Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The Sting and I: The musical events leading to my exit from Japan back in late 2003

Backstage with Sting in Tokyo on October 31, 2003
On October 31, 2003 in Tokyo, Japan I performed as a hired musician with Norwegian singer-songwriter Lene Nystrom; she is best known as the lead singer of the Danish eurodance group Aqua (if you know the lyrics "I'm a Barbie girl in a Barbie world ..." then you know who she is). I performed on the drums while my friend Ian Hartly played keyboards; there was another hired gun who played guitar. The three of us worked briefly with Lene on two gigs in support of her solo album entitled Play With Me.

Our second gig with Lene was at the Kokusai International Forum in Tokyo at the Universal Music International Convention 2004 for an audience of about 3,000. It was a music industry insiders event showcasing several acts and their new albums. Ian, the guitarist, and I arrived to the Forum for soundchecks with Lene in the morning and then waited in our dressing room for show time, which was at 3:30 pm. Lene was very kind to us and she was not hesitant to offer us her bottle of Jack Daniel's to loosen us up before our performance. We kindly refrained her offer and watched her being pushed in a chair with rollers by a friend up and down the hallway outside our dressing room. A couple of hours passed and Ian mentioned to me that while we were going through soundchecks he heard the Japanese engineers and staff say "Sting" several times. I really didn't think much of it, but Ian wondered whether or not Sting was also performing.

Outside our dressing room with Lene
Since we were temporary hires for Lene there was not much information that was shared to us by our agent regarding who else was performing at the event. But we did know that the English rock band Busted was performing since they had soundchecks right after us. Ian and I stayed to watch them, and found them to be obnoxious as they wasted time during the checks and were rude to the MC.

In any case, we were called from our dressing room to get backstage and ready for our performance. Busted finished their songs and answered a few questions from the MC before exiting stage right. We saw them pack up their guitars and then we went on stage to perform two songs: "It's Your Duty" and "Pretty Young Thing". Ian, the guitarist, and I then exited the stage while Lene stayed with the MC to answer a few questions.

It was then that we all saw Sting and his entourage enter the backstage (his musical entourage included Moroccan percussionist Rhani Krija). Ian and I were totally starstruck to see a musical legend right there before us. Our agent encouraged us to get back to the dressing room and to not speak to Sting. I told him that there was no way I was going back to the dressing room and that I was going to stay and watch Sting perform. He asked us again to go, but we collectively said no. It was then that I decided to approach Sting to ask him for a job. I have nothing to lose, I thought. Why not? So with my digital camera in hand to take a photo with him after I asked my question I approached Sting who was fiddling with his acoustic guitar. I then asked him if he needed a drummer. He responded by saying that he had enough problems with the drummer he currently had (he was referring to Keith Carlock). I then asked the "King of Pain" for a photo and he graciously complied, which absolutely made my day.

Supporting Lene on the drums on October 27, 2003 at Nagoya Rainbow Hall
About two weeks after taking that photo with Sting I was performing with Brad Holmes and The Hit Men, a famous gaijin corporate musical band in Japan. We were the entertainment after a corporate dinner at the Sunshine Prince Hotel in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. I remember thinking while performing for increasingly drunk Japanese salarymen how depressing it was to go from the high of performing in a stadium for 6,000 people at the Nagoya Rainbow Hall with Lene Nystrom to the low of this uninspiring corporate event. It was then that I realized that my three plus years in Japan were at an end. Soon after that show I started getting ready to leave the Land of the Rising Sun. And at the end of March 2004 I began a solo backpacking journey across East and Southeast Asia, Siberia, Central Russia, the Baltic states, the Nordic countries, and Eastern and Western Europe.

With that said, I am happy to finally announce that my travel memoir entitled Travels in the Land of Hunger detailing my six-month journey is finished. The hardcover, paperback, and ebook versions of the memoir will be published internationally on November 21, 2019 and will be available from Amazon, Barnes & Novel, Google Play, iBooks, Kobo, Lulu, and other retailers.

Photos from my journey through Southeast and East Asia as detailed in the book will be published on my social media platforms in the days, weeks, and months ahead as a lead up to the November 21 release date. So please follow any of these sites:

Instagram @thelegacycycle
Facebook @TheLegacyCycle
Twitter @TheLegacyCycle
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Thank you for supporting independent authors.
With much appreciation and magic,

P.S. To those waiting for Dark Legacy: Book II - Travels, please note that I have not forgotten about you. Now that Travels in the Land of Hunger is finished I will be using all of my available free time in working toward completing the novel you have been eagerly awaiting.