March/April 2008 Japan Tour Blogs (Part 3)
4/25/2017 4:43:40 AM - (cont'd)

April 4-5

It's become everyday since the 2nd and until I split back for home on the 7th. On the 4th I took the shinkansen from Osaka to Fukuoka, then transfered onto a funky old train to Kumamoto that was so bumpy I almost got sick. The steady conversation between a Brazilian couple helped divert my attention to keep me from losing my breakfast.

After a quick stop and rest at the hotel, the Richmond which had opened days before with the rooms smelling spanking new, we went to a nearby department store where inside they had a booth for live radio programs to do a spot promoting the gig. We then met up with the rest of the band, Masa and Higuchi-san, to go for dinner at a nearby izakaya that was killing! I'd never liked one of the local foods, "karashi renkon" (lotus root stuffed with hot mustard), but found out that it was supposed to be prepared deep fried; I think I bought some at the airport years ago and not knowing any better, ate it raw -- no wonder it tasted horrible! It was actually really delicious prepared the right way. I stayed away from the "basashi" (horse sashimi) though.

The event that night was commemorating the 2nd anniversary of a flower shop, Hurrah, whose owner was also celebrating her pregnancy. She had specially prepared a beautiful gigantic flower arrangement featuring cherry blossoms on stage which gave up a great vibe, and also had "Monday Michiru sake" (!!!), which were bottles of local sake with my picture as the label! Also Nyoro's friend Yusuke was there representing Smirinoff Ice as our sponsor to help supplement the costs. The audience was great, all ready to party, and by the time we went on stage, they were well fueled by the vodka drinks as well as ladles of the sake that were given as they entered the club. I think we killed it that night. My voice has been in great shape regardless of the lack of sleep, and I know a lot of it has to do with the fact that because of the time of year, I didn't have to fight through air conditioners at the hotels, shinkansens, clubs or anywhere which are my throat's worst enemy. The DJs who spun that night had a really great and eclectic sense which I enjoyed a lot.

The following morning, the promoter Terra-san took us to a local soba shop that was so good and played tasteful bgm jazz. We flew back to Tokyo and I got to rest a little bit at my hotel before going into Aoyama Fai. I quickly met with the guy who goes by Pax Japonica Groove and his label manager who came by to pay respect as I was going to do a feature for one of his tracks, very nice young guy, very humble. Fai's manager, Itoh-san, took us first out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant tucked behind Aoyama-Dori's Mujirushi shop that was unbelievable! It was by far the best of all the food I got to experience this trip, in particular their punch line dessert, a pudding that was so soft and creamy with the right amount of everything to it, it floored all of us. Sound check proved to be a disaster though-- the sound in that club has always been ominous and the guys who were trying to work the system really didn't know what to do, although they were trying super hard and were super patient and dilligent. I just gave up after over an hour and half of mic feedback and just left with a "yoroshiku" -- at that point I knew that more time at sound check would do nothing to help it and I had to go back to the hotel for a half hour nap otherwise I wouldn't last. This gig wasn't going to be about sound but about energy.

Nyoro was worried I'd lose my voice that night as I had to use up so much of my voice to be heard -- the mic through that sound system did nothing really -- but I was so fortified in my spirit. The audience was great and Masa and Suzuki-san again played their asses off. Whenever I started feeling a little weird (like getting funked down about the sound, or hating the smell of cigarettes, whatever), I would concentrate on what the words I'm singing mean, or on what Suzuki-san or Masa was playing, especially Masa as I'm highly responsive to his playing, rhythmically and energy wise.

At one point, I had just finished a tune and was looking back at Masa for some reason, and suddenly saw the expression on his face change to a look of surprise and slight horror. When I looked to see what he was tripping on, I saw Masayan, long time member of Sleepwalker as well as the original member of Mondo Grosso and who had played in my band for several years. I was happy and surprised to see him but could see he was pretty heavily under the spell of alcohol. He took my mic to speak to the audience, talking of how he and I have known each other for years, about how being a saxman he doesn't like singers....(long drunken pause)....BUT (okay, so here's the "but") I'm different (big sigh of relief from my end), chiding that Japanese singers don't have heart (uh oh...) but how I am all heart (thank you). I looked over to Nyoro and I could see a look of pained worry on her face and realized this wasn't a good thing that was happening, especially as many in the audience didn't seem to know who he was (we probably share the similar audience with club going males, but my female audience probably aren't as aware of Mondo Grosso in the old days nor of Sleepwalker). At one point, he conked me on the head with my mic, which I want to add is a special condenser mic that is worth thousands and was a birthday gift from Sasha years ago -- I just about died. Later, Nyoro told me she was worried Masayan was either going to drop and destroy my mic or, being not of steady legs, fall and break one of Suzuki-san's guitars or equipment. He finally gave me back my mic and the performance resumed, but I could see him crouched down in the front smiling up at me, then nodding off to sleep, and then later helped up by a few women up front as well as by Itoh-san and led away. The drama continued after the performance as Masayan came to the band room to say hello clearly even more plastered. Meanwhile singer Emi Tawata and her label A&R Kondi who used to also A&R Mondo Grosso during several of the Sony years came to say hello, and as I was packing up my belongings I suddenly heard skin on skin contact, followed by Kondi's voice, "Ouch!" When I turned around, I saw that Masayan had punched Kondi and was on his face, accusing Kondi of laughing at him. At that point, I realized that Masayan was not of sound mind and plainly out of control, and just hustled out of there. I felt bad -- it had been years since I saw Masayan and I really adore him, consider him amongst my musical family, but he's had his problems with drinking over the years, getting into fights and badmouthing people, and this is a part of him that I don't like to see.

By the time I got back to the hotel, spoke with Sasha and Nikita through Skype and got to sleep, it was already daybreak.

(cont'd)
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