A-Sign Story: Enthusiastic depiction of Okinawan Rock

A-Sign Story: Enthusiastic depiction of Okinawan Rock

Ongakugeki: “A-Sign Story” about the history of Okinawan rock, was performed at Music Town Oto Ichiba in Okinawa City on April 8

April 16, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

The “A-Sign Story,” about the evolution of Okinawan rock music, was performed at Music Town Oto Ichiba in Okinawa City on the night of April 8.

The performance was delivered as an Ongakugeki, an alternative form of musical in which the singing and dancing is separated from the acting. The show covers the unique background of Okinawan rock music, which developed out of what were referred to “A-Sign bars” – U.S. military government approved bars and restaurants that flourished through catering for U.S. military personnel during the Vietnam War.

The story not only covers the history of Okinawan rock, but also such issues as U.S. military bases, the local backlash against U.S. military personnel, and discrimination against the half Japanese and half American children, and thereby reflects the thinking and events surrounding the “city of military bases.”

Major players of Okinawan rock such as Kachan, Shinki and Samee, and Eiichi Miyanaga appeared among the band performances and the range of colorful dances.

While the fortunes of A-Sign bars were on the decline in the early 1970s due to the combined impact of the Nixon Shock in 1971 and the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese administration in 1972, there was no doubting the fact that more Japanese had started to go to clubs with live music. During the transition period of Okinawan rock, young artists such as Porkees and Hideyuki Maeda appeared, giving hope for the renaissance of Koza as a “music town.”

“A-Sign Story” was originally scheduled to be performed in March as part of the Okinawa International Asia Music Festival but was cancelled due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, before eventually being held to raise funds for earthquake relief. Yukio Kyan, who wrote and performed in “A-Sign Story” said, “We would like to appeal for world peace from the city of military bases, the birthplace of Okinawan rock, and to use music to support people in disaster-stricken areas.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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