Drum Tao

  • Drum Tao

7/24/15 (Fri), Tokyo

A performance of Japanese taiko drums dressed up in a dramatic frame. Drum Tao is a group of young well-built drummers and athletes from Oita Prefecture in Kyushu that has apparently been around a while – the program (unusually distributed free) says they’ve performed in 400 cities in 20 countries. But they were new to me.

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Concert: Buena Vista Social Club

  • Concert: Buena Vista Social Club

1/1/15 (Thurs), Havana

There were several venues advertising shows with BVSC members, who seem to form a large but loose group of son/salsa musicians. These shows have boomed since my last visit 15 years ago, maybe a sign of the expanding tourist trade. Locals didn’t know much about it, so I asked the hotel, which recommended this one. I had imagined a small, smoky, dodgy club, and the location, a decidedly un-touristy and yet-to-be renovated part of the old city, felt appropriate. But the theater was actually quite new and more like a fancy nightclub, with a large proscenium stage and runway. Dinners and snacks were available along with drinks, all of which were served throughout the show by waitresses in retro short lacy skirts.  Continue reading

Barbra Streisand, Rod Stewart

  • Barbra Streisand, 8/6/16 (Sat), Las Vegas, T-Mobile Arena
  • Rod Stewart, 8/7/16 (Sun), Las Vegas, Caesar’s Palace

Barbra was making the latest of her farewell concert tours, and I figured it was about time to see her. The hefty price tag was off-putting, especially since she’s far from her peak at age 74. But I still kick myself for missing my only chance to catch Frank Sinatra in his last tour of Japan (with Liza Minnelli and Sammy Davis Jr, no less) because I was too cheap to shell out ¥30,000. I’ve long decided: no more regrets. While I’m not a big Streisand fan – I only have one of her albums, a gift from a friend – she’s undeniably a star in her own universe with a strong catalog of hits. So I combined a business trip with a side visit to Las Vegas.  Continue reading

Diana Krall

Diana Krall

19 February 2016, Bangkok

I only know vaguely about Diana Krall: Canadian jazz pianist, blonde beauty, Julie London-type cool, married to Elvis Costello. I’ve heard scattered songs, such as her famous version of “The Look of Love”, and was never overly wowed. But with little else to do on a Friday night in Bangkok, this seemed as good a time as any to check her out for real. Continue reading

La Fille Du Regiment (Met Live)

La Fille Du Regiment (Met Live)

30 May 2008 (Fri), Tokyo

The final offering of this season’s Met Live opera film series of a performance from one month earlier. I had really been looking forward to this because of its star Natalie Dessay, who was so amazing in another Donizetti title role in the Met’s opener Lucia last October. I missed the film’s initial showing in Roppongi and wasn’t about to make the same mistake with this special encore performance. The theatre was quite full, but I got a nice seat from some lady with an extra ticket. (She seemed to pick me out of the line because she wanted to speak English. I was happy to oblige for a good seat.) She actually saw this performance live in NY last month and was so delighted that she wanted to watch it again. I took that as a good sign. Continue reading