Monday, December 31, 2007

Okuda defends JWP Junior Title in Sendai Girls

Sendai Girls held their latest show Dec. 29 at Zepp Sendai in front of 700 fans. It was Sendai vs Ibuki with Tyrannosaurus Okuda defending her JWP Junior & POP Titles against Hiroyo Matsumoto in the main event. A couple of quick notes. Mariko Yoshida's pal Akiko Inoue was there. It was her first joshi show other than Ibuki. She was asked why she wasn't on the show. She just laughed. She said she had a good time. Meiko Satomura made a brief appearance after intermission. She's scheduled for more surgery next month on her face and she may need a third surgery later. She has been lifting weights so hopefully she'll be in shape when she is able to return. It's going to be a while though.

The show started with the announcement that Sendai Girls will hold a one day tournament on Jan. 18 at Zepp Sendai. The winner gets a shot at the OZ Academy Championship. The opener had Sendai rookie Maki Harada vs Atsuko Emoto. Harada' offense was mostly dropkicks and a sleeper hold. Emoto finsihed her with a brainbuster and an M Clutch for the submission at 7:32. Next was Hiren vs Cherry. The match was compeititive enough that it looked like Hiren could win. But Cherry softened her up with an ankle lock followed by a Shining Wizard and a Cherry Bomb for the win at 9:38.

Next was Ryo Mizunami vs Kyoko Kimura. Kimura gets the edge with head butts. But Mizunami comes back with a shoulder block in the corner and a guillotine leg drop from the second rope for a two count. Kimura works on her shoulder and then gets her to submit with a cross arm breaker at 12:16. Next was Sachiko Sendai & DASH Chisako vs Tomoka Nakagawa & Misaki Ohata. Chisako starts out with a drpkick on Nakagawa. An arm twist and Sachiko tags in and hits two dropkicks and applies a sleeper. The Ibuki team comes back with an Ohata dropkick and a Nakagawa elbow. Ohata tags in and hits an elbow, a neck throw, a dropkick and a body ram followed by stomping. They all trade dropkicks and Chisako mises a missile dropkick. The Ibuki team hits a double brainbuster. Then the sisters double team with a Roaring Senton, a swinging DDT, a missile kick and a German suplex. Sachiko & Nakagawa hit simultaneous lariats. Ohata gets a 2 count with a body press. Sachiko comes back with a Hurricanrana and a German suplex and Chisako wins over Ohata with a Hurricanrana at 14:42.

Time for the main event with Tyrannosaurus Okuda defending her JWP Junior & POP Titles against Hiroyo Matsumoto. Matsumoto starts with an elbow and a missile kick from the second rope followed by a camel clutch. They trade achilles holds and then trade elbows and tackles. Matsumoto's size edge begins to show. Okuda comes back with three jumping knees. Matsumoto applies her Argentinian backbreaker. Okuda hangs in and hits a German suplex. The end comes when Okuda hits a jumping knee attack for the win at 13:28. Okuda says afterwards that she will win the one day tournament and the OZ Academy Championship. Aja Kong may have something to say about that.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Bessie Smith

Artist:Bessie Smith

Song:St. Louis Blues

Album:The Essential Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith was known as the Empress Of The Blues and was one of the most important figures in modern music history. She was born Apr. 15, 1894 in Chattanooga, TN. Her parents died when she was very young and she started performing with her siblings on the streets of Chattanooga to earn money. In 1912, she went on the road with a traveling troupe that included the very popular Ma Rainey. Bessie started her own act in 1913 and became very popular on the east coast. The popularity of a singer named Mamie Smith encouraged Columbia Records to scout for blues singers for their new Okeh race label. Bessie first recorded for Okeh in 1923. This 2CD comp includes a lot of those recordings. Bessie worked with a lot of the great jazz musicians of the day and this 1925 recording of St. Louis Blues was arranged by Fletcher Henderson and features Louis Armstrong on trumpet. The 1929 Great Depression ended Bessie's recording career but she continued to perform in clubs and on stage. John Hammond saw her in 1933 and brought her into the studio to make what turned out to be her final recordings. Bessie Smith died because of a serious car accident on Sept. 26, 1937 at age 43. Bessie Smith was a very powerful performer and her music still holds up remarkably well. The Empress Of The Blues has been a major influence on anyone who has ever sung the blues. Bessie Smith made one film appearance in the 1929 short St. Louis Blues. She was accompanied by James P. Johnson on piano, Fletcher Henderson's orchestra and the Hall Johnson Choir. Here is the complete 15 minute film.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ohata wins big in Ibuki

Ibuki held their final show of 2007 Dec. 24 at Shin-kiba 1st Ring. It had a couple of Ibuki youngsters in the main event and also had a couple of exhibition matches as a tip of the hat to the upcoming Olympics. The opener was a five minute exhibition tag team match and the wrestling was in the amateur style. Yuko Motohashi was one of the four wrestlers. She debuted for Ibuki in August. The others were Sachi Watanabe, Chiho Hamada & Suzu Takahashi. I may have those names wrong. All these girls have trained with Former amateur wrestling champ Akiko Inoue at Gold's Kids Gym and she was at ringside smiling during the match. More about her later.

Next was Atsuko Emoto vs Arisa Nakajima. Mariko Yoshida commented that Emoto seems to have added new techniques during her trip to Mexico. Emoto dominated the match and won with a diving elbow drop at 11:37. Yoshida said she would like Ibuki to do a show with JWP in 2008. Next was Mariko Yoshida & Kyoko Kinura vs the NEO rookies Aya Yuki & Nagisa Nozaki. On her website, Yoshida talked more about wanting to do a show with NEO than the match itself. She doesn't think that will happen. Yoshida & Kimura won when Kimura used the Big Boots on Yuki at 18:50.

Next was another exhibition match between NAO & Akiko Inoue. NAO has been wrestling for Ibuki for a couple of years but she is also an accomplished amateur wrestler and this match was a farewell of sorts as NAO is headed for the Olympics. Yoshida was the ref. Of course Inoue is her trainer. The match started as an amateur match and Inoue has a big size advantage and had the upper hand. So NAO asked Yoshida if she could wrestle the second round in pro wrestling style. Inoue looks puzzled but gets the point when NAO hits her with a dropkick. Inoue is a pretty good pro wrestler too so I'm sure we wouldn't mind seeing these two have a match longer than three minutes.

Next was Aoi Kizuki & Tomoka Nakagawa vs Apple Miyuki & Cherry. This was Apple's first Ibuki appearance. These days she rarely appears outside of K-Dojo. Yoshida said she was very impressed with Apple and thought she elevated Cherry's performance. Apple pinned Kizuki with the Apple Buster at 14:26. Yoshida said she would like Apple to have a singles match with Nakagawa. The main event was Misaki Ohata vs Hiroyo Matsumoto. Matsumoto won their previous match. Yoshida has been working on improving Ohata's strength since she came over from JD Star. She's been working hard so as a reward, she got the win over Matsumoto with a flash pin at 13:08. Ohata's gleeful reaction afterwards indicates that there may be a feud in the future for these two. Ibuki will be in Sendai this weekend so I'll have that in a couple of days.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Derrick Morgan

Artist:Derrick Morgan

Song:The Hop

Album:Independent Jamaica:Songs Of Freedom From The Treasure Isle

Derrick Morgan is mostly unknown to mainstream music fans but was one of the main forces behind the creation of ska music in the early 60s. He was born Mar. 27, 1940 in Mocho, Clarendon Parish, Jamaica and grew up in Kingston. He won a talent contest at age 17 and got the attention of Treasure Isle Records owner Duke Reid. Morgan became so popular that in 1960 his singles filled the top seven positions on the Jamaican charts. Originally Morgan worked with the legendary Prince Buster but when he switched to producer Leslie Kong, it began a rivalry between two legends of Jamaican music. The Hop was recorded in 1962 but it sounds very good today with Morgan's sweet vocal style. This Trojan Records comp is interesting because of course Jamaica became an independent country in 1962 and this looks at music that was popular at that time. Morgan moved to England in 1963 and remains an icon of Jamaican music. Problems with his vision forced Morgan to be less active in the 70s but he continues to tour today and record occasionally. Any fan of Jamaican music and especially ska should check out Derrick Morgan. Here's Derrick Morgan performing Miss Lulu in Holland.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Argent


Song:Hold Your Head Up

Album:All Together Now

Hold Your Head Up was the one really big hit by progressive rock group Argent in 1972. I guess it's still memorable in a rock anthem way. The group was led by keyboard player Rod Argent. He was born June 14, 1945 in St. Alban's England. He had already had success in the 60s with The Zombies. When they split up, he was looking to for a new lead singer to form a new band. Singer Songwriter Russ Ballard was born Oct. 31, 1945 in Waltham Cross, England. The other members were Jim Rodford on bass and Bob Henrit on drums. Zombies bass player Chris White wasn't a member of Argent but co-wrote and produced a lot of the music with Argent. The group signed with Epic Records in 1970. They were clearly aimed at an album oriented progressive rock audience so it was surprising when Hold Your Head Up was a top five pop hit in 1972. All Together Now was released on CD by Koch Records in 1997 with some bonus tracks. There doesn't seem to be a really good Argent comp but the song turns up on plenty of various artists comps. Just be sure to get the full six minute version. Russ Ballard left Argent to go solo in 1974 and the group wasn't as successful without him. Argent split up in 1976. Ballard has had some success as a writer producer but never broke through as a solo performer. Rod Argent has mostly played sessions and produced other artists like Tanita Tikram & Nanci Griffith. He reunited with Zombies lead singer Colin Blunstone in 2004 and they recorded and toured together and he also toured with Ringo Starr last year. I'm sure this performance of Hold Your Head Up from the Midnight Special in 1973 will evoke memories for a lot of you. It's still a pretty good song.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Full card for NEO 10th Anniversary show

NEO held a press conference to announce the complete card for their Jan. 6 Korakuen Hall show called Be Happy Again. This is their tenth anniversary show. They had already announced that Haruka Matsuo will defend her NEO Singles & NWA Pacific Titles against Fuuka. Not surprisingly, there will be a 10th anniversary battle royal. Of course the eight NEO wrestlers will be in this along with Chou-un Shiryu, Lingerie Muto, Mima Shimoda, Toshie Uematsu, Tsubasa Kuragaki, Sakura Emi, Makoto, Aoi Kizuki, Azumi Hyuga, Kaori Yoneyama, Ran YuYu, Arisa Nakajima, Aska Ohki, Shuu Shibutani, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Tomoka Nakagawa, Miki Ishii and a couple more TBA.

The rest of the show will be all tag team matches. The NEO Tag Team Titles will not be on the line but champs Yoshiko Tamura & Misae Genki will have a 10th anniversary memorial match against Tanny Mouse & Etsuko Mita. Mima Shimoda will team with Shuu Shibutani against Yuki Miyazaki & Toshie Uematsu in what they are calling Homemade Luchadora Reimport. Aya Yuki will team with Hiroyo Matsumoto against Kyoko Kimura & Atsuko Emoto. The opener will be Youth Green vs JWP. Nagisa Nozaki will team with Aoi Kizuki against Aska Ohki & Arisa Nakajima.

NEO also announced the card for their Jan. 13 show at the Delfin Arena in Osaka. The main event will have Yoshiko Tamura & Misae Genki defend the NEO Tag Team Titles against Kyoko Kimura & Atsuko Emoto. I wouldn't be surprised to see them do an angle on the 6th to set this up. Other matches are Etsuko Mita vs, Aya Yuki, a three way match with Yuki Miyazaki, Haruka Matsuo & Mima Shimoda, Nagisa Nozaki & Aoi Kizuki vs Tanny Mouse & Makoto and Sakura Emi vs Kana.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Beverly "Guitar" Watkins

Artist:Beverly "Guitar" Watkins

Song:Red Mama Blues

Album:Back In Business

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins looks like your grandma so you may be taken aback when you hear her play the guitar. She's been part of the Atlanta blues scene for years and is just now emerging as a recording artist. She was born 1940 in Atlanta and several of her aunts had a group called The Hayes Family. Her grandma raised her and exposed her to the great blues & gospel singers of the day. Beverly learned to play guitar in high school and modelled her style after legendary Count Basie guitarist Freddie Green. Beverly is probably best known as guitarist for Piano Red & The Houserockers in the early 60s. She worked day jobs and played with Leroy Redding on the side. She became a regular at the Underground Atlanta nightclub with her son on bass. She was rediscovered by Tim Duffy of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. This is a non-profit organization dedicated to recording and providing financial support to long forgotten blues musicians. He booked her on the 1998 Hot Mamas tour with Koko Taylor & Rory Block. Then he brought her to the attention of veteran British producer Mike Vernon and he released Back In Business on Sire Records. Vernon & Watkins wrote a lot of the songs together including Red Mama Blues. So Beverly "Guitar" Watkins is an overnight sensation at age 60. Now this blues guitarist grandma is touring the world and her latest CD Don't Mess With Miss Watkins was released in October. Check out Beverly "Guitar" Watkins playing guitar behind her head on this video posted on MySpace by her record company Dixie Frog Records.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas from JWP

JWP had one of their dojo shows on Dec. 23. Not surprisingly, the show had a Christmas theme with some typically silly matches. I'll say what I always say about dojo shows. They don't mean anything in the regular storylines. They're supposed to be goofy fun. Apparently it was very cold so fans were given autographed heating pads. I'm not making that up. The opener was Kei'to & Mayuca Shinzeki vs KAZUKI & Aska Ohki. Of course Shinzeki is the recently debuting 15 year old. The veterans carried the match and KAZUKI used a backdrop and a diving knee drop on Shinzeki for the win at 9:48.

So next they placed a Christmas tree in the middle of the ring. It was Tojuki Leon vs Kaori Yoneyama. The first one to knock over the tree loses the match. Well, you know how this kind of match goes. A lot of close calls and comedy spots. Leon finally touches the tree but it doesn't fall. She tries to throw Yoneyama into the tree but it backfires and Yoneyama wins at 7:19. Next is Azumi Hyuga, Kayoko Haruyama & Sachie Abe vs Commando Bolshoi, Tsubasa Kuragaki & Arisa Nakajima. Of course it's played mostly for comedy and includes a totem pole in the middle of the ring. The end comes when after Haruyama is nailed by diving foot stamps by Bolshoi & Kuragaki, Kuragaki accidently nails Nakajima with a lariat and Haruyama pins her at 15:47.

The main event is a battle royal with all the wrestlers dressed in Santa suits. All twelve wrestlers are in the ring and a throw over the top rope eliminates the wrestler. The order of elimination was Bolshoi Santa, Hyuga Santa, Abe Santa, Kei'to Santa, Shinzeki Santa, Haruyama Santa, Kuragaki Santa. Yoneyama Santa and Leon Santa did a comedy spot where they made a deal and eliminated each other after Leon reneged on the deal. Nakajima Santa threw KAZUKI Santa over the top rope to win at 15:27. Just a little comedy diversion before the big New Year's Eve show.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Crosby, Stills & Nash

Artist:Crosby, Stills & Nash

Song:Teach Your Children

Album:Running With Scissors:Motion Picture Soundtrack

I guess one of the things that came out of the late 60s was the invention of the supergroup. Crosby, Stills & Nash was a successful group featuring members of other successful groups. They got together in 1968. David Crosby was from The Byrds. Graham Nash was from The Hollies. Stephen Stills was from Buffalo Springfield. But the CS&N vocal harmonies didn't sound like any of those groups. Their first album was very successful and during their first tour they added Neil Young also from Buffalo Springfield. And though the excellent 1970 album Deja Vu was very successful, the clash of egos meant the group was split up by the end of that year. Teach Your Children was a big hit written by Graham Nash about his father. And though it was on the CSN&Y album Deja Vu, Young does not appear on the song but Jerry Garcia does play pedal steel guitar. This soundtrack from the 2006 film Running With Scissors consists of hits from the 70s by Average White Band, 10CC, Elton John and others. I would recommend Deja Vu as it's a classic. Over the years, Crosby, Stills & Nash have reformed and the guys have their own careers as well. Here's Crosby, Stills & Nash performing Teach Your Children in 1977.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Yuka Tsuji successfully defends Smackgirl Lightweight Title

Smackgirl held their big Korakuen Hall show Dec. 26 headlined by a Yuka Tsuji defense of her Smackgirl Lightweight Title. There were other big name fighters on the show along with plenty of gaijins. The company has new management so the show was titled Starting Over. Smackgirl also relaunched their website and announced plans to recruit new fighters by running classes at the Academy Of Music beginning in January.

The main event had Smackgirl Lightweight Champ Yuka Tsuji defending her title against Korean Su Hi Ham. This was to be the first show to eliminate the 30 second ground rule limit. That would immediately work to Tsuji's advantage because kickboxer Ham would like to use her strikes. That's what Ham tried to do but Tsuji brushed her off and went for a single leg takedown. Tsuji controlled Ham on the ground despite Ham's attempts to pound her way out. Tsuji's dominance continued through all three rounds and she won an easy unanimous decision.

Satoko Shinashi's opponent was supposed to be Thai kickboxer Anne. She had visa issues and was replaced at the last minute by Akemi Morihara. Shinashi wasted no time taking Morihara down and easily won with a heel hook at 4:17 of round one. Shinashi said afterwards that she plans to defend her DEEP Flyweight Title on Feb. 22. An Open Weight bout had Megumi Yabushita against Lana Stefanac. Stefanac has a significant size advantage. Stefanac used that size to hammer Yabushita and though Yabushita didn't seem to be hurt, she was unable to mount any offense and Stefanac won a unanimous decision.

Thricia Poovey tried to use her kickboxing skills to rattle Saori Ishioka but Ishioka threw her a couple of times and used an armbar to get a submission at 4:18 of round one. Emi Fujino remained undefeated by winning a split decision over V1. V1 didn't seem to have much offense when she got Fujino on the mat and Fujino used strikes to score the win. Madoka Okada won an easy unanimous decision over Shawn Tamaribuchi. Megumi Fujii wasted no time getting amateur wrestling veteran Mika Nakano in a triangle choke. The ref stopped the bout at 1:20 of round one.

Other bouts had Kaneko Takeshita defeating Benkei with an armbar at 2:52 of round one. Yasuko Tamada won over Maho Muranami by unanimous decision and Miki Morifuji defeated HARI with anachilles lock at 3:06 of round one. One more thing. DEEP Lightweight Champion MIKU made a brief exhibition appearance with Hisae Watanabe and expressed interest in having a match in Smackgirl. Let's hope that sets something up for the future. Hint, hint.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Professor Longhair

Artist:Professor Longhair

Song:Cherry Pie

Album:House Party New Orleans Style:The Lost Sessions 1971-1972

Legendary New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair fell on hard times in the 60s but came back in the 70s and is now regarded as an icon of R & B. He was born Henry Roeland Byrd Dec. 19, 1918 in Bogalusa, LA. He grew up hustling cards on the streets of New Orleans. He also had learned piano as a child and was hired to play a club in 1948 when Dave Bartholomew was fired. The club owner dubbed him Professor Longhair because of his shaggy mane. He recorded for Mercury as Roy Byrd & His Blues Jumpers and then had some success at Atlantic with the 1953 hit Tipitina. Longhair was a great musician but like a lot of black musicians of the 50s, he never seemed to get paid. He quit music in the 60s and went back to gambling. His appearance at the 1971 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival put him on the comeback trail and he made several excellent records in the 70s. This version of the Marvin & Johnny hit Cherry Pie is excellent and includes guitarist Snooks Eaglin. Rounder discovered the master tapes and released the album in 1987. Things were going great for Longhair when he died of a heart attack on Jan. 30, 1980 at age 61. Fortunately Professor Longhair is now a revered figure of New Orleans R & B. Here's Professor Longhair & The Meters performing Tipitina on the PBS series Soundstage.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Carlos Amano wins OZ Academy title shot

OZ Academy ended the year with a bang on their Dec. 16 Shinjuku FACE show with the completion of the number one contender tournament and the conclusion of the Chikayo Nagashima/Sonoko Kato angle. OZ owner Mayumi Ozaki also showed once again why it's best to not cross the boss and gave us a D-Fix reunion as well.

The opener is supposed to be Mayumi Ozaki & Aja Kong vs KAORU & Police. With Ozaki's recent quarrels with Aja, I guess Ozaki wanted to make a clear statement as to who's running the show. So she tells Aja that it's not a tag team match anymore and Ozaki is teaming with KAORU & Police 3 on 1 against Aja. It became 4 on 1 when Mika Nishio joined in from outside the ring. Let the beatdown begin with wrapping the chain around Aja's throat. Then they took her outside the ring and hit her with chairs and tables. Meanwhile, Police beat up the ref. Aja does come back and has Police trapped in the corner but Ozaki drags her around the ring with the chain and finishes her with the Ozakick at 10:38. Ozaki sneers at Aja afterwards and says she'll show Aja mercy if the title match is cancelled. Aja refuses.

Next is the first semi final match between Carlos Amano & AKINO. Ozaki comes out to support AKINO. Apparently the angle was to punish the OZ Academy wrestlers. AKINO ignores her. It was a pretty good match. AKINO got her offense in but Amano won with the Carlos Ghosn at 12:07. The second semi final is Dynamite Kansai vs Ran YuYu. Police & Mika Nishio come out to support Ran. They get booed and Ran ignores them. Ran gets the upper hand with an elbow smash but Kansai wins with a diving foot stamp at 14:05. The fans are still booing Police.

Next is a tag team match with Chikayo Nagashima & Manami Toyota vs Sonoko Kato & Yumiko Hotta. Nagashima has been tormenting Kato for the last year but wanted to shake her hand at the last show. Kato said nothing. The match was fast paced and Hotta won over Toyota with the Pyramid Driver at 20:27. Nagashima wasn't satisfied with that and asked Kato for one last match. She apologized for her treatment of Kato and called for the bell. The crowd was into this match. Nagashima won with a fisherman buster at 9:17 and the two shook hands after the match. Ozaki, KAORU, Police & Nishio came out to mock the two. Nagashima & Kato want a match with D-Fix.

The thing about the tournament final between Carlos Amano & Dynamite Kansai is Ozaki was trying to affect the result but it didn't work because the winner is going to be an OZ wrestler. Ozaki comes out and says it doesn't matter who wins because there will be no title match. The crowd boos. The rest of D-Fix came out and started beating on Amano & Kansai. Kansai was busted open. But then Aja came out and drove D-Fix away. Amano won the match with the Carlos Ghosn at 8:08. The crowd cheers and Aja Kong will defend her OZ Academy Championship against Carlos Amano on Jan. 13. But Ozaki has declared war on all OZ Academy wrestlers. What will happen on Jan. 13?

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Mandrill


Song:Love Song

Album:Fencewalk:The Anthology

Mandrill was a very popular 70s funk group. They're mostly forgotten by mainstream music fans but hip hop guys know about the group and sample them all the time. The basis of Mandrill are the three Wilson brothers. They were born in Panama and grew up in Brooklyn. There's Ric Wilson (sax), Lou Wilson (trumpet) & Carlos Wilson (trombone). Mandrill signed with Polydor in 1970 and added Claude "Coffee" Cave on keyboards, Omar Mesa on guitar, Fudgie Kae Solomon on bass and Charlie Padro on drums. Mandrill was never a singles group. They were popular with music fans who were already listening to sophisticated jazz rock fusion like Weather Report & Osibisa. Neftali Santiago was brought in as the new drummer in 1973 and Mandrill had their biggest hit with Fencewalk. Love Song is from the 1974 album Just Outside Of Town. Rapper Nas sampled it for his hit U Gotta Love It. Mandrill started to have conflicts around 1975 over the Wilson brothers control of the group. They were also dropped by Polydor and went to Arista. This 2CD comp covers their Polydor recordings. The Wilson brothers have reformed Mandrill in recent years and have released a couple of CDs independently. Mandrill is recommended to fans of other funk groups. Here's Mandrill performing Get It All in 1973. This video was posted by Mandrill drummer Naftali Santiago.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nakamura to step down as First On Stage president

Shinjiro Otani held a press conference on Monday to announce that Yoshiyuki Nakamura will step down as president of First On Stage and Otani himself will take over on Jan. 23. This is something that has been rumoured for the last month since the whole AWA dispute happened. Apparently Otani will concentrate on ZERO-ONE MAX and will not be involved in the management of CHICK FIGHTS SUN. At this point, Nakamura is not leaving FOS and will still be involved in the operation of SUN. But Nakamura has admitted on the SUN blog that the company's future is in some doubt. There are no future SUN shows scheduled at this time. The company has not performed to expectations. When asked by Sportsnavi about the future of CHICK FIGHTS SUN, Nakamura says no decision has been made. It appears that Otani may want to shut the promotion down and concentrate on ZERO-ONE MAX as that is their core business. But Nakamura started SUN so he would like to keep it going. The root of the problem is that the ZERO-ONE MAX fans have not responded well to joshi matches and Otani doesn't want them on the shows anymore. The result is that the future doesn't look good for CHICK FIGHTS SUN.

RIP Oscar Peterson

The CBC reports that all time jazz great Oscar Peterson died today at age 82. He was born Aug. 15, 1925 in Montreal. He studied piano as a child and won a CBC talent contest at age 15. The key event in Oscar Peterson's life was in 1949. Jazz promoter Norman Granz was in a taxi to catch a flight from New York. He heard Oscar Peterson on a live broadcast and ordered the driver to go to the club. Granz signed Peterson to Verve Records and Peterson recorded for Granz for most of his career. Oscar Peterson moved to Toronto in 1958 and I knew his son Norm in high school. Over the years Peterson has been one of the most popular pianists with jazz fans. He has also worked on orchestral pieces and films. Peterson suffered a stroke in 1993 which affected his left hand. He stopped playing for a couple of years but then came back and continued to tour until his health failed in recent years. Canada Post issued an Oscar Peterson postage stamp in honour of his 80th birthday in 2005. He also has seven Grammy Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, and he was named a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian award in Canada. RIP Oscar Peterson. Here's Oscar Peterson performing A Gal In Calico with Herb Ellis on guitar and Ray Brown on bass in 1958.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Big Bill Morganfield

Artist:Big Bill Morganfield

Song:Strong Man Holler

Album:Ramblin' Mind

It must be tough to grow up as the son of one of the greatest blues artists ever but Big Bill Morganfield has come to terms with that and has become one of today's top blues artists. He was born June 19, 1956 in Chicago the son of the great Muddy Waters. He was raised by his grandmother in Florida and later moved to Atlanta. Bill was initially reluctant to try and fill his dad's shoes but he eventually tried several years after his dad's death in 1983. He wasn't happy with the initial results so he worked as an English teacher while honing his guitar skills. Morganfield signed with Blind Pig Records and made a strong debut in 1999. This CD and the 2001 follow up Ramblin' Mind were produced by long time Muddy Waters guitarist and producer Bob Margolin. Morganfield writes a lot of his own songs but Strong Man Holler was written by the legendary Taj Mahal. Taj also guests on a couple of songs along with Pinetop Perkins and harmonica player Billy Lupkin. Morganfield's latest CD is 2003's Blues In The Blood. Of course it's impossible for Big Bill Morganfield to ever fill his father's legendary shoes but he has his own niche in the modern blues spectrum and is a talent worth watching. Here's an interview Big Bill Morganfield recently did in San Diego with Vince Outlaw.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas from Fuuka Matsuri

Fuuka & Hiroshi Ogawa held the second Fuuka Matsuri show Dec. 22 at Shin-kiba 1st Ring. Not surprisingly, it had a Christmas theme. You may recall that those guys NOZAWA & MASADA attacked Fuuka at the press conference and she challenged them to a match. She got Minoru Suzuki to be her partner. I don't know what happened but NOZAWA & MASADA weren't on the show. It looks like they were replaced by a couple of DDT guys. Muscle Sakai was one of them but I don't know who the other guy is and I didn't see a pic of him. (Update: I have learned that Sakai's partner was a guy named Kikutaro. I think he works for MAHEKEN and he's good friends with Fuuka's wrestler brother. So they were obviously stuck and needed someone at the last minute.) I don't have to tell you the result because it is Fuuka's show.

Obviously fans are going to see Fuuka Matsuri to see Fuuka. The matches don't matter much. So the show began with a performance by Fuuka Ranger with Fuuka, the Shirai sisters and the performance artist RICA. I understand the CD is still due in February. I haven't heard them but I never cared for joshi wrestlers as singers anyway so I'm the wrong guy to ask. This was followed by Fuuka Kid over Black Santa in 8:18. Fuuka made her first wrestling appearance against Misae Genki. Genki is probably twice Fuuka's size and normally the match would be a foregone conclusion. But is Fuuka going to lose on her own show? I guess not. It was a 15 minute draw. The way they're selling it is Genki beat up Fuuka but Fuuka showed her tenacity by holding on for a draw. Uh huh.

Next was Tsubasa Kuragaki & Io Shirai vs AKINO & Mio Shirai. The idea here was that Io pinned Mio on the first Fuuka Matsuri show and sis was looking for revenge. Kuragaki & AKINO were there to keep the workrate up and Mio got her revenge over Io with the Purple Flash at 14:38. The whole idea behind the main event was supposed to have NOZAWA & MASADA destroy Fuuka. What's the point if they're not there? Fuuka & Suzuki were going to win anyway but no one knew of the change until Sakai came out at the show. It's very odd. The babyfaces won in 15:13. Fuuka did a little Christmas cosplay after the show and all fans attending received a present. When in doubt, bribe them and they'll go home happy. The next Fuuka Matsuri show will be Feb. 24 at Shin-kiba 1st Ring.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Artist:Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Song:(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding

Album:The Very Best Of Elvis Costello & The Attractions

When Elvis Costello first surfaced in 1977, he was classified with a lot of the other punk artists. He's turned out to be a much more diverse musician but his early music is worthwhile. He was born Declan McManus Aug. 25, 1954 in Liverpool, England. His father was British bandleader Ross McManus. Declan was working as a computer programmer in the early 70s and sending out demos. One of those demos got the attention of Stiff Records owner Jake Rivera and he was signed. Declan changed his name to Elvis Costello in honour of Elvis Presley and his mother's maiden name. He started recording with producer Nick Lowe. He called his group The Attractions. They were bassist Bruce Thomas, keyboardist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas. Costello signed in the US with Columbia and started building a following in the US. Peace, Love & Understanding is from his third album Armed Forces and the album went top ten in the US. Though Costello is an excellent songwriter, this was a Nick Lowe song that Lowe originally recorded a few years earlier with the group Brinsley Schwarz. This comp was released by Rykodisc in 1994. Costello's back catalog has switched labels a few times from Rykodisc to Rhino and now Universal's Hip-O label. They've all released very similar comps so get this one if you can get it at a good price. Elvis Costello has recorded all kinds of music over the years but I think there's still a lot of affection for his early music. Here's the video for (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding by Elvis Costello & The Attractions.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

JWP All Star War press conference

Here's a video clip promoting the New Year's Eve JWP All Star War courtesy of Nikkan Sports. It has comments from some of the wrestlers including Arisa Nakajima. Take note of the extended giggle fest with Natsuki*Taiyo & Fuuka. Yes, I know it's in Japanese but fans do like to hear what the wrestlers sound like. In a related note, Ayumi Kurihara had successful bone graft surgery yesterday and if things go well, you can expect to see her back in action in the summer of 2008.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Robert Johnson

Artist:Robert Johnson

Song:Cross Road Blues

Album:The Complete Recordings

Of course the story goes that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his talent and fame. I don't know about that but there's no question of his influence on the blues. He was born May 8, 1911 in Hazlehurst, MS. As a teen, he played harmonica with blues legend Son House but he really wanted to play guitar. He wasn't very good. Johnson got married and left but his wife died and he returned and he was a great guitarist. The only explanation for getting that good that fast is he sold his soul to the devil. Johnson made his only recordings in Dallas & San Antonio in 1937. These got the attention of legendary Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond. Just as Hammond was about to bring Johnson to New York's Carnegie Hall for the 1938 From Spirituals To Swing concert, it was learned that Johnson was poisoned by a jealous girlfriend and died on Aug. 16, 1938 at age 27. Robert Johnson's influence on modern music is immeasurable but the great thing is you can get all his recordings on this 1990 2CD box set. It was the first blues recording ever to sell a million units. Of course there's no video footage of Robert Johnson. In fact the album cover is one of only two known photos. But here's a video of Robert Johnson's Sweet Home Chicago.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Actress joins TEAM MAHEKEN

TEAM MAHEKEN owner Tomo Hashimoto announced a new female trainee at their Dec. 21 Shin-kiba 1st Ring show. Her name is Yuka Matsuya and she introduced herself to the crowd at the show. Apparently she's an actress with no martial arts training. They're planning to send her to a self defense course next month. She had been to an Osaka Pro show but she had never seen a joshi match until now. The plan is to train her and have her debut in February. That doesn't seem like very much time.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-John Hartford

Artist:John Hartford

Song:Back In The Goodle Days


John Hartford is best known for writing Gentle On My Mind for Glen Campbell. He made enough money from that to be complacent but instead he advanced the art of bluegrass music. Many experts including Sam Bush of New Grass Revival credit Hartford with the invention of what is known as Newgrass music. He was born John Harford Dec. 30, 1937 in New York City but grew up in St. Louis. It was here that he began his long romance with the Mississippi River and worked on a riverboat at age 10. He liked bluegrass music and learned to play the banjo and fiddle as a teen. He moved with his wife to Nashville in 1965 and the Glaser Brothers started promoting his songs. This landed him a contract with RCA and Chet Atkins added the 't' to his name. His second album contained Gentle On My Mind. Not only was it a huge hit for Glen Campbell but Hartford moved to Los Angeles and was a regular on Campbell's variety show. Hartford moved back to Nashville in 1970 and had the financial security to allow him to pursue his love of bluegrass music. He recorded Aereo-Plain for Warner Bros. in 1971. The album included bluegrass masters Norman Blake (guitar) & Vassar Clements (fiddle) and the quirky songs like Back In The Goodle Days made it a cult hit. Rounder rereleased Areo-Plain on CD in 1997 and also released a CD of outtakes. Hartford also recorded for Flying Fish, Rounder and his own Small Dog Barking label. He suffered from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but continued to be a very popular live draw until his death on June 4, 2001 at age 63. He also contributed to the film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. John Hartford's music is a must for country & bluegrass fans. Here's John Hartford performing Gentle On My Mind on the John Byner show in 1970.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hikaru is the new HCW Womens Champ...but Saki still has the belt

The screwy nonsense that has been transpiring between First On Stage, Hawaii Championship Wrestling & the AWA has now concluded and the result is that not only is FOS no longer affiliated with the AWA but neither is HCW. The AWA World Womens Championship has been renamed the HCW Womens Championship. According to HCW owner Linda Bade, it appears that the AWA's refusal to support a womens division is behind the split. FOS president Nakamura is still planning to align the title belts in ZERO-ONE MAX with the NWA but Chick Fights SUN will not be part of that. Bade also said they are not planning to make a new belt at this time so it will still have the AWA logo on it.

The week started in Japan with HCW wrestlers appearing in Tokyo on ZERO SUN shows. Nothing much happened in the womens matches. There were silly stipulations about the loser wearing a coconut bra but the real events occured over the weekend in Hawaii. Nakamura went with the wrestlers this time. The first show was Dec. 15 in Wahiawa. One match had Hikaru vs ETE with the winner getting to keep this dog they're fighting over. Linda Bade reffed and ETE was declared the winner. Then Saki Maemura successfully defended the AWA World Womens Championship over Tracy Taylor with the Alcatraz.

The Dec. 16 Honolulu show had a womens match with Tracy Taylor vs Ma Hu Wong going to a 25 minute draw. It was one of those deals where Wong tapped out after the time limit. Uh huh. Next was a title defense for Maemura against Hikaru. If Hikaru wins, she gets Go Go the dog back and the AWA title officially becomes the HCW title. If Maemura wins, Hikaru, Tracy & Linda Bade will have their heads shaved by Maemura & Nakamura. Hikaru won with the Lanakila-H. Afterwards, there was an encounter in the park regarding this dog. Hikaru got distracted and the result is Maemura has physical possession of the belt. I have included video footage of this courtesy of the HCW website. Meanwhile, Nakamura is still yakking about the International Chick Fights Association and says Hikaru will be touring North America in the near future. She's apparently considered part of the HCW roster. Who knows if this will actually happen but stay tuned.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Willie Dixon

Artist:Willie Dixon

Song:Walkin' The Blues

Album:The Chess Box

Usually when a record company releases a box set, it's supposed to be a career retrospective on that performer. This box set is different because Willie Dixon's contribution as a songwriter and producer was much greater than as a performer. He was born July 1, 1915 in Vicksburg, MS. Like a lot of blues greats, he moved to Chicago and won the Illinois Golden Gloves Heavyweight Boxing Championship. His partner at the time was guitarist Leonard "Baby Doo" Caston and they had several groups including The Big Three Trio. When the Chess brothers started their label, Dixon was initially hired as a bass player but they liked his writing and Dixon became an integral part of Chess sessions. The success of Dixon's Hoochie Coochie Man for Muddy Waters earned him a promotion to session producer. Though Dixon occasionally recorded as a solo artist, his legacy is the many great songs he wrote and produced for Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Koko Taylor and many others. His own recordings are overshadowed and that is represented on The Chess Box. Willie Dixon would become more active as a performer later on and was a great live draw in the 70s & 80s. He was also in the forefront of the battle over songwriters getting the royalties they deserve. Willie Dixon died on Jan. 29, 1992 at age 76. He was a true legend of the blues. Here's Wille Dixon performing I'm Nervous with Memphis Slim & Matt "Guitar" Murphy at the 1962 American Folk Festival.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Four matches added to Dec. 26 Smackgirl show

With new ownership and a new attitude, the Dec. 26 Korakuen Hall Smackgirl show titled Starting Over is already stacked with Yuka Tsuji, Megumi Fujii and many others appearing on the show. Smackgirl has added four more matches to the show that stacks it even more. The big news is one fight will feature two undefeated fighters including the hottest rising star in womens MMA right now. That is Emi Fujino. Fujino has been on a hot streak since recovering from a serious auto accident. Her record is 7-0 and her most recent victory was over Yuko at the Nov. 11 GCM Cage Force show. Her opponent is V1. She debuted in the 2007 Next Cinderella Tournament and won her division so she's 3-0.

Smackgirl has also announced a series of three matches called Discovery Fight. The matches are designed to discover new talent and will run before the main show. I guess they won't be televised. The first match is Kanako Takeshita vs BENKEI. Takeshita won the Middleweight class of the 2006 Next Cinderella Tournament. Her record is 4-0 but this is her first fight in over a year. BENKEI is 2-3 but her last fight was a win over HARUMI at the May 19 Smackgirl show. The second match is Yasuko Tamada vs Maho Muranami. Tamada is 5-4-2 but is on a three fight winning streak. Muranami is 4-4-1 but won the Flyweight class of the 2007 Next Cinderella Tournament. Tamada on a split decision over Muranami on the July 12, 2005 G-Shooto show. The third fight is Miki Morifuji vs HARI. Morifuji is 4-4 and HARI is 5-5.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Oleta Adams

Artist:Oleta Adams

Song:Get Here

Album:The Very Best Of Oleta Adams

Oleta Adams is a fabulous gospel trained singer/songwriter/pianist in the tradition of Aretha Franklin. She was born May 4, 1962 in Seattle and grew up singing in her father's church in Yakima, WA. The story goes that she was performing in a Kansas City hotel bar when British pop group Tears For Fears' Roland Orzabal walked in and discovered her. She was asked to appear on a TFF album and her appearance in the video for Women In Chains got her a contract with TFF label Fontana Records. Orzabal & TFF producer Dave Bascombe produced Oleta's 1989 debut CD Circle Of One. Oleta had heard the Brenda Russell song Get Here on Brenda's CD and took the song to a whole new level. It was a top 5 pop hit. Oleta continued to record for Fontana but was unable to duplicate the success of Get Here. This comp features the Fontana recordings. Her 1997 gospel CD Come Walk With Me is also recommended. Her latest CD is 2006's Christmas Time With Oleta. I've been a big Oleta Adams fan for many years so if you've never heard her rich, deep soulful voice, here's the video for Get Here by Oleta Adams.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

NEO/Ice Ribbon Sakura Emi Festival

Ice Ribbon owner Sakura Emi has been a big part of NEO in recent months and has developed a strong fan following. She can be a very convincing performer. So occasionally NEO has co-promoted shows with Ice Ribbon. They decided to do a double shot in Kimitsu at the Aquamarine Studio called the Sakura Emi Festival. I guess it must be her home town or something. They even ran a bus tour to bring some fans in from Tokyo. When I've seen double shots in the past, they run a show in the afternoon and one in the evening to give fans a chance to recharge. But on this occasion they ran the shows back to back and that of course risks tiring fans out. The bus tour didn't seem to help the gate much. They got 85 fans for the Ice Ribbon show and 208 fans for the NEO show.

Other than being in a ring, the Ice Ribbon show was their usual crew. Kazumi Shimouma defeated Makoto with a crab hold at 5:59. Kaori Yoneyama defeated Seina in a 3 minute exhibition. Mr. Gannosuke & Riho defeated Ribbon Takahashi & Sakura Emi at 11:46. For those wondering, Mr. Gannosuke has worked as an advisor to Ice Ribbon for the last several months. Mai Ichii & Aoi Kizuki defeated Aya Yuki & Minori Makiba at 14:32 when kizuki used a crab hold on Makiba. I don't usually cover Ice Ribbon so I assume the unfamilar names are Sakura Emi's preteen trainees.

This was followed immediately by the NEO show. This started with Tanny Mouse defeating Aya Yuki at 9:01 with the Paro Special. This was followed by a match featuring the Ice Ribbon schoolgirls. Minori Makiba & Riho defeated Makoto & Seina at 8:07 when Makiba used a diving body press on Makoto. The Big Cats (Kaori Yoneyama, Kayoko Haruyama & Tsubasa Kuragaki defeated Youth Green (Toshie Uematsu, Nagisa Nozaki & Aoi Kizuki) at 18:01 when Kuragaki used a lariat on Kizuki. The Big Cats dominated the match.

NEO Singles & NWA Pacific champ Haruka Matsuo defeated Mai Ichii with a German suplex at 12:01. Ichii tried to counter with head butts but Matsuo used several high kicks to soften Ichii up for the finish. The main event had Sakura Emi & Yoshiko Tamura vs Manami Toyota & Yumiko Hotta. The match began with brawling outside the ring. Toyota seems to work well with Emi but doesn't co-operate as well with Tamura. The end comes when Toyota accidently nails Hotta. Tamura hits her flying elbow and Emi wins with a majistral cradle at 19:44. Emi & Tamura sing and dance together. Everyone celebrates in the ring and all's well in the world...for now. They also tease Tamura turning on Emi.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Albert King

Artist:Albert King

Song:Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'

Album:Christmas In Soulsville

Here's a fabulous Christmas song from all time blues great Albert King. He was born Albert Nelson Apr. 25, 1923 in Indianola, MS. The most distinctive thing about Albert King is he played the guitar left handed but never turned the strings over so his upside down playing style made him unique and has been influential on other musicians. King had mostly regional success until he signed with Stax Records in 1966. His recordings with Stax house band Booker T & The MGs and endorsement from Cream guitarist Eric Clapton brought him to a much larger audience. Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin' was written and originally recorded by Sir Mack Rice, best known as writer of Mustang Sally. Stax released the Albert King version as a single and also on the It's Christmas various artists album. Christmas In Soulsville is the latest version of that and was released last year after Concord Jazz acquired the Stax library. It doesn't appear that this has ever been issued on an Albert King CD. Christmas In Soulsville includes Christmas songs by Otis Redding, The Staples Singers & Isaac Hayes. You can't go wrong with that crew. Stax went bankrupt in 1975 and like a lot of Stax artists, Albert King struggled as a recording artist elsewhere. But he continued to be a popular live act until his death from a heart attack on Dec. 23, 1992 at age 69. Here's Albert King performing Blues Power at the Fillmore East in New York July 23, 1970.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Takako Inoue leaves LLPW

For several years, Takako Inoue was one of the busiest freelance wrestlers in joshi puroresu. At the start of 2005, she decided to cut back on her wrestling schedule and announced that she would be working for LLPW exclusively. They were running about once a month at the time. She even closed her long running website. Takako considered starting her own promotion but decided against it. For 2005 and the first half of 2006, she worked only for LLPW. Then Kaoru Ito approached Takako about working as a trainer at the Kaoru Ito Professional Wrestling Classroom. This seemed to invigorate Takako and she started freelancing again last year.

Takako Inoue recently announced on her blog that the Dec. 14 Korakuen Hall LLPW show would be her final regular appearance for the company. She will continue to appear for them occasionally and other compnies but Kaoru Ito's dojo will be her home base for her wrestling activities. Her final LLPW match had Takako teaming with her old friend Harley Saito against Shinobu Kandori & Ito wrestler Ayako Sato. Takako won the match over Sato at 18:35. Afterwards, Takako received several gifts including flowers, bath oils, Godiva chocolates and other goodies. Then she went to work Sunday's Ito Dojo show. I don't know how active Takako will be in 2008. She usually posts her schedule on her blog. She does have her 20th anniversary coming up in Oct. 2008. She also continues to own her Lava-Tube yoga studio and writes a weekly yoga column for Daily Sports.

Other matches on the show had Sayuri Okino & Eiger over Obacchi Iizuka & Jumbo Hori at 10:05. Keep in mind that Iizuka does a grandmother gimmick and Hori really is a grandmother. In a Glamour Angels match, Sawaco defeated Jukka at 4:30 with a ballerina body hold. In what they called Francoise's Final Trial, Jaguar Yokota defeated Francoise at 8:25. In the main event, Yumiko Hotta and a masked wrestler called Blue Wolf defeated Norito Tateno & Mizuki Endo when Hotta pinned Endo at 14:08. I haven't seen any pics so I don't know anything about Blue Wolf. Takako Inoue is scheduled to appear on LLPW's next show Jan. 13 at Korakuen Hall.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Hank Williams

Artist:Hank Williams

Song:I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

Album:40 Greatest Hits

Hank Williams wasn't around very long but he was around long enough to become one of the most influential figures in the history of country music. He was born Sept. 12, 1923 in Mount Olive, AL. He learned to play the guitar and sing from a local street musician named Rufus "Tee Tot" Payne. His mom moved the family to Montgomery in 1937 and Williams formed his first group The Singing Cowboys. He landed a radio show on a local station in 1941. In 1943, he met Audrey Mae Sheppard. They married and she became his manager. They went to Nashville in 1946 and Acuff Rose Publishing co-owner Fred Rose had him record a single. This got the attention of MGM Records and Williams signed in 1947. Rose became his manager. This made Williams a national star and he had a number of hits. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry was actually on the B side of My Bucket's Got A Hole In It in 1949. So the song never charted but it has proven to be one of Williams' most enduring songs and has been covered by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Cassandra Wilson and most notably Al Green. This 2CD comp is very good for beginners. While his professional life was soaring, things weren't going so well in his private life. Williams already had a drinking problem and then his marriage to Audrey was failing. Then he hurt his back in the fall of 1951 and became addicted to painkillers. This got totally out of control and he started showing up to gigs drunk if he showed up at all. He was scheduled to appear in Canton, OH on Jan. 1, 1953. The weather was bad so he hired a driver and went into the back seat of his Cadillac. When the driver was stopped for speeding, the police officer thought there was something wrong. Hank Williams was declared dead at age 29. His final single before his death was I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive. So he may have died young but the power of Hank Williams' music still lives today. Here's a brief Hank Williams documentary courtesy of the fine folks at Fast Focus TV.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Milt Jackson

Artist:Milt Jackson Meets The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra

Song:Bags' Groove


This outstanding big band CD appears to be the final recording of legendary jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson. He was born Jan. 1, 1923 in Detroit. His big break came in 1946 when Dizzy Gillespie disscovered him and hired him for his big band. There were very few vibes players at the time so Jackson was an in demand session musician. In 1952, Jackson recorded with pianist John Lewis, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Kenny Clarke. They would form the Modern Jazz Quartet and were very popular until they split in 1974. Meanwhile Jackson recorded as a leader on a regular basis and on sessions too. After MJQ split up, he continued to record and tour regularly. He signed with Quincy Jones' Qwest label in the early 90s. This CD is with the Los Angeles big band Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra led by bassist John Clayton, his sax player brother Jeff Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton. Jackson had played some live dates with the band and really enjoyed John Clayton's arrangement of the classic Jackson tune Bags' Groove. It's a very strong record. Milt Jackson died on Oct. 9, 1999 at age 76 but as you will tell by the following 1999 video clip, he never lost anything as a senior. Here's Milt Jackson (light brown jacket) with fellow vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson along with Allen LaDonne on piano, Pierre Boussoquet on bass and Mickey Roker on drums performing Bags' Groove on a French TV show.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-The Skyliners

Artist:The Skyliners

Song:Since I Don't Have You

Album:The Doo Wop Box

This classic 1959 doo wop hit is interesting because though The Skyliners were white, the song charted higher on the black singles chart. It was a top ten hit on both charts. The Skyliners were from Pittsburgh and were formed from two vocal groups. Group leader Jimmy Beaumont, Jackie Taylor & Wally Lester were in The Crescents. Janet Vogel & Joe VerScharen were in The El Rios. Joe Rock was also part of The Crescents and he took on managing The Skyliners. The idea was to give the group a sound similar to popular vocal groups like The Four Freshmen & The HiLos. Rock hired Pittsburgh bandleader Lenny Martin to come up with an orchestral arrangement for the song Since I Don't Have You. The song first broke locally in Pittsburgh in Feb. 1959 but Dick Clark liked it and put them on American Bandstand. That made it a national hit and The Skyliners were stars. They were on the small Pittsburgh label Calico. In 1961, The Skyliners signed with the much larger Colpix label. They had some minor hits but were never able to recreate the success of Since I Don't Have You but R & B singer Chuck Jackson had a hit with Since I Don't Have You later on. As I've said before, the 4CD Rhino box set The Doo Wop Box has all the hits of the 50s. Jimmy Beaumont has toured the oldies circuit with a version of The Skyliners since the early 70s and he's still doing that. Here are The Skyliners performing Since I Don't Have You on a Dick Clark special in 1959.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Billy Cobham

Artist:Billy Cobham

Song:Quadrant 4


Drummer Billy Cobham is one of the most important figures of the jazz fusion movement of the early 70s. And he is also beloved by other drummers because of his power and creativity. He was born May 16, 1944 in Panama and moved to New York City with his family at age 3. He started playing drums at an early age and graduated from New York's High School Of Music & Art in 1962. After a three year stint in the US Army Band, piano legend Horace Silver hired him in 1968. It was here that he met trumpeter Randy Brecker. The two left the Silver band in 1969 and formed the jazz rock group Dreams with Randy's brother Mike Brecker, Barry Rogers & John Abercrombie. Meanwhile, Cobham got the attention of Miles Davis and was a big part of Live-Evil & the Jack Johnson soundtrack. It was here that he met guitarist John McLaughlin and joined McLaughlin's very popular Mahavishnu Orchestra. This is probably where a lot of fans first heard Cobham. He signed a solo contract with Atlantic and Spectrum was his first album in 1973. He brought with him keyboardist Jan Hammer from Mahavishnu and also introduced guitarist Tommy Bolin to the world. He was from the group Zephyr and went on to play in Deep Purple. Bassists Lee Sklar & Ron Carter, sax player Joe Farrell, guitarist John Tropea and percusionist Ray Baretto also appear. The album was a huge hit but Cobham & Bolin never toured together. Among others, he recruited the Brecker Brothers & John Abercrombie for his touring band. Billy Cobham would continue to have success in the 70s and had a long musical relationship with George Duke. Billy Cobham is still touring and he hasn't given up one iota of his legendary power in his playing. He's always been a fitness freak anyway and doesn't look his age. Spectrum is a must for fusion fans and drummers. Here's Billy Cobham performing in Montreux 1974 with Randy Brecker on trumpet, Mike Brecker on sax, Barry Rogers on trombone & John Abercrombie on guitar.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Supporters of "community centre" miss the point

Tamara Shephard of the Etobicoke Guardian wrote about last week's meeting with City Of Toronto Parks & Rec. in the Wednesday edition. I have no problem with Tamara's article and have posted a link to it at the end of this post. It illustrates once again the lack of insight by people who won't have to live with a poor decision because most of them don't live here. The problem is that when the decision was made several years ago to build an extension the the Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School gym, the Lakeshore Lions Arena was not available. Since it is now available, common sense says that it should be looked at as a more appropriate site for a community centre. The city believes that cancelling the gym extension at Redmond would be embarrassing to them when the reality is that they should be embarrassed for trying to force something that the community doesn't want. They don't want to change horses in the middle of the stream. But that's what they should do.

I also want to respond to comments made by Franklin Horner Community Centre Executive Director Laura Latham. I can only speak for myself. There are two problems with your community centre. It's too far for most people in this part of the community. And as a disabled person living indepenently in the community, I am well aware that there are no services for the disabled in your community centre. And despite the bleating of city bureaucrats, there will never be services for the disabled west of Yonge St. unless it's privately financed. We are well aware of the scope of a community centre at the Lakeshore Lions Arena. It's not just about partnering with the United Way. Most of it would have to be privately financed and given the opportunity, fundraising could be initiated sooner rather than later. Your assumption is incorrect. So despite the naysayers and ignorant bureaucrats, we will continue to fight for what we believe in. Stay tuned for details of a rally on January 16. Here's the link to Tamara's article.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Kenny Burrell

Artist:Kenny Burrell w/Art Blakey

Song:Lady Be Good

Album:On View At The Five Spot Cafe

Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell is a disciple of Duke Ellington and supposedly Duke's favourite guitarist. He was born July 31, 1931 in Detroit. He started out in the Detroit jazz scene. He recorded with Dizzy Gillespie and toured with Oscar Peterson and moved to New York City in 1956. He was very busy playing sessions and recorded as a leader too. This 1959 live recording is very typical of Burrell's straight bop of that time. Musicians include Art Blakey on drums, Tina Brooks on tenor sax, either Roland Hanna or Bobby Timmons on piano and Ben Tucker on bass. Blue Note released it on CD with bonus tracks in 1987. Though Burrell continues to record, since the 70s he has been in charge of the Jazz Studies program at UCLA in Los Angeles. Blue Note released Kenny Burrell's 75th Birthday Bash Live earlier this year. Here's Kenny Burrell performing Jeannine with Bob Magnusson on bass and Sherman Ferguson on drums on Club Date in the late 80s.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All titles retained at Dec. 9 JWP show

All three titles were on the line at JWP's Dec. 9 Korakuen Hall show but none of them changed hands. The show started with the debut of teenager Mayuca Shinzaki against Arisa Nakajima. Apparently Mayuca looked pretty good for someone appearing in her debut and was compared favourably with NEO rookie Nagisa Nozaki. Nakajima won with a missile kick at 8:33. Tyrannosaurus Okuda came from Sendai to defend her JWP Junior & POP Titles against Aska Ohki. Okuda successfuly defended the title with a German suplex at 11:26.

Next up was called a Tag Team Festival. It was Manami Toyota, Etsuko Mita, Kei'to & Carlos Amano vs Sachie Abe, KAZUKI, Toshie Uematsu & Ran YuYu. I guess the idea was to team up established tag teams. It was played mostly for comedy and apparently Uematsu was pretty funny. Toyota won over KAZUKI with the Japanese Ocean Queen Bee Bomb at 14:42. Tojuki Leon defeated Commando Bolshoi with a captured buster at 13:02.

Tsubasa Kuragaki & Kayoko Haruyama defended their JWP Tag Team Titles against the CHICK FIGHTS SUN team of Nanae Takahashi & Natsuki*Taiyo. Haruyama pinned Takahashi with the Keene Hammer at 20:24. I guess they're trying to take advantage of Haruyama's recent tournament win at SUN. The main event had JWP Open Weight Champion Azumi Hyuga successfully defending over Kaori Yoneyama with a diving knee drop to the back of the head at 19:26. Yoneyama had some close falls but I don't think anyone believes she can beat Hyuga. A change would have been a huge upset and wasn't going to happen. JWP has some shows coming up but the big one is the Junior All Star War on New Year's Eve.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Television



Album:Marquee Moon

Though they never had the commercial success of other mid-70s punk bands, Tom Verlaine's group Television and especially the debut album Marquee Moon holds up very well. The group started with childhood pals Richard Meyers & Tom Miller running away from a Delaware boarding school. The two reunited as adults in New York City. Meyers was now called Richard Hell and Miller changed his name to Tom Verlaine. The two started a band called The Neon Boys with drummer Billy Ficca. in 1973, guitarist Richard Lloyd joined and the group name was changed to Television. They started building a fanbase playing New York clubs. Richard Hell left in 1975 to form The Heartbreakers with Johnny Thunder when Television failed to get a record deal. He was replaced by ex-Blondie bassist Fred Smith. They recorded for the British Stiff label and finally landed a deal with Elektra. Their 1977 debut album Marquee Moon sold well in England but Television never really broke through in the US. It's now considered a classic of punk rock and Rhino released an extended version on CD in 2003. Television split up after their 1979 album Adventure because Verlaine & Lloyd weren't getting along. Television has reformed occasionally and last toured in 2006. Tom Verlaine is one of the most interesting musicians of the punk era. Here's Television performing Foxhole on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1978.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Will Ayumi Kurihara be forced to retire?

Well, we got some good news last week when Ayumi Kurihara returned to action from a broken collarbone and appeared on the main event of the Michiko Ohmukai retirement show. She was scheduled to work the New Year's Eve Junior All Star War. But Kurihara announced today that she is going to have surgery to repair the injury. So she will have to cancel all future appearances. Ayumi was hoping she wouldn't need surgery but her doctor has told her that it's not going to any better without surgery. Estimated recovery time is from six months to a year. You never know about these things but Kurihara says she will train hard to rehab as quickly as possible and plans to return to the ring sometime during 2008.

AWA severs relationship with First On Stage

There are some very strange developments going on at ZERO-ONE MAX & CHICK FIGHTS SUN parent company First On Stage. AWA President Dale Gagne announced on the AWA website that they have severed their relationship with First On Stage effective immediately. The reason given is that FOS refuses to change their business methods and become a real member of the AWA. This affects ZERO-ONE MAX immediately. There was no mention of CHICK FIGHTS SUN but I will talk about how that may be solved this weekend. I guess the problem was that FOS was only interested in using the AWA name, logo and legacy and weren't really interested in a business relationship with Dale Gagne. Well, DUH! I could have told them that a long time ago. The result of this was a report in the Tokyo Shinbun newspaper that FOS president Nakamura was considering quitting. I understand partner Shinjiro Otani convinced him to stay.

FOS president Nakamura's response on the ZERO-ONE MAX blog is that FOS plans to start a new relationship with the NWA. They have begun with a tag team belt and that will be dealt with in January. They also announced plans to divide the Z-1 roster into two armies and have a draft. Regarding CHICK FIGHTS SUN, this is the week that the Hawaii Championship Wrestling crew comes to Japan to work some shows. Then everyone goes to Hawaii for a show on Saturday. Saki Maemura will defend the AWA World Womens Championship against Tracy Taylor. So if Tracy wins the AWA title, I guess that's it. And who is the NWA Womens Champion? That would be one Amazing Kong. That would work. Also, Nakamura has been whining about the proposed AJW revival saying it may not be legal. He knows Nanae Takahashi is loyal to the Matsunagas and will want to work any AJW revival shows. We'll see how he handles that.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Cat Stevens

Artist:Cat Stevens


Album:Teaser & The Firecat

Cat Stevens was one of the most popular singer songwriters of the 70s. Of course it is well known that he left the music business in 1977 and is now trying to return as Yusuf Islam. He was born Stephen Georgiou July 21, 1948 in London. He began performing in 1965 under the name Steve Adams. Former Springfields member Mike Hurst had become a record producer and took Georgiou into the studio. This got him a contract with Deram Records and he was renamed Cat Stevens. He had some chart success in England but contracted tuberculosis in Apr. 1968 and recuperated for a year. Stevens started writing more introspective songs and signed with Island Records in 1970. His album Tea For The Tillerman had some chart success and it was licensed to A & M Records in the US. The success of the single Wild World vaulted the album to the top ten in the US. Moonshadow was the first single from the 1971 album Teaser & The Firecat. Stevens was one of the biggest music stars of the 70s and that continued until he became a Muslim on Dec. 23, 1977 and changed his name to Yusuf Islam. His music remained popular despite his retirement. Yusuf Islam returned to pop music with An Other Cup in 2006. Reviews have been mixed. But there's no question that Cat Stevens' 70s music holds up very well today. Here's Cat Stevens performing Moonshadow in 1971.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Daizee Haze to Japan for Vader 20th anniversary show

As big a star as Big Van Vader was in WCW & WWF, you can multiply that by a thousand in Japan. He is one of the most popular gaijins in history. It was announced Monday that the 20th anniversary of Vader's debut in Japan will be commemorated with a show on Jan. 5 at Differ Ariake in Tokyo. The show is being promoted by the indy fed MAHEKEN. MAHEKEN owner Tomo Hashimoto is a long time pal and recently spent some time at Vader's home in Colorado. The show is called BIG VAN CRUSH. This is a pretty big show for a company that normally runs in much smaller halls.

It is not known as yet what Big Van Vader will be doing on this show. Maybe a match with his buddy Hashimoto. But a couple of joshi matches were announced for the show. The big news is that ROH & SHIMMER star Daizee Haze will make her first ever trip to Japan. SHIMMER owner Dave Prazak tells me she will appear on this show only. Her tag team partner will be K-Dojo veteran Yuu Yamagata. The opponents are JWP's Arisa Nakajima and MAHEKEN's Io Shirai. Io's sister Mio Shirai will face Fuuka in another match. It was also announced that Angel Williams will make her first ever trip to Japan to appear on this show.

Michiko Ohmukai retires

After 15 years in joshi puroresu, Michiko Ohmukai got married, retired on Dec. 9 at Shinjuku FACE and is off to Hawaii for her honeymoon. Ohmukai originally trained and debuted at All Japan Women in 1992. She grew up admiring the Crush Gals. She was injured and quit for a while and then returned with LLPW in 1993. Of course the key event in Ohmukai's career was when GAMI brought her to ARSION when the company started in 1998. Eventually she became one of ARSION's biggest stars with her combination of athleticism and sex appeal. After getting more involved in ARSION management, she left in Feb. 2003 when Hiroshi Ogawa sold the company to Yumiko Hotta. Ohmukai started M's Style in 2004 with Mariko Yoshida, Momoe Nakanishi & AKINO. That didn't really work out because Momoe retired and M's Style closed in Oct. 2006. It's been rumoured for a couple of years that Ohmukai wanted to retire but I'm not surprised she hung around for her 15th anniversary in January.

Generally speaking, the matches on a retirement show don't matter much. It's more about paying tribute to the retiree. Just about anyone who ever worked at ARSION was there except Etsuko Mita because she was working a NEO show at the same time. The opener had Cherry defeat Francoise with a diving knee drop to the back of the head at 8:50. Then Ran YuYu defeated Tomoka Nakagawa with the European Clutch at 12:10. Toshie Uematsu defeated Kyoko Kimura with a dragon suplex at 13:33. This was followed by an ARSION alumni talk show with Sakie Hasegawa, Rie Tamada, Yumi Fukawa & Ryo Miyuki. The main event had Ohmukai teaming with AKINO, Tojuki Leon, Ayumi Kurihara & Bullfight Sora vs Aja Kong, Mariko Yoshida, GAMI, Ayako Hamada and the return to the ring of retired ARSION star Ai Fujita for one night only accompanied by Emiko Kado. The end of the match was very appropriate with all of Ohmukai's team ganging up on Aja Kong. Ohmukai finished Aja with the Shining Wizard at 22:01.

The post match ceremony began with Michiko Ohmukai in the ring with her parents. Ohmukai's childhood idol Lioness Asuka was the first to enter the ring with a bouquet of flowers. This was followed by tributes by just about every wrestler Ohmukai ever worked with in her 15 year career. This was followed by a paper tape tribute from the fans and a shower of flowers. She was also given the Queen Of ARSION title belt. Then the ten bell salute and Michiko Ohmukai's wrestling career is over. She thanked all the wrestlers and fans for all their support over the years. And according to her blog, Ohmukai went backstage and popped open a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne. On behalf of joshi fans worldwide, I want to thank Michiko Ohmukai for the entertainment you have given us for the last 15 years. We will miss you and we wish you a happy life. And as a special tribute to Michiko Ohmukai, here's the match that probably made her a star. It's Michiko Ohmukai vs Aja Kong from ARSION Feb. 18, 1998.

Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Tamia




R &B singer Tamia Washington was noticed very early in her career by one of the biggest players in the music industry. The early success almost sunk her but she has found a reliable producer and works well with him. She was born May 9, 1975 in Windsor, ON. She took singing & acting lessons as a child and won the Steve Ross Music Scholarship in 1993. Steve Ross was Chairman of Warners. This got her invited to a party in Los Angeles for Luther Vandross in 1994. She was spotted by Quincy Jones and he proceeded to have her sing You Put A Move On My Heart on Q's Juke Joint. The song was a monster hit and earned Tamia a solo contract with Qwest Records. Her 1998 debut CD Tamia did well but she was having creative disagreements with Jones and she moved to Elektra for her second CD A Nu Day in 2000. Meanwhile, Anita Baker introduced Tamia to NBA superstar Grant Hill and the two were married on July 24, 1999. They now have two children. She first worked with producer Shep Crawford on A Nu Day and that has turned into a very good partnership. Crawford started out in the gospel music business in Florida. The 2004 CD More was delayed because Tamia was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The CD did well and Questions was the third single. It was written & produced by R. Kelly. She returned to working again mostly with Crawford on her latest CD Between Friends on Image Entertainment. Tamia's music continues to do very well on the R & B charts and her videos are popular because she is gorgeous. I like her voice. It has more substance than some other popular singers. Here's the video for Questions by Tamia.