Nisei Week Variety Show Traces JA Experience Through Music


Though the Nisei Week Japanese Festival may be over, the Nisei Week Foundation’s 75th anniversary celebration continues.

On Sunday, Oct. 10, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo, the Nisei Week Foundation presents the “Nisei Week Variety Show: Generations,” an entertaining journey spanning nearly eight decades of the Japanese American experience in Los Angeles using music and imagery. With a line-up of Nikkei performers, this one-time event is a must-attend event for all.

Shin Kawasaki

Shin Kawasaki

Early bird tickets are $25 (until Sept. 30) and available via EventBrite, which can be accessed through the website. After Sept. 30, tickets are $40 online, and $45 at the door.

Entertainers will include musician Shinichiro Kawasaki, singer Brooke Taylor, spoken-word artist George Masao Yamazawa Jr., improv group Cold Tofu, and many more special guests.

Music is the thread of the show as it traces the journey of Japanese Americans in Los Angeles from the 1930s through present day. The 1930s number represents both the roots of Japanese American culture and the start of the Nisei Week Japanese Festival. Taiko and traditional dance represent how Japanese Americans are tied to their Japanese roots.

The 1940s journey is a spoken-word performance delivered by Yamazawa. It’s a reflection on internment and the lasting effect it had on the community and its place in history.

The 1960s performance takes the audience back to the decade of peace and love through Kawasaki’s music.

The 1970s piece harks back to the disco era with flashes of “Soul Train,” which was popular with the Japanese American crowd of that time.

The 1980s through the 2000s are also retold through this entertaining journey, with a powerful grand finale that brings the audience to today.

About the Performers

Shinichiro Kawasaki, “SK,” was born in Toyama, Japan and later moved to Osaka, where he was inspired to pursue music. He moved to Los Angeles in 1999, and as a guitarist worked with Lee Takasugi and Visiting Violette, steel/kit drummer Chili Charles (of Mike Oldfield fame) and his group KUFU, Hollywood Records artist Marie Digby, and Emmy-winning composer Misha Segal. He co-founded Los Desnudos, one of the finalists for 2007 Independent Music Awards (jam category) with Geoff Haba of Mother Tongue fame on drums.

His first self-titled solo effort was released in July 2010, showcasing his composing and producing skills in varying styles, ranging from technopop a la Yellow Magic Orchestra to prog, dub, acid jazz, fusion, metal and drum ‘n’ bass. It was nominated for Independent Music Awards 2010 in the album/eclectic category.

Brooke Taylor

Brooke Taylor

Along with his live-performing outfit “Flying Platforms,” SK hosts MidTones, a monthly jam session at Grand Star Jazz Club in Chinatown, performing the mixture of cyberpunk-infused live-tronic original materials and covers ranging from jazz standards, ’80s/’90s R&B dance hits to J-pop.

SK also performs with Alanna Vicente (and These Fine Gentlemen), a jazz, bossa nova and ’60s pop, TV/game show theme song tribute band, The Remotes (who provided music at Creative Emmy Awards from 2013 on), and South Bay-based classic/yacht rock band extraordinaire Retrofit.

Japanese American R&B sensation Brooke Taylor is making her mark on the industry one strategic step at a time. The Los Angeles-born singer released her first album, “Live on Virtuous Energy (L.O.V.E.), in December 2011 and has quickly gained recognition from some of the most popular DJs and artists on the scene. She was first heard vocally competing on Steve Harvey’s morning show. She later was crowned the “Neighborhood Idol” by a celebrity panel on Big Boy’s morning show.

In May 2013, Taylor released her second album, “iHuman,” with the band Venus/Mars and premiered their first single, “Forgiveness,” via the band’s Vevo page. In addition to writing and producing her own music, she has landed multiple music licensing opportunities from TV shows to TV commercials, including being deemed the new voice for the Dasani Twist campaign.

G Yamazawa

G Yamazawa

She has also spread her vocal talents to various hip-hop records, being the only feature on well-known underground rapper Murs’ album “Shut Your Trap.” This received great reception from some of the largest hip-hop blogs. Taylor was part of “Red Eye to Tokyo,” a hip-hop compilation album released through ScionAV. With her versatility and talent, she has demonstrated she is one to watch.

Born in Durham, N.C., and raised by Japanese immigrants, George Masao Yamazawa Jr. is widely considered one of the top young spoken-word artists in the country. At 24 years old, “G” is the youngest poet to become a National Poetry Slam champion, Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, and Southern Fried champion, and has toured more than 40 American cities and five European countries.

Winner of Kollaboration DC 2012, Audience Choice Award recipient of the Inaugural Kollaboration Star, and 2013 Kundiman Fellow, G has been featured at the Sundance Film Festival, Bonnaroo Music Festival, TV One’s Season 3 of “Verses and Flow,” the Pentagon, and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. G’s poetry has been published in Beltway Quarterly, Asian Fortune Magazine, and 27 Views of Durham. He has shared stages with Sonia Sanchez, Michelle Kwan, Danny Glover, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

An advocate for youth empowerment, G has extensive experience as a teaching artist facilitating writing/performance workshops for inner city youth in the Washington, D.C., public school system through Split This Rock, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization with a focus in political poetry. Monthly host at Busboys and Poets, coach of the Georgetown Collegiate Slam Poetry Team, and full-time touring poet, G cherishes every moment he shares with each person, whether it be an audience, his nephew, or the bus driver.

The Nisei Week Foundation was established in 1999 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to oversee and organize the Nisei Week Japanese Festival. The foundation’s mission is to promote Japanese and Japanese American heritage and traditions while bringing together the diverse communities of Southern California through arts and cultural education.



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