I never thought I would utter these words: Today for lunch, I am eating a spaghetti sandwich.
Moving on, today was another one of those days when I just can’t believe I am getting paid. As part of the after-finals festivities, the whole school walked over to the community center for a two hour gospel-shamisen concert. Just trying to imagine that combination makes my head want to explode.
The gospel choir totally threw me for a loop. Okay, yes, they were singing about God. But the similarity to gospel music ended there for me. I would say that this 4 person ensemble sounded more like Manhattan Transfer or the Real Group. I never saw any real fire or spontaneity. At one point, I realized they were doing some kind of gospel-modified pop medley, and in the space of 10 seconds, they worked in Janet Jackson’s “What have you done for me lately”, and somehow added in “You down w/ OPP?” “Yeah, you know me”, except the lyrics had been changed to “You down w/ G-O-D?” “Oh yes I am!” I was caught in the netherworld between fascination and horror.
The shamisen was definitely the coolest part, which I didn’t expect. I thought the shamisen was going to be this stiff, dated, twangy instrument. And apparently for many traditional performances, it often is. But this guy played his shamisen like an electric guitar and rocked the house, busting out like Clapton, and finessing his melodies like McFerrin (I know he’s not a guitar player, stick with me.). I returned to my mortified state, however, as soon as the shamisen/gospel choir collaboration began. It almost defied description: the shamisen produced a sort of heavy-metal/Old-West-cowboy soundtrack, then the gospel members layered a drum kit on top, while back up singers added just a touch of new age flair. I looked around to my neighbors with that look that’s like “are these guys for real?” And then I realized I was the only one in the audience who found the performance strange and side-splittingly funny. This was definitely one of those Only In Japan moments.
Speaking of spreading the gospel, someone somewhere read that my hobby is African dance, and now all of a sudden I have been drafted to give a one hour lecture for the international house in Akita City. It’s going to be in November… anyone want to fly out from San Diego to help a girl out? I promise I will try to stay true to the SDSU Monday-night-captive-audience-world-music-lecture-vibe as much as possible. :) Luckily, I brought a few items along just in case such an occasion came up: a double bell, my up and down from Ghana, and a Bamaya belt and fan. We’ll see if I can get a room full of Japanese to do the Ewe basic. Imagine a whole roomful of people in kimonos doing this.икони