Elizabeth and I were
dancing like monkeys at the Fuji Rock Fest 2001!!
The Festival is produced
by Masa Hidaka and his company Smash Productions, but it is
his ready smile and big, friendly personality that gives the
Festival it's inspiration.
Tens of thousands of
people camped out on the hillside during the Festival, but
when they left on Monday, it was amazing how clean the area
was, compared to other Festivals I've been to. Most people
even carried little portable ashtrays so they didn't even
leave a butt.
A clear stream ran through
the Festival site and people would stop between shows to relax
and wash up. The weather couldn't have been more perfect,
with beautiful blue sky days and clear warm nights.
The main stage was
very large with an average audience of about 40,000 people
out front. There were also two other large stages and several
smaller ones as well as a dance shed and a punk club space.
started with a ceremony dedicating the event to Joey Ramone.
Masa asked Arturo Vega, the Ramones Art Director to bring
one of his original Ramones stage backgrounds. Arturo also
read a letter from the band.
Joey's friend Lenny Kaye was there with the Patti Smith Group
so he joined us onstage and said "Joey gave of himself
to the world with love, so the world loves Joey" Then
I read a letter to the fans
from Joey's mother. It was a moving tribute followed by
a rousing loud punk set by Japanese favorites Kemuri.
Eminen drew a noticeably
younger crowd for his Sunday nite show.
The Patti Smith Group
played a fast rocking set that had the audience on their feet
cheering for more. Patti had such a good time she is hoping
she can come back and play a long set on the "Field of
Dreams" stage next year.
There was a large assortment
of foods available from every kind of Japanese food to an
international food court with savory French, English, Chinese,
Italian and even Ethiopian treats, and it was all excellent!
Soloman brought some
of his favorite recipes from his Tokyo based Ethiopian restaurant
to the Festival. He served many meals all day long, and with
his very friendly personality he kept his kitchen and bar
open all night long as Masa's clubhouse. We had many a good
laugh with him.
Even though there were
60.000 or more people around, the festival never seemed crowded,
and we found many hidden corners to relax in. This cafe, in
the Avalon Field section, next to the path to the Field of
Dreams, served a selection of snacks and some special strong
sake from Okinawa which we enjoyed several times.
In the evening many of
the food stands had a DJ booth on top to attract a crowd.
Unlike American festivals, alcohol was freely available at
most of the stands and many people had a good time without
abusing it. All during the festival people were getting drinks
and something to eat as they danced to the music.
French record producer
Marc Zermatti was at the festival, as he has been since it
started five years ago. He is always looking for new groups
but has a Frenchman's cynicism that has him criticizing everything
all day and night, which was very amusing.
Jason Mayhall. head of
Masa's Smash Productions London Office had lots of fun at
the festival and on Saturday night he was DJ at the Smash
barstand as the Smash staff and friends danced till dawn.
In the inset photo he's seen in a more sober moment with his
lovely wife Yuki.
Wilco Johnson played
a set of Blues and was joined for his encore by Japanese Superockers
Sheena and Makoto (of Sheena
and the Rokkets)
Back in Tokyo the following
week we went with Sheena and Makoto to see Rock & Roll
Legend Bo Diddley at the Blue Note Club for a rousing set
of the classics played by the originator!
While we were in Tokyo
it was the night of the Tanabana festival, and my friend Dimond
Yukai was a featured singer at the annual fireworks show at
the Tokyo Stadium. It is a festival celebrating romance in
mid-summer and it was great to see Yukai perform. We had a
delicious dinner feast with him and his friends after the
show. That's Yukai in the middle of the photo giving a thumbs
Before we left Tokyo,
we had a chance to meet with the punk band Lolita !8, one
of the best and hardest working punk bands in Japan
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