Tanko Bushi

16/10/19With European Live Dates Ahead, Japan's Minyo Crusaders Revive Forgotten Japanese Folk Masterpiece

Japan's Minyo Crusaders are a 10-piece big band of sorts, quite unlike anything we've heard. On a mission to rework Japanese 'min'yō' folk songs into more danceable and let's say accessible arrangements, blending Japanese traditions with Latin, African, Caribbean and Asian flavours, the group has been on a tear, ever since the release of their debut album "Echoes of Japan" on Mais Um back in May. 

With several European live dates ahead in November/December, the Minyo Crusaders recently unveiled a companion video to their boogaloo album track "Tanko Bushi". And it's, you guessed it, quite unlike anything we've seen. Filmed in their native Fussa City neighbourhood in West Tokyo, the clip “stars singer Freddie Tsukamoto as the ‘messenger of min’yō’”, while him and his fellow envoys remind the locals of their rich musical past.

“‘Tanko Bushi’ is a famous dance song, typically performed in mid-August at Japanese Bon festivals. Bon is a Japanese Buddhist custom, celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years, that honours the spirits of one’s ancestors. This custom has since evolved into a family holiday, where people return to ancestral family places to clean their ancestors’ graves, expecting that their spirits will revisit. Originally, ‘Tanko Bushi’ was sung by coal miners, yet thanks to the popularity of gramophone and 78 rpm recordings before WWII, the song became known nationwide”, the video description reads.

You can watch “Tanko Bushi” and revisit “Echoes of Japan” below. And if you’re lucky, you might even get to see Minyo Crusaders live on a stage near you.

Remaining tour dates 2019:
Nov 1st Norway, Oslo – Oslo World Music Festival
Nov 2nd Germany, Hamburg – Überjazz
Nov 4th Germany, Berlin – Gretchen
Nov 7th Spain, Madrid – Sala Clamores
Nov 8th Denmark, Copenhagen – Alice
Nov 9th Netherlands, Utrecht – Le Guess Who?
Nov 10th Germany, Wiesbaden – Schlachthof
Nov 11th UK, London – Jazz Café
Dec 5th France, Rennes – Les Transmusicales

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom