Out from the previous two days in the middle section of Honshu’s mountainous region and over to Hitachinaka. I was wondering if the company Hitachi was located in this area. I found out that Hitachinaka was originally called Katsuta. ( I just found out a lot of people call this area Chiba too) The Hitachi Company gave a lot of money to the town for beautifying the area as well helping to repair the town because the disastrous earthquake of 2011 tore this place up pretty good. In fact our hotel we stayed in is almost brand new because the old one was completely destroyed as was the train station next to it. By the way so far the hotel in Hatachinaka was the best one on this tour. We’ll see if it can be topped. I had the A/C cranked last night. Can’t take the heat in the rooms yet because it’s not very cold outside…yet. Anyway back to the story, in light of this exchange of financial donations and city beautification, the city fathers chose to honor the Hitachi Company by renaming the city Hitachinaka and now you know the rest of the story.
The club we’re going to play today is called Stormy Monday. I came here 2 years ago. It was the last stop on the tour at that time. Situated in a small neighborhood that’s got some other restaurants, karaoke and clubs in the area. We haul all our stuff up the 3 flights of stairs to the venue. When we get there the opening band is waiting for us outside in front and when it’s time to load in, the staff of the club joins in and we’ve got an army now. Nice stage, a little tight but totally enough for us, we proceed to check levels and do a song to make sure we can hear the monitors well enough. I’ve been using Beth Lee’s song that I’ve been playing for the past few months, ‘Wouldya Wanna’ cuz’ it’s got the right vocal range and harmonies going in it plus I just like to play the song. That done I go back and change strings on the guitar. Watch the last day of the Sumo tournament and catch a bit of the outrageous ‘booty’ that is given to the winner of the tournament after its conclusion, the ceremony is a lot like the Super Bowl with the handing over the Lombardi or the World Series trophy except it’s way over the top in quantity. I was thinking how a lot of champions and sports stars have their trophy room, well if you’re a top Sumo Yokozuna and you have a long career and rack up a lot of wins, you’re probably going to need a trophy building. Seriously. Interesting side note to this month’s Sumo tournament, both Yokozunas lost on the final day. It set up a bit of drama in deciding the final outcome but the main point is that it’s very rare to see both Yokozunas lose their match. The winner backed in to this victory. A historic day.
I walk back down to the show to catch a bit of the opening band’s set. ‘The Smell’ is their name. I think it’s just a bad translation but I can’t say for sure cuz’ I didn’t see the name written out either in Kanji or Katakana so the interpretation is undecided in my mind. Anyhow they were really enjoyable to watch. Two guitar attack with a vocalist. They played some Savoy Truffle songs and another nice sort of slow rocking song about going to California, (yeah I know, that narrows it down a bit Chris), but they had a real together sound like they were out of the 70”s. Really cool.
We ascend the stage and set our stuff up and light into our show. The sound here is good and it’s easy to play. I do have to adjust myself a bit and step back when I do solos because the drums are right off my left shoulder and a mic stand is placed to pick up the ride cymbal and if I stay and do normal routine of swinging around my guitar while I play I’m going to hit that stand and set off a series of events I’d rather not have for the show. All I had to do was step back and to the right and straddle my pedals so I don’t set of another kind of series of events. The turn-out was good here in Hitachinaka and everybody enjoyed the show. Afterwards the opening band members and a few more of the fans hung out with us for the ‘Après-gig’ party. A buffet of food is laid out, libations imbibed and the regaling of stories are told all the while the chopsticks are floating about reaching for this and that. There’s laughter and smiles and it’s always a lot of fun. Almost as good as playing but not quite. Still there’s no substitute for warm human contact no matter where you are in the world.
I love my job.