Madame says "please"
-Housewives are rockers, too
Jun Nagami's gimmick is pretty good, which is to say it's unique. It's enough to be a female blues guitarist in Japan, but Nagami obviously doesn't think that's enough. Fast approaching 50, it's likely she gets called "obasan" quite often, so rather than resist the less-than-flattering label, she embraces it--as blues guitarist Madame Guitar.
Last year she played the Naeba Shokudo with just her trusty bassist Shinobu, and the crowd was so taken by her shtick they called her back for two encores. Opening the Orange Court on Saturday Madame had a full band, including a member of Shibasu Shirazu. Shinobu was dressed in a housemaid's uniform and before Madame came out, her guitar was positioned stage right in a box covered with gauzy lace. Therein lies the gimmick.
Madame Guitar is really your average Japanese housewife, with a salaryman husband and kids who don't talk to her and dreams of a bigger house. She middle class aspiring to something more, but she's unfailingly polite. She came out dressed in a light summer kimono and immediately launched into a dirty jump blues. "This is my guitar," she said demurely as she rattled off a stinging lick. "Her name is Nana." The song wasn't raunchy in and off itself, but Madame insists you like it. "Please," she said, in English, and then, just because the song called for it, she said, "Please, please, please." Is James Brown laughing up there or frowning?
For the next 45 minutes Madame went through a staggering array of styles, from hot jazz to walking Texas blues and old school funk. Her thumb-picking style isn't going to make Stevie Ray Vaughan's corpse sit up and worry, but technique doesn't seem to be the point. The point is that even a forty-something Japanese housewife gets the blues. In one song she fretted about the people her daughter hangs around with, and in another she complained ever so gently about the life of a salaryman. But like any blues singer, she admitted she likes to drink. "It's good," she commented, "because it seems everyone at Fuji Rock likes to drink." However, the clincher was when she did a hard rock version of the Aki Yashiro enka classic "Shimijimi." The fact that it made perfect musical sense should indicate that you should pay more attention to enka.
Reported by phil (2007.07.28 / 16:37)