Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Legendary Shack Shakers – Last Show (?) in Nashville

Legendary Shack Shakers are a punk blues agriDustrial band with a little bit of everything thrown in from rockabilly to gothic rock to Delta blues to Texas polka. Originally hailing from Paducah, Kentucky, the band has been together in some form or fashion for over 15 years touring with the Reverend Horton Heat, Hank Williams III, and Robert Plant.

Their current drummer recently developed a heart condition and actually flat-lined a couple of times. Legendary Shack Shakers decided to hold a benefit show for him in Nashville and make it their last show; however, J.D. Wilkes founding member and frontman said that the Legendary Shack Shakers will rise again.

This video is clips from their last show(?) at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville along with interviews with some of the band members past and present.

Legendary Shack Shakers –
http://www.theshackshakers.com/
http://www.facebook.com/legendaryshackshakers

To help Drummer Brett Whitcare with his medical bills –
http://www.brettwhitacre.net/

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November 28, 2012 Posted by | music, musicians, nashville, rock, rock band, rockabilly, tennessee | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roller Derby Girls – Nashville Roller Girls: Heart-Takers & Ball-Breakers

Heart-Takers&Ball-Breakers – Nashville RollerGirls are an all-female roller derby flat track league based in Nashville, Tennessee. While I was home in Nashville, I took in a game and though at the time I didn’t have a clue how the game was played I had a good time with all the energy coming from the players and from the fans.

I was surprised to learn that today’s Roller Derby is actually a sport unlike its earlier predecessor which was more like WWF wrestling on roller skates. Since its recent revival, it’s one of the fastest growing female sports. I can’t wait till Japanese girls start doing it!

Nashville RollerGirls

Music by: Meant To Bleed

Meant To Bleed

I also made a video on Meant To Bleed at their live show at the Hard Rock Cafe in Nashville in June 2011

While I was in Nashville, I saw some of my friends play at the HardRock in Nashville so I decided to do a video on them.

From their Facebook: “Meant to Bleed is best described as a Rock band layered with elements of Rock, Metal, Punk and Pop.”

Basically they’re a fun group and I enjoyed the show. The rhythm (yeah I misspelled it in the video! sue me!) guitarist may seem familiar to those who have seen my Blackwood Fields video.

July 29, 2011 Posted by | music, musicians, nashville, rock, rock band, Roller Derby, Sport, Sports News, tennessee, vlog, WTF | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas in the Trenches – Christmas Truce of 1914

The following song is from a practice session I recorded of The Secret Commonwealth doing a rendition of John McCutcheon’s Christmas in the Trenches. The song is based on an unexpected and unofficial truce made by the common fighting men on both sides and not the higher ups who frowned on such things.

As I said, it’s a practice session so it might be a little rough and there’s a cough or two.

The singer is Don Clark

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Uncle-Don-Clark/99407330337

He is often a guest member of The Secret Commonwealth http://www.myspace.com/thesecretcommonwealth

December 26, 2009 Posted by | 1914, christmas, Christmas in the Trenches, Christmas Truce, history, John McCutcheon, music, singing, video, world war I | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese Girl Sings Norah Jones “Don’t Know Why”

A friend of mine did a show recently where she sang Norah Jones “Don’t Know Why.”

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Don't Know Why, japan, music, Norah Jones, singing, tokyo, video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rolly Teranishi sings Rocky Horror songs in Japanese

For your surreal entertainment – two songs from the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show sung in Japanese with a bit of English by ROLLY Teranishi.

Rolly Teranishi was a member of the Japanese rock band Scanch before going solo.

Here ROLLY performs “Science Fiction/Double Feature” and “I’m Going Home.” He’s a big fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and has played Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Japanese stage versions.

This was at the 2009 Tokyo Decadance Halloween party.

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Blogroll, clubbing, japan, Japanese subculture, music, rock, Rolly Teranishi, Science Fiction/Double Feature, singing, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, tokyo, tokyo decadance, video, weird, WTF, youtube | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to Tokyo Design Festa!

This is a montage of the last Design Festa vol 29.

Design Festa is one wild weird weeked of an eclectic gathering of artistic chaos of artists, musicians, craftsmen, performance artists.

September 26, 2009 Posted by | art, avant-garde, culture, dance, design festa, drums, japan, music, musicians, risque, sexy, taiko, tokyo, Tokyo Design Festa, video, weird, WTF | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corosuke – Japanese Hardcore Band at Design Festa

Corosuke is a kick-ass hardcore band in Japan with two female vocalists. They played this year at the Design Festa May 2009.
http://www.myspace.com/corosukejp

May 21, 2009 Posted by | heavy metal, j-rock, japan, metal, music, musicians, musicians in Japan, tokyo, Tokyo Design Festa, video | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Modern Deadly Arts of the Samurai – JPOP

The samurai were Japan’s elite warrior class of long ago – masters of many deadly weapons and stern possessors of martial fighting skills.

In Tokyo’s modern mecca of electronics and anime, Akihabara, the samurai have re-emerged as masters of a new deadly art.

Also check out my earlier video on the secret desire of the ninja:

These stealthy assassins of yore…what lurks deep in their hearts? 

Their whole lives are dedicated to their craft…to stealth, to sabotage, to espionage, to theft, and to assassination. 

But what do they dream of when they allow themselves to succumb to sleep’s gentle embrace? 

What is it that they secretly yearn to do? 

Watch this video and learn “The Secret Desire of the Ninja”

April 7, 2009 Posted by | akihabara, comedy, dance, humor, j-pop, j-rock, japan, japanese culture, jpop, music, ninja, rock band, samurai, tokyo, travel, video, vlog, weird, WTF, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Japanese Devils Scare the Laziness out of Kids

Japanese Devils Scare the Laziness out of Kids
Namahage – Japanese Devils with a Strong Work Ethic

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Namahage – the bane of lazy children

“Twas the night before my skinning…”
Imagine you were a young child living in the Northwestern part of Japan on the small peninsula of Oga. It’s the holiday season and instead of waiting eagerly for fat jolly old elf with a sack full of toys to bring you presents, you’re dreading the arrival of a bunch of hairy scary devils with a handful of butcher knives who threaten to peel off your skin if you’ve have been lazy all year. It makes the lump of coal Santa Claus leaves with naughty children pale in comparison. If you can get your head around that, perhaps you can understand this bizarre bit of psychological child abuse known as the Namahage.

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Part of the Oga Welcoming Committee

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Namahage come in a variety of shapes and colors throughout Oga

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The Namahage are Japanese devils who visit villages on the Oga peninsula every New Year’s Eve. They wear straw coats, carry large kitchen knives, and wooden buckets. They come in the night down from their mountain homes howling and waving torches. The Namahage burst into homes stomping about looking for lazy children. If the children are hiding, the Namahage will flush them out threatening to take them into the mountains.

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Namahage are your childhood nightmares in the flesh

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Namahage stomps around the house looking for hiding children

The head of the household will try to appease the devils with a specially prepared meal accompanied with sake. He assures them that no one has been lazy in his household. Then the Namahage seeing all from their mountaintop look into their secret book which records the doings of every household and challenge that statement. The head of the household again promises that all have been obedient and hard-working and pleads with the devils not to take his wife and children into the mountains. It takes considerable effort to control these devils with their strong work-ethic.

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Hard Negotiations with Namahage

As the negotiations drag on, the head of the household offers more sake and along with mochi – rice cake – while begging that his wife and child not be taken away. Eventually the Namahage relent placated by the offerings and the sincerity of the head of the household. They bless the next year’s harvest and wish good health to all the members of the household. As the Namahage leave, they promise (or rather threaten) to return next year.

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Devils Coming Thru!

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Namahage – Oga’s unofficial ambassador

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For children the whole experience can be rather nerve-wracking. When the Namahage arrive they immediately seek out any hiding children and make as though they will take off with them right then and there. The parents or grandparents make a show of trying to save their child without much luck and only through careful negotiation amply accompanied with sake are they successful. Thus children learn gratitude for being saved from drudgery of working in the mountains for the harsh Namahage.

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In the old days, Namahage terrorized both lazy children and wives

In olden times, communities in areas such as Oga could not afford the luxury of laziness especially with the winters as long and harsh as they are. It’s not difficult to understand why community leaders would have gone to such efforts to instill a strong work ethic in their youth. Today the ritual is traditional. In the past it was a more serious matter – teaching the youth to work hard for their community’s survival and their own.

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Namahage have a strong work ethic

The original legend runs that the Namahage Devils arrived from China and caused the people of Oga much trouble. A deal was struck between the people and the Namahage that if the Namahage could build a thousand-step staircase for the main shrine in a single night, the people would supply them with a young woman every year; but if they failed, they would leave the people alone. The Namahage readily agreed and set to work.

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Namahage working hard to win their wager

The lusty devils were so efficient that by the end of the night they had only one stone left to lay before dawn even hinted in the sky. One fast-thinking person however came to the rescue and mimicked the cry of a rooster thus signaling that dawn had arrived. The Namahage, believing they had lost, left and went into the mountains but they return every year for their pound of flesh.

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A Namahage hears a mimicked rooster and thinks they have lost

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The Namahage go into the mountains but promise to return once a year

There are several theories as to the origins of the Namahage. One theory is that Namahage are derived from an ancient mountain deity. There are many native traditions of gods coming for a visit – though not quite with the fanfare of the Namahage. Another theory is that they are based on Yamabushi – shinto priest who leaved hermit-like existence in the mountain.

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Yamabushi – Shinto Hermit Priest – one suspect for the Namahage origin

Yet another theory hints that the Namahage might be based on shipwrecked sailors from Europe most likely Russia. Given the age of festival, it could be that they were those hardy explorers, the Vikings. It would explain the trouble they caused probably in foraging raids and the bet with the supply of woman.

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Shipwreck Foriegners might be another possible origin of the Namahage

The name “namahage” comes from the local dialect. “Nama” refers to the patch of skin that forms on the skin if someone sits too long at the fire ie being lazy. “Hage” means to scrap away the mark. This is why the Namahage carry their large knives to scrape away the laziness of their victims.

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Namahage carry large knives to scrape the laziness from victims

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For travelers, New Years is not a good time to see Namahage as it’s primarily a private affair. Participating households don’t want a bunch of camera-flashing tourists to ruin the effect of scaring their kids straight. Some of the local hotels arrange Namahage visitations but given it’s the New Years the whole thing can be rather pricey. Fortunately for the Namahage-seeker, there is the Namahage Museum in Oga where year-round, they can see a performance of the New Years’ event sans the crying children.

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Making a Namahage Mask at the Namahage Museum

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Visitors can become a Namahage at the Namahage Museum

In February, there is the Sedo Matsuri or simply the Namahage Festival which takes place next to the Namahage Museum in Oga. In the evening several men come down a hillside wearing straw coats. Near the shrine, two Shinto priests bless Namahage masks then precede to mask the men. Once they are all masked, they begin stomping and howling. Thus the Namahage are born.

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Dancing Devil

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A little while later they come down again with blazing torches. While young children cry and hide, others chase after the Namahage seeking to grasp a straw from their coats for good luck. Some of the Namahage dance, some of them play Taiko drums, and some of those of softer disposition play Rock, Paper, Scissors with children brave enough to match wit and hand with the Namahage.

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Namahage playing Rock, Paper, Scissors

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Drumming Devils

At the end of the festival, a priest presents an offering of mochi – rice cake – burnt black on a fire. The Namahage grudgingly accept the offering then return to their mountain lair. But everyone knows the Namahage keep watch on them and will be back without fail next year.

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Priest offering mochi to Namahage

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The Namahage promise/threaten to return next year

March 4, 2009 Posted by | Akita, culture, devils, drums, event, festival, folklore, japan, japanese culture, music, Namahage, New Years, Oga, Only in Japan, Roving Ronin Report, taiko, tohoku, tradition, travel, video, vlog, winter, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Samurai Dave’s 2008 In Review Video

2008 was a busy year for this wayward wanderer though I didn’t travel much abroad due to the high fuel surcharge. I did however travel a fair bit around Japan going to a number of festivals. This is a photo montage of my experiences.

January 13, 2009 Posted by | 2008, culture, festival, japan, japanese culture, Kyoto, life, music, music videos, photographs, photography, tennessee, tohoku, tokyo, travel, video, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment