DJ bemsha in d’house …of Tokyo Record Style again! Our deal pal bemsha joined up for another edition of Tokyo Record Style Day last weekend when we went to Tohto Records and Disc Union Ochanomizu Eki Mae. Bemsha has about 6 or 7 years on me I guess in terms of age, but about 6 or 7 decades on me in terms of deep musical knowledge. He’ll dismiss that comment as an overstatement cuz he’s that kinda guy, but it’s true. But this was precisely the reason, compounded by the fact that he is a voracious reader, that I was really excited to introduce bemsha to Tohto Records & Books. I just knew that he would be impressed by the almost music-encyclopedic vibe of the store, with so many obscure categories of music, like “Rumba Congalaise”, “French Carribean”, “Zydeco” and “ZamRock”, “Sunshine Pop” and “Woodstock Artists”, and Tohto proprietor Tetsuya’s favorite, “Moonriders.” And for just as many subgenres of music by which the store was organized, there was an equally well-curated and impressive categorization of books. Considering it was mostly Japanese, it was mostly all, well… Japanese to me, but I knew bemsha would appreciate it.
At the last “Top 5 Records” event, the legendary Aoyama record store “Pied Piper“ of Tokyo lore was mentioned by bemsha, a house of excellent imported music that was open super late. Besha told tales of discovering music late at night on his radio (perhaps on “FEN” – Far East Network – the American military radio primarily serving U.S. Forces in Japan? What was it bemsha?) then jumping on his Vespa after midnight and heading down to Pied Piper! What fun! Well, I bring Pied Piper because apparently there was a similarly famous record and media store in Roppongi called “WAVE” where Tetsuya worked (before 3 decades at RECO-FAN in Shibuya) and that bemsha knew well. Besha told us me that there was rumor that when the Stones came to Japan, while Keith and Mick were galavanting across Tokyo at night, Charlie would go WAVE for Jazz records. COOOOl! (Sidenote: there record I bought that was a reggae comp with tunes from Dennis Brown and Frankie Paul called “Hotter Flames” – and guess where the pricetag is from – WAVE!
Anyway, Tstuysa and bemsha had a lot to share and we all learned something from each other, and just a great time was had by all. When we left, bemsha said one …or both of these two things to me, I can’t remember exactly. He said “If I lived in that neighborhood, I would go to Tohto every day.” But I think I also heard him say “I want to LIVE there” ..Haha. Me too, pal! Let’s set up permanent residence in a record store. OR OR OR… we could make an offer on the Copper-Roofed Holy Resurrection Cathedral, AKA The Russian Orthodox Church, adjacent Disk Union in Ochanomizu and pictured in the background of your photo, a Tokyo structure that has long captured my attention and imagination. The place has got to have amazing acoustics. Let’s live THERE, with an incredible sound system (Like Leon Russels Church in Tulsa), and go record-shopping around the neighborhood every day, then come back and nap in pews while we crank great music all day and night!
P.S. How were those records? They looked amazing! And… next time we’re in Ochanomizu for records and burgers, we’re waiting for that scenic Tri-Train convergence.
Flaco Jimenez – Flaco’s Amigos
Label: Arhoolie Records – 3027
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Genre: Folk, World, & Country
Various – Jazz And Hot Dance In Trinidad 1912-1939
Label: Harlequin – HQ 2016
Series: Jazz And Hot Dance – Volume Seven
Format: Vinyl, LP, Compilation
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