Japan July '06 Tour -- HONMONJI concert July 23 (Sunday)
5/27/2017 2:17:41 AM - July 23, 2006 (Sun) -- We all got something like 11-12 hours of sleep. FINALLY. Sasha and Henry had fallen into the routine of going to Tully's for coffee (they played good jazz music there apparently) then to a soba place for breakfast. I treated Nikita to the buffet at the hotel.

Although it was raining in the morning, it stopped by the time we got to the Honmonji Shrine. There was to be no sound check before our hit, just a little backstage meeting with the crew and line-check, which was slightly scary but worked out that way because of the fact that it was a shrine and sound constraints up until a certain time.

My dressing room was right next to singer Minako Yoshida and her unit -- I have several of her older recordings, and heard her live for the first time in 1998/99 and was stunned by her force, vocal ability and talent, so needless to say I am a fan and a half. When I saw her in the balcony area, I literally started shaking, but too shy to approach her and say hello so just drank in her presence like an "otaku" fan.

On the other side of me was Ann Sally, another singer, more recently in the scene -- she and her guitarist were practicing their set, doing covers like "Over the Rainbow" and a Brazilian standard (the title escapes me...), etc. Very sweet and pure voice, but I personally find artists like this boring with no sense of originality, no new twist to the old rehashed standards we've heard for decades done better by the greats. I saw her later backstage; they were on after us -- a slim and very beautiful woman, had her husband and baby with her.

We went on after the group Gonchichi, 2nd in the night's line-up. Gonchichi was doing sort of folky tunes, and with Ann Sally after us, we probably stuck out like sore thumbs even though I chose my more etheral tunes and tried not to go too much into my club music area. Still the audience, who was not entirely mine but a mixture of people there to see other artists or there to experience the event itself, responded favorably. For me it was the 2nd time at Honmonji and I love the environment, the feeling of freedom performing outdoors, and to be able to look at the statuesque shrine in front of me surrounded by the trees in the hills -- absolutely gorgeous and inspiring. I half ignored the audience in favor of singing to the air around me, just to be there.

Truth is, I wanted to stay on and hear Minako-san who was performing a couple hours later, but I had promised a dear friend, trumpeter and producer Jun Miyake-san, who I hadn't seen for many years (he moved to Paris himself and happened to be in town), to get together with his family afterwards for dinner. Also, with Sasha and Nikita there, it would have been impossible to stay for the extra time without them bouncing off the walls.

Gene Jackson, who had just arrived from New York the night before, and his girlfriend, Meiko-san, had come to see us perform -- it was great to see him, but felt a little awkward to have him in the audience with Masa on stage, but this was a decision I made for many reasons, and fortunately Gene respected it. I still hope to perform with Gene in the future in a different musical setting. Masa, by the way, performing outstandingly, as did everyone else. I immediately asked him if he would be available in December, when we are again in Japan to perform with the band, and he said yes, so I am very excited.

The get together with Jun-san and his daughter and girlfriend was nice, but because we all ended up going (Gene, Meiko-san, Sasha, Nikita and Henry), it was hard to concentrate on any real or deep conversation. I later heard that Minako-san's performance was unbelievable -- as one friend put it, she is a musical monster to be reckoned with.
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