New Conversation with Bachido's Kyle Abbott

Delicious pour over of Kyle's home roasted coffee

Delicious pour over of Kyle's home roasted coffee

During my recent working vacation trip to northern California, I was able to squeeze in a visit to hang out with Kyle Abbott in Santa Cruz. I first met Kyle in February 2016, and on that day I had the very impromptu idea of recording our conversation for my new blog. Part of the reason for my initial visit was to ask Kyle about his experiences selling instructional videos on his excellent website Bachido because I was preparing to start producing my own videos. In the almost two years since, I have posted numerous interviews on my blog and uploaded ten instructional videos in my store. This new frame of reference made our recent conversation especially fun and meaningful for me. It was a fun day of recording, drinking Kyle's fantastic coffee, tasting local beers in town, and cooking a great dinner on the grill late into the night.

Last year I provided some percussion for Kyle's album Frosty: a retrospective Christmas. Full of unusual arrangements of traditional Christmas songs, I always describe this album as the most uniquely interesting material on your holiday playlist. With shamisen, taiko, throat singing, shakuhachi, and various other instruments, it's bound to turn heads and prompt inquiries at your next party. You can contact me for a copy or visit the Bachido store to purchase.

Earlier this year, Kyle and I also collaborated on the planning of "Tataki," a weekend workshop series where taiko and shamisen players gather to try out each other's instruments and to discover how to play together effectively. Unfortunately we had to postpone the event due to not reaching the enrollment minimum and being declined on our grant application. We predicted that it would be a great event, but perhaps our idea was too progressive and ahead of our time? It's difficult to know if the timing was off (March 4-5, 2017) or the interest is not there, but we will be trying again in the future. Subscribing to our newsletters is the best way to stay updated for future event announcements like these. 

Kyle Eien Square.jpg

We talked long enough that Kyle split it into three segments. The first two are posted on his website's Bachi On The Horn series, and the third is below. We delved into a handful of topics including the importance of feedback from your teacher, hierarchy of ways to study, the value of current technology, and the small world of musicians where interesting connections are constantly being discovered. We started talking indoors, but that room needed to be vacated so we continued out in the back yard. It was a beautifully sunny late afternoon - ideal for recording a podcast except for the dozens (or hundreds) of crows gathering right above us. Hopefully this audio reminiscent of a certain Hitchcock film won't be too much of a distraction. I would definitely encourage everyone to check out all three parts, especially where we discuss the similarities between coffee tasting and music. Kyle and I are both home coffee roasting enthusiasts and this topic came up on our 2016 conversation as well.

After concert photo in Santa Cruz with Robbie Belgrade, John Kaizan Neptune, and Kyle Abbott

After concert photo in Santa Cruz with Robbie Belgrade, John Kaizan Neptune, and Kyle Abbott

After concert photo in Los Angeles with John Kaizan Neptune, Mike Penny, and Kojiro Umezaki

After concert photo in Los Angeles with John Kaizan Neptune, Mike Penny, and Kojiro Umezaki

Northern California teaching tour recap

My teaching road trip to northern California went really well.  It helped that gas prices were low and that my Prius gets about 45 miles per gallon, plus I was fortunate with good weather during the 11 hour drive each way.  Thank you to the taiko groups for booking my workshops and to the individuals who took private lessons with me.  And thank you very much to the kind friends for hosting me as a home-stay guest.

On this trip I worked with Sakura Taiko Kai of Berkeley, a wonderful group of taiko players who told me that their age range is 60s to 80s.  It's very inspiring to feel their energy and dedication toward learning about taiko.  I also noticed that, of all the groups I have worked with, Sakura Taiko Kai was one of the most consistent in collectively keeping a steady tempo.  The saying goes that wisdom comes with age, and perhaps good timekeeping goes along with that.

Another group I was invited to work with for the second time was Sonoma County Taiko based in Santa Rosa.  This is beautiful wine country and my hosts treated me to a fantastic dinner at Francis Ford Coppola Winery as well as lunch at Bear Republic Brewing Company.  Sitting outside by the bonfire under the stunningly bright stars listening to a chorus of frogs while drinking local red wine long into the night is about as good as it gets.


After years of talking about it, I was finally able to work with Stanford Taiko on this trip.  They requested a shinobue workshop and a ji playing workshop.  I was most impressed by these students' organizational skills and willingness to completely commit to any exercise or concept I proposed.  I'm confident that the twenty members whom I met all have bright futures, and that the group will continue to be a leading voice in the collegiate taiko scene.


I was also happy to be invited back to work with the Mountain View Buddhist Temple adult class.  We covered small drum technique and had a lot of laughs while exploring exercises designed to help with tempo control, dynamics, sticking patterns, and playing along to recordings of Santana, Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, and Norah Jones.  After the workshop, we went out for ramen and talked about food and cooking, and a little bit about taiko.

I also had a blast hanging out with shamisen player Kyle Abbott in Santa Cruz, but I already wrote about that on my previous entry so check that out if you haven't yet.  Kyle is a home coffee roaster like me and he made me a fantastic cup of coffee right after I arrived.

My next trip to northern California will be in late May and I look forward to seeing friends and meeting new people in the community.  I will have a couple of performances during that trip so you can sign up for email updates and check back on my events calendar for more information.  Anyone interested in workshops or private lessons can contact me directly through email.