Boston Common


My car is in garage and I cannot get it back till tomorrow, so I decided to do some sightseeing in Boston. I came to Boston Common which is the oldest city park in the US. When I was still living in Boston, I walked by or walked through this park a lot. I have not been here for a long time so it feels much different. I almost always came to Boston Common just for gigs, so I have almost never came here for a walk. No wonder it feels different.


The view from this park recalls me old memories. I used to walked to everywhere to the gigs and to the rehearsals. Boston Common is located right by the downtown Boston so I walked through this park often. This is such a beautiful park but the things I remember are like "I had a weekly gig on that hotel on the South. I have been to that college radio station several times for the live recording. Wow, I remember the church on the West, where I played my pianist friend's concert at." etc. All about the jobs I did. I had lived in Boston for ten years but, sadly, I know so little of it. "The poor have no leisure" but if I think back, I should have enjoyed my youth a little more. I guess it is never too late. I will enlarge my experience in Boston.

This is the Frog Pond. It's just a huge playground with shallow water for kids. When I was still in the college, they used to install a temporary stage on the pond and we music students play on that. It was so steamy on the stage because we were basically right on the top of the shallow water pool and the water in it was evaporating like crazy. I wonder if they still do the same concert series in the Frog Pond.

The statue of George Washington the first President of US.




Slava and Anna kindly put me up for several nights. My car broke down on Friday night and went to their place well after midnight but still they warm-heartedly open the door for me. Slava, Anna, I cannot thank you enough. I have a lot more to say about their kindness but I'll write on another entry soon.

Anna's pancakes are the best.

International String Trio @ Oceancliff Resort in Newport, RI


We had a wedding gig in Newport, Rhode Island, which is about a couple of hour South by car from Boston. My car was in a garage so Joe the violinist drove us to the gig and my good friend Irina kindly rent me her precious silent cello. Joe, Irina, thank you very very much for that. Without your help, I would not be able to do this gig nor see the beautiful seascape. Thank you!!

The Oceancliff Resort is one of the hot spots for weddings so we come here a few times every year. The view from this cliff to every direction is amazing. The cool refreshing breeze was coming over the Narragansett Bay and we could play really pleasantly.


Musique Makers @ Longfellow's Wayside Inn


My car broke down last night and I was forced to use public transportation. It is a busy weekend and a very bad timing. Oh well. Today's gig was with my old friend Jeff Nottonson and I took a train to the station nearby his place and he was kind enough to pick me up from there. Thank you very much Jeff and sorry for the trouble. Jeff has a great family with his wife and three children. When we arrived at Jeff's home in Acton, I saw his wife Mary-Jane and not small children for the first time in a long time. Now the children are much bigger and much more mature, playing the electric bass and checking out new TV dramas on YouTube. Oh, God, they make me feel older. I hope they won't be driving when I see them next time.

We had a wedding gig at Wayside Inn which was loved by one of the most important American poet, Henry Longfellow. The place had a great view. Since I live in New York City which is the jungle on machines and steels, I appreciate this kind of pastoral scenery. Sorry but I'm too inexperienced to know any of Longfellow's poem. There are a lot of places closely connected to Longfellow in Boston. I promise to read his poem in the near future.

I could not take too many photos because we had so little time. It really was a charming place with somewhat historic views. This is the kind of the places which make me want to come back and visit again.


Oh boy, I think the person who invented automobile is great. I calculated that I would have spent five hours total for today's if I had a car. Instead, with the public transportation, I spent twelve hours today.


International String Trio @ Chatham Bars Inn


I drove six hours from New York City and came to Cape Cod, a summer resort in Massachusetts. The weather has not been great and I had hears there was a major storm in Boston on the day before. It was a threatening sky all along. The rain is the worst enemy for musicians if we are playing outside. Luckily the rain held off for entire ceremony.


By tha way, there are lots of sand fleas on this beach and we were bitten by them constantly. So bloody annoying. Joe the violinist all of a sudden tried to spit out something. I guess one the buggers jumped into his mouth. I was laughing at him but a moment later, I had one jumped right into my nostril! Oh annoying buggers! I come to Cape Cod from ten years ago but I had never had this much problem. Hmm, is it caused by abnormal weather?

We saw a hare


Mini tour


I am about to leave for a short tour to New England. I have to drive a lot as always. I have three weddings this time; two with bass and one with cello. My roommate Nori also left for a tour a while ago. Good thing we both are busy in the summer which is the harvest time for musicians. All right, I'll keep you updated on the blog.

Illustration: 今日もわんパグ

Session @ Enrique's


We had a session at my buddy Enrique Haneine's new home in the Bronx. Dear friend of ours, Kyoko Oyobe, came to join us and we only played jazz. I think I have not played only jazz neither for a gig nor for a session for a long time. It was a fun session.

I have known Enrique for a long time but I have never noticed that this tag was sticked onto his piano. It says "Equipment of the schools of the Ward of Katsushika, October 29, 1969." Katsushika is a ward of the City of Tokyo. Wow, this piano is from all the way across Pacific Ocean and American continent. He said he bought it at a piano store in New Jersey. I guess somebody brought it into the US long time ago. It sure is a small world.


Sarina Suno Quartet @ Thailand Cafe

Sarina with the white cloths I have never seen

Commemorating my 136th entry on my blog, we came to Thailand Cafe in East Village. Well, yeah yeah, that was the usual weekly gig at the Thai restaurant. What was unusual was that there were a lot of birthday parties going on. We were there for maybe three hours or so and I saw five or six birthday parties. Normally we have none, two at the most. It was also our favorite waiter at the restaurant, Junior's birthday as well. Hmm, is there the day when more babies are born than other days statistically?

Hara started going to gym and going on diet. Ha-ha, you are about to enter the hell I'm in, which you keep repeating diet with prolonged hunger and the weight bouncing back eternally.


Today's drummer was my old friend Rohin Khemani. It has been three weeks since we played last time. He is the drummer I feel the best to play with because of not only his skill but also his great personality. On our break, he showed me an Indian rhythm. Indian music is known for its complicated harmony and rhythm. The rhythm he played like nothing was extremely complicated. You divide a beat in four subdivisions, group those subdivisions in seven and put accents on 1, 4 & 7. You don't know what I'm talking about, right? That's all right, neither do I.

Yamaha Manu Katche Model



I was waken up by the drumming sound that my roommate Nori tuning a drum set in the next room. We do not have a drum set. Nori is doing a bit of recording as his side business so I hear the sounds of a lot of different instruments, but It was too early in the morning for recording; it was only 9am which is still middle of the night for musicians. So why am I hearing the drum from the next room. There was only one conclusion to this mystery.

"Nori, have you bought a drum set!?"


I saw a shining Yamaha Manu Katche Model right there. Nori said "Th-th-this is the birthday present for Yuichi." Is that right? His son Yuichi's first birthday is still a month away. This kit is for himself. I checked it out on Yamaha's web site. This kit is developed under the concept of "making the real drum set which is compact enough so that even children can play." Well, so maybe maybe it was not 100% lie when Nori told me the kit was for Yuichi.



Even though it is a junior kit, it is clearly way too big for Yuichi and I think he has to wait at least 4-5 years. After all, this kit is for himself.

Let me use it too.


George Carlin (1937-2008)



I just heard the comedian George Carlin had passed away. When I was in a high school in a rural town in Australia, a guy brought a cassette tape of George Carlin to a school-trip and we all laughed our butts off in a bus. Then I came to America and bought one of his books called "Brain Droppings." The book is one of the funniest book I have ever read in my life, which contains full of his crooked sense of humour. This book is so wrong and so twisted, but the funny thing was that, when I was totally rejected by the girl I loved in Boston, the only thing I did was read two books; a book by Yukio Mishima and "Brain Droppings." I was laughing and crying at the same time.

May Mr. George Carlin's soul rest in peace.

Keiichi Yamamoto the Japanese comedian



I love Japanese comedy shows. Keiichi Yamamoto is one of my favorite Japanese comedians who is really talented. He has been left out in the cold by TV world because of the scandal he made a couple of years ago. He was charged for raping a minor (the charge was dropped a couple of months later), and this scandal almost killed his career. I have heard on a news that he is finally coming back to TV in August. Oh I'm so happy about that. Keiichi, we are waiting for you!!


Takikomi Gohan



I just made takikomi gohan, the rice cooked with several ingredients. You can pretty much put anything which you think it would work. I put kakuni, baby corn, sweet corn, carrots and white sesame. It was deeeeeeelish. I made a pot-full of it so I don't have to cook for whole week. You can tell I don't have a girlfriend, right?


Klaus Nomi




Have you guys ever heard of Klaus Nomi? He was a German singer who passed away by AIDS in 1983. He was one of the first gay artists to die of AIDS. I heard the same tune on the video clip on the top, The Cold Song, when I was in a junior high school in Japan and I was immediately enslaved by this sad yet so beautiful song. In those days in 80s, I was listening to the oldies influenced by "Stand by Me" and "American Graffiti," so this tune had a great impact on me. After I heard the song, I thought the singer of the tune must be a Classical alto vocalist because the pitch was so high. I literally searched everywhere that an fifteen-years-old could think of for Klaus Nomi the Classical alto vocalist. Of course, I could not find her in anywhere. Then a few years had passed and I was in a music college in Australia. That was where I finally saw Klaus Nomi on one of David Bowie's music video. I was so shocked. I was like "WHAAAAAT, Klaus Nomi the Classical alto singer I searched for is this weirdo!?" Anyway, my quest was over right there.

I have not known that this tune is the excerpt from the opera "King Arthur" composed by the 17th century English composer, Henry Percell. I thought this tune was Klaus Nomi's original. I have not noticed that the lyrics sung in this tune was in English either. I have lived in English-speaking country for 18 years but I have never realized that. Also I'm ashamed of myself as a long-time Nomi's fan for not knowing his documentary film called "Nomi Song" had been out in 2005. I have to get the DVD.

However he was attired, he sure was a great artist without doubt. You all should check him out.


International String Trio @ The Foundry


Sun was shining whole day today in New York. We had a gig at the place called The Foundry, located right by the Queensboro Bridge across the East River. The building used to be a steel foundry in 19th century and somebody bought the whole complex and renovated to turn it into a function venue. We were requested to play 20s and 30s old jazz, so we played two hours of jazz standards like "All of Me."


Yutaka's birthday


I have an old friend named Yutaka and today is his birthday. I have known this guy for twelve years since we were in the music college. He has got a lot of stories when he was in the college but I'll skip it for old time sake. Hey it's his birthday. Let's not ruin it.

This guy has 180-degree opposite character from mine. I am so loose and he is so square. He says the things like "The tempo is not 92, it's 96." Yo, the tempo between 60 and 100 is all same! Speaking of which, tuning in 440 or 450 is same too!

All boozed up.



Well, his friends thought he must have been sad and lonely on his birthday so let's throw a party for him. Five of us went to a Japanese restaurant. Five people in the birthday party, eh? That's five time more than I had on my birthday. I was on the middle of a tour in somewhere in New England on my birthday. It was blood-freezing cold and snowing really hard. I was alone in a service area. Oh, it did spell out "sad and lonely." The friends that he had I sought in vain. Yes, you can cry for me.
Two middle-aged men as thick as thieves. Both together, 69 years old.


Maurice Victor



He is five years and 364 days older than me, whom I hesitated to talk to because he was so good at playing the guitar in the junior college in Melbourne, the kindest guy unlike other good players and always kindly waited till the time of rehearsal even if it was pushed back quite a bit, an easygoing bloke who answers "no drama" to almost everything, practiced together for two years, accidentally joined a Chinese rock band two of us together, graduated from the junior college, threw a surprise good-bye party for me, saw me off to America, came to America one year later from me, went to the same music college in Boston, lived together as a roommate for a year, loves cats, loves cooking, loves tea, even loves Vegemite which is pretty much only bad food in Australia, helped me a countless times when I was having lousy days, went to Texas and I went to New York after the graduation. Now he is back in Australia having a happy life in there.

Maurice Victor is my bestest mate in Australia. I don't know how many times I was saved by his cheerfulness. Today he dropped a line via email and said "I'm getting married!" Wow, that's the greatest news, matey. Congratulations Mauricie!! Be well and be happy. You are a good man. You deserve and I want you to have the best and the happiest life.

Illustration: Southern Cross Cafe


Sarina Suno Quartet @ Thailand Cafe

Sarina Suno

It's the fun gig with Sarina & Hara's band again at Thailand Cafe. Some misadventure had happened for the first time. It was a full-house when we started playing but after we started, the customers kept leaving and the house becomes almost empty when we finished the first set. Ooohhhhh, Noooooo!! That was not our fault, right? Right?

We have been playing in here for a while but it was the first time that this kind of thing had happened. If there is a reason for it, I want to find out.
Hara Garacci

His birthday is tomorrow. Congratulations Brother!



The humidity in New York and Boston is not as bad as Japan which is right in the raining season, but is quite high lately. The most of our musical instruments are made of wood and the humidity really affects the sound of them for the worse. The volume drops way down to begin with, treble tone is perished, the pitch becomes hard to hear and 10-thousand-dollar instruments sound like 500-bucks instruments. It's just a terrible season for musicians. My violinist friend is hanging his violin right on top of a dehumidifier 24/7. Now I remember that there was a raining season in Australia in Winter, which is right about now because the country is on South Hemisphere. Because of the fact we have so much rain for at least three months, sometimes you'll see mold on your instruments. That was a bloody disaster.

Come to think of it, I think I'm in a lot better situation than my friends in Japan or my mates in Australia. For some reason, I feel a lot better. Hey friends and mates in over there, do your best. I don't know what you can do though. Remember, while you guys are struggling, I'll be in New York and enjoying the nice weather. HA-HA-HA-HA.



Kakuni, the Okinawan boiled pork dish


I came back to New York in the gray dawn. Oh boy, I was wiped again. Well the busy season had just begun. I'll keep up with it. I saw my roommate Nori came back from his tour too. My four-day long mini tour is nothing compare to what he has. He will be on different tours on almost all the time in this Summer.


Thanks to the low pressure system right by the east coast, New York is cool and in very nice temperature. Well, I guess the broiling hot season is coming up after this low pressure system is gone, so I thought it was a good idea to eat something good now before I loose appetite. I just cooked seven pounds of Kakuni, an Okinawan boiled pork dish.

It has not finished just yet. I have to wait till it cools down and scoop off the fat. I think it looks good so far.


That was delicious. I'll finish all seven pounds in this week. I'm on diet but let's forget about it just for this week. Ha-ha.


Tomoko came back from the work in the evening. It's been a long since I saw all personel in this appartment.


Coffee House @ Lynnfield High School


I came to Lynnfield, suburb of Boston. Today's gig was accompanying high school students' recital. It was really amusing to see everyone was doing their best to make the concert fun, and let's not forget to mention, they are good musicians! I think they practiced hard for today's recital. In Japan, there is a saying "any kind of skill in art will help your life." I believe that the art which you spent time while young will let your mind grow for better. I chose to be a musician just because I had so much fun with the garage band I had in a rural town in Australia when I was seventeen. Everyone, keep having fun with music!

Doug Hodgkins (Music Director & Piano)
Roger Hodgkins (Drums)
Doug, Roger and their father at the show. Doug and Roger are about same age as me and their father still come and check out his sons' performance. I am so jealous! This is one heartwarming picture.
Aftermath of the show

Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull




I just watched "Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." I enjoyed a lot. There were quite mixed reviews everywhere and the negative comment I saw the most was "everything is too predictable." Well, for the long-time fans like myself, those predictabilities are the one of the most enjoyable part of the movie and also the reason why the fans love Indy Jones so much. It's same as 007, Die Hard, Pirates of Caribbean, etc. You can guess what's Bond or McClane or Jack Sparrow would say or what kind of trouble they got into, you know what they love and what they hate, what kind of luck they have, what kind of screwed-up thoughts they have, and so on. I think Indy in this movie is around 60 years old and he was portrayed very well. The movie was really entertaining.

I want to mention one thing though. The music director was John Williams as always, but I noticed that a lot of tunes in the movie, especially the title tune, were not tight enough. Is there a reason for it?


Bad omen


I'm off today. I decide to spend a day in Boston area. Then I found this poster in a service area on the way. It's the ad for Happy Meal in McDonald's.

Wow! You can not pick up food with two pairs of chopsticks! That's super bad omen in Japan. If my grandma sees this, you'll be yelled at for hours. The only time you do that is when you move the bones to the urn after cremation, hence it is a bad omen to do the same thing on food. The poster says "Share good fortune." Well, I don't know how much good fortune left after the kids did this inauspicious thing. Is Japanese the only people who thinks this way?


Slava Tolstoy Quintet @ Dartmouth Skiway


I picked up Hadar the vocalist in Manhattan and headed for White Mountains in New Hampshire. That area becomes a huge ski resort in Winter time.

I drove 300 miles, five and a half hours from New York City. I usually drive alone and the longer the distance is, the more painful the trip becomes. Today, I had Hader on side and she kept bringing up interesting subjects to talk with for five and a half hours. I did not feel tired that much because we talked whole way through. I envy her for the communication skill that she has because I am suck at communicating with people and this is the skill which I am totally lacking.

It sure was a ski resort. There was a ski lift.


Last year, we had a gig in the different place in White Mountains and there were only two ways to go up to the top of the mountain; either by a ski lift or by a SUV. Slava and I took SUV and Joe took ski lift. The slope was really steep and SUV was going through narrow path. It was awesome!

Slava Tolstoy Quintet
Sergei Ioannisyan (Drums), Slava Tolstoy (Guitar), Hadar Orshalimy (Vocal)
...and Joe Kessler (Violin & Mandolin)


We played three hours of dance music and people loved our playing. I have not played the gig with only rock music for a while so I enjoyed a lot.

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