I am sitting here in my room at the Grand Hyatt Fukuoka, Japan, which overlooks a similar but smaller version of the choreographed water fountain one can see at the Bellaggio in Vegas. Neon lights are everywhere, as well as impeccably manicured floral gardens and greenery exhibits. The Grand Hyatt is part of a place called Canal City, which is a conglomeration of the hotel, shopping, art, movie theaters, entertainment, and more all in one small "city within the city." Bar Fiz, my venue for the next few months, overlooks all of the activity. When I arrived late last night to be met by the Japanese agent, Hiro, I immediately went to meet the performer who left today, and check out the venue. The stage is beautiful, a lighted floor, a clear glass-like piano, bamboo and water features surrounding you as you play. The bar creates a "signature drink" for each performer, and I am waiting to see what mine will be made of, and what they will call it. I watched some of the drinks being carried out from the bar, and every detail is seen to, including lighted ice cubes inside the drinks that are different colors depending on what you ordered.
Saying goodbye (twice!) back in the states was very difficult. When I left St. Louis and my fiance AJ, I kept looking back over my shoulder as I headed to security, wishing I could turn around. I absolutely am going to love this job and the people here and the adventure, but leaving home and the people I love for months at a time has always been difficult for me, even more so now that I am trying to plan a wedding! Ater St. Louis, I visited family in Seattle for a couple of days and it was again difficult to leave my mom and stepdad and grandma and get on that long flight to the land of the rising sun. However, now that I am here, I am ready to begin performing and learning about this place and the culture, which so far, is beautiful and inviting.
I am thrilled to report my guitar made it through the two flights here, so I must give kudos to United Airlines and Asian Airlines. The only casualty was a broken high E string when I was trying to tune it after opening the case. And that isn't their fault; the nut seems to have a sharp spot that often causes the high E to break. So, even without a heavy-duty flight case, my guitar survived the trip! And I survived the trip, being pleasantly surprised that all the flight attendants were very kind and helpful, and everything in the Tokyo airport was easy and efficient. I've had some rough trips lately where attendants were more than rude, (or where EVERYTHING went wrong, like it did on my last trip to Italy) but this one gave me back a bit of hope for the airline industry. I heard on the news that they are doing really well for the first time in a long time - making a big profit again. So, now I guess they can start giving us free peanuts again on domestic flights? Or how about NOT charging one hundred dollars for an extra domestic-flight bag anymore? One can dream....
So, I've decided technology and I aren't the best of friends. My room here is great - but everything runs on automatic switches. You come near the bathroom, the fan kicks on in anticipation; you walk by the closet, a light switches on even if you weren't planning on opening the doors; and there are no light switches, just a multi-button "console" (for want of a better word) near the bed that controls all the lights in the room and which I still haven't fully figured out. I'm not even going to go into detail about the bidet that can give your bum a wash and blow-dry! OK, maybe that was more detail than was necessary, but I'm thinking I will steer clear of that!
I start performing tomorrow evening after registering and getting my ID card, and sound-checking at the venue. I'm always a little nervous before a new job begins, but this one seems like it will be great in every way. I get to perform a nice mix of my original music and my choice of covers ranging from standards to modern pop and everything in-between. It keeps it interesting. While putting together my song list the other day, I realized that through these jobs I've learned nearly 150 new songs I had never played before! I will also be selling CD's, and here you must sell them for $20 or more....they actually view a higher price as a sign of better value. So I guess I've been spoiled by the music prices in America, which so many of us think of as high, but which are quite low in comparison to here. Also, after meeting the F&B director here today, I learned I will be doing different types of performance while here, such as guitar/vocal, and performances outside of the regular venue.
I hope to write blogs often, as I don't have a movie channel on my TV - therefore lots of time on my hands, haha!