Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ruby Room Revisited

I returned to the Ruby Room open mic last night. I got there 15 minutes early in order to get a good slot and low and behold there was already a line out the door. Damn Japanese punctuality!! I had to sign up for an early slot, but that was fine by me. I took the opportunity to warm up the crowd a bit.

I was feeling wicked comfortable with my new axe this time around. I could even hear a few people in the crowd humming along as I played In the Garage and Everlong. After my set, this overeager Japanese guy was mimicking my guitar playing and trying to learn Everlong. I showed him how to play it a bit later.

Returning to the same spot was a good move. A lot of the same people from last week were there and they all recognized me. Give the Japanese a drink or two and they will be just about dying to talk to you. I chatted up more musicians and songwriters and also met some cool Gaijin all involved with interesting businesses.

A cultural historian once described the Japanese as 'imitators'. I can see where he was coming from, but I have to disagree. Take Kei for example:

Kei took the stage with his pickup group, plugged in his strat and played the absolute meanest version of Hendrix's Red House that I've heard this side of the Pacific. His sound, his feel, his fretwork, he was an incredible guitarist. You have to be a musician to know what I'm talking about, but just the way his hands switched between notes and positions was reminiscent of the 60's blues a la Clapton and Hendrix. His fingers would find a note, make it squeal and bend, and then unexpectedly drop down to the next harmonious tone. Not to mention his growling strat tone which could split the hairs on your head.

This wasn't imitation, it was pure rockin' authenticity. I think I'm the imitator.

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