Saturday, September 21, 2013

Charlie Nagatani and the Canonballs - Cowboy Up and Party Down

I'm taking #2 Son to JapanFest today, so maybe I'll learn how to say "Hey, y'all" in Japanese.  That could turn out to be handy if I ever find myself in the thriving Japanese country music scene.

That's right, there's a big Japanese country music scene.  There's even a music festival, Country Gold, that attracts 20,000 people a year.  It was started 25 years ago by Charlie Nagatani, who headlines the show with his band, the Canonballs.

Charlie also has a bar in Kumamoto (capital city of the southern island of Kyushu) where you can strut your stuff:
Kumamoto is famous for its ancient castle, distinctive cuisine and Suizenji garden. But among the American community in Japan, Good Time Charlie's Bar is another popular Kumamoto attraction.

Last month, I visited the bar to hear Charlie Nagatani and his band playing American country music for an enthusiastic audience. Japanese men and women dressed in jeans, boots, and bandanas danced to his music or clapped time from their seats. I ordered a nice cold Coors beer, but Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey and soda seemed to be even more popular choices.
This may seem weird, but is very Japanese:
"Some people like the music. Some like the horse. Some want nature. Me, I like everything. I'm in it for the whole country experience," says Johnny Tsuji, whose headpiece sports a rattlesnake snout, and who cherishes the days when he can dress like a cowboy. "In Japan, you know, we can't wear this on the street. We hide it away until there's an occasion."

Shigeru Yoshihiko and his wife have come to Country Gold five straight years. They handmade their star-spangled line-dance outfits, and even played country music while their 3-year-old was being born. "We love the sound," says Mr. Yoshihiko. "It was a special birth."
Here's part of a Japanese TV documentary which has Charlie and the Canonballs performing at Country Gold.  This is real country - Charlie and the band have performed at the Grand Ole Opry more than a dozen times.  While I don't have a translation of what's being said, this will give you the flavor of Country Music, Japanese style.


MasterGuns said...

Back in Iwakuni on Honshu, in about 1974,
Charlie Nagatani and his Western Cannonballs" played every night in a club called "Western Tokyo".

Good times, good times......

Borepatch said...

MasterGubs, cool story.