Performing Artists

Curt Yagi & the People Standing Behind Me

Curt Yagi, San Francisco Bay Guardian’s “2008 Best of the Bay Singer-Songwriter.”

Curt Yagi was the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s “2008 Best of the Bay Singer-Songwriter.”

“People keep comparing him to other artists, but I think he just sounds like Curt Yagi, and that is plenty good enough. This is one excellent singer and songwriter,” said Ben Fong-Torres, former Senior Editor, Rolling Stone.

Photos courtesy Curt Yagi.

On all nine original tracks on “Close My Eyes,” Yagi delivers captivating lyrics and hummable melodies, augmented by a buoyant three­piece horn section and edgy and layered guitars built on the foundation of a rock solid, driving rhythm section. His songs are delivered in an inimitable and endearingly charismatic persona the San Francisco Bay Guardian describes as “the swagger of Lenny Kravitz and the lyrical prowess of Jack Johnson,” and the San Francisco Chronicle called Yagi “a talented songwriter who sings — like Kenny Loggins.” states, “Hearing one of Curt Yagi’s original songs from his ‘Close My Eyes’ album for the first time is like going for a walk in the woods and finding a unicorn. You keep listening to make sure it’s really what it seems to be — a real find.”

Such glowing accolades, delivered in rapid succession soon after the release of his November 2007 full-length debut, “What’s Come Over Me,” combined with numerous live club and radio, as well as fair and festival appearances from San Francisco to Napa exposed Yagi to a wide and diverse demographic of called the long-time San Francisco resident, and fourth generation Japanese American, a “must see entertainer” describing his music as, “filled with percussive guitar licks, breathy vocals, rhythmic beats and driving bass lines, (that) will keep you going the entire day.”

Fans of Sublime, Bare Naked Ladies, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Dave Matthews gravitate to the easily accessible Yagi style, and his new album, “Close My Eyes,” was produced by Larry (The O) Oppenheimer at Studio Faire La Nouba for Toys in the Attic Productions.

“Close My Eyes” features the singles “Sweep Me,” a vibrant Ska-inspired love song; the title track, “Close My Eyes,” a moving tribute to the beloved father he lost in 2002; and “Live My Life,” a groove-infused four/four rocker that melds a Rolling Stones-esque danceable bass line, a Chicago-style horn section, with John Mayer-meets-Ben Harper vocal delivery.

Kendyl Ito

Kendyl Ito

Kendyl Ito

Kendyl Ito, 17, is currently a junior at CK McClatchy High School in Sacramento and thrilled to perform at this year’s Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival. Her love of musical theater began at the age of 5 when she saw her first musical, “Beauty and the Beast,” at the Orpheum. Years later she would perform with one of the actors and herself play the lead as Belle.

Since then, she has performed in a variety of venues in the Sacramento and Davis regions — California Musical Theatre’s Music Circus, Broadway Sacramento, Davis Musical Theatre Company, the Lion’s Pride Players and Runaway Stage Productions. Favorite credits include Sandy in “Grease,” Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” July in “Annie,” Alice in “Alice in Wonderland,” The Medium in “Rashomon” and Children’s Chorus in “Whistle Down The Wind.”

She has received a SARTA Elly nomination for her role as Princess Robin in “A Dragon’s Tail” and was a finalist in the 2011 Lion’s Club World of Talent Competition. This spring she will play the role of Sarah Brown in her high school musical, “Guys and Dolls,” and perform at the Lion’s Club Joint Council of Governors’ Meeting in Sacramento.

When not performing, Kendyl enjoys playing volleyball and spending time with friends. She is especially excited to travel to Rwanda this summer as part of a Youth Peace and Cultural Education Program and has interest in pursuing a career in Global Studies.

Kendyl feels fortunate to have had some amazing opportunities to perform and she credits all the directors, voice teachers, choreographers and actors that she has had the pleasure of working with. Most importantly she thanks her loyal following of family and friends that have supported her in all her endeavors.

The Francis Wong Ensemble & Wesley Ueunten

Francis Wong

Francis Wong

Few musicians are as accomplished as Francis Wong, considered one of “the great saxophonists of his generation” by the late jazz critic Phil Elwood. A prolific recording artist, Wong is featured on more than 40 titles as a leader and sideman. For more than two decades, he has performed his innovative brand of jazz and creative music for audiences in North America, Asia and Europe, with such with such luminaries as Jon Jang, Tatsu Aoki, Genny Lim, William Roper, Bobby Bradford, John Tchicai, James Newton, Joseph Jarman, Don Moye and the late Glenn Horiuchi.
But to simply call the Bay Area native a musician would be to ignore his pioneering leadership in communities throughout Northern California. Wong’s imaginative career straddles roles as varied as performing artist, youth mentor, composer, artistic director, community activist, nonprofit organization manager, consultant, music producer and academic lecturer.

Wesley Ueunten

Wesley Ueunten

Wesley Ueunten is a third generation Okinawan from Hawai’i who practices and performs traditional and contemporary Okinawan music. His main instrument is the three-stringed sanshin, which is derived from the Chinese sanshien and is the predecessor of the Japanese shamisen. Since coming to the Bay Area, his playing and singing has infused with influences of the social justice consciousness and creativity of musicians such as Francis Wong and others.
Ueunten teaches Asian American studies at San Francisco State University.

Jiten Daiko

Jiten Daiko

Jiten Daiko is a young Bay Area Japanese taiko ensemble. With deep respect for the taiko art form, the group strives for artistic excellence in creating an exhilarating musical experience for its audiences.
They ground their practice in hard work, collaboration and a fusion of innovation and tradition. As the group continues to grow under their unique training system, and draw from both Japanese and American influences, it aspires to bring a youthful and energizing sound to the stage.
Their name, Jiten or “self-powered,” draws from the fact that they must work as a team if they want to innovate faster and grow stronger. One of the group’s core philosophies is to consistently support each other in order to grow their collective energy.

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