Road Stories Blog

Agatsuma in Bloomington, Illinois

Retirement home residents work musicians to play the instruments

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We arrived in Bloomington, IL Sunday April 25, our third week of Arts Midwest World Fest. With a population of 150,000, Bloomington, IL is the largest community so far in this tour. Two major universities, a large insurance company, and financial businesses are located here in Bloomington.

A week in Hartford, WI

Taiko workshop in a middle school gymnasium

By Shigeyo Henriquez

First 3 days in Hartford we had very early start 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, April 19th, we drove 40 minutes to Silverbrook Middle school in West Bend. Rubbing our eyes, we set up the instruments in the gym. The bell rang, 400 students walked into the gym very excited and curious to hear Japanese music.

Missing Marquette

Dan Truckey and his son learn to play the taiko drums during a workshop.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We left Marquette Sunday morning, feeling a bit gloomy like the weather in Marquette, over cast and 37º, but our memories of Marquette were warm and welcoming. People were appreciative and responsive to our music.

First workshop at Northern Michigan University, we were pleased and surprised to find the students and the professor had some great knowledge of Japanese culture and music.

Old Town School of Folk Music Review

The group poses outside the Old Town School of Folk Music.

By Bannon Puckett

Greetings! As a current Chicagoan, I was fortunate enough to see Agatsuma and company in the first concert of their latest U.S. tour, which I hear will take them around many of the Midwestern states and culminate in San Francisco.

First Week in Chicago

Musicians at the airport just after arrival

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Agatsuma and his ensemble arrived in Chicago on Monday, April 5th. After an 11-hour long flight and a 14-hour time difference, it was not easy to adjust. Having a full day of rest on Tuesday helped to make the adjustments and prepare the group for their first concert of the tour on Wednesday.

Mauvais Sort's Tour Blog

Band members seated with their instruments.

By Autumn at Arts Midwest

Greetings everyone! We are happy to have Mauvais Sort on tour in the western half of our region now. This is their second time touring for Arts Midwest World Fest, and we are so pleased to have them back again this year! They have already completed their week in Valley City, North Dakota and are now in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The band will also tour to Alexandria, Minnesota and Knoxville, Iowa this year.

Beauty & Melody - The End of the Tour

The view from backstage in Marquette, Michigan.

By Shigeyo Henriquez, tour manager

After 6 weeks on the road, warm days in Valley City to shivering in snow in Alexandria and Marquette, sunshine, rain and snow and all, the tour came to the end.

Warm Reception

Musicians on stage

By Lindajoy Fenley, tour manager

Arts Illiana’s offices were filled when we arrived Sunday evening. After introductions and a few questions, members of the ensemble were also interviewed by a local television station. All of us chatted with Terre Haute community members who had put out a delicious spread of food. We took vegetarian soup, cheesecake and other goodies back to our downtown accommodations, which feature kitchenettes in each room.

Week three of our four week tour has begun!

Tasting the Music

Gilad Ephrat plays the double bass.

By Gilad Ephrat, musician

Gilad Ephrat plays double bass for The Israeli Ethnic Ensemble.

On my honeymoon on a Greek island a couple of years ago, I fell under the spell of two men—Stoykos and Ilias—and the experience inspired me to compose a piece I now play in concert with the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble. The one who reminded me of a famous Israeli comedian operated a small restaurant; his friend, a tall, lanky guy, ran a tavern nearby.

Playing in Peoria

The Red Barn in Peoria, Illinois

By Lindajoy Fenley, tour manager

We spent a whole day in Peoria, Illinois—that metaphorical yardstick used to measure public acceptance of performers. The Israeli Ethnic Ensemble measured up—and then some.