Live at Shu Cafe in Fujino

September 27, 2009

I am the guest of TV producer Setsuko Miura, her husband Jun and their daughter Ren, in the very hip art and farming village of Fujino, in the mountains west of Tokyo. They have arranged for me to teach a class in making instant books at the local Waldorf School, which they helped to found, and which Ren attends. They also arranged a fundraising concert for the school at Shu Café in Fujino, at which I perform for about 50 people. In this photo, Jun and Setsuko are the two people with headscarves. Shu and his wife Kazu, the owners, are on either side of me. Kazu has purple hair and a very small dog in her arms. The other three ladies are part of the café staff.

Shu Café is downstairs from an airy loft that is Shu and Kazu’s home. Next to it is an organic garden where Shu grows vegetables for the café.

The elegant and natural café and residence were designed by Tsutomu Nozaki, the same architect who designed Jun and Setsuko’s ultra-green home, here enjoying a beer with Jun.

An easel outside the main café entrance announces my concert.

A small gift shop inside the café includes organic cotton socks, hand dyed with locally grown indigo and hand-knitted by a 90-year-old resident of Fujino.

Every aspect of the café features local art and organic produce, including the stepping stones at the entrance to the café.

Setsuko and Jun’s neighbor, Aki, one of the first of the audience to arrive, brought her long-out-of-print copies of the 1974 Japanese editions my three children’s books (The Rainbow Lady, The Family of Families, and Sylvie Sunflower) to sign for her and her children.

I met legendary singer/songwriter Ua, who lives in Fujino with her husband and two young children.

I sang and told stories, with the excellent translation of beautiful Yuko Urakami, the English teacher at the Waldorf School to whose 12th grade English class I taught the instant book lesson on September 24th. She also has children who attend the school, and is a close friend of Setsuko’s.

We had a full house, a most enthusiastic audience, except for the children seated in the first three rows, who were outside playing together.

After the show I signed books and CDs, and got my photo taken with lots of new friends. Everyone was so sweet.

Mori Cafe Festival in Kobuchizawa

September 20, 2009, Kobuchizawa, Japan

At the invitation of my friend Satomi Yanagisawa, I am visiting her and her adorable three-year-old daughter Sola, and performing at a local festival sponsored by the Mori Café near Kobuchizawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, that is, in the Japan Alps.

Here’s the festival poster!

Satomi and I (and our friend Akiko) catch a rare glimpse of a cloudless Mount Fuji from the car window on a bridge on our drive to the festival from Satomi’s home in Miyota Village, Nagano Prefecture.

“Mori” means “forest” in Japanese, and this café sits in the middle of a forest, which is viewed on all three sides of its geodesic glass tetrahedron dining room.

Prayer flags made of t-shirts adorn the entrance path to the food court of the festival.

My friends Tabou and Hiro-san are doing the sound engineering for the concert.

Tabou also performs a two-part harmony and guitar set with his wife Kyoko, including my favorite of their repertoire, “Our House” by Graham Nash, translated into Japanese. This is a totally appropriate song for them, as they are living happily in an exquisite house in the woods, designed and hand built by Tabou. I performed a concert at their house in spring 2008.

Warm and gracious singer/songwriter Yoshie, blessed with a gorgeous, resonant voice, and whom I first met at Mother’s Day celebration at a Zen Temple in Ako City in 2007, sang a wonderful set as well.

I bought a rainbow hemp bracelet from a sweet hippie lady whose booth was next to the one where Satomi and I sold my CDs and books.

I played last on the program. I sang and played songs from my last two CDs. I am wearing culottes presented to me by Little Eagle, Japan’s leading organic fiber folk wear fashion company, and a short antique kimono that was a gift from Satomi. And, of course, the rainbow hemp bracelet, plus Ugg boots and a lavender rayon scarf, in deference to the crisp mountain air.

My Japan 2009 Tour Schedule

September 20, Mori Cafe Festival in Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture.

September 24, Teach class at Fujino Steiner School. Make art books with 12th grade English class. Private.

September 27, 4 PM Concert at Shu Cafe in Fujino.

September 29, Dual interview with novelist Banana Yoshimoto. It will appear in the November issue of Switch Magazine.

September 30, Art Show Opening Party and Concert at Roppongi Hills Club. 5000 JPY admission. For reservations, please contact Kurkku staff at 03-5414-6273

October 2, 6 to 8 PM Art Show Opening Party and Concert at Gallery Speak For in Daikanyama, Tokyo. Admission is free, but you need an invitation.  Please email me if you’d like to be on my guest list.

October 2 to 14, Art Show at Gallery Speak For. Framed original drawings from Living on the Earth, plus the artwork from the new CD Beyond Living.

October 6, Interview with Soto Koto Magazine at Under The Light Yoga Studio in Yoyogi, Tokyo

October 11, Concert at Teisha Garden in Komoro City, near Komoro Station, Nagano Prefecture.

October 12, Interview with Murmur Magazine in Haragyuku, Tokyo, including a fashion modeling session in Yoyogi Park.  Here is a group shot with all of the models and photographers near the lake.

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October 16, 6:30 to 9 PM, Concert and talk session with special guest, actress and environmental activist Ikue Masudo (aka Saya Takagi) at her restaurant and performance venue, FU-RYU, by the beach in Minami-Bousou City. 1800 yen (free for kids under 12).

October 18, Art class, making small books at Genesis Art Lounge in Okachimachi, Tokyo. CANCELLED

October 19, Concert at Naked Loft, at the Loft Project, Shinjuku.  7:30 to 8 PM, Bobin (Nepalese Reggae singer/guitarist).  8:10 PM to 9 PM, live talk show, with Bobin and Alicia, hosted by activist/organic farmer/journalist Yumi Kikuchi. 8:10 to 9 PM, Alicia plays.  Closest train station is Shin-Okubo.

October 23 or 24, Concert at Happy Flower Beach Party festival, Nago, Okinawa. Joe Dolce and Lin Van Hek from Australia will join me.

October 27, Concert at Café Unizon in Okinawa. Alicia Bay Laurel, Amana band, and Joe Dolce and Lin Van Hek from Australia.

October 30 Concert at Yukotopia live house in Umejima, Tokyo. Joe Dolce and Lin Van Hek will join me.

November 1 Concert at Yukotopia live house in Umejima, Tokyo

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Floozy Places Again

Alicia Bay Laurel performs her prize-winning song, “Floozy Tune” at Yukotopia night club in Umejima, Tokyo, in 2010.

December 12, 2008

“Floozy Tune,” the opening cut of my blues/jazz CD, What Living’s All About, has garnered a runner-up position in yet a THIRD songwriting contest, this time as a Finalist in the 100% Music Songwriting Contest.

In summer 2008, “Floozy Tune” received Honorable Mention (7th place) in the World division (which includes jazz), in the Indie International Songwriting Contest

The first award for “Floozy Tune” was in the Top 20 Finalists in the Jazz Division of the Unisong International Songwriting Contest, in 2007.

Two November Concerts in the San Francisco Area with Joe Dolce!

Joe Dolce and I, along with Nick and Tanya Alva, did a live radio interview and performance at 10 PM PST, Thursday, November 13, 2008 on KPFA Pacifica Radio in Berkeley, on Derk Richardson’s show Hear and Now, followed by two concerts in the next two days, one in Sebastopol and one in San Francisco.

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Joe Dolce and I are friends from our commune days in the early 1970s. He lived for a while at Star Mountain, the music commune I started in 1971 with the money from the Random House advance for Living on the Earth. We also both lived on Maui in the 1970s.  He’s been living in Australia for nearly 30 years now, but we’ve been in touch by email, and he visited me in Hawaii four years ago.

Recently Nicholas Alva created the Morningstar musical, based on the story of Morningstar, the first Open Land commune, which begat Wheeler Ranch (where I wrote Living on the Earth), which begat Star Mountain (where I met Joe Dolce). Nick solicited original music from people who lived on those communes, and selected some of mine, some of Joe’s, some by Ramón Sender Barayón, and some by Lou Gottlieb, the founder of Morningstar, philosopher, and comedian/bass player of the Limeliters.

Joe, Nick and I cooked up the idea of this concert by email, and I insisted that Nick reprise Joe’s and my songs from the show with the original cast (in full hippie regalia) as a grand finale. And so it is.

Do come if you’re nearby, and please forward this blog post to any of your friends in the Bay Area who might want their minds expanded over that weekend.

Alicia tells a story at Studio E in Sebastopol, California.

Rock on the Rock Festival

April 13, 2008, Hazu, Japan. Meet Shige and Mik-chan, the organizers of the Rock on the Rock Festival in Hazu, a beach resort just outside of Nagoya city. Shige owns a nightclub in Tokyo called The Loft Project, where I am invited to play next on my next tour. Mik-chan produces music events in Nagoya. This is their tenth year producing this festival.

They did this festival with a lot of style. For one thing, all of the musicians and staff were guests in a first class hotel…

…with a view of the ocean from every room and TWO onsen (hot springs spas) downstairs.

I was issued an All Access Pass, so I could go anywhere during the festival..,

…and a festival t-shirt…

…with my name on it as a headliner. Wow!

Here’s the festival schedule. I play in the afternoon on the second day.

Kaorico gave me a gorgeous set of new clothes to wear at the festival…

…and she sold my books and CDs at her booth…

…and what a booth it is…

…complete with driftwood sculpture.

Here’s Kaorico with one of her staff at the festival, both resplendant in Little Eagle clothes, handmade in India in a fair trade factory from organically grown cotton.

Next booth over from hers is the Slow Turtle (referencing the Slow Life movement) t-shirt booth, owned and produced by her ex-husband and dear friend Haru.

I love Haru’s sign “Welcome to Heaven.” That’s how it felt at the festival that day.

Looking down to the dome stage and the beach from Kaorico and Haru’s booths…

…and the driftwood gate through which festival goers passed to visit the booths.

Behind the booths was a picnic area for staff only, overlooking the ocean, with barbeque grills beside the tables. We were offered trays of vegetables, fish and meats, which we could grill on the barbeque. Kaorico and I made a vegan selection and she grilled it for us. Oishi! (Delicious!)

Down by the dome stage, where I played later, stood two more booths…

…one of which, Paraiso, was a beauty salon that also sold records and books.

The next day at the hotel, owner of Paraiso told me he’s going to carry my records and books in his store!

Before my set, I enjoyed listening to an avant-garde piano and drum duo…

…And just before my set, the world music band Tayuta, with their wonderful singer, Hirono.

The audience was dancing wildly to their music.

The day after the festival, I met the members of Tayuta in the hotel lobby and we planned to meet again in Tokyo.

My wonderful translator, Mackie, is the leader of a rural commune based band called the Mountain Rockers.

We kept telling jokes. We had the best time. People said we were like an old married couple.

I couldn’t have wanted a more ideal environment to present my music as that psychedelically decorated dome. I’m playing my Pro Series Traveler Guitar, a great little electric guitar that fits in the overhead compartment.

Of course, I also brought my good old workhorse Guild F45CE, in a sturdy Gator flight case. I need two guitars when I perform, so that I don’t have to bore the audience by re-tuning the guitar every time I change from standard to open tuning.

The next day, Kaorico and I drove back to Hayama, and were blown away by a sunset view of Mount Fuji as we passed the town of Fujikawa (Fuji River).

The Eagle’s Nest

On April 10, Kaorico Ago, founder, owner and designer of the fabled Little Eagle Designs, Japan’s premier natural fiber folkwear clothing company, met me at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. She treated me to a quiet green car seat on the airport express train to Zushi, where we were met by her kindly father, known to me only as Papa-chan (Papa Dear), greeted at the front door by her sweet mother, introduced to me as Michiko-baba (Grandma Michiko), and Kaorico’s athletic and musical 12 year daughter Ryoo. I slept deeply at their home. The next morning I looked out from the balcony of Kaorico’s third floor room (which she sacrificed for my stay; she slept in another room) to the coastline of Hayama, the closest beach resort town to Tokyo.

Kaorico is, IMHO, a woman of deep spirituality, which expresses itself in her activities (walking in Dennis Banks’ Long Walk for Freedom), her company’s motto (“live for journey, on the road forever under the blue sky”), and her decor (lots of natural and handmade things, and lots of altars).

Here is her “on the road” altar.

I offered her a print of my four “Feeling Good” paintings and she placed in on one of her driftwood altars.

In her living room, with a sunken dining area in the center…

..Kaorico served our elegant breakfast: miso soup with tofu and green onion, Michiko-baba’s homemade pickled cucumbers, a small green salad with grated daikon and strips of nori, and rice.

After breakfast, I took at long hot soak in the furo overlooking a bamboo grove.

After the bath, I repacked my things for a three day jaunt to Hazu, a beach town outside of Nagoya city, to sing at a rock festival where Kaorico and her staff will be selling Little Eagle clothes.

We packed up Kaorico’s car and drove for six hours to Nishio, where the Little Eagle warehouse is.

This is no ordinary warehouse. For example, check out the door handles on the front door. Handmade from driftwood with peace sign hardware.

The staff were busy coating wire hangers with strips of rags to make funky-elegant shabby-chic, recycled, display hangers.

Sakura, the ten-year-old artist daughter of Kisaki, the warehouse manager, was busy weaving strips rags into a beautiful fabric.

Kaorico (on the left) and her staff were delighted to see each other, and preparations for the clothing booth at the festival were going apace. Another example of Kaorico’s shining heart and soul in the material world.

My Upcoming Vermont Tour!

I’m playing two concerts in Vermont in August 2008, plus I’ll be leading my visualization-shrine-built-from-recycled-stuff workshop! Above is the poster for the concert at Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury on August 14, 7 PM at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, 1302 Main St.

The shrine building workshop will be held at Lareau Farm Pavilion on August 17 and the concert will be at Valley Players on August 18, both as part of the month-long Vermont Festival for the Arts in Waitsfield.

After that I’m heading to Packer Corners Farm for a communal 40th reunion.

My 2008 Japan Tour!

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Alicia headlines at the Rainbow Festival, Aso Mountain, Kyushu Island, May 2007. That’s Futaro on lead guitar, and Daisuke on bass. 

I’m heading back to Japan April 9 for my third tour in less than 18 months. This time I’m having an art show of the original drawings from Living on the Earth, including the cover layout, displayed in handmade frames of sliced driftwood, crafted by Yuji Kamioka, who created the wooden signs at Kurkku Environmental Arts Center in Shibuya, Tokyo, where the exhibit will be held, May 10 to June 1. At the gallery opening May 9th, the beautiful women working at Kurkku will model the spring fashion line illustrated with drawings from Being of the Sun created by Aya Noguchi for her fashion company, Balcony and Bed.  Other Tokyo locations where the drawings will be shown and sold will be the Balcony and Bed main store in the Daikanyama fashion district of Shibuya, and at Utrecht, a bookstore in Ginza.  Hiroshi Eguchi, the owner of Utrecht, will be creating and publishing a catalog of the show.

Here’s the invitation to the Kurkku event:

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I’ll be making music at the art opening, as well as at ten other occasions during my tour, and I’ll be leading two art workshops, one on the island of Oshima and the other on the island of Okinawa (two of my favorite places on earth).  I’ll also be recording two songs by Donto for my next CD with his widow, Sachiho Kojima, and her band Amana in Okinawa, where I will be their guest. (For those of you not familiar with Shuntaro Tanikawa‘s works, here is a sample.)

Here is my schedule:

April 13 Rock on the Rock Festival in Hazu, just outside Nagoya, on the beach
April 20 Earth Day Festival in Saku, Nagano Prefecture. Festival site is near Sakudaira Station and adjacent to the Jusco Shopping Center.
April 21 Cafe Gonza concert in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, at 6:30 PM. 2000 yen.
April 25 House concert in Aiki, Nagano Prefecture, at 2 PM. 1000 yen. For more information, please call Kyoko and Ta-Bou at 0267-77-2485.
April 26 3 PM Concert at Kuraya Greens (natural food store) in Kobuchizawa, Yamanashi prefecture. 1500 yen. For more info, phone 0551-36-4789 or call Asako Fujito at 080-6684-4477.
May 3 and 4 Oshima Island Spirit dream shirt workshop co-lead with En Ando at Alohana Gardens
May 3 Solo concert on Oshima, 5 PM at Alohana Gardens.
May 9 Art opening party and concert 7 PM to 9 PM at Kurkku, Shibuya, Tokyo. Art show runs May 10 to June 1, 2008 in the Jingumae Lab at Kurkku.
May 12 to 15 Okinawa, recording session for two Donto songs for new CD with Sachiho Kojima and her trio, Amana (Sachiho on bass, Yoko Nema on harmonium, and Hiromi Kondo, African percussion. All three sing.)
May 16 to 18 in Donto-in Hakkakudo (octagon), Tamagusuku, Okinawa, spiritual, art and music retreat, co-lead by Sachiho Kojima.  Concert by Alicia and Amana on May 17.
May 23 7 PM Solo concert, including my telling the story (with translation) of the creation of Living on the Earth. Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre, Small Hall, 3-10-1 Fukashi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0815 Japan. Tickets 2500 yen pre-sale, 3000 yen at door. 
May 24, 10 PM, Interview and music from the May 9th art opening concert on AP Bank Radio, Tokyo, broadcast all over Japan.
May 30 9:30 PM, Yukotopia Dead Heads Land Night Club, Umejima, Tokyo. Four acts:

18:30~19:30 RaBiRaBi (avant garde/tribal stomp with great singer)
19:30~20:30 ha-za-ma (rock band of club manager Roku Uehara)
20:30~21:30 satocough (Sato, singer-songwriter from Big Frog band)
21:30~22:30 Alicia Bay Laurel (solo psych folk, Hawaiian, blues and jazz)

May 31 9:30 PM Yukotopia Dead Heads Land Night Club, Umejima, Tokyo. Four acts:

18:30~19:30 Blue Moonstruck (haven`t heard them yet)
19:30~20:30 Electric Building (husband/wife folk/rock band. Fun!)
20:30~21:30 The Great Rolling Flower (not sure what genre)

21:30~22:30 Alicia Bay Laurel (solo psych folk, Hawaiian, blues and jazz) 

I will fill in the exact times and locations of the events as I receive this information. My three CDs and two books will be available at all events, and I’ll sign (almost) anything you put in front of me, whether you bought it from me or not.

Here are the front and back of the flier for the concert on May 23! 

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Flier for Nagano events, created by Satomi Yanagisawa, who is organizing the first four Nagano events for me. 

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Flier for Dream Spirit Shirt making workshop and solo concert on Oshima Island, created by En Ando, my co-leader in the workshop.  The drawing is from Being of the Sun

My Short-lived Career as a Fashion Model…or so I thought

So, in spring 2007, when I was on concert tour in Japan for seven weeks, I not only was the subject of a TV documentary on Asahi Broadcasting, but did some magazine interviews. Here I am on page 11 of the August 2007 issue of Switch Magazine, which is a hip arts and culture color glossy, in my Living on the Earth dress and scarf (created by Tokyo fashion designer Aya Noguchi of Balcony and Bed), and playing my Pro Series Traveler Guitar. I was photographed in the living room of Aya’s house, on a hill overlooking the sea, a few miles from Tokyo.

A photo taken with my camera at this, at this point my one and only modeling session of my entire life (at age 58!) I swear I do not eat, sleep and shower with that black hat on, but it seems to appear in every one of the magazine photos. It’s one of those flexible recycled paper and plastic hats that fold up in a suitcase and resume their shape afterwards.

Ecocolo Magazine appeals to environmentally conscious young women.
Here’s the September 2007 issue.

Ecocolo also ran a feature article on the Living on the Earth clothing line, with a photo taken during my concert at the Natural High Festival in May 2007, while I was being filmed for the TV documentary.

Also in the September 2007 issue of Ecocolo: an interview with me by Dr. Keibo Tsuji Oiwa, an anthropologist, teacher, author and translator who teaches International Studies at Meiji Gakuin University in Yokohama. I read with fascination The Other Japan, a book on Japanese environmentalism, civil rights and national identity, that he co-authored with David Suzuki.

However…(!)  My fashion modeling career continued with a group outdoor modeling session
for Murmur Magazine in Yoyogi Park, in Tokyo, on October 12, 2009 (belowz0.

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Then I began modeling for Kaoriko Ago Wada’s organic fiber, fair trade fashion company, Little Eagle, in December 2010 (at age 61), and continued through 2019 (age 70).

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Modeling a gauzy black ensemble by Little Eagle, while performing a concert
in a stage set created by Kaoriko Ago Wada, at Modernark Pharm Café
in Kobe, Japan on October 14, 2019.