Sunday, May 27, 2007
Review: Country Music is Alive and Well in Tokyo!
Howdy Country Music Fans,
Gran'pa knows a few people as you might reckon and several of them were taking an overseas trip to Tokyo in Japan. Naturally, ole Gran'pa prodded them a bit to find a country music venue to hear that good old sound.
It took my friends a try or two, but they did manage to find a nightspot where one could hear some good ole true country music. They found a gal named Miya Ishida performing with the Citylites, which was led by her steel guitar playing father. They must have liked what they heard because they brought back a copy of her latest CD, Himawari; backing her up was her father's band, The Citylites.
Just the song titles alone would got my curiosity up a bit to hear their tunes. Blue Moon of Kentucky; Hobo's Meditation (the old Jimmie Rodgers tune); Roly Poly; (Now and Then There's) A Fool Such As I; I Do My Crying At Night; You Don't Know How Lucky You Are and on it goes. A few golden oldies, some others of a later era.
Two of the tunes are in Japanese, the title song of the album, Himawari and Love Song. Miya co-wrote those two tunes with Katsuki Okayama. The CD includes the lyrics to the tunes, including the Japanese tunes. But you'll have to listen to the tunes she co-wrote as the lyrics included were only provided in Japanese. Perhaps forcing one to listen to the melodies, the instrumental backing and her voice.
To me, one of the tests is whether you would play the CD again after hearing it. This one I've listened to several times. My mode is to not necessarily play the songs in order, but use the car's or home stereo's shuffle feature. There are some nice country songs and arrangements on this one that Nashville today would be hard pressed to duplicate.
Hobo's Meditation got my attention. The instrumental intro to this tune seems to cause a person to think of the Far East then there's no mistaking the old tune - nicely done. Gran'pa may be fussing a bit, but Jimmie always yodeled on his recordings - every one of them. But that's hardly a minus on this CD, just reminding the folks out there to do your homework and know what Jimmie was about. No one's passed a law against yodeling that I'm aware of.
You Don't Know How Lucky You Are is another keeper and one I came back to more than a few times. She does ballads quite well, they seem to give Miya a chance to be a bit more expressive in her vocal inflections. Then like the old country recordings, her dad Shintaro Ishida kicks in with a nice steel guitar interlude between verses.
Miya sings tunes like Roly Poly and I Do My Crying At Night that will get your feet tapping in no time.
A couple of more modern tunes were "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" and "Jolene" - tunes made famous by Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton. Not quite classical country but probably crowd pleasers with the rhythms those tunes provide.
Miya began singing with her father's group around 1992 or 1993 according to the notes sent to us by Mr. Ishida. He appeared at the International Steel Guitar Convention back in 1987, appeared onstage with Buddy Emmons and got himself a standing ovation as well. Shintaro has been playing country music since he was a teen-ager in high school.
Miya Ishida's Official Web Site is at: http://www.jah.ne.jp/~networld/country/
Til next time, keep it country and don't be afraid to hear some good steel guitar licks on a record once in a while. Thanks to some good friends, we got to listen to some great sounds that show that good country music crosses the borders and demographics. This one stays in my collection. Meanwhile, you folks traveling over to Tokyo - have no excuse for not finding some good country music while you're on the road.
Gran'pa H.M. Crittick