Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Maybe an audio clip of Swanee River WON'T help you sell a shakuhachi

This Ryozan 1.8 flute, which sounds quite capable with "so-so" looks has been on Mejiro's used website for a year or more; price reduced from about 130,000-Yen to below 90,000-Yen, etc. etc. They just can't seem to move it.

The sound clip is Stephen Foster's black-face minstrel song Old Folks at Home (better known as 'Swanee River').

Maybe this song, advertised as an "Ethiopian Melody" when it was published in 1851, is just not the image best associated with a mystical zen Kinko shakuhachi?

~1st verse~
Way down upon de Swanee ribber (river)
Far, far away,
Dere's wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere's wha de old folks stay.

All up and down de whole creation
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation
And for de old folks at home.

All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebry where I roam,
Oh! darkies how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home.

(Although this song may sometimes be performed with "modern" lyrics that some claim to be more sensitive racially, the song's original lyrics, included here, had been adopted officially as the lyrics of Florida's state song. —

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Phil Nyokai James Benefit/Celebration Aug. 28

Portland, ME Benefit/Celebration concert :: Aug 28th :: 8pm

Our Portland, Maine friends are pulling together an upcoming concert.
Hope to see you there!

Save the date! August 28th 8PM

Benefit Concert/Celebration
for the Phil James Family Emergency Fund

Saturday, August 28, 8pm
Trinity Episcopal Church
580 Forest Ave, Portland

Admission by donation

Phil Nyokai James – shakuhachi and piano
Carl Dimow – flute
Nathan Kolosko – classical guitar
Danielle Langord – celtic harp
Nicole Rabata – celtic flute
Mark Tipton – jazz trumpet
Marita Kennedy-Castro – dance

For more information: Carl Dimow – 207-615-1550 -

Phil Nyokai James is a recognized master of the Japanese flute, the shakuhachi, and also a wonderful pianist and composer. While driving from the Grand Canyon in Arizona this past January, Phil had a major stroke. Paralyzed, he lost control of the car. Sitting in the passenger seat next to him was his wife, Lara, seven months pregnant. In an incredible rush of adrenaline, Lara gained control of the car and prevented the family from heading off the icy road into the mountains. Far from any town and without phone reception, Lara pulled Phil from the driver’s seat and she drove until she saw headlights - and connected Phil with medical care.

Phil was initially very far gone and in acute rehab for weeks. He had minimal speech and no ability to read or write. His recovery has been slow, but steady. He and Lara were able to return to their home in Portland at the end of February, and Lara gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Julian, in early April.

At this point in time, Phil has regained a lot of physical control but still has aphasia and is working to regain his full speech capacity. Amazingly, and thanks to daily encouragement from Lara, he began playing shakuhachi within a week of the stroke. His musician friends have been stunned with how little the stroke affected his musical skills. Nevertheless, he is still recovering and has not been ready to return to a work life of teaching and performing. The family is struggling financially.

This concert is to raise money for Phil, Lara and Julian, but it’s also a celebration. This will be Phil’s first public performance since the stroke. He’ll be joined by a number of luminaries from various ends of the Portland music scene: Nicole Rabata and Danielle Langord playing celtic music; Carl Dimow and Nathan Kolosko playing Brazilian music; the wonderful jazz trumpet playing of Mark Tipton; and the exciting dancing of Marita Kennedy-Castro. The musicians will be working in a variety of combinations and Phil will appear as a soloist and with a variety of ensembles. This promises to be a unique, special and entertaining evening.

Can't attend in Person? Purchase an empty Zen Seat™ for the concert, ONLY $10 each! Order as many as you like!

"They're Zen! They're Empty! They're Zen Seats™ !!!"

TO ORDER YOUR Zen Seats™ for the Aug. 28 Phil Nyokai James Benefit/Celebration GO TO: — Phil James Family Emergency Fund

The Doubting of the Komuso

A little known work of Caravaggio.