We were sitting near the Gypsy Avalon stage early in the evening when we heard a curious sound coming from the stage itself. It was the sound check for the next band, which we weren’t familiar with. But the sound was so intriguing we felt obligated to check it out.
It was a band called the Shoka Okuba Blues Project, a Japanese power trio headed by the titular guitar player, a woman who dressed like a typical Japanese ojosan (proper young lady) in high heels and short skirts, However, she plays a mean blues guitar and can sing with equal proficiency.
Intrigued, we returned to the stage at the time the band were scheduled to appear and were subsequently blown away. It’s not just that Okubo smashes the stereotype of the wilting Japanese woman. In a sense she upholds it; it’s just that she also subverts it with her version of the polite young woman with a real life. It wan’t just blues. It was classic rock and a little reggae and some metal. Okubo slashed and strummed to beat the band, and the audience, perhaps perplexes by this cognitive dissonance, didn’t know what to make of it. We did, however, and grooved accordingly.