JAPAN TOUR ’98
It sure has been a great year. In March I did a two week tour of Japan and it was an amazing trip. Preston Reed and I teamed up with Isato Nakagawa and Shun Komatsubara for a string of sold out dates all over the country. I’ve been the lucky recipient of Isato’s and Shun’s CD’s over the years, and the prospect of touring with these great players was exciting. Their music is imbued with the elements of Japanese folk music, and is probably Japan’s best known acoustic fingerstylist. He has had a long career in Japan, and has been very influential to many Japanese guitarists. This was a very crazy tour – 10 shows and a workshop in 12 days. We were a small caravan – Kelli, Preston, Isato, Shun, Yasue Tanaka and I carried tons of guitars, gear and suitcases through huge train stations and tiny streets, and lumbered onto bullet trains. Shun and I played a song together at the shows – “Greensleeves” was his choice, and we just played the hell out of it. Shun’s playing is very inspired and emotional, and he was a joy to perform with.
Every night after the concerts we’d all pile into an incredible restaurant. For the next hour or so countless dishes and bowls of the most exotic an d beautiful foods I’ve ever seen would arrive at our table. We would eat talk and laugh until the very wee hours. Early the next morning we were on the move again. We got little time for sightseeing, but we did make a few stops, and got to spend a day in Nagano. We got part of a day off in Kanazawa, the home of the great Haiku poet Basho for a while, and visited an amazing samurai temple. Later we spent a day in Kyoto visiting two very old an important temples, and I got my picture taken with two beautiful Maiko girls (about 15 years old, basically Geisha in training).
The final show was a solo workshop and Concert in Tokyo at a huge music store. They had a bunch of my beautiful Breedlove Signature Model Guitars there, and we gave them all a good workout. Thanks to Pooh Matsuoka, Kelli and Yasue who handled business and were amazingly good company, and to Isato for inviting me and being such a wonderful friend. It is an honor to know you all.
For more on the Japan Tour Click Here.
BACK TO ITALY
Got home from Japan as jet lagged as I’ve ever been and had three weeks to recover before heading to Italy. The first stop was the Atkins/Dadi Guitar Players Association convention in beautiful Soave. The weekend long festival hosts some of the world’s finest players, and it was a joy to hear such players as Pietro Nobile, Walter Lupi and Albert Lee again. I connected with many old friends and made a lot of new ones. As always, the Italian audiences I played to were warm and generous. Hope to come back again!
The next week was spent in Rimini, a seaside resort town, for the annual Music Show (a NAMM style convention) and I again met up with old friends and new. Roberto and Marilena Ferraroni from Champion’s Guitar (Breedlove’s Italian importer) were again my gracious hosts. The show was noisy and chaotic and a lot of fun.
We had a little time off in Italy, and stayed near San Gregorio at the Park Hotel. Coincidentally, there was a big party of Japanese folks arriving for a wedding. As we checked in I was introduced to the wedding party and learned that the bride was Japanese, the groom Italian. Before we parted company I had them all saying stuff like “Domo grazie!” and “Arigato mile!”
My last concert in Italy was a benefit concert for the school music program in San Gregorio Nelle Alpi, in the province of Belluno. This time the concert was scheduled to be held in a lovely outdoor amphitheater outside of town. The threat of rain forced us to use the school’s gymnasium, which turned out to be the most reverberant room I have ever been in. Despite the less than optimal sound, the audience was gracious and friendly and I had a great time. Again I was presented a keepsake of the town. This time the mayor’s assist and presented me with a lovely antique photo of one of the important buildings in Belluno, with a lovely inscription. The next day I played a song for a first communion mass in the lovely old church. I love this picturesque little town and am honored by the warmth and friendship I’ve been shown there. I hope to see all my Italian friends again next year.
In August I was invited to teach at the National Guitar summer Workshop’s England campus in Bath. Also played a concert in Bath with John Renbourn, one of my all time favorite players. I had a great time meeting guitarists from all over Europe, and really enjoyed hanging out in the pubs with co-instructors Mark Dziuba, Kirby Kelley and Scott Henderson. Hope to return some time.
Later in August I flew to San Raphael, California for the Acoustic Guitar Festival. I was there to represent and demo for Fishman Transducers, the company that makes the guitar electronics I use. I had a great time hanging out with everybody at Fishman. Got to see some of my old guitar maker friends and made some new ones as well. Steve Grimes had a great double soundhole guitar that was one of my favorite guitars at the festival. Played some cool Weissenborn style guitars (like my ragged little acoustic lap steel, only good!) from Bear Creek and Mermer. Saw some fine stuff from Kevin Ryan, Lance McCollum, Steve Klein, Judy Threet, Collings and of course my buddies at Breedlove and many, many others. If you have any appreciation of acoustic guitars at all, you owe it to yourself to get to one of these festivals. I guarantee you will be amazed.
NEW LIVE ALBUM COMING
There’s something about playing in front of people that is really inspiring to me- the music seems more conversational. Over the years I’ve dragged various digital recorders to concerts all over and have captured some of these moments. I’ve got several hours of audiences coughing at my Christmas concerts alone! The album is scheduled to be released in Spring 1999, and will feature a mix of old and new, including “Homage”, the piece I play on the Hawaiian guitar. I’ll keep you posted. Maybe you’ll recognize the sound of your rasping wheeze, incorrigible child or angry, bored date storming out of the club!
Thanks to all the folks who made my job so enjoyable this year with the fine work: Breedlove Guitar Co., D’Addario Strings, Fishman Transducers, Mackie Designs, Joe Mills, John Rotondo at Lexicon and Neumann USA. Also want to thank Kelli Bertram and Nancy Jones here at Virtue for keeping things together at home and on the road.
I’ve recently done a few interviews for various newspapers and guitar magazines focusing on “making it” in the music business, and it has given me pause to think a little bit about the way I make my living. It occurs to me that, no matter how hard you work or how much talent you think you’ve got, you don’t necessarily get to decide what kind of career you’ll have. Everything depends on your audience. Only if people like and respect what you’re doing, do you have any kind of career. I am extremely grateful to you, my friends old and new, for allowing me the opportunity to do what I love more than anything. Seeing you at the concerts and workshops and reading your letters are a real source of inspiration for me. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I hope to see you out there somewhere soon.
Wishing you love and music,
©1998 Ed Gerhard