The popularity of bluegrass music in Japan is a subject well known and widely discussed among US and European grassers. Since the postwar occupation of the island nation in the late 1940s, the Japanese have warmed to many aspects of American culture, with baseball and bluegrass being two visible examples.
Toshio Watanabe has been prominent in the bluegrass scene since 1970 when the music of The Bluegrass 45 first came to the attention of US fans. But he’s been playing and studying the music of Bill Monroe since first hearing the Monroe Brothers on the radio as a boy in Japan.
Despite a life dedicated to bluegrass, and participation in numerous recordings over the past 40 years, Toshio has just now released his debut solo project, The Fiction Twins. And it really is a solo project. Toshio plays and sings all the music in this set of Monroe Brothers-style duets, and he created the CD artwork and packaging as well.
The titles will be familiar to anyone who cherishes this sort of pre-bluegrass music: My Long Journey Home, Maple On The Hill, Little Annie, Will The Roses Bloom, Weeping Willow Tree among them.
Here’s a taste of a couple tracks…
The Fiction Twins is available from Red Clay Records in Japan, and in the US from County Sales.