buttonKozy Ouchi & Skunk Chikano
@ Sakuragi-Cho Borderline(14th Feb. '09)

Kozy, you drink too much, buddy!


Kozy Ouchi(コージー大内)
      Living in the internet age, I haven't listened to radio or read a music magazine at all for years now. But there still are a plenty of opportunities to discover amazing music or musicians that I've never heard of. Mostly I learn of new music from my friends. This time was no different as my first encounter with this superb album called "Kakuchi Blues" was presented by an old friend of mine. I know this might be a pretty awkward way of describing the music on the album, but it seems like the ghost of the late great Lightnin' Hopkins came back to live in the body of a guy born and raised in the middle of nowhere in Kyushu. The touches of guitar sound and his singing voices have got the same vibes of that blues giant. This guy, Kozy Ouchi, plays real deep blues indeed.

      There are a lot of musicians in what we call the “tribute scene” who play exactly like legendary artists once did. Sometimes it is easy for musicians and audiences to enjoy old music this way. Needless to say, nobody can see a dead musician playing live right in front of them, but by stepping into this tribute scene people can get closer to what once was. In fact I love a band called T. Rextasy, the world's only "official tribute" to Marc Bolan and T Rex, and found them to be the ultimate case of a tribute band because even their original songs sound like what T Rex or Marc Bolan might have done. T. Rextasy's debut album, which includes one of original number, "Baby Factory", "Trip & Glide in the Ballrooms of T.Rextasy" was absolutely fantastic and, to tell you the truth, the album sleeve is more original than the original as it reflects what Marc wanted to do originally but didn't complete when the original was out. You can check out T. Rextasy either with this compilation of with their first two albums, "Solid Gold" or You Tube. You will never ever find another band like this on this planet for sure.

Kozy Ouchi      Then again, obviously there is no charm in those kinds of mimicry or tongue-in-cheek bands. Often, I found those young or old musicians trying to play and act like their heroes are worse than musical cosplay. You may wonder if Kozy is that kind of artist, but check out his album, "Kakuchi Blues" and I am more than 100% sure that you will be freaked out of by what you hear. There are a couple of covers of Lightnin' Hopkins tracks and another legend, the late Mississippi John Hurt, but the rest of the songs are pure originals and sung in his own dialect of a small town called Hida in Oita, Kyushu where he grew up. This unique combination of his Lightnin' type of guitar style and vocals makes his music very unique and real blues as well.

      It is not easy at all to understand the words of his dialect, but we can hear that the songs were born from the real life of an ordinary poor boy living in the middle of nowhere, far from a big town. There are a variety of songs on the album like the ever painful love song of losing a girl or the funny song, "Punch de Date",, which tells the story of Kozy preparing for a date with a girl as well. Going to a local barber to get a kinky perm and getting some fashionable pants and shirts of Comme des Garcons from his friends, obviously he is trying to be smart, but when the songs are sung in his dialect, he himself in the songs does not seem really funny. Another song arousing laughter was "Oyaji (Old Daddy) Boogie" which is about his dad stealing Kozy's ghetto blaster to make money for gambling. He is really a great story teller as well as a singer with heavy duty rhythm of country blues. Even if you do not get what he is singing about exactly, there is no doubt you can get the feeling of real blues rocking hard and this is the thing about Kozy.

Kozy Ouchi


      After falling in love with this album, "Kakuchi Blues",I decided to check out what he is like in his show and went to a "rock bar" called Borderline in Noge near Sakuragi-Cho station in Yokohama. In Japan, "a rock bar" or "jazz cafe" plays a crucial role in music culture where we spend time in the evening with our favorite music played loud with sake, shochu, a clear distilled liquor, or whatever. From the owner, I heard this bar started off about three years ago and you perhaps can imagine the kind of music played here from the album sleeves on the wall behind the bar counter. Most of them are classic masterpieces like Ry Cooder's "Into The Purple Valley", Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken" or Tom Waits' debut album, "Closing Time" as well as one of the greatest albums of Japanese rock from the 70's, "Dixie Fever" of Makoto Kubota & Yuyake Gakudan before them turning into Sandii and The Sunsetz. Also on the right, when you get into the bar, you could find a gigantic replica of a vinyl copy of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" covering the wall along with Van Dyke Parks' " Discover America" & " Flaco's Amigos" of Tex Mex master of Flaco Jimėnez. Along with those, it was nice to find a hidden classic album of a comedian's approach of modern music of the late 50's, "This is Mr. Tony Tani". Hearing Steve Forbert's debut album, "Alive on Arrival" through the speakers, I thought this bar would definitely be one of my locals if I were living nearby.

Kozy Ouchi      Checking the details of the bar, I was wondering when Kozy would turn up as the local blues man, Skunk Chikano, supporting Kozy that night looked pretty anxious. The headliner(!?) must have arrived, but he was not there. There was no lighting equipment there at all as this just a bar and is not a concert venue. Nobody could expect anything like that at all as there was no admission charge either. The fee to the musicians depends on the show and closer to the end of the show, audience members decide how much they want to pay. It really reminded me of a similar folk cafe back in the early 70's when there were so many folkies born under the influence of Bob Dylan as it were in the West as well.

      We heard Kozy spent an hour and a half to get to the cafe from his home when he eventually came in which was just before the show time. I was expecting a guy with a bluesy kind of look, but he does not look like anything special, to be honest. I feel a bit sorry for Kozy about this though, as I started wondering if this really is the person who recorded that smashing album.

      Right in front of me, Skunk and Kozy started checking the amplifier and shortly after, Skunk started playing. I haven't got the slightest knowledge about guitar, but the way Skunk played his old Gibson and talked, I felt he was another one of those deeply in love with blues again. If I remember right, all of the songs were sung in Japanese and the music was blues based, but perhaps because of the way he sings, he sounded more folky rather than bluesy. It was interesting to hear his cover version of a well known song, "It's not a Spotlight" in Japanese. You may know this from Rod Stewart's big hit album, "Atlantic Crossing" or if you were Japanese, a female blues and jazz singer, Maki Asakawa's cult album, "Hi Tomoshi Koro(In a dim light)" recorded in 75. In Maki's version, she sings in Japanese, but Skunk's one had his original translation, I remember.

      In between the songs, Skunk was talking about his blues experience and the first shock came to him when he first and last saw Lightnin' Hopkins in Japan back in ‘78. Especially he was over excited about Lightnin' singing and playing with a completely different key with the backing band. Then he told another gigantic shock about his blues experience which was his encounter with Kozy.
Kozy Ouchi
      After a bit of a break, Kozy appeared at the corner of the bar and started playing. Straight after him strumming his old Gibson guitar, I was stunned by the blues vibes hitting me. There was no doubt. It really was like the ghost of Lightnin' Hopkins there in Kozy's body and nothing but real deep roots blues was out. The obvious difference in between Kozy and Lightnin' was where the guys are from. Kozy was not born in Texas, but in Kyushu, Japan. Having lived in Tokyo for a long while, he does speak pretty modest Japanese in between songs, but sings in his roots dialect. When I was checking the album, it was not quite easy to understand the words of the songs, but watching him playing, strangely enough, it was not like that at all. I could picture Kozy Ouchiimages of a young country boy Kozy. With his song like "Oyaji (Old Daddy) Boogie" and "Punch de Date" not only Skunk but all of us in the audience shook with laughter. When he was singing the title track of the album, "Kakuchi Blues",, which was a song about losing a girlfriend and drinking with a vengeance, there was a glass of shochu in front of him. In the actual recording closer to the end, there are some quotes of Kozy asking for more shochu and, someone responding, "Kozy, you drink too much, buddy". Obviously it was not recorded at the bar, but just giving some vibes of a bar to the song. The actual voice on the master is Mitsuyoshi Azuma of "The Swinging Boppers", the engineer of the album. In this live performance, Kozy himself saying this phrase brought us laughter as well.

      The songs were great but the way Kozy played guitar was amazing as well. Rocking his whole body, sharp and ragged blues rhythms struck out and from his finger tips and thumb, with the sharp and hard tones of the guitar strings stubbing into our hearts directly. I have seen some real original blues giants in a series of "American Folk Blues Festival", considering that was recorded in the early days of a TV show, Kozy was rocking a lot harder than those on the DVD. It was like an infection with real blues, we all started rocking our bodies and were transferred into Kozy's blues world.

Kozy Ouchi       It was not easy to take photos and check the details of the set list, but I remember almost of all the songs from the album were played in the evening. The biggest surprise was a song not found in there which was not quite like his blues stuff, but more of a folky type of a song of his childhood. He sung in his dialect as well and it was the first time I heard it, but I could imagine the good and old times of a small town in country side of Japan. It was a discovery of another side of this artist that he actually started off playing guitar and singing under the influence of Bob Dylan. I am sure he's got more songs of that kind and I want to hear more stuff like this.

      As you can guess, it is impossible to make a living playing this kind of blues in Japan and somehow it does not seem appropriate to be rich with blues, so Kozy's got another job and he can play only once or twice a month on the weekend. Most of the venues where he plays are a bar or cafe like this evening, but you'd better check him now. Whenever I play his album to my friends, I can see a bright surprise in their eyes and see them get excited with this discovery of real blues. I have to tell you there has been no exception at all up till now. I don't know he if could become a star, but at least, the chance to experience him in a tiny bar or cafe probably won't last so long.

      According to his Official site, his next show is at Asagaya Checkerboard on the 14th of March. The admission is only 1000 yen with a drink charge which is almost nothing to have an amazing experience to find real blues in Japan.

Kozy Ouchi

report and photos by hanasan
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Kozy Ouchi

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Kozy Ouchi

"角打ブルース"
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previous works

button2009

buttonRuthie Foster (09/03/27 @ Tokyo Eat and Meets Cay)
buttonRuthie Foster (09/03/26 @ Yokohama Thumbs Up)
buttonSouth by Southwest Music Festival + Conference (JPN | ENG) feat.Doug Sahm tribute feat. Shawn Sahm and Augie Meyers and Alejandro Escovedo, Easy Star All-Stars, Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves, Legendary Tiger Man, The, Roky Erickson with The Black Angels, Tony Joe White, Asa, Ruthie Foster, Monareta, Peter Murphy, Andy White, Ben Harper & Relentless7 Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Gary Clark Jr., Plouen Catximbes, Theart, Emeralds, The, Jimmy Webb and the Webb Brothers, Wayne Kramer (09/03/18 to 22nd in Austin, Texas)
buttonThe Plastic Day (09/02/28 @ Club FF, Seoul)
buttonGumx (09/02/28 @ Sang Sang Madang Live Hall, Seoul)
buttonKozy Ouchi : Kozy, you drink too much, buddy! (09/02/14 @ Sakuragi-Cho Borderline)
buttonClare & the Reasons (13th Feb. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonClare & the Reasons (5th Feb. @ Yokohama Thumb's Up)
buttonKotobuki (31st Jan. @ Shin Okubo R's Art Court)
buttonGlenn Tilbrook (10th Jan. @ Kichijoji Star Pine's Cafe)

button2008

buttonBloodest Saxophone (6th Dec. @ Shinjuku Red Cloth)
buttonShibusa Shirazu Orchestra with David Murray (26th Nov. @ Shibuya O-East)
buttonKaiser Chiefs (25th Nov. @ Akasaka Blitz)
buttonHoney Hall feat. Kaori Kawamura, Kayo Sakata, Mr.Pan & Lawdy & Toshimi Watanabe & Copa Salvo(22nd Nov. @ Shibuya Club Asia)
buttonRodrigo Y Gabriela (12th Nov. @ Shibuya O-East)
buttonRodrigo Y Gabriela (12th Nov. @ Shibuya AX)
buttonEthipoia National Cultural Troupe (2nd Nov. @ Takanawa Kumin Center)
buttonThee 50's High Teens (1st Nov. @ Shinjuku Jam)
buttonJustin Nozuka (27th Oct. @ Harajuku Astro Hall)
buttonFanfare Ciocărlia (16th Oct. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonAsagiri Jam - It's a beautiful day! feat. Kitty, Daisy & Lewis (5th Oct. @ Asagiri Arena)
buttonClub Ska 20th Anniversary with intro & overall photo document feat.The Skatalites, The Trojans, Oi-Skallmates, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (28th Sept. @ Shinkiba Studio Coast)
buttonSka Cubano (24th Sept. @ Akasaka Blitz)
buttonDoberman (23rd Sept. @ Hattori Ryokuchi Koen)
buttonSoul Flower Union (23rd Sept. @ Osaka Big Cat)
buttonChris Murray Combo (15th Sept. @ Shibuya Lush)
buttonnbsa+×÷2008 feat. Copa Salvo, Goma & Jungle Rhythm Section, Razoku, Keyco & Kokyou, Cro-Magnon, Soil & "Pimp" Sessions (14th to 15th Sept. @ Shinkiba Studio Coast)
buttonShibusa Shirazu Orchestra (13th Sept. @ Kisarazu Nakanoshima Koen)
buttonAsa (10th Sept. @ Shibuya O-East Exchange)
buttonSunset Live2008 feat. Black Bottom Brass Band, Doberman, Sun Paulo, Mongol 800, Oki Dub Ainu Band, Leyona, Keison, Seiko Ito & Pomeranians, Double Famous, Soil & "Pimp" Sessions (5th to 7th Sept. @ Keya Beach, Itoshima)
buttonCool Wise Men with Eddie TanTan Thornton (15th Aug. @ Shibuya Duo Music Exchange)
buttonYou Waki (8th Aug. @ Shinjuku Club Doctor)
buttonGlastonbury Festival 2008 (27th to 29th Jun. @ Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset) feat. Jimmy Cliff, Manu Chao, Ethiopiques, Buddy Guy, Solomon Burke, Manu Chao, Neil Diamond, Eddy Grant, Gilbert O'Sullivan
buttonPeace Music Festa! (from) Henoko 2008 (22nd Jun. @ Ueno Suijo Ongaku-Do) feat. Kachimba4, KZ, Masao Teruya, Shaolong To The Sky, Kotobuki, Duty Free Shop. with Kakumaku Shaka, Donal Lunny with Kazutoki Umezu & Hiromi Kondo, Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra, Soul Flower Union
buttonThe Slackers (17th Jun. @ Daikanyama Unit)
buttonVic Ruggiero (16th Jun. @ Shimokitazawa 440)
buttonKillswitch Engage & Thy Will Be Done (12th Jun. @ Shibuya O East)
buttonFumio Nunoya (7th Jun. @ Ogikubo Rooster)
buttonLove Camp 2008 feat. Oriental Lucy,The Plastic Day, Sagitta, Yukie Sato and more(31st May in Hong Chon, Kangwon-do)
buttonBanda Bassoti & Boikot (10th May @ Villaggio Globale, Rome)
buttonBerri Txarrak (3rd May @ Viňa Rock Festival, Villarrobledo)
buttonBanda Bassoti (2nd May @ Sala Heaven, Santander)
buttonBanda Bassoti (1st May @ Kottbusser Tor, Berlin)
buttonOki Dub Ainu Band (23rd Apr. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonMozaik (4th Apr. @ Kyoto Taku Taku)
buttonEdgar"Jones"Jones & The Joneses (3rd Apr. @ Nagoya Tokuzo)
buttonThe John Butler Trio (2nd Apr. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonRodrigo Y Gabriela (30th Mar. @ Shibuya Duo Music Exchange)
buttonSouth by Southwest Music Festival feat. Alabama 3 (12th Mar. @ Latitude 30, Austin), Bonnie Bramlett (12th Mar. @ Pangaea, Austin), Daryl Hall (12th Mar. @ Lone Star Lounge, Austin), Daniel Lanois (12th Mar. @ Pangaea, Austin), Asylum Street Spankers(13th Mar. @ Esther's Follies, Austin), Billy Bragg (13th Mar. @ SESAC Day Stage Cafe, Austin), Body of War feat. Kimya Dawson, Serj Tankian, Tom Morello, Brett Dennen, Brendan James, RX Bandits, Ben Harper, Billy Bragg(13th Mar. @ Stubb's, Austin), Old Man River (13th Mar. @ 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn, Austin), YB (13th Mar. @ Burbon Rocks Patio, Austin), The BoDeans (14th Mar. @ Auditorium Shores Stage, Austin), The English Beat (14th Mar. @ Momo's, Austin), Kitty, Daisy & Lewis (14th Mar. @ Ninety Proof Lounge, Austin), Cherine Anderson(15th Mar. @ Flamingo Cantina, Austin), Bobby Whitlock & CoCo Carmel with David Grissom, Stephen Bruton and Brannen Temple (15th Mar. @ Cedar Door, Austin), Was (Not Was) (15th Mar. @ La Zona Rosa, Austin)
buttonBroken Social Scene & Stars (26th Feb. @ Liquidroom Ebisu)
buttonBoikot (26th Feb. @ Shibuya Gig Antic)
buttonBoikot (23rd Feb. @ Maple House)
buttonBjörk (16th Feb. @ Olympic Hall, Seoul)
buttonDoberman (10th Feb. @ Shinjuku Loft)
buttonKotobuki (9th Feb. @ Shin Okubo R's Art Court)
buttonThe Afet Collective (8th Feb. @ Harajuku Studio Cafe)
buttonDachambo (26th Jan. @ Liquidroom Ebisu)

button2007

buttonKaori Kawamura (23rd Dec. @ Shibuya Club Asia)
buttonSoul Flower Union (15th Dec. @ Liquidroom Ebisu)
buttonMorio Agata (27th Oct. @ Tokyo Kinema Club)
buttonVery Be Careful (8th Oct. @ Shinjuku Marz)
buttonOzomatli (8th Oct. @ Daikanyama Unit)
buttonVery Be Careful (3rd Oct. @ Shibuya The Geme)
buttonSun Set Live 2007 feat. Special Others, Leyona, Theatre Brook, The Eskargot Miles, Rico Rodriguez with Cool Wise Men, Little Tempo, & Bloodest Saxophone・akiko (31st Aug. to 2nd Sept. @ Keya Beach, Fukuoka)
buttonSoul Flower Mononoke Summit & Kotobuki (12th Aug. @ Kotobuki-Cho Free Concert)
buttonSign Sonic! '07 feat. Free Birds, Bright Eyes, Freedom, B.M.D. (Band Music of The Deaf), 2-Time, Rimi, N-Style & Signmark (7th Jul. @ Hatsudai The Doors)
buttonTakeharu Kunimoto with The Last Frontier (4th Jul. @ Shibuya Parco Theater)
buttoncolumn : Don't Miss It! - Sign Sonic '07 feat. Signmark and more (4th Jul.)
buttonGlastonbury Festival 2007 feat. Keith Allen, ,Tinariwen, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, John Fogerty & Damien RIce (22nd to 24th Jun. @ Worthy Farm, Pilton)
buttoncolumn : Don't Miss It! - Takeharu Kunimoto with The Last Frontier (18th Jun.)
buttonAmos Garrett (4th Jun. @ Nakameguro Rakuya)
buttonAmos Garrett (27th May @ Osaka 5th Street)
buttonMarisa Monte (26th May @ Zepp Nagoya)
buttonRico Rodriguez with Cool Wise Men (13th May @ Ueno Suijo Ongaku-Do)
buttonRico Rodriguez with Cool Wise Men (10th May @ Boom Boom Bash, Shizuoka)
buttonRico Rodriguez with Cool Wise Men & Toshimi Watanabe (9th May @ Shibuya Eggman)
buttonFermin Muguruza and Afro Basque Fire Brigade (30th Apr. @ Totem, Pamplona)
buttonFermin Muguruza and Afro Basque Fire Brigade (29th Apr. @ Vina Rock Festival, Benicassim)
buttonStreet Beat Festival 2007 feat DDR, Soul Food International's Rocksteady Revue feat. Dr. RIng DIng, You Waki & Banda Bassotti (28th Apr. @ Villaggio Globale, Rome)
buttonStreet Beat Festival 2007 feat DDR, Soul Food International's Rocksteady Revue feat. Dr. RIng DIng, Boikot, You Waki & Banda Bassotti (27th Apr. @ Estragon, Bologna)
buttonStreet Beat Festival 2007 feat DDR, Boikot, Soul Food International's Rocksteady Revue feat. Dr. RIng DIng, You Waki & Banda Bassotti (26th Apr. @ Auditorium Flog, Firenze)
buttonStreet Beat Festival 2007 feat Cicso, DDR, Soul Food International's Rocksteady Revue feat. Dr. Ring Ding, Boikot, You Waki & Banda Bassotti (25th Apr. @ 25th Apr. @ Muse Cervi, Reggio Emilia)
buttonBanda Bassotti (21st Apr. @ Maria, Berlin)
buttonTony Joe White (16th Apr. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonWhat's Love? (10th Apr. @ Shimokitazawa 251)
buttonJoss Stone (9th Apr. @ Liquidroom Ebisu)
buttonBaba Zula & Double Famous (4th Apr. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonThe Slakcers (27th Mar. @ Shibuya Lush)
buttonBerri Txarrak (25th Mar. @ Roppongi Rock Factory)
buttonHappy Dispatch (25th Mar. @ Aoyama Tsuki Miru Kimi Omou)
buttonLakatos Ensemble : 目を閉じれば世界が見える (22nd Mar. @ Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall)
buttonThe Slakcers with Oi-Skallmates (21st Mar. @ Shinjuku Loft)
buttonVic Ruggiero with Toshimi Watanabe (20th Mar. @ Shimokitazawa 440)
buttonSouth by Southwest Music Festival + Conference feat. Lily Allen, A.J. Croce, owkmj (ore wa konna mon janai), Alina Simone, Bobby Witlock with Coco Carmel, Cho Sister Brothers : Pianica & Magic Orchestra, Go!Go!7188, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals , Casa De Chihuahua, John Hammond, Rickie Lee Jones, Ozomatli, Buzzcocks, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Andrew Winton, YB(13th to 18th Mar. @ Austin, Texas)


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