There is nothing quite like vibing along to the blues to lift up your spirits. My friend Samm Bennett from Polarity Records and Ken Shima reunited for a mini tour of Medicine Bone. I had to travel clear across Tokyo to be able to catch Medicine Bone live in Ogikubo, Tokyo at the Velvet Sun. I live on the Tozai Train Line which means east west line, and I traveled from as far east and still be in Tokyo to the West.
I caught up with Samm and Ken before their set and asked them to describe their music style. Ken replied that they are heavily influenced North Mississippi Hill Country Blues, as opposed to the Delta Blues. Not the blues that Muddy took and electrified in Chicago, but those blues that stayed behind in the hills of Northern Mississippi. He went on to say that there is a lot fewer changes in the blues pattern than the down south delta styles.
Samm proudly showed me his custom travel drum kit. I am always impressed with the compactness of his drum kit, which Samm said he is basically limited by what he can carry on the subways and trains. He switched the direction of his bass drum to be perpendicular rather than flush to the stage. He also customized his petal so that he uses his heal rather than his ball to keep the bass drum thumping.
Both Ken and Samm shared vocals. Basically, whoever was singing wrote the song. The alternated belting out the songs with titles like, Tennessee, Liquor Store, and Little Man. Simple songs that were packed full of emotion that lifted me up out of the dust, and made me stomp my heals.
It amazed me that Ken had built a custom microphone out of an old Japanese analog telephone speaker. It gave a perfect sound to accompany the blues rifts and beats.
The blues is simple music with complex emotions. The blues allows the burdens that weight you down to be lightened somewhat. I definitely felt a whole lot better after a beer and vibing out to the blues.
Medicine Bone has two more shows in Tokyo, Tonight and Saturday. Check them if you can. You’ll thank the doctor later!.
Friday Night September 7, at Juke Joint, NishiAzabu, Tokyo
open 19:00 – start 20:30
2000 yen entry plus 1 drink (500 yen)
Three, count ‘em THREE sets from Medicine Bone
at Tokyo’s newest spot for blues and blues-esque sounds!
Light food available as well as full bar, of course.
Sets at 8:30 - 9:15 and 10:00. Come for one or all!
Saturday Night at Bright Brown, Nakano, Tokyo
open: 19:30 – start: 20:00
Medicine Bone loves the friendly, casual and lived-in atmosphere at Bright Brown. It’s Nakano’s premier blues spot, and MB is delighted
to be coming back to perform there! We’ll be doing two (or maybe 3?) sets for our last Tokyo appearance!
Bright Brown website
Thanks again to Samm and Ken for having me out, I was enlightened by their soulful music.
Medicine Bone Performing “Tennessee” live at Velvet Sun