the rehearsal on Wednesday, a feature film (Salvation Boulevard) was being shot at the concert venue.  I also mentioned that Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear and Marisa Tomei were part of the cast.  Anyhow, on Friday, as we were getting our Odaiko up on the stand, some of the theater staff were admiring the drum and were commenting on how loud it was at Wednesday's rehearsal. This reminded one of them about something exciting that happened on Wednesday. (Exciting for us, at least)  She told us that Pierce Brosnan, curious about the loud drum, peeked in the theater and ended up sitting down to watch us rehearse for about 30 min or so.  Cool! We played taiko for James Bond!  We all thought that was pretty exciting. I mean, movie stars are showing up in Michigan more and more these days, but we're still not used to it. Well, Mr. Brosnan, I hope you enjoyed our rehearsal, and next time you need taiko drums in one of your movies, I hope you'll keep us in mind!

Here are more pictures from the performance day, backstage, getting ready, etc. Also found in our photo gallery.

The empty theater before the show.

Mayumi before the show

Brian and Mayumi before the show

Everyone before the show

 

The performance

Us with the dancers who danced on stage during Mushi Okuri

I also ended up accompanying the Philippine group for their number. This is Dan, the leader of their group.

At the afterglow party, Mayumi and I with Natsuko san, a CAPA board member who was very helpful and supportive.

 

A few other places have posted some pictures of our performance as well, here are the links.

http://www.pressandguide.com/articles/2010/05/16/news/doc4bed9f7a6044f040084896.txt

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jawa_photo/sets/72157624064269296/

 

Thursday
May132010

Splendor of the East Performance on 14.May

It's been a busy week, but sort of exciting at the same time.  This Friday (May 14) we will perform as a part of the 2010 Splendor of the East Cultural Extravaganza held at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn, MI. We are one of many different cultural groups who will be performing on the stage for this event. It has taken a fair amount of rehearsal time, but it is getting exciting now as we approach the actual event. Yesterday we had the dress rehearsal at the theater and we could feel the energy building as we got to perform on the real stage in a real theater.

Not only was it exciting to perform on the stage, but they were also using the center for a feature film shoot on that day.  The movie is called "Salvation Boulevard". It has some sort of mega church theme to it and they had the center done up like a mega church. When we pulled up, there was a big sign saying "Church of the Third Millennium"...

 

Image source

They say it will be back to normal by performance time tomorrow.  Anyhow, I was talking to the guy guarding the road to the loading docks (I had to get back there to unload the drums) and I asked him, "Are there any well known actors in the movie?" "Nah, not really," he answered.  When I got home, I looked up the movie on IMDB. He was right no one famous, only Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear... Well, I can't blame him, I'm sure that was how we was instructed to answer if anyone asked, and I understand why.

Back to the dress rehearsal ... for our part, everything went pretty smoothly and we are ready to go tomorrow night.  We are the first group to perform after the opening and then two of us will participate again in the Finale.  During the Finale, we will play the Odaiko along with the beat to a song by Enigma. I was worried that the Odaiko would be too loud and my concerns were validated during the rehearsal. After the first run through of the finale, the sound engineer says that he has the speakers pushed to the limit and they can hardly hear the music! I was even surprised to hear that. I didn't realize that our Odaiko would overpower the sound system at a professional theater.  I told him that we would hold back (I actually couldn't hear the music either), but what I was thinking was, "Wow! I bet we have the loudest drum in all of Michigan!) So we are playing at about 20% of full volume and apparently it is still a little bit too loud.  For tomorrow, we need to hold back even more.  That's fine, though, because it is still difficult to hear the music and it's not easy to follow it if you can't hear it. But just in case, for the finale I am standing with my right foot right against the speaker so if all else fails, I will feel the sound waves coming out of the speaker and can synchronize with that.

It should be a fun show with cultural presentations from all over the world (not just from Asia). If anyone is interested in coming, tickets are available at the box office or from the CAPA website. We also have a link on our performances page.

Saturday
May012010

New Van for our Taiko Drums

Finally, we got a van for the Great Lakes Taiko Center!

After a long search, we found it on Craigslist. We experimented with renting trucks whenever we needed to move our big drums around, but after one unpleasant experience with Budget Trucks (Northville Trucks and Supply, to be specific) and a few other pleasant, but rather expensive experiences, we decided that we needed to invest in our own vehicle that could meet most of our needs. When we need more space than this van provides, we'll simply rent a trailer, which is easier and much cheaper than renting a truck.

I think I've been sifting through Craigslist ads since last November. First I was looking for small cube vans, then I thought a cargo van would be ideal, then a passenger van. After looking through enough ads and test driving a couple I new pretty much exactly what I wanted. I missed out on a couple nice vans while I was trying to find out what I wanted, but I'm glad I waited because this one is a beauty. The only negatives I found were that it has slightly higher mileage than I wanted (but apparently these guys will run forever. (Check out this guy, who has driven his van for more than 1,000,000 miles on the original engine and transmission!) And if you can't tell from the pictures, this van is in mint condition. It seriously looks brand new. The other negative was that I really wanted white, but that's not impossible to fix if I really wanted to. In the meantime we'll have to get some car magnets to get our logos on it and I will need to take care of getting plates for it.

Let's hope this van is a money saver (won't have to rent trucks any longer) and opens up new opportunities to bring taiko to even more of the people in Michigan.

 

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