Misonopia

Yesterday, I had a lovely show out at Misonopia, a retirement home in Seto City. Thanks to Yamashita-san, my old friend and guitar teacher from about 25 years ago, who organized the event as part of his music therapy work at the home.

It was an Irish and American music event and I enjoyed playing some Irish traditional music again with the lovely flute player, Nakane-san.

The American music was played by a very interesting husband and wife duo called Neko-ya, As the name suggests, they are cat fans and the percussion instruments were all hand-made and featured beautiful carvings of cats. They played an interesting range of instruments including nose-flute, uke, harmonica, and kazoo.

When we were leaving, the sun sent a lovely ray over us as we posed for this photo.

(日本語) Goodnight to Jukebox Paradise

Wow, that was fun.

Over 50 people involved – amazing group of people – all doing it for a love of theatre and fun and life. Thank you to you all for getting involved in a little idea that started in the head of a much younger me in Dublin way back in 1989.

The cast did an amazing job of bringing the songs and the story to life.

Ah the songs and the music of Jukebox Paradise. As musical director for Jukebox Paradise, and the writer of the songs, these little songs have been my obsession for the last 12 months and long before. Writing, composing, arranging, performing, editing, reshaping, rewriting, adjusting to fit the cast, adjusting to fit the flow of the story… these songs have flowed in and out of so many people’s lives and yet are still hanging out in my head.

On our cast mailing list and in personal conversations, people are telling me how the songs are still going around and around their heads. I know, I know! That was what I set out to do – to create little song viruses that get stuck in people’s heads. Of course, I caught the virus myself and the songs are on constant play in my head. It’s at night when the internal jukebox in my head turns on loudest and it has kept me awake too many nights since the show successfully closed on the evening of December 4. Kids who came to the show and hardly understood a word are singing the chorus of these songs and driving their parents mad. Mission completed 😉

Coindrop62 were the band that created the sound of the Jukebox. And what a band.
The final night was a completely full house. The Saturday evenings were full. And all of the other shows had a great turnout.
More importantly, the feedback from the audience has been overwhelmingly positive.
“That was hard work. You made me cry three times, and then made me laugh three times.”

The messages and themes of the show got through to many people, too.
“ … “

Goodnight and thank you, Jukebox Paradise. We sure have had fun together and I look forward to seeing you on other stages in the future. In the meantime, there are other fun projects ahead.

Gifu

I love going out to Gifu. It’s less than 30 minutes from Nagoya, but it feels like a different world out there. First, I went to an interesting Gifu JALT presentation by Phil McCasland. Phil talked about developing an entrepreneurial mindset through narrative and gave lots of interesting examples from his own classes as well as extracts from a government paper showing the official perspective.

As this article on the dearth of entrepreneurship in Japan concludes:

“Japanese often need to be persuaded that entrepreneurship is another possible path to success, and not just a path that entails risk and shame. Unfortunately, an overhaul of the social and educational structure in Japan might be needed before it can happen.”

In the book, GOAL, that I authored with Ben Backwell, we follow the same kind of thinking. We aimed to have students think more creatively and to show more initiative. There is no simple answer to counter the low level of entrepreneurship and independent thinking, but it is clear that something needs to change in Japan in order for the economy to get fresh energy from young people who have the courage and ability to start new businesses.

After the JALT presentation, I went out to play at a gig In KJs Yanagase, one of my favourite places to play.

 

Preparing for Saint Patricks Day

I got back into playing Irish music for the first time in ages last night. I did a show at the Shamrock Irish pub in Fushimi. Thanks to Frank for the photograph. Lovely crowd and it’s nice to play for an audience who are fairly familiar with the genre. Last year, music was all about Jukebox Paradise and rock and roll. This year, I’m looking forward to playing a bit more Irish music and getting back to my roots.

Come Home Again

jukeboxparadiseflierIn the show, Jukebox Paradise, Deloris Keller sings the song Come Home Again. In the story, this song was a big hit during World War II and far away in the thick of the action, a wounded soldier named Fred is listening to the radio and the sound of her voice. It is this song, coming from so far away, that gives Fred the will to survive and to eventually come back home and build a new life.

The obvious meaning of the lyrics of Come Home Again is as an encouragement to the boys in the war reminding them that there is a life after the war, no matter how dark everything seems at the moment. People back at home haven’t forgotten them. They are still loved and remembered and the people back at home are still with them in their thoughts and hearts.

“My, it’s been so hard for you
You’ve been so long away
I’m not even sure how long it’s been
But I miss you every day
When you think you can’t go on
Just whisper on my name
I’ll be there, no matter where
I love you all the same.”

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Coindrop62 at Aichi Vision 2016

Aichi Vision is a great music and arts festival which is held in Tsurumai Park each year just at the end of summer. Tsurumai Park is probably best known at the moment as a scared place for pokemon and hundreds of zombie-like people can be still seen wandering around at 2am looking for pokemon. I believe that it has something to do with the shape of the central fountain as seen from above, but others more familiar with the world of pokemon may correct me at their leisure. I downloaded the app and caught a pokemon before deleting it (the app, not the captured pokemon). Then in Dublin, a friend persuaded me to re-download it and catch a Dublin pokemon. I can confirm that Dublin pokemon were equally uninteresting to me as Nagoya pokemon. I may be missing a vital poke-gene. Read More

“Today is the First Day” from Jukebox Paradise

Today is the First DayThis year, one of my big areas of focus is our rock and roll musical, Jukebox Paradise, produced by KPB Theatre. This is a musical theatre production that has been in my head since 1989 and it is finally coming to the stage at the end of November 2016 in Nagoya. Please contact me to get your tickets. The script was written by Gary Beaubouef and it is directed by Steve Pottinger. Below is a quick description that Sarah and I wrote up for the program: Read More

Upcoming Music Events

JukeboxParadise

On Sunday, we have the next music rehearsal for the Jukebox Paradise musical. It is still about 5 months until showtime, and it is great to see people really getting into their roles both as actors and singers. This is going to be a great show.

Coindrop62_April24In other music news, the band for the Jukebox Paradise musical, Coindrop62, will be playing at Shooters in Fushimi this Sunday evening (April 24th) from 8pm. We will do some a bunch of fun rock and roll tunes. I am not playing any instrument for a change, so I can focus on my role as the singer for a change! Visit the Facebook event page.

On the following Saturday (April 30th), Sarah Mulvey and I will be joined by the formidable duo, Aya Kawakami and Takashi Terada, for a show at Coat of Arms in Marunochi. It’s going to be a great night. You can check out the details on the Facebook event page.

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As some people have pointed out, I haven’t been playing much Irish music recently. I’ll get back to it (it is my roots after all!), so in the meantime check out one of the CDs from my old band, The Rising Pints.

 

Toyota International Association – Introducing Ireland

IMG_20160417_125923Yesterday, I did an introduction to Ireland event at Toyota International Association. I’ve been doing this kind of event for over 20 years now and it is still fun to share some information and some music about Ireland. Over the years, I’ve probably presented this kind of material to a few thousand people, and hopefully at least some of them have made it to the shores of the Emerald Isle. Read More

Starting 2016 with Music

Sarah and I did our first gig of 2016 last night at Coat of Arms. January is always a quiet month as people hunker down in their dens to avoid the cold weather, and of course to try to rescue their finances and health after Christmas and the new year celebrations! So, thanks to all the folks who came out last night and made it such a fun night for us.

We have been practicing some new songs and polishing up some old versions with more harmony and fun guitar stuff. For the last few years, I’ve been primarily using DADGAD as my guitar tuning. Recently, I’ve been experimenting a bit more with open G and other strange combinations. Great sound on my old trusty Lowden guitar.

We are playing tonight with the Tomo Shagger band at Shooters, Fushimi. Then next Friday, we are heading up to Tokyo to play at the opening of an art exhibition.

And on Sunday, rehearsals are going to finally begin for Jukebox Paradise. We have a marvellous cast assembled and it’s going to be great working with everyone to produce a wonderful musical in November.

Exploring L2 Creativity book

I finally got around to publishing my PhD thesis as an e-book in the Amazon store. You can purchase a copy here. Considering that it took 6 years to write, the price of about $9 seems fairly cheap. And it is a surprisingly good read.

The topic of research is non-native-speakers songwriters who are writing in English and the 450 pages of the thesis examine this fun and complex process in lots of different ways.

Don’t expect Dan Brown, but as academic research goes, this is probably one of the most readable tomes that you will ever come across. Read More

Music at JALT 2015

12274505_10153646297700631_907389530697514805_nSarah and I played at the Best of JALT event again this year. It was lovely to be back at the conference again and to see so many familiar faces. For those who don’t know, JALT stands for Japan Association for Language Teaching, and I have played music at various events there since about 1995. Wow, 20 years!

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Auditions for Jukebox Paradise Musical

12063611_10153632284360539_895045246377698635_nTomorrow is an exciting day – the first day of auditions for Jukebox Paradise, a rock and roll musical that started out in my head more than 20 years ago. We are going to stage the show for the very first time in November 2016.

If you’d like to be part of a really fun show with great music, we’d love to see you at the auditions on November 8th, 15th, or 22nd. Please read the details below. And please share the information with anyone that you think might be interested.

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Christmas Show at Plastic Factory

Sarah and I looking are forward to playing at Plastic Factory again for a lovely Christmas show. We will sharing a stage with Aya Kawakami and Takashi Terada.

Here is the description from the Facebook Event page.

Brian Cullen and Sarah Mulvey, Aya Kawakami, and Takashi Terada, and special guests will be bringing you a beautiful candle-lit Christmas evening of songs and stories at Plastic Factory. This isn’t a KFC or Mariah Carey kind of Christmas. And we want YOU to be part of the story-telling. Between music sets, please grab a chair and a mic, and share your own Christmas memory. Being far away from family overseas can make this time of year difficult for some; let’s spread some cheer, and get into the true spirit of the season – sharing music and stories with friends. See you there!

1,500 yen (including one drink)

 

NLP Festival 2015

If you haven’t heard about the NLP Festival 2015 yet, please check out the webpage. It’s going to be a really great event full of fun and learning. We have Martin Gustaffson, a master trainer of NLP, coming in from Sweden. There will be lessons in Self-hypnosis, workshops on state management, marketing NLP skills and more. And of course, on Saturday night, we will have the big social event with music, dancing, crystal bowls, and trancing. See you in Nagoya at the end of October.

Superman

I was talking to a friend, Dave, on Facebook and he said that he wanted to get a creativity boost. So I invited him for a coffee and we started talking about NLP and life and music and all that good stuff.

And of course, one of the best ways to get the creative juices going is to just jump into something new. In NLP, we might talk about the OPERATE stage of the TOTE model. You’ve got to do something!

So I threw two songs at him, and Dave reminded me of just how experienced a musician he is by learning them in about 2 seconds and then adding in keyboard and bass lines that are lots of fun.

It’s obviously a rough demo, and if you weren’t clued into that, you can listen to my comments to Dave as he is overdubbing the bass part. “Nice, yes, I like that …” – that isn’t actually part of the lyrics 🙂

I wrote the song a few years ago when I was going through a bad patch with pollen allergies and I was running the NLP allergy relief process on myself about three times a day. Nice process and it definitely gives relief. I never have managed to fully clear the pollen allergy. I’d say that I have reduced them about 90% though, and that is a mighty fine thing.

Anyway, as usual my unconscious mind got bored and decided to play, so it wrapped up the process into this song. Because of course, the “allergy relief” process isn’t just about relieving allergies. It is a great way of learning anything in a dissociated manner.

In the song lyrics, first you watch Superman, and then Superman flies right inside of you, bringing his thoughts and strength and beliefs and so much more. I didn’t actually get the words right in this demo … just enjoy it until I get around to the next step of the recording.

And if you’d like to stay posted, sign up for updates in the little form on the left of this page.

Keep the Channel Open

When I was doing the master trainer course at NLPU in California this summer, one of the last things that the amazing Judith DeLozier said to us was “Keep the Channel Open”. And you know, of course, she is totally right. It is so easy to be open for a few days, or for a course, or for a vacation. What unfortunately happens to so many of us is that we slip back into a semi-open or closer-to-closed mode when we return to our normal lives, whatever “normal” may mean.

It’s not actually Judith’s line. I believe that it comes from Martha Graham who says it all beautifully in this quotation.

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urge that motivates you.

Keep the channel open.

The line, “Keep the channel open” kept repeating again and again in my head, at first in a conscious attempt to keep connected to the beautiful feeling of actually being open, and then later unconsciously, going around and around in loops, so that I would wake to the sound of my own internal voice saying, “keep the channel open.”

A bit obsessive of course, and my own unconscious mind had more sense than to keep running that loop, so it wrapped it up in this song instead.

Along the way, Matthew Hegstrom turned up in my house one evening and sang along with me on the demo that has turned into the current recording. Then Erik Imai had a free night away from the business of Toyota Corporation and added some crazy fun percussion. He wanted a crystal sound, so I handed him a fork and our prized Waterford crystal glass. The Waterford survived the ideal, but ironically, it was the cheap glasses that sounded better, and even better sounding were the tarnished silver cups from India that I picked up at a dump in Ireland. He also added in the remarkably difficult-to-spell Cajone and a pair of bongos that came from a second-hand shop called Hard-Off in Japan. Then Phil stepped in from England to add some nutty 1968 jangly guitar that comes straight from psychadelia. The mad guitar at the end is also thanks to Phil who seems to have really let himself off the leash for this paradoxically soothing ending.

And of course, it’s just a demo – like life. The vocals need to be redone, the bass is off-rhythm, the keyboard is a bit  … Anyway …

… we had fun – and we hope you have fun listening to the current incarnation of “Keep the Channel Open.”

Eventually, we’ll make it all sound perfect and wonderful and put it out on CD or vinyl or SD card or smoking banana skin or whatever the new format happens to be when that day arrives. In the meantime, just enjoy the song!

The Parts Song – Wot, wot, do wot, do what, do what?

This song started out as a very cute little mandolin ditty that I started in Japan and then Lynn Timpany added an extra verse in New Zealand.

The idea behind the song is to transform the classical NLP process, Parts Integration, into a song that people will enjoy listening to without realizing that they are going through a deep psychological change 🙂

Along the way, the song also went through its own deep change and ended up being transformed from that mandolin ditty into a rocking blues driven by the cool guitar of Robert Hewer. I also somehow became reborn as a Southern Preacher and the song begins with me calling on everyone to rise to see the altar.

Interesting how our minds work – there are certainly more than a few parts in there!

And while parts integration is one of my very favourite NLP processes, I don’t see it as always necessary to integrate parts unless they are actually causing a conflict! I have known NLP practitioners who can spy parts at a distance of 100 meters and area already rushing into an integration. That kind of compulsive integration seems to me to be a little, hmm … compulsive 🙂

Integrating all those parts might actually do away with some of the fun of life and certainly some of its creativity. After all, creativity can be regarded as the ability to draw ideas from two very diverse fields in order to create something new. And having different parts is a natural way to have two different perspectives.

Metaphors We Live By

There is a famous cognitive linguistics book by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson called Metaphors We Live By. It is both amazingly useful and also amazingly difficult to actually read. I managed to get through it twice over the years and it began to make a whole lot more sense the second time.

To summarize very simply, we understand the world in terms of metaphor. Of course, I recommend you to read at least a short summary or if you are into torturing yourself with academic prose (as I perversely am a lot of the time), go and get the original at Amazon.

And so, back to the song which was obviously inspired by the book, although it is far more poetic and sounds much better than it 😉

Here is the chorus:

Metaphors we live by
The stories of our lives
All the dreams we’re sharing
And so much more inside
The pictures and the feelings
The soundtrack that we play
The words we say inside us
We make it up each day

The verses that are sung here are improvised archtypical stories (random non-serious example: girl meets prince, prince meets dragon, dragon meets nasty sharp sword …!)

I was pleasantly surprised at how well the stories just poured out of me while I was singing/chanting. Obviously all the hypnosis work I have done over the years with clients and myself has paid off creatively, too!

I have also performed the song live quite a bit. I generally invite several members of the audience up to tell a story each. I keep the music going and after their (hopefully shortish and in-rhythm) story finishes, we all go into the chorus. It works beautifully and we all have fun. Everyone gets the song stuck in their heads for months afterwards which I think is marvellous 😉

The song is clearly very NLP-influenced as well as the original influence of the book. And yes, I do believe that “we make it up each day.” We create the stories and metaphors that bring meaning to our own lives. Let’s make them good stories!