Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Nomad, Sakke and Me

I’ve done plays, television, dance recitals, and even won a game show once (it was a pilot, so in reality didn’t get the trip to Bermuda, just some cash and stale donuts). One time on stage I had disrobed down to my bare as…piring to be an actor can be a difficult road. Yet, none of that prepared me for the evening of September 23rd. I was the “intermission” talent at a night of sake and bossa nova. My stomach was in knots and my head pounded like a chain gang. An opportunity to play with fantastic, professional musicians, who are on the cusp of releasing their fourth full studio album and I was lying in the bathroom floor enjoying the cool tiles on my skin. If my hands could stop shaking long enough to play, I’d be fine.

The setting was a popular sakke brewery in Kobe, Shushinkan, that has converted one of their old warehouses in to a live house, daunting space but with a great wood feel and pleasant scent all around and more than ample acoustics. Nomad, Yuu Nakai and Keiko Yamamoto , came out and rocked the house with their brand of jazz, Japanese folk and bossa nova. My back tensed, but surprisingly no sweat dripped anywhere on my body. Between sets, the guests were treated to a sakke demonstration and tasting. I paced the wooden floor boards near my dressing room. Then, it was my turn.

Yukari, the cheerful and pleasant host/event planner, who was great at reducing my nerves a bit, introduced and I sauntered on to the stage. I always hear musician say there are good gigs and there are bad gigs, so I thought, ”if it turns out to be a bad one, then chalk it up to experience.” But at the last second I thought instead, “enjoy it”. I did.

My lip quivered as I started to sing These Haze, a song I would later go on to explain is about alcohol and how hard it can be to break away from it’s embrace. By this time, I had calmed down, though my head was still pounding, and was engaging in Engli-nese/Japa-glish with the host and audience. For my last song, I pulled a bit of a trick out my hat. Normally I wouldn’t sing a song that I had just written recently and in no way was I fully confident in playing it. But, 電車で文句 or Complaining on the Train is my first ever Japanese song and wanted to test it out. Pop music, be it American or Japanese, reigns supreme in Japan, but comedy is universal. Complaing on the Train is about my thoughts and musings as I ride the local train everyday. Once I sang my first lyric, ”Did you shower? It’s only 8am, why do you smell that way?” and the audience paid me back with broad laughter, my night was complete and I was relieved.

I didn’t play the song perfectly, even breaking into laughter with the audience a few times, but later on no one commented on the playing. All I heard was, “yeah, that’s true, I hate when people fall asleep on my shoulder!”

Mission accomplished. After, I went back to the cool tile of the bath room floor and closed my eyes.