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Old Songs of Islands set for Musix weekend

Date Posted: 2010-03-11

It’s being billed as Classical Okinawan Concert 1 “Islands Power –Old Songs of Islands Connected by Black Stream”. In reality, it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime chances to absorb some real Okinawan customs, culture and music in a single setting.

The venue for Saturday evening’s concert is the Tedako Hall in Urasoe City, with the classical songs of the Yaeyama Islands, Miyako Islands, the Main Island of Okinawa and Amami Islands being performed by young artists. The event is part of the month-long Musix 2010 concerts festival taking place at a half-dozen venues in Okinawa.

Yukito Ara is one of three headliners at the concert. The 42-year-old musician from Shiraho, Ishigaki City, in the Yaeyama Islands, won his first prize at a classical music contest in Yaeyama when he was only 17 and a student at Yaeyama High School. Now living in Naha City, Ara performs with the band Parsha Club and Acoustic Parsha as a vocalist and sangen player, while performing in a duo band with Nakasone Tetsu. His love of Yaeyama Folk Songs is evident each time he’s on stage.

Salmon & Garlic sounds like an izakaya meal, but in actuality, is a musical group that got its name idea from the pop duo Simon and Garfunkel. Their musical artistry sounds like shima uta, but they’re something between singing and chatting. Salmon & Garlic’s been together since Summer 1998, saying they do it because they love it. The group’s goal is to be known as ‘Amami Islander of the 21st Century’.

Isamu Shimoji is the third performer to be on center stage Saturday night, singling most of his original songs in Myakufutsu, the language of his home on Miyako Island. Shimoji sings in a variety of styles and genres, including reggae, blues, and folklore. He doesn’t limit his talents, working and collaborating with Masaru Shimabukuro from the band Begin, creating his own record unit, Shimobuku Records, and another unit Sakishima Meeting with Yukito Ara, a Yaeyama folk musician.

Doors open for Saturday’s performance at 5:30 p.m., with performances beginning at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are on sale for ¥1,200 for adults and ¥1,000 for students. Tickets at the door are ¥1,500. Tickets are available at Family Marts, Ryubo, Sakura Records and music stores across Okinawa.

Also performing will be Traditional Folkloric Performing Arts preservation groups, as well as the Kyoyukai of Miyako, an association of Okinawan people who migrated from the same village to the more urban city areas. The concert features distinct characteristics of classical songs in the Ryukyu Islands, while giving younger generations an opportunity to gain deeper understanding of traditional music.

The Musix Festival 2010 series continues through March 28th.

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