Yesterday, I came across an interesting story about bluegrass activities in Japan, in the Japan Times, to be precise.
The story, by Virginia Sorrells and Nicholas Vroman, focuses on the Moon Stomp club in Koenji, the musicians who get together at the club, and some of the wider aspects of bluegrass music in Japan.
In the six years since it opened, Moon Stomp in Koenji ‚Äî which seats about 20 with room for another six on the stage ‚Äî has become a magnet for roots and creative musicians, thanks to the efforts of manager Yasuhiro Shimazaki. A bass player himself, Shimazaki has been a fan of roots music since his teens and is especially fond of The Pogues. Just inside the door of the club, there’s a photo of him backstage with the band’s frontman, Shane McGowan.
Shimazaki reflects, “The owner was a bit skeptical at first of my programming choices for Moon Stomp, but people started coming.”
And come they do, seven nights a week, often filling every one of the 20 seats and lining up two or three deep at the back of the room. Whether it’s the twice-monthly free bluegrass jam session or live performances, the audience often consists primarily of other musicians.
The basement entrance to Moon Stomp is plastered with posters of local roots acts: The Moonstompers, Cabarello Porkers, Kanaboon and Booncompanion. One recent bluegrass jam night, the door swung open and the strains of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” in somewhat idiosyncratic English drowned out the sounds emanating from neighboring clubs.
The full story is available online.