Tokyo’s Benten record label will bring its annual post-SXSW “Japan Nite” tour to The Independent in San Francisco on March 24. The night will feature five very different bands that all bridge the gap between East and West in their own unique way.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing acts is Pirates Canoe, a Japanese three to six piece folk group who could give Appalachia’s finest a run for their money with their ability to play bluegrass. They’ll be appearing in their trimmed down trio format for the purposes of this tour.
Similarly, Chihiro Yamazaki and her Route 14 Band are also virtuosos of a very American art form. Fronted by vocalist and trumpet player Chihiro Yamazaki (aka Anna of Tokyo Brass Style), the outfit combines Seventies funk with jazz and delivers a very pleasing, groovy retro sound.
Also on the bill is power pop/rock trio Jake Stone Garage and all-girl punk/pop quartet JOSY. The evening’s entertainment is rounded out by Four Minutes Til Midnight, who are perhaps the most well known of the five bands here in the United States.
The rootsy hybrid rock outfit, which is comprised of American singer Eli Taylor and Japanese members Kenta Hayashi (guitar) and Yusuke Ikegaya (bass), was actually formed in Hollywood, where the members met while studying at the Musician's Institute. Their self-produced albums Oak Tree (2006) and Find My Way (2009) both sold in excess of 20,000 units in the U.S., and in 2012 they were signed to a major label, Universal, in Japan. These achievements are indicative of precisely what this showcase tour ultimately hopes to promote.