Sendai Bluegrass Festival report

Sab Watanabe and Shyotaro Tsuchiya collaborated on this report on the Sendai Bluegrass Festival in Japan, held July 30. It has been edited from their original for clarity of translation.

The Sendai Bluegrass Festival was held in Motokajicho-Park, Sendai-City, Miyagi-Prefecture on July 30. Sendai is one of the hot beds for bluegrass activities in Japan, where the earthquake and tsunami caused horrific damage on March 11th earlier this year. Many people saw the terrible tsunami that destroyed Sendai Airport on TV, and remember that many people died at the Sendai shore. As of July 31st, 15,650 have been confirmed killed and 4,977 are still missing from the effects of the tsunami in Japan.

The bluegrass festival was held in the city about 10 miles from Sendai airport and about 8 miles from the shore. 19 bluegrass bands performed, including the members of Tohoku-University Bluegrass Club (77 kids are playing bluegrass in the club now!), and their friends from other districts in Japan.

After the Tohoku earthquake, many bluegrass friends in Japan and all over the world sent us their hopes and wishes that we would be OK, which provided us with much encouragement. From the U.S., especially ETSU (East Tennessee State University) Bluegrass, Old Time, & Country Music Studies sent a donation from their annual concert at Paramount Theatre in Bristol to Tohoku-University Bluegrass Club as a sign of youth friendship and solidarity through bluegrass music. Many thanks to the ETSU Bluegrass director, Daniel Bonner and alumnus, Yui Inoue.

Also there were countless benefit concerts held in U.S. including shows by Akira Satake, Tony Trischka, Tim OBrien, Billy Cardine, Casey Driessen and many others. And I thought we have to show our thanks to everyone, and show that we are recovering from the disaster by our own hands.

While I listened to the 19 bluegrass bands, our conviction that we have overcame the earthquake and started again was confirmed!

During the shows on July 30, some walkers (who don’t know bluegrass but passed in front of Park) stopped and listened to our music. I hope that our Sendai Bluegrass Festival also gave Sendai city and its people some encouragement… even a little bit.

The largest part of the funding for the Sendai Bluegrass Festival came from the generosity of the people who attended the ETSU benefit concert. Hisahiro Naoe, director of the Tohoku University Bluegrass club, created this “thank you” video, which was played during the ETSU concert in April.