The Japan tour in the summer each year is always the highlight of that year. This is always the most enjoyable and relaxing time of the whole year, a time to play music to an appreciative audience and to meet my friends in Japan. Then there is the food and the shopping. There is no other time in the year I enjoy more. The year of 2010 has been a very memorable year. I played shows in Beijing, Macau and Guangzhou. This is the year I played the most shows outside Hong Kong yet. Then came the Kansai tour. Something I always look forward to.

The trip to Japan each year is always bitter sweet : it reminds me of the relentless onward march of time. When one is young, times seems immobile; everything seems a standstill and if it moves, it moves at a snail's pace. A year seems such such an impossibly long time. But as the years silently slip by, one begins to feel the full swing of the pendulum of the time. Before you knew it, another years has slipped by. You have an almost hopeless feeling as you see the years rushing by and there is nothing you can do about it. You realise that very soon, if it is not all over yet, it wouldn't matter anymore one way of the other. I always ponder over what life would have been like if I chose a different path. What if I chose music instead of law when I was 18 years old? Would I be a happier person now? Or would have I gone down that beaten path of dissolutionment and self-destruction so many went? I really don't know. But the moment is now.

When I go on tour in Japan, I always bring with me my own rhythm section or at least part of my own rhythm. But this year, through the co-ordination of Mr. Masato Nishimura I teamed up with one of Japan's top Blues band, The Outloop Way Blues Band. Together we went on tour in Osaka and Kyoto. Mr. Masato is the organizer of my shows in Japan. Mr. Masato's record company handles the distribution of my cds and also the cds of The Outloop Way Blues Band in Japan.

The Outloop Way Blues Band is a trio band, with Satoshi Sanda on guitar, Tokuji on bass and Yuji Nogami on drums. The music they play is Blues Rock with a distinct Texas flavour and deep in the Stevie Ray Vaughan style. They played one show in my Blues bar in April 2004. They were the last overseas band to play in my Blues bar before I closed down it down. It was inopportune that when they did their show at my Blues bar I was in Japan doing some shows in Sapporo. We never got to meet until 2008. Last year I played a show in Sanda san's Blues bar in Kyoto. We had a jam session and it felt great. This year is even better, we got to played together as a band. This is a fantastic band. I was really looking forward to playing with them.

This year I did a total of 5 shows within the span of 6 days. Five of the shows were in Osaka : Beggars' Banquet (21st August), Doors In Heaven (22nd August), Ruido (25th August) and Club Jungle (26th August). One show was in Kyoto was at Toga Toga on 16th August. Toga Toga is a famous live house in Kyoto and this was a special show. What made the show really special was the presence of the Blues master Mr. "Weeping Harp" Senoh. We would be playing together on stage. This was the first time in 4 years. I knew I would enjoy myself feeding on the immense electricity and energy of the Blues master. There is also one other thing that was special in this show. For the first time in 10 years I did not use my Steinberger guitar for standard tuning guitar playing. I used a Telecaster style guitar made by a Japanese company under licence from an ex-Fender masterbuilder Fred Stuart (more about that later).

 

Toga Toga with the Blues Master Mr. "Weeping Harp" Senoh"

 

Anyone who has been to a "Weeping Harp" Senoh show will never forget the energy, the intensity and groove of his music. His harp can bring a tears to your eyes and joy to your heart. Mr. Senoh is such a powerful performer and his shows are always unforgettable. As to his Blues harp, it simply is one of the best in the world. In Toga Toga, I had the chance to play along side the master again. It was an exhilarating experience, it was an emotional journey playing through the set list of the master. With a musician of Mr. stature, he lifts you up in your music, he inspires you and you see to rise above yourself.

Toga Toga is a famous live house in Kyoto. Literally all of the top musicians in Japan have performed at Toga Toga. For me, this is another unforgettable experience. I am on tour with a super band backing me and for this show I would be playing with Mr. Senoh as well. The Outloop Way Blues Band opened the night, I did my set and than Mr. Senoh came on stage. We had such a good time on stage. The audience were so kind we were asked to go back for encores.

The only complain I have is the public transport system. To get from Osaka to Kyoto, we traveled by train. The last train was 11:00 p.m. By the time we finished the set with the encore, we had so little time before the last train. Packing up my gear I could only say a few words of thanks to Mr. Senoh and everyone before rushing off to catch the last train. The was no time to sit down, relax and talk. But I suppose the music did all the talking already.

 

Ruido is in the heart of Shinsaibashi and is a stone's throw away from our hotel. I have never played in this venue before. As with all the venues in Japan the sound on stage is excellent.

Live At Club Jungle

Club Jungle has become a must-do every year. I am getting know this place really well. The sound is really good on stage and I feel really relaxed playing here. This year we have also Kimura and Misaki's Folk Rock Band and Hiroke's Folk Rock Band. Always love playing at Club Jungle.

 

Kimiura's Folk Rock Band

 

Hiroke's New Band

 

Doors In Heaven

Doors In Heaven also in Shinshabashi, not far from Club Jungle. The first thing that struck me when I walked into this place was its feel : it has the same feel as my old Blues club in Hong Kong. There are pictures of Blues musicians on the walls, there are guitars lying around and music was thick in the air. The moment you walk into this place, you know this place is music, you know music matters here and you know the owner loves music. Not surprisingly the owner turned out to be a great Blues fan and also a Blues guitar player. Some of the guitars here are very very nice ones.

Masato san's new band New Directions. This is a Funk, Rhythm & Blues and Soul outfit.

Another year has just flown by. Before you know it, another year is gone. On 24th September, I learnt of the killing of Hong Kong tourist in Manila by the rogue policeman. It is so sad. When you number is up, your number is up. I don't consider join a tourist company going sight-seeing in Manila a particularly high risk venture. Yet, so many died, sons, husbands died just like that. I really don't know what to say. Maybe the only thing to learnt from all this is to enjoy life as much as you can. You never know when your number is up. Don't waste time, do what you want to do, do what you think is meaningful. You may never have the chance to do it.

This year I made really good friends with the Outloop Way Blues Band. We enjoyed playing music together so much. Before I left, Sanda san told me that we have to do it again. And yes, we really have do it again. Every year I feel sad when it was time to come back to Hong Kong and this year is no exception. But it has been such a good time. My cousin Nicholas joined me again and had a really great time together. He took some fantastic pictures.

I am now back in Hong Kong, but the good times linger in my mind every day ; the music, the places, the friends and the good times. I smile when I think about it all. Life is so good. I am so glad to have gout out of law. There is so much more to life than working 10 or 12 hours a day, arguing cases in court, make as much money as you can and spend it as quickly as you can. Such a meaningless life. But that is all by-gone's now. I have never enjoyed life more. I always look forward to tomorrow and the next show.

   

Another thing to make this year in Osaka so memorable is I bought two fantastic guitars. These guitars are simply the best of their kind. Their brand is Stuart. Never hear of it? Well, you should really find out, it is something you want to know. Check it out here.