Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lancer Cup

On April 23rd, a group of us traveled out to California Baptist University to help kick off their Lancer Cup event. The Lancer cup is an annual event tied to their intramural sports program. Each soccer team was named after a country and many of the students on campus came out that evening to enjoy the festivities, partake in the many food trucks that lined up along the perimeter of the field and enjoy the live music.

We played two sets before the kick off, sandwiched in between a performance by a South African drumming group. The whole evening was filled with great energy and it always feels great playing outdoors in gorgeous weather for enthusiastic audiences. After out sets, we also took some time to enjoy the food trucks and watch the soccer matches ensue.

Thursday, February 2, 2012



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Monday, January 30, 2012

Riverside Lunar New Year Festival!

On Jan. 28th, we packed up the van and drove out to Riverside for their Lunar New Year Festival! Maz, Andrew, Candice, Kevin, and I met in Little Tokyo to drive together and we picked up Jen near her home on the way. It was super windy once we got closer to Riverside and Maz had to drive carefully to make sure we were all safe.

This is a great festival!! There were so many different stages with lot of entertainment and activities, along with many booths set up by different organizations and food vendors.

Our first set was in front of the library and then we moved our equipment to the main stage for our second set. I really liked how the different stages have their own unique feeling to them. The library "stage" was actually on the ground, level with the audience. Many people were sitting on the ground in front of us and people gathered all around. It was a nice, intimate feeling. The main stage was quite different. We were definitely much higher then the audience where they sat in chairs. There was a big tent behind the stage for the performers to store equipment and change. It had a more of a "concert" feel. One thing that remained constant from stage to stage was the amazing audience. :) We also saw fellow taiko players from UCR Senryu Taiko! Hi Senryu!

There were lots of funny moments and I only took one photo, which I would totally share with you... but it's a picture of 4 of the members that fell asleep in the van... at the same time. It's not the most attractive photo, and since I'm such a nice person, I won't post it. :D hah!

Happy lunar new year!!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ending 2011 and Starting 2012 with TAIKOPROJECT!

Normally during my winter break from work, I am bustling at the mall doing last minute shopping, catching up with friends and family and resting after a long year. BUT NOT WINTER 2011-2012! It has been a holiday season filled with 3 major TAIKOPROJECT performances of all different types.

Christmas Eve was spent playing backup for Mansour at Persian Xmas at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. We learned lots of new and super exciting material to supporting his fabulous music which was be loved by all in attendance! He is truly an artist committed to his fans and his work...and who can complain about a trip to Vegas! Merci!

Then onto New Year's Eve at First Night Fullerton which is a big deal. There were soo many couples, families and friends out in the freezing cold, celebrating the end of 2011. We played 3 sets to more than packed houses! Thanks Fullerton!

And a hometown favorite of mine, Oshogatsu New Year's Day celebration in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. New Year's is such a rich holiday in the Japanese culture, filled with tradition, family and celebration! Truly and honor to ring in the new year at this awesome event!
Happy 2012 everyone!!! Love, Darren

Thursday, January 5, 2012

TP End-of-Year Taiko Marathon

During the last few hours of the last day of 2011, Bryan, Darren, Emily, Jason, Tomomi and I dared to complete the Taiko Marathon. We had three 30-minute shows in a row, with enough time in between to watch a few of our favorite YouTube videos backstage. The six of us were cozied up inside the First Christian Church in Fullerton, CA with the attendees of Fullerton's 21st annual First Night event. First Night is a tradition of Downtown Fullerton's. The event brings community members together to celebrate the new year in a safe environment. First Night had food of all sorts, entertainment stages in every direction, ample seating and even an ice rink!

When we arrived and found out we'd be playing inside the church, away from the hustle and bustle of the night outside, we initially expected a quiet evening. After all, who would venture inside and away from all of the fun (and more importantly, food) outside? Well, much to our surprise, the evening attracted a dense fog and chilly conditions, resulting in a long line of people waiting to come inside to hang out with us!

Our first show went quite smoothly. I remember a bachi flying somewhere, but we handled it well. :)

Our second show was going just as smoothly until I started feeling the first signs of fatigue during our last song, Many Sides. All that cardio after 2 weeks of vacation was intense! All of a sudden, I was hungry. It was like approaching mile 12 and really wanting a burger. Mitchell read our futures and knew we'd be starving, so he arrived after Show #2 with six delicious corn dogs! Thanks Mitchell!

The third show was difficult, exhausting and a piece of cake all in one. It's tricky to describe the feeling of fighting to get through, yet knowing you could do it all over again at the end. By that time, we were on auto pilot. We had made whatever mistakes we were going to make, and we were looking at the finish line. Once again, bachi went flying. However this time, the bachi came back to us! See what I mean about it being a piece of cake? A youngster in the audience was victim to one of our sticks, and after a bit of encouragement, he gracefully tossed it back up onstage so we could finish our set. How wonderful. I'll never forget what a great throw he had!

All in all, First Night was a success. I'm thinking about going back at the end of this year! Have a great 2012 everybody!

Friday, October 21, 2011

TAIKOPROJECT performs with Blush!

At the end of September and beginning of October, Jen, Liz, Courtney, Candice, and I had the pleasure of performing at a few gigs with Blush! Blush is a new pan-Asian girl band sensation, with members from China, Korea, Japan, India, and the Philippines. Victoria, JiHae, Natsuko, Alisha, and Angeli are all incredibly talented performers with amazing singing and dancing skills. The girls joined us at a couple of our TAIKOPROJECT rehearsals to get ready for the gigs, and it was so much fun having them with us! They told us that they had learned some taiko while they were in Hong Kong, so when we taught them a few lines to play for the gigs, they picked it up in no time.

Our first performance was at San Gabriel High School, and we performed right in the middle of the quad area. It was so hot! We played a minute or two of Here We Go Now to introduce Blush, and by the time we were finished we were all sweating! I felt so bad for Blush since they had to sing AND dance in the hot sun for another 20 minutes. The students really seemed to enjoy their performance, despite having to bear the heat.

The next day we performed at Redondo Union High School and thankfully it was in a shaded area, so it was much cooler. We tried something different this time and opened with a small segment of Expanding. Blush came on and did their thing, then we helped pass out posters, CDs, and bracelets. That night Jen, Courtney, and I met Blush at the Queen Mary to sound check for our performance the following day. While we were there, we got to bond a bit more with the girls and get used to the venue. My friend Dan Matthews from Afterschoolspecial was busily running around making sure the sound and lighting setup was running smoothly. Thanks, Dan, for all your help!!

The day after was the big performance. We all met up at the Queen Mary in Long Beach for the International Secret Agents, which is a huge concert that showcases the many talents of the upcoming generation. It's a touring concert that starts in Seattle, then works its way down to San Francisco, and makes its final stop in Long Beach. In previous years, ISA was strictly a 3-4 hour long, sit-down-only concert. This year however, they wanted to try turning ISA into an art festival. After we did our second sound check, we had some time to walk around and check out the different vendors and food trucks. We stopped by the Designs by Steppie booth and purchased some cute shirts and accessories.

At 2:40, Blush was the first group to perform and we opened with Expanding. Since we had so chances to rehearse with them, the performance was great! The crowd seemed to really like our intro and Blush's set. After we performed, Jen and I stayed to enjoy the festival and watch the other performances. Afterschoolspecial, New Heights, Clara C, B.O.B., Dumbfounded, AJ Rafael, Wong Fu Productions, and Far East Movement were some of my favorites. Sean Kingston closed the show, but Jen and I were exhausted from such a long weekend, so we decided to leave before his set.

Thank you to Derek Nakamoto for the awesome photos!

Working with Blush was such an incredible experience. They're all such amazing people and we wish them the best of luck with their careers! We hope to see them again soon!

Jen, Courtney, Liz, Candice, and I all got bracelets from each of the girls!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Adventures in Idaho Falls!

What was Idaho Falls like? Well, let's rewind about a month and a half and let's go see :)

It was actually a very relaxing place :) Here's a few highlights from our visit:

- Jen, Liz and I took a nice morning run by Snake River.
- Candlewood Suites was awesome! It was an extended stay hotel so it had a full kitchen with pots, pans, plates, utensils, etc.
- Late night excursion to see the meteor shower
- Beers after the show with Snake River Taiko
- Redvines!..ok, this has nothing to do with Idaho Falls, but we went through a large pack like it was nothing

There was a lot more, but i'll let the pictures explain the rest...

Jen, David and Maz sitting by the river.

Jen and David looking to see how deep the water is...? Or debating whether or not to jump in! :D

There was an area of the park where they had hula hoops and trashbin-hubcap-canoe-different-items drum setup thing for the naturally we played with all the stuff too :-P

Where's Liz go?
Oh, there she is!

Hawaiian shaved ice, yum!!! :D

Random, but they had a bunch of these fun benches around the town. Here are a few of them..

Some of the other ones that we saw were a big skateboard bench, bicycle bench, and a bench shaped like the handle of a violin! I looked it up when I got home and found out that they are a part of the 2010 Greenbelt Art Bench Project. It would be so cool to see something like that down here in Irvine!

Snake River at night, so awesome! This was right outside of our hotel room too! I think I took this on the night that we went to go look at the meteor shower until the AMs.

And now...getting ready for the show!


Thank you Snake River Taiko for your hospitality!

Thought I'd end it with a cast photo...actually, this is a picture from the Wyoming show, but that's ok, right? ^_^

Hope you enjoyed!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Taiko Conference wrap-up

You wouldn't think it would take me a whole month to recover, but I've finally caught up post-Taiko Conference. Whew! TaikoProject members participated in many aspects of Taiko Conference; Maz and I performed in Taiko Ten and Bryan taught a workshop called Hip-Hop Taiko along with TP assistants. The event was a grand success... looking forward to 2013!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lobsterfest 2011!

Last night, we performed at the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival!
We unloaded all of our equipment and air-bachi'd through our set behind the stage. Since we had some time before we went on, we decided to walk around the festival. There was SO MUCH food! There was, of course, lobster, but also many food trucks and other food vendors. The line to get the lobster dinner was extremely long. I was getting hungry just walking around, but we all decided to wait to eat until after the show (well, almost all of us...).
Then, it was our turn to perform on the main stage. The crowd was amazing! I love performing and I especially love performing to an awesome audience! We even saw a few familiar faces. :)
We quickly loaded the drums back into the van and headed towards the food once again to get our complimentary lobster dinner. I was dreading the line, but there wasn't one! Yay! It was fun eating lobster with everyone. Some of us demolished our lobsters! Candice used up ALL of her butter!! Okay, just kidding... but it looked like she did so I was telling everyone she did. hah. :p

Here we are!
On the left is Darren, Jen, Brian, and Candice (I sat between Brian and Candi).
On the right is Kevin, Jenny, Emily, Courtney, and Maz.
Liz and David were out looking for a non-lobster dinner and joined us a little bit later. Oh yes, Lobsterfest also gave us free drinks! :D
Thanks Lobsterfest for inviting us to perform and for the dinner!! We had a lot of fun!!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rhythmic Relations 2011!!!

Greetings to all of the TAIKOPROJECT blog followers!! We are having quite the busy summer, full of performances, tours and a lot of travelling. But lets rewind things back to the end of June for a recap of our Rhythmic Relations 2011 show at the JACCC Plaza.

Stage setup at the JACCC Plaza

This past Rhythmic Relations was my first Rhythmic Relations concert and it was very stressful and tiring weekend, but in the long run it was a truly amazing experience to be a part of such a big show. The first act featured Bombu Taiko, Kitsune Taiko, Loma Pacific Taiko and the Chibi’s, all of the groups that we help teach throughout the year. Since I don’t get to see all of groups on a regular basis, it was really special to play the stroll with all of them at the top of the show. Everyone’s positive energy and excitement has always inspired me to play from the heart and it was truly so much fun! Being one of the newer members to the TAIKOPROJECT family, I was awestruck by all the songs performed by each group. Everyone had such big smiles on their faces and it was very evident that each person was giving their very best and enjoying every minute of it. You guys did an amazing job!!

Ryutaro Kaneko

For the second act, TAIKOPROJECT took the stage with Ryutaro Kaneko who was a member of Kodo, the taiko drumming ensemble on Sado Island in Japan. For many months before the concert, Bryan, Maz and Kris worked with Ryutaro to remix songs both from Kodo’s repertoire and TAIKOPROJECT’s repertoire. One of the songs we remixed was Kodo’s Bird Island, which is a very fast piece and we even got the chance to choreograph a paranku part which is common in Eisa, Okinawan taiko drumming. Thanks to Yumi, her choreography gave our performance a little more depth beyond stationary drumming that we are normally used to. Ryutaro was also given the opportunity to remix one of our songs and the song he showed a lot of interest in was Seiza, our piece that features the koto. Creating a new middle section to the piece featuring a four-drum taiko set solo and several new accompany parts, Ryutaro expanded the normally six-person song to a sixteen-person song. That is almost the entire TAIKOPROJECT cast!

This concert took a lot of work, but with everyone’s combined effort we pulled off a very fun and exciting show. Thanks to the JACCC for providing us with such a nice stage setup and countless hours of help. A special thank you to all of our donors, without your generous support we would not have the chance to share our passion of taiko with the community. A huge thank you to all the friends, family, and fans of TAIKOPROJECT for coming out to the performance. We would also like to show the upmost gratitude to Ryutaro, for taking time out of his schedule to teach and participate in our Rhythmic Relations 2011 show. Thanks for reading TAIKOPROJECT blog followers and see you next time!! :]

TAIKOPROJECT, Bombu Taiko, Kitsune Taiko, Loma Pacific Taiko, Chibis

Our Happy Taiko Family!!! :D