Tokyo is one of the largest cities the world, with around 30 million people living in the metropolitan area. It’s also the most densely populated city on Earth. Tokyo is crowded, and it took me a few weeks to get used to it. Or, perhaps more accurately, it took me a few weeks to accept that going anywhere means being constantly surrounded by people, especially on the trains. It’s not exactly pleasant, particularly during rush hour or last train when station workers push people into train cars with a slab of cardboard.
Commuters jammed in on a Keihin Tōhoku Line train at rush hour, a shot I snapped on my mp3 player.
A cardboard-wielding station worker, waiting for the right moment to shove people into the cars for last train.
It’s one of the largest festivals in Iceland with more than 800 shows happening over a five-day period all across Reykjavík. Most artists are from Iceland, but there are also folks coming in from as far as New Zealand, and as close as the UK.
This year Airwaves’ 7,000 tickets sold out by mid-October. Since it’s a showcase festival—premiering up-and-coming local and international acts, similar to SXSW in Austin, Texas—there are a large number of industry and media folks coming as well. It’s not just a festival for rising talent, though—The Flaming Lips, Caribou, The War on Drugs, Ásgeir and Jungle are also on the line-up. I got an industry pass along with other festival directors, music producers, label owners, media personalities, and managers. I’ll post a re-cap after the festival with a write-up about shows, pictures from the photo pit and videos of performances and adventures around the festival. Suffice to say, I will not be sleeping for five days.
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As I await my departure for Accra in November, I thought I could answer some of the most common questions I receive, rundown some of my preparation and detail what I hope to do. I am lucky to live in the Bay Area, home to many organizations built for the preservation of the arts and arts education. I have spent the last months meeting with teachers, employees and heads of music programs of all kinds. It has been a fantastic time to learn, gather resources, make contacts and gain insight into the world I hope to join.
The second Grassroots event in September was a success. My backyard was outfitted with a large tent, artwork, lights, a dual speaker and mixer setup, an “art wall” that people could draw/write on and candles to set the mood.
It was beautiful to see people I’ve never met before working together with people who have become close friends to build the event. I was full of gratitude. I put together a 30-second teaser of the event to help you get a feel for the environment:
The atmosphere of the event was full of openness and authenticity, which is what Saga Fest is all about. It was a beautiful gathering. It got me excited to see what an even larger community can build at Saga Fest in May.
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During late August, I hosted the first GRASSROOTS event in my backyard. GRASSROOTS is a community building music & arts project where I feature Iceland-based artists and musicians.
At every GRASSROOTS event, I will facilitate a series of community-building activities such as dinners, facilitated dialogue, arts and crafts workshops and sharing exercises.
The three goals of GRASSROOTS are:
1. Bring the community together in intimate spaces
2. Showcase the work of talented artists and musicians
3. Share the vision of Saga Fest
The first concert was small (about a dozen people), about six attendees were from Iceland and the other six were international visitors or residents. This is similar to the demographic makeup of what I’d like to see at Saga Fest.
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