Music is a major aspect of my life. From an early age, I learned to tinker with piano and I am fortunate to have some ability to sing. Though I don't consider myself a musician, I have always found myself drawn to others who spend there free time creating and crafting musically and I find that my choices in music are highly reflective of different phases of my life.
One major benefit of living in Seattle is the music scene. Though many know about the legendary bands/artists that called this city home, from Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Deathcab for Cutie to Jimmy Hendrix, Heart and Quincy Jones, its the indie scene that has gained local recognition, with bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Rosie Thomas and even the Postal Service changing the music world. Over the past 10 yrs, I've had the privilege to explore this music scene, attending shows at Neumos, the Tractor Tavern and Chop Suey as well as attend some of the local music festivals. All the while this exploration fueled by listening to KEXP. Living here has truly been an education.
In addition to this, though, I've had the rare privilege to live with a musician who helped introduce me to the local music scene and introduced me to a number of budding musicians. I've written before about Jen Wood and how I use to fall asleep to her practicing. What I haven't talked about though is the others I met through her. The souls that have followed their hearts and made great sacrifices to practice their craft.
It was through Jen that I met Tomo Nakayama. A quiet and reserved fellow, one would initially not think too much of Tomo as he could easily blend into the background if he chooses. Through talking with him, you learn first hand what a kind and giving individual he is, greeting all he meets with a warm smile and a general warmth that is unfortunately rare. Soft-spoken and gentle is how I've always thought of Tomo.
All that changed the first time I heard him perform with Grand Hallway. Having heard some of the demos for this first album Yes is the answer, Grey and I happily attended a performance at the Mars Bar one evening to hear them perform. And we were not disappointed. Particularly impressive is Tomo singing, where this otherwise soft-spoken man fills an entire room with his voice leaving all speechless with his music. In moments where I need to smile, cry, felt like screaming or needed peace, I've listened to Grand Hallway tracks. They always heal the soul.
Two days ago, I ran into Tomo after not seeing him for a couple of years. The last time we met, I was deep in the middle of fertility treatments and the grief of my second miscarriage. At the time, though we spoke of his upcoming wedding, I knew he was aware that things weren't right in the world for me. Hence the treat of getting to see him again and sharing photos of the Beats with him. Though we only had a moment to chat, I asked him about his music and how his projects were coming. He smiled quietly and quickly wrote out his website on a post-it note. "Check it out" he told me, mentioning that he would be touring Japan soon.
Yesterday, while the Beats napped, I did. And over the course of 30 minutes I got caught up on all the amazing things this man has been up to over the past 4 yrs. Including the pending release of his first solo album Fog on the Lens on November 4, 2014. After the Beats woke up, I knew it was time to introduce them to his music and I watched with delight as they danced to these melodies while also being drawn to the computer to get a glimpse of his performance.
This past weekend, Tomo performed at Bumbershoot, performing one of his newer songs Fallen Cedar. A song that certainly warms my heart.
Though so much has changed and Tomo is no longer a budding musician, he still isn't widely known. Hence why word of mouth is so important as Tomo is still not able to fully support himself doing what he loves.
But that can change. Simply by taking a moment to listen and spread the word. You can find Tomo's music here and find more information about him here. More information about Grand Hallway can be found here.