By La Quetta M. Shamblee
The Yu Ooka band will kick-off the first day of the MADCatfish Blues Festival at Santa Anita Race Track this coming Saturday, Sept. 5th at 11 a.m.
Yu Ooka has been on a musical mission since moving to Southern California in 2005 after studying at Koyo Conservatory in Japan. Born in Osaka, this young man has become a popular guitarist within the inner circle of jazz and blues heavy hitters on the Los Angeles circuit. He has performed with Barbara Morrison, Patrice Rushen, Michael Paulo, Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, Eric Marienthal and is a regular member of Billy Mitchell friends. Yu is also the band leader for “Minyon Station,” a fusion Japanese Folk Music group that combines traditional Japanese instruments like the stringed shamisen, taisho koto, and the kane, with western instruments like guitar, bass, conga, and harmonica.
His description of “minyo” highlights the universal nature of music. “Minyo” is Japanese for “folk song” and Yu describes it as “the blues of Japan.” The musical tradition evolved over centuries as people sang while farming or fishing to make the time pass and to motivate workers to keep at their tasks until the job was completed. Yu also shares that there are also similarities between minyo and jazz. He explained, “You have to ‘swing’ to make a rhythm when you play jazz, and not just follow the pattern of written music. You have to listen and respond to what the other musicians are doing.” He says that playing minyo uses the same principle. Yu’s motivation to move to the United States to experience new cultures has brought thousands of music fans a new and unique east-meets-west experience.
The Scorch Sister will kick-off the second and final day of the MADCatfish Blues Festival at Santa Anita Race Track this coming Sunday, Sept. 6th at 11 a.m.
It is probably a good idea to call the fire department and ask them to stand by whenever the Scorch Sisters hit the stage. The fan base for this all-female band has been steadily growing since they hit the scene in 2011. Most known for their reputation as a blues band, their signature sound is a combination of funk, soul and a splash of jazz. They describe what they deliver as “musical gumbo, hot, tasty, and soul-satisfying.” Lead vocalist and percussionist Francesca Capasso, keyboardist Alicia Morgan, and guitarist and Monrovia resident Kimberly Allison are the band’s founding members. Their individual, professional accomplishments in music are enough to fill a book and include performing, touring or recording with the likes of The Little River Band, Táta Vega, Bobby Womack and saxophonist Joe Houston.
The Scorch Sisters have convened a power-packed line-up of talent for this performance, including drummer Andrea Byrd who toured with the legendary Barry White and renowned music educator Sharon Ray. Whatever the weather forecast for Sunday, the stage will be sizzlin’ hot when these ladies take charge at 11 a.m.
The two-day MADCatfish Blues Festival main stage performances will take place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 5th and 6th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. All festival stadium seats are located under the massive Clubhouse canopy, which will provide shade throughout the day. A Saturday night after-hours Comedy & Blues Juke Joint is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. All food, beverages, and full bar service are provided by Santa Anita concessions. A select group of vendors will be onsite with clothing, jewelry, art, chair massage and more. Main stage General Admission tickets are $40 per day ($75 both days) and $65 Premium Tickets ($115 both days). Juke Joint tickets are $15 for General and $25 for VIP table seating. For tickets and information: www.MADCatfish.net or (800) 838-3006.