Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunny Spot, Ikebukuro

Emboldened by success at Rocky Top, I decided to branch out and explore some of Tokyo's other live country music venues. Sunny Spot is on the west side of Ikebukuro, and turns out to be a smallish, friendly one-room bar in an odd basement that contains at least 3 live-music venues. And a decent sake bar on the 2nd floor! They still have my camera, so I feel compelled to be nice.

Yumi-chan, the sole employee, was pretty surprised when she opened the door and saw me standing there. To be fair, they have two basses set up outside and I was just standing there looking at them when she opened the door, so it was surprising for both of us. I thought the music started from 7, so I was surprised to hear it quiet at 8 and reticent about commiting to an entry fee, but she said they'd start playing shortly and they did.

Here's the format: the master (Kawashiro san, who was unfortunately out with flu that night) and one or two others start the procedings by singing some songs. Then other people join them, or replace them, and apparently anyone who wants to can get a turn. This is like some other places I've heard about, but with less structure and a more country flavor. There were some really cute points, like the old couple who got up and sang Ian and Sylvia songs together, and a good time was had by all - not surprising, considering that everyone but me seemed to be regulars!

There's food, but I wouldn't recommend it. I stuck with some nuts and beer and mainly got stuck in to playing guitar and banjo as much as possible, which was a cool way to finish the year. In fact, due to the absence of timekeeping implements, I barely made it onto the train home. You'll want to leave a bit before 12 to make sure you can complete the longish walk through the station to your platform (if your platform is Marunouchi sen like me).

Hard to predict what this would be like on other nights; certainly the music seems to be of a higher quality at Rocky Top, but you won't get to play as much since they're all established bands.

Now about that camera...
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