I have just found the following video in the youtube channel of WAMU, a complete Open Mic show of two hours, with performances by Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass, Gold Heart and Akira Otsuka.
Inspired by this video I had to search around for more information about Akira Otsuka, his band Bluegrass 45, John Duffey and Bluegrass in Japan.
The program of the Open Mic Show starts with a highlight for mandolin players – Akiro Otsuka plays a set of solo pieces on his mandolin. Most of the pieces can be found on his new CD First Tear.
Akira Otsuka is a Japanese mandolin player who played in a Japanese Bluegrass band named Bluegrass 45. This band was invited to the USA in the 1970s and played several concerts. Rebel Records produced several records with Bluegrass 45. Akira Otsuka decided to come back to the USA in the 1970s and has stayed there until today. He has played with many musicians – you can find more information on his website (see below).
Akiro played a beautiful set of mandolin solos on his old Gibson mandolin that had previously been owned by John Duffey.
Open Mic: LIVE from WAMU, 6/20/2014
On June 20, WAMU’s Bluegrass Country presented a special live edition of Open Mic featuring performances from Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass, Gold Heart, and Akira Otsuka.
Some Screenshots form the Video showing Akiro Otsuka and his mandolin:
I have compiled some information about Akiro Otsuka, his band Bluegrass 45 and his mandolin below. I did not have time to listen to the rest of this Open Mic Show, but I am sure that the other two bands are great too!
Akira Otsuka and Bluegrass 45
AKIRA OTSUKA first toured the U.S. with legendary “Bluegrass 45,” the first and most influential Japanese Bluegrass band to hit these soils. Since that time, Akira has been acknowledged and honored in both the U.S. and Japan for his outstanding abilities on the mandolin. Highly sought as an accompanist and session player on guitar, banjo and bass as well as mandolin, Akira has shared the stage and recorded with many of the genre’s greatest artists, including Emmy Lou Harris, Nils Lofgren, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ricky Skaggs, Bela Fleck, Jethro Burns, Danny Gatton, Hazel Dickens, Bill Kirchen and Peter Rowan.
You can find several videos with Bluegrass 45, including a video from Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Festival in 1971 that shows the first appearance of Bluegrass 45 in the USA
A concert with Bluegrass 45 from 1971
You can download or listen to 3 complete records by Bluegrass 45!
- Bluegrass 45 – The Bluegrass 45 / Rebel Records – SLP 1502 1971 / Japanies Bluegrass Band
- Bluegrass 45 – Caravan / Rebel Records – SLP 1507 1971 / japanies Bluegrass Band
- Bluegrass 45 – In The Morning / Rebel Records – SLP 1516 1973 / japanies Bluegrass Band
Bluegrass 45 reunion tour in Japan (Bluegrass Today article)
Mandolincafe Thread: John Duffey’s Mandolin
Mando Hangout: John Duffey’s Mandolins by Akira Otsuka
Listen to the Seldom Scene with John Duffey at Airplay Direct: Seldom Scene – Live At The Cellar Door