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Alicia Bay Laurel | Alicia Bay Laurel: Live in Japan

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Folk: Psych-folk Folk: Political Folk Moods: Type: Live Recordings
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Alicia Bay Laurel: Live in Japan

by Alicia Bay Laurel

Melodic guitar fingerpicking, with open-hearted singing, about living in peace, living in nature, and living in love.
Genre: Folk: Psych-folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream (Live) [feat. Takuji, Paul Metzke, The Inoue Ohana Band & The Lily Choir]
7:06 $0.99
2. Yurikago No Uta / Lullaby (Live) [feat. Ikue Asazaki & Atsushi Tanaka]
9:02 $0.99
3. Chants of the Four Seasons from Being of the Sun
5:56 $0.99
4. Down by the Riverside (Live) [feat. The Lily Choir]
4:49 $0.99
5. Ukulele Hula (Live) [feat. Inoue Ohana Band]
4:13 $0.99
6. Imagine / Give Peace a Chance (Live) [feat. Takuji]
5:58 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Charming! A wonderful CD, light and lyrical and still timely and deep.   I especially liked the crowd singing along parts.  Such cosmic threads run through your life and music and art.  Wow!

Sophia Songhealer

Singer/songwriter and recording artist/producer

Clearlake, California


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Thank you very much for sending us your new CD: Live in Japan.

Your voice, so pure and warm, makes me feel at home.
With so many people suffering from cruelty of wars, and new totally devastating nuclear war still looming, your message reminding people of the beauty of life, and the warmth of peace is more meaningful than ever.

Ikue Asazaki's voice is so soulful!

Kenichi Iyanaga

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

Tokyo University

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Wow, the CD looks and sounds great Alicia.
Nice balance, guitar solo works, and you sound great.

Paul Metzke

Jazz/blues guitarist

New York City, NY

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Alicia Bay Laurel is back in Japan and Okinawa.
In this [track “Imagine”], she sounds like an angel in a church at ground zero in Hiroshima.
Can't stop listening, so beautiful, and a special time, place convergence for peace.
Thank you!

Jean Downey

Attorney, Professor, Journalist and Activist

Winter Park, Florida

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Thank you for sending me your new CD.

I am really enjoying listening to it right now!

I was surprised to hear how good your Japanese pronunciation is.

You sound Japanese!

I love your voice on “Imagine”.

And I love the sweet face of Amaterasu on the jacket!

Great CD!

Mayu Jensen

Translator, graphic artist, and singer/songwriter

Nagano Prefecture, Japan

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Six small but powerful tracks — as relevant today as when the songs were first written — speak to the depths of our souls and the heights of our spirits. Alicia Bay Laurel’s soulful renditions are the perfect balm for our troubled times, making Live in Japan another timeless gem in our collective treasure box.

今だからききたい Ima dakara kikitai
大地の音色 Daichi no neiro
今だからききたい Ima dakara kikitai
心の響き Kokoro no hibiki
今だからききたい Ima dakara kikitai
アリシアの唄 Alicia no uta

(it’s hard to translate the Japanese into English… Literally, it would mean, “Because it’s IMA (now), we want to listen to the tones of Mother Earth/Because it’s IMA, we want to listen to the vibrations of the heart/Because it’s IMA, we want to listen to Alicia’s songs” But it sounds much better in Japanese!)

Carole Hisasue

Former Radio and TV Personality in Tokyo

Now Organic Farmer and Activist in California

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Alicia Bay Laurel, on the creation of this album:

Starting in 2006, I have been doing concert tours in Japan nearly every year. The 2015 tour included three truly remarkable shows, so I hired Tokyo area recording engineer Yasushi Yamaguchi to record all of them.

August 6, 2015, was the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and August 9th, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Since pacificist folksinger/songwriter Ed McCurdy composed the timeless peace anthem "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" in the late 1940s, in reaction to this horrific massacre, I wanted to sing this song in Hiroshima at ground zero during the anniversary. My friend and frequent collaborator, fashion designer Kaoriko Ago Wada, and her organic fiber/fair trade clothing company, Little Eagle, created a peace concert on August 8th, 2015, at Nakaregawa Church in central Hiroshima, near the commemorative Peace Park.

It was an all-day event, with dozens of musicians and dancers participating. My set was at the end, and Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream was the last song of both my set and the entire concert. The audience joined hands in a big circle that included all of the day's performers (on stage with their instruments). Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Takuji sang lower harmonies to my lead vocal, my long time friends Kathie and Keni Inoue (the Inoue Ohana Band) sang and played their instruments, the Lily Choir joined in, and everyone on the stage and in the audience was singing the second time through the song together, first in Japanese and then in English.

I opened my set singing with Takuji two of the great peace anthems of the 1970s: John Lennon's "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance." And, later in my set, I sang the two-hundred year old peace song that fueled many a protest against the Vietnam War, the African-American spiritual "Down by the Riverside," which was inspired by the biblical text "they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their speers into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more." (I love the idea of transforming military hardware into tools for growing food!) The Lily Choir and the audience both joined me in performing "Down by the Riverside."

Another event in the summer of 2015 was a concert at Cafe Slow, a restaurant and performance space frequented by the people of the Slow Life movement, who seek to live in harmony with nature, making things by hand and growing their own food, even if that takes longer and is less convenient. I'd played there before, but this would be my first time performing a song with the legendary singer Ikue Asazaki.

When I came to Japan to perform a concert tour for the first time, in 2006, my friend, journalist Koki Aso, picked me up at the airport. The first recording he put in his CD player astonished and delighted me...the voice of Ikue Asazaki, full of intricate glottal stops and changes of vocal register, the voice of someone who had lived at least seven decades, most of it in the forest and close to the sea. Indeed, in her childhood, she had lived near a glen where shamans would come and sing. She would watch them and listen. Eventually the shamans invited her to learn their songs. Today she is one of the last people alive that still knows those songs, although, happily, she is conveying this music to a few select students.

I had been listening to her music for a couple of years when I met Kaoriko Ago Wada, a shaman in her own right, who told me that she made stage costumes for my idol, Ikue Asazaki. I must have squeal like a fan girl! Two years after that, Kaoriko created a small music festival around one of her fashion exhibitions, in which I performed, watched Ikue Asazaki perform for the first time, and greeted her afterwards. To my astonishment, Ikue told me she would like me to play guitar and sing a song WITH HER! Then she gave me some of her recordings from which to choose and learn a song.

Of course, I loved listening to her recordings very much, but, constrained as I am with an orientation in Western types of music, I could not figure out how to join her either vocally or with guitar accompaniment. I wondered if she had any really simple songs. She did. She had recorded an album of songs for children that included the very old Japanese lullaby, "Yurikago No Uta" (Cradle Song). That, I realized, I could play. And, not only that - it segued perfectly into a song I wrote titled "Lullaby," which is on my first album, "Music from Living on the Earth." So, I figured I would accompany Ikue while she sang "Yurikago No Uta," and then accompany myself while I sang "Lullaby," and then cycle back to Ikue singing "Yurikago No Uta" again.

Came the great day at Cafe Slow, June 6, 2015, and Kaoriko Ago Wada had costumed both of us magnificently in swaths of flowing natural fabrics. Ikue called me up to the stage to perform the song with her. I fully expected her to sing "Yurikago No Uta" both times during our medley. But, to my astonishment, she did not. She motioned to me to sing it the second time through, and I came in on the second line. I had learned "Yurikago No Uta" so that I could perform the entire medley alone at other concerts. She joined me on the chorus at the end. Then we laughed a lot, and she said some nice things about me to the audience that I didn't understand because I still haven't learned conversational Japanese. And we held hands for a while after that, and laughed some more. Not a perfect performance, but, for me, a peak experience!

The third event, on July 25, 2015, was the first performance of the choreography created by kumu hula (hula teacher), Miho Ogura, for my song Ukulele Hula, which I wrote when I was first learning to play slack key guitar in Hana, Maui, in 1974. She and five of her students danced, and I played and sang the song with Kathie and Keni Inoue of the Inoue Ohana Band, as part of a show we presented at Surfers, an open-air restaurant, bar and performance space on the seacliffs just outside the beach town of Zushi.

One of the tracks on this recording was not recorded at a live performance, but documents a medley I evolved onstage in Japan in 2015, 2016 and 2017. I made the recording with my friend Mark Hewins, an audio electronics designer who played guitar on my most recent album, "More Songs from Living on the Earth," at his studio in Torre Del Mar, Malaga, España.

That piece, the four chants for the solstices and equinoxes, is a series of melodies composed by Ramon Sender Barayon, with lyrics that we wrote in collaboration, for our 1973 book, Being of the Sun. When we first recorded them in 1973, I played guitar and Ramon played pentatonically tuned zithers. When I made that previously obscure recording available as a CD ("Songs from Being of the Sun") in 2013, Ramon was no longer touring, so I had to find a way to perform the chants myself for my tours. I acquired an Evo Bluestein Sparrowharp, and developed my own style of playing it and singing with it. Ramon re-tunes the 36 strings of the zither into a differently scale or mode for each chant, something I can't do on stage. I realized that each of the modes in these chants have two notes in common - the tonic (first note of the scale) and the dominant (the fifth note of the scale), and that I could SING the other notes of the mode as part of the song. In that way, I was able to perform the four chants as a medley, with each chant in its own mode, without retuning onstage. I also learned along the way that this series of chants worked well for interpretive dance, so I have often performed them with a dancer.



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