From Classical To Bluegrass With Leona Tokutake

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On this show we take a visit to the Appalachian mountain areas of the United States with fiddler Leona Tokutake. Leona is a classically trained violinist from Tokyo who moved to America to pursue her dream of playing bluegrass music.

Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. Bluegrass was inspired by the music of Appalachia. It has mixed roots in Scottish, Irish and English traditional music, and also it was influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of jazz elements.

Leona is currently touring Japan to promote her latest CD, ‘A New Peace Within’ and joins us to talk about her journey from the big city of Tokyo to the mountains of Tennessee.

Anthony also talks about a recent blog entry by Hikosaemon in his Falling with Style series in which Hiko explores his early days in Japan. In this post titled Panda Ambush, Hiko writes about the early celebrity status he enjoyed as the only caucausian in his Japanese company and the harsh reality when the celebrity spotlight was turned off.

Lastly, if you are a fan of Canadians the Tokyo Canadian Club is having a Canada Day celebration on July 1st. There will be music, food, face painting and all things Canadian. It will be a great day to spend with the family celebrating Canada’s 145th birthday.

  • Great interview with Leona. It was fascinating hearing about her experiences coming from Japan to America. A real East meets West (or in this case East meets South) story. I loved that she is embracing the music and culture to such a degree that she sounds like she’s from the backwoods of Tennessee herself. Cute, sweet story.

    • Yeah I totally agree. I was struck by how much she seemed to have adapted to that lifestyle.

      In my experience when many Japanese go overseas they still retain a lot of their Japaneseness with them. But kudos to Leona because she seems to have gone all out country in her short time in the US.

  • My son attended East Tennessee State University and was in the bluegrass program with Leona. I never heard anything but good things about her. Glad she chose to stay here in the US.


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