In total, I must have spent about 15 or 16 years working with the Japanese pop band Dreams Come True. Of those, I performed as a member of their tour band for seven or eight years. Eventually, I'll tell you how that all came about, but it's farther down the timeline. To understand how I got to that point, I think it's important to start at the beginning.
As I tried to explain a few days ago, I met a man named Patrick Brady. He was a guitar player from Los Angeles living in Tokyo. I honestly don't remember how I met him but we had become really good friends. One day, he introduced me to a club in Roppongi called Circle. Their business was struggling and they wanted to invigorate it by more events going. Patrick asked if I was interested in doing something. Although I had never done such a thing before, he didn’t seem to mind. I put together a Performing Arts Party. The concept was art in all of its forms. I was a poet. My former college roommate, David Maher did shadow dancing. There were also many different kinds of singers, actors, performing artists, and miscellaneous performers who could not be classified.
Through the Performing Arts Party, I began to meet a wide range of people. One of the first was a singer by the name of Maria Fanorakis. She was a singer who had recently signed with Sony records for a short term contract. Her father was Greek and her mother was Korean but she was born and raised here in Japan. Almost everyone who performed at the monthly event was quirky in some way. Maria was Queen the weird. That is precisely why I was interested in her and how we became such good friends. It was an ethereal experience to hear her sing. She was equally mesmerized by my poetry performances and wanted to collaborate. I joined her band Trance Texas. It was my first band in Japan. Trans Texas was a blend of poetry, electronica, ambient rock, and Maria's ghostly vocals. Maria and I are still in a band together even after all of these many years. The Band is called SOLMA.
Through the Performing Arts Party, I also met a poet named Taylor Mignon. Someone suggested that I contact him to invite him to participate in my event. I calling him up and remember hearing him say to me, “What are you going to do for me? Are you going to pay my bills? Are you going to pay my train fare? Tell me how you're going to help me.” I just wanted to know if he was interested in coming by and reading a few poems. After that phone call, I was sure that I would never hear from him again. Somehow he managed to show up and read his poems. He also invited me to participate in a regular poetry reading at a British pub in Tokyo called What the Dickens.
The Performing Arts Party was very small. It was like a monthly gathering of a few friends. I did consider the performances I had done there to be my first. My real first performance came when I did a reading at What the Dickens. In the 90s, spoken word was still very popular. Poetry slams was on television. Saul Williams, a poet from New York, had released the movie Slam. Although I hated slam poetry because I thought it trivialized the art of literature, I wanted to become a performing poet. I had been writing poetry since I was a small boy. It was very much a part of my identity. My poetry was the greatest but I did have a unique voice that stood out like a red jacket on a hill of snow.
Poetry sessions were held on Sundays. I can't remember if it was every Sunday or one Sunday of the month. The event was always packed. I still remember, word for word, the poem that I did on my first night. It became my masterpiece. The poem is called Jazzman, and it is my interpretation of the history and culture impact of jazz. Because the poem was written to be read aloud, I tried writing into the language itself a kind of syncopated rhythm that sounded like jazz.
When I stood at the microphone, my hands and legs were shaking so badly I wanted to run away. I tried to focus by remembering a moment in my teens when I first had the experience of transcending reality through sound. I was on a street corner playing my saxophone. Corey was there to remind me that the true artist creates for himself. I took a deep breath then released my sonic burst of energy. When it was over, my hands and feet were shaking even worse. A chubby man with wire frame glasses came running through the crowd. He grabbed me by my shoulders and said, “You are some kind of fucking genius. That was amazing! My name is Edgar Henry. What's yours?”
That's the moment when everything really began. It was the flap of a butterfly's wing that led me to the first time I stood on stage and looked into the faces of 35,000 people. I was scared out of my mind but excited just the same.