Hiroshima Concert to Celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month

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Hiroshima (from left): Danny Yamamoto, drums and percussion; June Kuramoto, koto; Kimo Cornwell, keyboards; Terry Steele, vocals; Dean Cortez, bass; Yvette Nii, vocals: Dan Kuramoto, saxophone and flutes.

Hiroshima (from left): Danny Yamamoto, drums and percussion; June Kuramoto, koto; Kimo Cornwell, keyboards; Terry Steele, vocals; Dean Cortez, bass; Yvette Nii, vocals: Dan Kuramoto, saxophone and flutes.

Hiroshima has announced that their Spring Tour will feature songs from their new CD “Songs With Words,” the first-ever all-vocal CD, and other favorites.

The project was recorded in studio and offers some of the early Hiroshima vocal classics, which are no longer available.

With a musical career spanning three decades, gold records and 4 million in sales worldwide, Hiroshima continues to make their unique mix of East meets West their signature sound.

The “Songs With Words” tour heads to Las Vegas for Hiroshima’s annual appearance there on Saturday, May 7, at Santa Fe Station’s Chrome Room with special guest vocalist Terry Steele.

On Saturday, May 14, the Arcadia Performing Arts Center presents an “Evening of Music with Hiroshima Celebrating Asian Pacific Heritage Month” with special guest vocalists Steele and Yvette Nii, who are both featured on “Songs With Words.”

June Kuramoto on koto.

June Kuramoto on koto.

The songs that helped launch the band’s career include “Roomful of Mirrors” (their first radio hit), “Long Time Love,” “Da Da,” “Never Ever,” “Tabo,” and “The Door Is Open.”

“Our 20th recording is a response to all the requests we’ve received to put our early vocal songs all on one CD,” band leader Dan Kuramoto said, adding that it features “a special ohana version of ‘Thousand Cranes.’”

“There is even a special free download you can access from a code inside the CD that features an amazing jam of our song ‘Do What You Can,’ featuring one of our friends and heroes, Vinx,” Kuramoto said. “You have to check that one out!

“Lest you feel ‘detached’ from the Hiroshima sound, the music is all held together by our own queen of soul, June Kuramoto, on koto. I found her work on this project truly amazing. She is the sound of Hiroshima, after all.

“Knowing us, we didn’t get to it right away partly because we wanted to find a way to make it unique. So when we decided that we would record those songs ‘live,’ it all kind of fell into place. Bringing back brother Terry Steele and the lovely Hawaiian Yvette Nii, the duo who sang on our 2010 Grammy-nominated ‘Legacy’ CD, we crammed band, singers, engineer and producer into Studio Tofuville and ‘went for it’ along with some of our favorite guest artists, Richie Gajate Garcia, percussion; Jim Gilstrap and Hillary Black, vocals; and Leslie Chew, guitar.

“Lots more going on. Visit us at our website or on Facebook and especially our brand new Hiroshima music app, which will provide complete tour schedules and a variety of news from food to new music and everything in between. Available on Android Apps, Google Play and Apple App Store.”

“Songs With Words” is available for immediate digital downloads or physical CD orders at www.hiroshimamusic.com, iTunes, Amazon Facebook and Cdbaby.

Q&A With Dan Kuramoto

Following is conversation between The Rafu’s Mikey Hirano Culross and Dan Kuramoto.

Q: What led to the decision to do a vocal album? Has that become a crowd-pleaser at your shows?

A: It actually started by our community of fans, many of whom related to our early vocal songs, and wondered if we could do a compilation of them. Our previous record labels would not sell us back the original versions, so we were stuck. Ultimately we decided to re-record the songs “live” in the studio, and we are really happy with it. Having Terry Steele and Yvette Nii as our principal vocalists made it really enjoyable — and they were amazing!

Dan Kuramoto on saxophone.

Dan Kuramoto on saxophone.

Though the CD was officially released in January, we did some “test” shows toward the end of last year. The response was phenomenal. Given that this is a one-time-only project — we remain committed to our current instrumental unit — it’s fun and refreshing to do it.

Q: Decades along now, how is Hiroshima keeping it fresh, as well as keeping up with the record biz, as it evolves?

A: I think June keeps it fresh. Without sounding like a monku, I truly feel she is one of our most under-appreciated artists. Her musical spirit and the depth and range of her koto playing probably won’t be really understood for many years to come. The people who understand it most are other world-class musicians, ranging from jazz legend Stanley Clarke to the great Ravi Shankar.

She continually inspires. Additionally, we love the challenge of growing a kind of music that belongs to us and our community.

For example, I think of how Prince established his rights over his music, and how now it’s not available on streaming services, because the artist isn’t paid well (or at all) when songs are streamed.

It may well be that we may not survive the current state of the music industry. I think Prince saw the “writing on the wall” early on — another aspect of his genius.

Our direction now is to embrace the body of our work and do shows that reflect that. We are in Honolulu now doing 12 shows at the new Blue Note. We play Las Vegas on the 7th of May — all pointing toward a very special evening of music on May 14 at Arcadia Performing Arts Center. It’s all ramping up musically and spiritually to Asian Pacific Heritage Month. It’s who we are.

The band is joined by vocalists Terry Steele and Yvette Nii.

The band is joined by vocalists Terry Steele and Yvette Nii.

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