Taiko Rocks with Hybrid Soul

Hybrid Soul made its debut Tuesday Nov. 11, 2008, at Minami Aoyama Mandala in Tokyo _ bringing together the rock guitar of Chris Young and bass of Pat Glynn with the taiko beat of my son Isaku Kageyama.
They played Bon songs of Japanese traditional minyo folk music _ Soran bushi, Yagi bushi, Tanko bush, etc. (The top is a studio recording _ not from the concert _ but gives you a bit of an idea of what’s cooking.)
The evening was an eye-opener in showing how the songs sounded different when played in that context _ but also how freshly and genuinely good they sounded _ simply as tunes.
Japanese tend to tune out with these old songs, heard over and over again, and associated with old people and old times _ songs that blend into oblivion.
But rearranged and electrified as “gaijin” rock, they suddenly commanded attention.
And one realizes how well crafted they are and how beautiful they are as pieces of modern music.
Juxtaposition/hybrids/marginality do tend to have a convenient knack for highlighting what gets otherwise overlooked.
This may sound like a contradiciton.
But in being non-Japanese did Bon songs turn Japanese!
It’s great.
The band got a grand reception at Mandala _ pretty good for a first performance.
We hope there will be more performances ahead to hear new takes, new ideas, new solos.
One of the teachers suggested maybe one tune could have had Isaku on bells in “a battle” against the guitar and bass.
The club owner suggested filling out the program with more straight-ahead taiko, including a trademark o-daiko (giant drum) performance.
I thought they could use minyo calls like “oi oi,” “sore sore” (or whatever they are) as a very easy way to get the crowd roused up in the obligatory audience-participation shtick of live-house concerts.
Maybe guest soloists and singers will join the group in future concerts.
Ideas abound.
The performance felt really short _ we wanted more.
Isaku grew up hearing the electric guitar of his father, who worships Jimi Hendrix as well as studied Wes Montgomery, Larry Carlton, Pat Metheny, Larry Coryell and other greats.
And so it was probably a natural choice for him to bring together that childhood sound _ still ringing somewhere in his subconscious _ with the beat of taiko, which is his life.
It was moving to see that as parents.
It was also a lesson _ as all parental experiences tend to be.
It was a reminder that all we can hope for in our art is to be ourselves.
And that is, after all, the sole purpose of art.