＝MINYO CRUSADERS= かつて戦後間もない頃、偉大なる先達…東京キューバンボーイズやノーチェクバーナが大志を抱き試みた日本民謡とラテンリズムの融合を、21世紀再び再生させる「民謡クルセイダーズ」。 東京西部、横田基地のある街、福生在住で米軍ハウス「バナナハウス」主のギタリスト田中克海が、モノホンの民謡歌手フレディ塚本と近所の某酒場で意気投合したことをきっかけに、2012年福生周辺の辺境音楽好きが集まり結成。 70年代以降には福生でよく見られたハウスセッションを続けながら現在に至る。
“Minyo Crusaders played with such verve and good cheer that most of the Jazz Café was dancing by the first song… a concert quite like any other” ★★★★ The Times
“For Japanese people, min’yō is both the closest, and most distant, folk music” explains band-leader Katsumi Tanaka: “We may not feel it in our daily, urban lives, yet the melodies, the style of singing and the rhythm of the taiko drums are engrained in our DNA”.
Initially indifferent to min’yō, a tragic event in recent Japanese history set Tanaka on his current path: “Following the Tohoku earthquake of 2011, I reflected on my life, work and identity. A fan of world music, I began searching for Japanese roots music I could identify with. Discovering mid-late 20th century acts Hibari Misora, Chiemi Eri and the Tokyo Cuban Boys, I was captivated by their eccentric arrangements and how they mixed min’yō with Latin and jazz.” Lead singer Freddie fell for min’yō after hearing a song from his hometown on a TV competition whilst in a restaurant. It was a revelation – until then he had been an aspiring jazz singer yet was uncomfortable singing in English. The restaurateur told him a min’yō teacher was his neighbour and the two connected. Tanaka and Freddie formed Minyo Crusaders in 2011 in Fussa, a city where the US military Yokota Air Base is located in western Tokyo.
Recruiting other local musicians versed in Afro and Latin rhythms they began hosting jam sessions in the “Banana House”, a building that was previously part of the US military air base and that used to house US soldiers. Following various member changes the band recorded their debut album for P-Vine records in 2016. Released in 2017 it received huge acclaim in Japan and was picked up for an international release by Mais Um in 2019. A debut European tour followed that autumn 2019 that included festivals Trans Musicales, Le Guess Who, Oslo World Music and Überjazz, with shows following at WOMADelaide and WOMAD New Zealand in 2020.