: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: Entertainment
Browse Entertainment Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Okinawan Rock rocks the Ryukyus

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2012-06-08

The Ryukyu Kingdom’s always been an entity unto itself, with its own customs, culture, music and even language, but the infusion of tens of thousands of Americans to these sub-tropical islands has spawned yet another musical and cultural icon: rock music!

To understand what Okinawa music is today, one must delve back into the independent past, when the Ryukyu Islands had classical music and minyo. Classical is a genre of Ryukyuan music referring to the court music of the Ryukyu Kingdom, while Uzagaku is the traditional chamber music of the royal palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Shima uta, or "island songs", is a common term for Ryukyuan folk songs or minyo It was originally used by the people of the Amami Islands, spreading to other areas of the Ryukyu Islands. Shima uta are generally accompanied by one (or more) sanshin, the traditional Okinawa musical instrument.

To suggest that World War II changed Okinawa would be an understatement, and nowhere is that more true than in the music that followed. American rock ‘n’ roll gained its foothold in Koza, now Okinawa City, and that began the music revolution on the island. It wasn’t long, though, before Okinawans began starting up their own bands with a uniquely Asian twist to American rock. Murasaki was at the forefront, with bands Condition Green, Cannabis, Kotobuki and Medusa quickly gaining following.

Their music spawned dozens of live houses, many owned by the musicians themselves. Some, such as 7th Heaven Koza owned by the leader of Murasaki, and Jet, owned by Kotobuki’s leader Jimmy Ginoza, are iconic institutions. The Okinawan rock builds to a crescendo each summer with the Peaceful Love Rock Festival in July. Their leadership was only the beginning; Okinawan Rock began taking on a life of its own, spreading in many directions.

The traditional minyo found a new tempo as ‘new minyo’ written by contemporary Ryukyuan folk musicians such as Rinsho Kadekaru, Sadao China, Shōkichi Kina, Seijin Noborikawa and Tsuneo Fukuhara. Their music is frequently heard in contemporary pop music arrangements. Haisai ojisan with music and lyrics by Shōkichi Kina, is typical of this genre.

Okinawan Rock’s popularity was the ticket to stardom for a young trio of musicians from Okinawa’s southern Yaeyama islands. The members of Begin – Eishō Higa, Masaru Shimabukuro and Hitoshi Uechi) – are native Okinawans, friends since elementary school. They also attended the same senior high school but after graduation decided to go their separate ways. Fate intervened, and Eishō gathered the members together again and they began to focus on music. On December 5, 1988, they sang at a friend's wedding, calling themselves "Begin" for the first time. Soon they began to become famous. By 2006they had already released 22 singles, 24 albums and 8 DVDs, with perhaps their most famous song being "Nada Sōsō", a collaboration between Begin and Ryōko Moriyama. They’ve taken the Ryukyuan side of Okinawan rock or pop, and others have tracked different lines.

Okinawa Latin music brought Diamantes and Kachimba to stardom, while Okinawa Pop has given Japanese national recognition to the islands to singers such as Namie Amuro, who’s phenomenal album sales propelled her to the top, and provided inspiration to other Okinawa artists.

To that, add the indies scene, with Mongol 800, Jigoku Guruma and Anger from Ball. Okinawa rock ‘n’ roll has evolved into an art form that is sweeping the world. Saturday is June 9th, what Okinawans call Rock Day – 6=roku, and 9=ku — and that’s a good enough reason for a concert in Koza’s Music Town. There’s also an after-party at 7th Heaven Koza later in the evening.

Rock kDay gets under way with SCZeeM Magazine’s 1st Anniversary Live concert 5 ~ 9 p.m. at Music Town’s Sound Market first floor. Admission is free for the concert, which reatures Run it to GROUND, THE JOHNNYS, INFINITY STAR-WORLD, JACK THE NICHOLSON’S, eightsicks and The Country Hunchbacks.

The Reversion 40th Anniversary Rock Day Special begins at 6 p.m. at Music Town’s Sound Market on the 3rd floor. For the uninitiated, Music Town is in Okinawa City, at the far end of the main drag from Kadena Air Base Gate 2 on Gate 2 Street. Advance tickets are ¥2,800, or ¥3,500 at the door. Murasaki is on stage, along with 8-Ball, Condition Green, SS Company, Angerbertin, Jun with SPD, Fake King and mickey-row.

The Rock Day “Okinawan Rock Will Never Die” After Party starts at 10 p.m. at 7th Heaven Koza.Goya, Okinawa City. Elsewhere on the island on Rock Day, Girls’ Rock Night starts at 8 p.m. at Live House MODs in Mihama. Tickets are ¥2,500 in advance or ¥3,000 at the door. 2side1BRAIN, Non Filter and Bouz ½ are playing K-Mind in Ginowan’s Nagata district starting at 7 p.m. the 9th. Tickets are ¥1,000 in advance or ¥1,200 at the door.

On Rock Day “Don’t Forget to Sing…” performs at the Groove at Jitchaku, Urasoe City, starting at 9 pm. Entry is ¥1,000. At Bar Jikuu in the Victory Hotel b-1 level in Naha’s Wakasa District, it’s Rock Day starting at 8 pm. Rock Day Acoustic M & Canarythm Rock Live starts at 9 pm. at Casablanca in Kadena. Tickets are ¥2,000.

Browse Entertainment Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

JU FacebookOkistyleOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker