Sunday, 11 March 2018

Folk singers

For the purposes of this blog post the term “folk music” refers to the Western style of music and not actual indigenous Japanese folk music.

I recently bought a book on Japanese folk musician Mikami Kan. I’d never heard of him before I saw the book in a Tokyo record store, but since it was the only English language book about a Japanese topic, I picked it up and bought it there and then.

The book is excellent, and it talks about music, the creative process, friendship and his career through 1970s Japan. It does so in short, punchy paragraphs, most of which are only one sentence long.

On one page, in a paragraph with six sentences in it (possibly the longest in the book) he lists the acts who performed at the 3rd All Japan Folk Jamboree in 1971. When I saw this, I thought this would be a great place to start and learn more about the genre. These are the highlights of what I found.

First is Okabayashi Nobuyasu 岡林 信康. According to Wikipedia, this guy is “Japan’s Bob Dylan” and he is best know for his song “The Letter” which is very nice but I was blown away by the electrified blues of “Watashitachi no Nozomumono wa” performed live with the band Happy End.

and if you prefer something more acoustic, this full concert (audio only) from 1969 is beautiful.

Next is Takada Wataru 高田渡 with this gentle singalong, “Seikatsu no gara”

Then there is Endo Kenji 遠藤 賢司 (and you’re going to need those kanji if you want to search for him) who sadly died last October. He wrote the song Bob Lennon which was later used in the film 20th Century Boys.

Finally, a song from Masato Tomobe 友部正人. This song may date from 1983, so it's a bit later than the 70s vibe I've been searching for, but I like it all the same.

While looking through YouTube for these songs, I kept getting sidetracked by the suggestions automatically provided by YouTube. A few of these lead me down some very nice paths, especially to this copy of Misora by Sanchiko Kaneobu.

And, of course, I had to include Mikami Kan himself, didn't I?

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