Saturday was my last night (for a while) in Winnipeg, and I decided to use my time well.
I called one of my best friends - the lovely and near-perfect Greta - and the two of us went out to dinner followed by a CD launch concert for these people .
I first met the players in Fubuki Daiko five years ago, when they and I were both showcasing at an industry event in Saskatchewan. After my mini-performance, I hung around to watch the other acts, and this group of Taiko drummers from Winnipeg took the stage. I'd only seen Taiko in brief glimpses on TV, and had no real idea what I was in for.
Done well, Taiko drumming is an incredible aural, visual, and emotional experience. The sound is only part of that experience, albeit a huge part - the deep, resonant bass drums reaching down into you and quickening your heartbeat; the smaller drums, bell, cymbals, gongs and rimshots overlaid on the rich aural canvas. By itself, the sound is exciting and interesting. Combined with the poetic movements of the drummers - whirling and spinning in what can only be described as a fusion of ballet and martial arts - Taiko is an eye-popping, jaw-dropping, pick-your-body-part-and-resultant-effect feast of sound and fury signifying everything.
After their showcase performance that evening, I went backstage to introduce myself and tell them how incredible I thought they were. What flowed from that was a warm friendship that lasts to this day. I was even able to play a small part in getting them out to Charlottetown for the Festival of the Fathers one year (mostly by way of introductions - anybody who sees them in performance doesn't need persuading to book them).
Last night's concert for the CD launch was in a sold out 600 seat theatre and - I think this says something - they got a frigging standing ovation at INTERMISSION! And of course, when the concert finished, the standing ovation was spring-loaded and lasted for what felt like forever. An absolute triumph, and I gotta say, it made my eyes mist to see performers accepted so warmly and heartily in their home town. Doesn't always happen.
I got the new CD last night. It's wonderful, a great follow-up to their first CD, which won a Prairie Music Award for Instrumental Recording. Buy it. And check their tour schedule and if they're playing near you, move Heaven and Earth to get to their show. It really is one of those experiences that alters how we look at things.