We're stiff, sore, tired, and still smiling... our annual 3 gig day for the National Cherry Blossom Festival has come and gone and we've got some pretty fantastic highlights for the Nen Daiko memory book. The weekend started on Saturday, bright and early, to make it out to the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II to kick off the 2011 Freedom Walk, organized by the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF).
The memorial and foundation were established to honor and never forget Japanese American patriotism, military service, heroism and perseverance over injustice during World War II. The event holds a special place in Nen Daiko's heart as several of our members are part of families that were directly impacted by the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This performance was the 14th straight year that Nen Daiko has had the privilege to perform here.
The weather was brisk (many in the group would say instead, freezing!) and overcast, but we had a great crowd so after the first hit of the taiko, we had all we needed to get our blood flowing and put on a great show! Congrats to trainee, Geoff, on his first performance with Nen Daiko! With this performance, our entire 2011 trainee class are now veteran performers with us. Great job all!
Ask any taiko player, in any part of the world, in any language, and it is an absolute certainty that when asked what the group is about, their response can be roughly generalized into (1) the group is like family, (2) passion and an exuberance for taiko, and (3) ... FOOD. Taiko players love to eat. And be goofy. (see photo on right). So bento meals, snacks, and a restaurant stop later, we're pulling up to the Southwest Waterfront Musical Prelude to the Fireworks, parking the car while keeping a close eye on the lines of the gourmet food trucks parked throughout the event grounds (holla, Red Hook Lobster Truck !). Quick change and unload at the stage and ...
Enter rain/hail storm... Exit cue audience... Nen Daiko panic to get the taiko to shelter!
Let me correct that... Exit cue for *most* of the audience. Dude in the front row with the green jacket, hood up and flapping umbrella in the hail with a big ole grin on your face. You the man. Lady in the pink raincoat, soaked to the bone, and walking up to say hi after the storm passed... Hardcore! We love it! Canceling this show was no option after seeing you two.
Five to ten very long minutes later, sun is back out, crowds came back, and Nen Daiko rocked the house. Thanks so much for the love!
A few more snacks later and we're at our final gig , setting up for the Festival's Saturday closing act at the Sylvan Theatre, the primary stage for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. In the shadow of the Washington Monument, the theatre is a fantastic and picturesque venue. One great thing about the last gig of a long day is that you know it's time to blow through and burn everything left in the tank. We know the weather chased away many people, but for you all that stuck around, we performed for you (and especially one particular 15 month old son in the audience... no bias of course from the blogger's perspective!)
Thank you everyone for your continued support and we hope you enjoyed our performances! We certainly enjoyed sharing our passion with you through all of this unpredictable spring weather. Hope to see you all again this coming weekend as we close out the National Cherry Blossom Festival with a performance at the Sakura Matsuri Street Festival. See our calendar for more info!