The expected email from Juni arrived shortly after noon. The gig was on! The forecast had been unsettled, with rain predicted for our evening outdoor performance in Leominster, MA. I had been checking regional satellite images all morning, and I wasn’t seeing a problem. Time to wrap up my work, print out some directions to the venue (to compensate for my flaky GPS), and start on the hour-plus drive.
The last gig I played was at our 15th anniversary concert, reVISION, at the end of May. I was hungry for another performance opportunity. I couldn’t ask for a better lineup: I would be playing two of my favorite songs, Mahora and Hamon; singing Kiyari for Miyake; and playing Shin-En for the first time outside of practice. It promised to satisfy that hunger, at least for a while.
The venue, located at a senior housing development called Brooks Pond, consisted of a large tent over a stage of interlocking sheets of plywood placed on the grass. Rows of lawn chairs provided seating for the audience. Two massive vertical I-beams planted in concrete footings on either side of the tent hinted at the amphitheater they are planning to build.
Unloading the drums, spiking the stage, and running the cue-to-cue were all executed with characteristic ONE efficiency. After running through the transitions for Act I, I happened to walk past Mark as he was talking to our Brooks Pond organizers. I heard one of them say something about a tornado blowing the tent away. That can’t be good, I thought.
Minutes later, Mark called everyone over to the tent to announce that the set was being shortened considerably, specifically, to nothing. The show was cancelled. A tornado watch had been posted for the area, so continuing with the show was too risky. The show must not go on.
We prevailed on Mark to let us play one song, since everything was all set up and the weather hadn’t arrived yet. We played Shin-En. It was a free-for-all getting to a drum, and I wound up on a 60-gallon drum, which is quite a bit taller than the chudaiko I learned this song on. Shin-En involves some nontrivial choreography, and during the song I whacked my right index finger precisely on the knuckle no less than three times. It is now a nice shade of purple. Deja vu: earlier in the day, Tanya, another ONE member, told me that she also recently played Shin-En on a 60-gallon drum and whacked her thumb, which she never does. The hazards of being a taiko player. I’m still glad we played a song.
Afterward, the organizers graciously invited us inside for pizza and beer. (I drank water because I can’t stand the taste of beer. I realize this limits the fullness of my taiko experience, but I’m OK with that.) We chilled, swapped taiko stories, and sang Happy Birthday to Jasmine.
Am I disappointed? Sure. A lot of good still came of it, though. I practiced the songs, finally learned Shin-En, and spent some time with my taiko family. And with the time saved by not performing, I wrote this post! I know there will be many opportunities to play in the future. I’ll be plenty hungry for the next one.