Across the Miles - Happy Birthday Sharps!!!

Sharps Singers Club (or Sharps Folk Club) in London will celebrate it's 20th Birthday on Tuesday February 5th 2008. It's the first folk club I ever went to, and a source of many great songs, friends, triumphs and embarrassing moments.
Happy Birthday Sharps! and massive thanks to Sheila Finn, Sue on the door, Gerry Milne, Jerry Stuart and all the motley crew for keeping it going for all these years. I'll be thinking of you (I may even have a wee sherry to celebrate).

BBC Virtual Session バーチュアルセッシュン

BBC Radio 2 ラジオのおかげで上のタイトルをクリックしたら色々な曲を一緒にどうぞ!
Click on title


Les Denniston レズリー・デニストン

Leslie Denniston came to Kyoto from Glasgow in 1975 to study kendo. He is still here!
He was probably the first unaccompanied traditional-type singer I ever heard - around 1989 I learned loads of songs from him, here in Kyoto - Jock Stewart, Twa Corbies, and General Taylor among them. Along with Bob Barraza, Les started me off on the bodhran and I got my first and favorite one by sea-mail from Les's maker Eamon Maguire. In the end everyone wanted one and I ordered six - Eamon told my friend "stick with her - she's rich!" (He didn't and I never have been.) The number of people playing Irish music in Kyoto in those days
was pretty small.
Now me and Les do a lot of singing together including Scottish Nights where Hideko (Mrs Denniston) explains the songs and background in Japanese. Les also plays every Saturday night at Hill of Tara in Kyoto (Oike-Kiyamachi) with Taro Kishimoto.
Les is a great interpreter of Robert Burns' poetry - without the book!
More about Les in his own words here (his photos include Akazawa Atsushi, Jay Gregg and John Matthews) or watch this 1983 kendo video of Les on the BBC documentary Way of the Warrior (this link is Part 4; he is actually introduced at the very end of Part 3 - if you can watch that too Part 4 makes more sense)


UK-Japan 2008

Is it a festival? Just quickly posting this link (click on title). It says on the site, "UK-Japan 2008 will be a year-long season of exciting events, performances and exhibitions to showcase the UK's contemporary creativity in the arts, in science and innovation, and in creative industries." There is an invitation to participate/endorse your event.


New Year Music お正月の音楽

Happy Shogatsu! It's New Year (of the rat) and all the BGM has miraculously switched to trad. (BGM is background music. Did you know? I didn't. Here such acronyms abound.) At all other seasons Kyoto shopping is fuelled by Western and J-pop, but for New Year it has all been replaced by koto (a giant 13-string zither) and shamisen (3-string 'banjo') pinging out warabe-uta, traditional Japanese tunes such as might normally be heard only in school concerts and tourist traps (oh, and pedestrian crossings). Today I was browsing (mainly for a woolly toilet seat cover - a strange but necessary invention - no CH!) to these old national favorites. I knew most of them as, earlier in the year, I had availed myself of a CD of 'Children's songs' from the local 100 Yen Shop (= Pound Shop). Imagine shopping to Hot Cross Buns and the like. I wonder if the Arndale Centres would be game?
Click on title for lyrics and translations of these tunes/songs.
Later...it occurs to me that some of these songs were originally street cries anyway - cf. Hot Cross Buns.