Since the horrifying earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed northeastern Japan on March 11, Mar Creation, a New York-based music publishing company, turned its concerts into fundraising events. A distribution service for musicians, Mar Creation originally developed j-Summit New York to provide a platform for local and emerging artists, most of whom are native Japanese.
The last two j-Summit New York concerts, March 27 and May 8, raised almost $1,300, which the organizers contributed to the Consulate General of Japan in New York for Japan relief efforts.
The Consulate General won out over traditional charities such as the Red Cross. “We chose it because we think the Consulate General of Japan is the most direct . . . and reliable organization to Japan among all the non-profits,” says Hiroshi Kono, president of Mar Creation.
Kono and executive producer Katsu Oiwake book the bands for j-Summit New York, which, fundraising efforts aside, is still a showcase for musicians and other performers. Featured in the May 8 concert at the Bowery Electric were the sounds of pop, rock, soul, R&B, jazz, ‘80s influence, and even gospel.
Soul singer NOW sang a couple of standards then donned a bright green smock and joined a gospel choir as they belted out “Don’t Give Up.” The song is available for purchase on iTunes, with all profits going to the Japanese Red Cross.
Other highlights of the night included Bronx-based singer Go Takeuchi, who ended his set with a stirring “Ganbare, Nihon” to encourage the people of Japan. Super sweet Tomiya added bouncy pop with driving rock riffs, including a creative Japanese rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” that turned into “What’s Going On” by Four Non Blondes at the chorus.
Perhaps the most intriguing performance of the evening was by acoustic guitarist Ryutaro. His use of the technique of tapping creates multi-layered, textured music that “ . . . makes it sound like five guitars are onstage,” says Alexandra Honigsberg, professional musician and president of the SoHo Host Club, a group dedicated to the New York arts-and-culture scene.
The last two acts were a lovely contrast in sound and style, from the mellow jazz of Miki Yoshitake to the smooth Depeche Mode tribute by Maganda. Comedy and dance rounded out the show.
Kono says that j-Summit will continue to be fundraisers for Japan, with the next two shows scheduled for June 12 and July 3. “Like” the group’s Facebook page for more information.
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