Rainbow Festival, Fourth and Fifth Days


The night of my performance, it rained, but not during my set. The set after mine was Amana’s, when it not only poured; thunder and lightning shook the sky. I couldn’t even take photos. None of this deterred the audience at the Rainbow Festival. No rain, no rainbows. Just lots of umbrellas, and barefoot dancing in the mud. I wore a pair of Japanese rubber rice planting boots I’d bought the day before in Aso town. Always well prepared, the Matsuis erected a tent under the lodge poles of the stage.


In the morning, I cleaned and warmed myself at an elegant hot springs bath house (above) in Aso town, in the company of Satomi, Toshi and Sola, who I met early on in the festival. While we soaked in the warm water, I sang “Lullaby” from Music From Living on the Earth for baby Sola, and I was dubbed Alicia Obasan (Auntie Alicia). Toshi’s four wheel drive got us through the mud lake that had formed in the Rainbow Festival parking lot. Not everyone was so fortunate.


A band with didjeridoo, hand and trap drums, dancers, vocalist and bassist performed in the drizzly afternoon.


The act before my band was a retro rock band with a singer in an Elvis suit. Droves of small children climbed onto the stage, and danced and clowned.


I wore a wonderful dress made for me in 1971 by Charlotte Lyons, a fellow artist living at Wheeler Ranch in the late ‘60’s and early 70’s. She has gone on to become a reknowned and successful maker of high end patchwork quilts, often with storybook characters and scenes on them. She lives in the mountains north of Santa Cruz, California. It’s a special ceremonial dress for me, and I felt that playing with a band for 1000 people at the Rainbow Festival in Kyushu certainly qualified as a special ceremony. Keeping it mud-free that night required extreme care, but I succeeded. I’m playing my Traveler Guitar in this photo.


Futaro played lovely, delicate lead guitar parts that fit perfectly with my intricate folk fingerpicking, and Daisuke’s bass guitar completed the sound with style and grace. Rokuro Matsui, the festival organizer, played trap drums and percussion!


Our audience was enthralled and cheered us wildly between each song.


The last day of the festival I didn’t get a chance to get to the stage and take photos of the other acts. I hardly had a minute to get dressed, wash, eat or go to the outhouse! People were literally lined up outside my cabin all day, and I sold and signed books and CDs from the moment I woke up until after dark, when I ran out of the Japanese editions of both books and all of the Japanese edition of my first CD. I didn’t have many left of the other two CDs, either! Domo arigato gozaimashta (thank you very much), everybody.

While signing over and over, I memorized how to write my name in Katakana, which is one of the three Japanese writing systems, the one used to write foreign words, because the characters are phonetic. The “P” is the sound “ah,” the upside-down check mark is a “B”, the upside down “Y” sounds like an alphabetical “y,” the box is “Lau,” and the LIL is, well, the other half of my last name, with no R sound. My customers were amused and pleased at my efforts to learn their language.