Eden Aoba Taiko
Eden Aoba Taiko was formed in 1997 to promote the Japanese music art of taiko drumming under the direction of Masa Fukuizumi. The group started with six people and increased to 50 by the end of the year. Members’ ages range from 6 years old to more than 80. They believe that taiko is for everyone, no matter what your age.
Eden Aoba Taiko’s philosophy is to have a fun drumming and enhance self-expression, self-esteem, and self-confidence. It is also their goal to enrich disciplines such as respect, harmony, and unity through drumming with others.
Learning taiko takes a time. There are no short cuts or simply ways. It is very similar to life; ups and downs, bends and straights. It requires patience. Taiko is a mental training with physical strength. So long as you practice, you will get better; and then comes fun.
Ron Quesada / Kulintronica
Ron Quesada is a musician on a mission to make the “kulintang” a household name. By fusing this ancient Filipino gong instrument with modern electronic dance music, Ron has created a sound all his own that he calls “Kulintronica.” With the release of the single(s) “Calling My Name,” and “River Clouds,” now on iTunes, he is preparing to tour and release his debut album in 2014. You can find more info on Ron and his music at kulintronica.com.
Curt Yagi & the People Standing Behind Me
San Francisco based singer songwriter Curt Yagi has been on a tear through the Bay Area music scene. The 2008 Best of the Bay Singer Songwriter (SF Bay Guardian) and RAW San Francisco Musician of the Year had his song “Sweep Me” included on the very popular KFOG Local Scene 8 CD in the Bay Area.
His songs are delivered in an inimitable and endearingly charismatic persona the SFBG 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.”
Best of all, Ben Fong-Torres, former Rolling Stone Senior Editor, had this to say, “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.”
The Francis Wong Ensemble & Wesley Ueunten
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 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.
Brian Mitsuhiro Wong
Brian Mitsuhiro Wong, an American of Japanese and Chinese descent, won the “Grand Prix” award for achieving the highest scores on his teaching examinations from the Sawai Soukyokuin Koto Conservatory in Tokyo, Japan in July 2006, surpassing many Japanese native candidates. Brian continues a brilliant legacy of koto performance in America that spans three generations, and has roots in the concentration camps of World War II. His mother, Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto, also a koto teacher and musician, taught Brian how to play the koto from the age of 4. In June 2007, Brian also earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music Composition at California State University East Bay, CSUEB, Hayward, California. He has written works for mixed Western instrumentations as well as koto compositions.
CryWolffs is a classically trained violinist from San Mateo, Calif. By mixing his love of contemporary music, violin, and technology, he has created a unique urban sound that he has brought to stages across California and beyond. He has performed on television and on the radio and has competed in competitions such as MyxTV Press Play, Battle Among Talents and Kollaboration SF. Morphing classical technique into contemporary music, he is the Bay Area Urbalinist.
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