photo by Nobuharu Komoriya
In 1967 the Bluegrass 45 was formed in “Lost City” coffee house in a port town of Kobe, Japan. They were eager to learn and eager to entertain the audience while having fun for themselves. They released their first LP “Run Mountain” in 1970 with unique arrangement of old and new songs including Dave Brubeck/Paul Desmond’s “Take Five”. Later that year they were ‘discovered’ by Dick Freeland of Rebel Records – thanks to Ian Tyson’s recommendation – and Dick arranged an US tour in 1971 and 1972, traveling from Georgia to Massachusetts to Grande Opry in Nashville to a club appearance in Toronto. Dick also released three LPs from Rebel, “Bluegrass 45”, “Caravan” and “In The Morning”.
After the tour of 1972, the band broke up and everybody went separate ways – Josh formed his own “Leaves of Grass” while working at a music store, Akira moved to Washington DC suburb, Toshio and Sab formed Bluegrass and Old Time Music Services (BOM) and started a Bluegrass festival of their own. Ryo and Lee were working in non-Bluegrass field and raising families. Occasional reunion concerts were held only when Akira visited there in 80’s and early 90’s.
The earthquake that hit Kobe in 1995, destroyed some of member’s houses but it brought agility back to engage in music. In 1996, they toured in Japan and States including Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, VA, Courtney Johnson Memorial Concert held at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN and IBMA in Owensboro, KY. Also they released a live CD “Once Again, From Kobe, Japan” and a movie “That’s The Time” produced by Kosei Yoshida that year. In 2006, they were invited back to Bean Blossom festival in Indiana, which was their first festival appearance in 1971 and they also performed at ROMP (River of Music Party) in Owensboro, KY. In 2012, to celebrate its 45th anniversary, they appeared at Wintergrass in Seattle, WA and in November they performed 9 shows in 8 different cities in 12 days in Japan.
What’s next for the 45? Maybe few club gigs in May of 2015 or possibly a studio album? 50th anniversary tour in 2017? We’re not quite old enough to quit yet?!?!
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