Japanese Tour De Force Episode 1

This year has certainly been a blessed one for me, and I am so thankful…..  I realize the last 2 blogs have been more journal-esque, but I know they will form the basis of major Thought Processes to come, and I want to leave a trail.  (There is not nearly enough room here for the 100 or so pics I took, so if you are interested  check out my facebook page.)

So look….  I probably grew up watching too much Kung Fu….. continued on watching far too much Anime…… and currently eat way too much Sushi…. but what can I say I LOVE IT ALL! I nearly lost it when I was approached to head off with Angela Johnson on a Japanese Tour.  I have always said one of the greatest perks of being a successful artist would be travel… and this year has proven it as fact to me.  Money is nice but memories are priceless and nothing can help you grow, or become inspired, more than seeing more of the world and it’s inhabitants.

The flight is mos def long and I was constantly checking the travel computer like, « Are we there yet?! » (Next time maybe a well placed tranquilizer dart will do the trick.)  Anyway….  Right to work!  The first day we had an interview and performance @ J-Wave radio – A live acoustic version of « All in Me » and an old favorite « Sail Thru. »  — This was a preview as to how much conditioning it was going to require to do this.  Normally my voice warms up around 1-3pm…..since they are 13hrs ahead I was effectively singing in the morning with my full Barry White.. Barry-tone. :).  Next stop was the Cotton club for Soundcheck and the show.

Each night, Angela did (2) 90+ min sets back to back with a half hour break in between.  And she sings, dances and plays….. HER BUTT OFF!!! :).  I came in the middle of the set to perform « All in Me, » « Composure, » and « Love Revolution. »  It is such a pleasure to see the effects of music.  I truly believe love and music were the only 2 languages not dispersed when the tower of Babel was toppled (get your bible game up)….  To think the people who enjoyed this music, these lyrics and these sounds did not speak the language never crossed my mind until meeting them after the show.  So many times people are scared of the unknown, and here they were embracing it — Powerful stuff.  I also saw what it is like to have true fans of your work.  After the sets we signed autographs and quite a few of Angie’s fans came with her WHOLE catalog to be signed…. SERIOUSLY!!! 🙂

Let me just say…. this is a hard business, and opportunities are rare….  having another artist take you in and expose you to a new market is huge and I am really thankful to Angela and her team (Purpose Records) for that.  By the time we left…. the entire band felt like family to me.

Well as for my excitement I figure there is no better way for me to explain it then……. for me to explain it.

Night 1

Night 2

On the next episode……. Clubbing below the earth, how to wash your clothes with soup, Lalah Hathaway has a stalker, and murder on the high seas…. YOU DON’T WANNA MISS IT!!!

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Japanese Tour De Force Episode 2

Me and the Soul Brothers

We have a deal in Japan with BBQ records for the Japanese version of « If These Walls Could Talk. »  Twin brothers Take and Tomo own the label and  made sure we were well taken care of.  They were throwing a party and invited us out …… I have to talk about this club…..  We got out of the cab and the bouncer comes over and tells us to be very quiet (like vewy, vewy quiet).  I hear absolutely no music…. I see a very tame restaurant with a few diners….  we go in and one level down we walk into what seems to be a house party – a few people smoking, drinking, music but nothing too crazy….. down another flight of stairs and WTH?!  I see like 30 disco balls and the floor is vibrating… another level down…. (we are now 7 levels below the sea) and there are like 600 people getting’ it in!!!!  The DJ was killing it!

— BUT maaan can they can smoke!! …. so much that my eyes were burning and I actually had to leave to get oxygen — not air — oxygen…  We left and went to Roppongi,  a tourist area that looks at lot like Time Square (litter and all), and bounced from club to club until morning… at which point we stopped to have Udon in bowls you could wash clothes in, with soup ladles for spoons.

No you see it….. Now you don’t…… ‘TWAS GOOD!

Well… as much as I would have liked to go out every day, this was still a job, so I made sure to get a lot of vocal rest BUT…….I had one day off and I was determined to see as much as I could, so I set off on the JR which is basically the subway — but CLEAN and EFFICIENT.  I ended up linking with an artist friend of mine, Hiro-A-Key (look out for the Collabo), and he gave me the official tour….  I could go over the whole site seeing thing but that was really just  a backdrop for the convo we had.  We spent the day talking about music (of course), frustrations, relationships, culture…. and the thing that I walked away with most was…. we are really all the same.  Just as we are all breathing oxygen the world over (other than in that club)…  we are all dealing with the same principle issues.

The final 2 shows were at Motion Blu in an area called Yokohama.  The drive there made me realize how little I had seen to this point.  After the shows, we headed out to a Jam session — my first… Lalah Hathaway was in the audience and her voice and I have an ongoing love affair so…… I got on the mic right after her thinking maybe some of the magic from her gene pool would rub off on me (jokes….kinda).  The band jammed all night, I rocked a freestyle and we closed out our night rocking Love Revolution to a crowd full of « Acti-Fists. »

I left the club at around 6am and went to meet up with the label heads to get what I was told would be the best sushi I would ever have…….. and it was!!!!  @ The fish market they are basically making your sushi with fish pulled straight from the sea.  My Sushi chef could tell I wasn’t from there (not sure how) and was hitting me with everything he could– and it was GREAT!!

All that was left was leaving and I figured without the tranquilizer my best bet was staying up 30 hours prior….. and you know what I was right!!!  Slept through that flight!

I have to return and see more of the culture…. This was just a taste, but it definitely left me hungry for more.