The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 11, 2014

VOMA books Japanese guitarist | Show scheduled for Friday

JOHNSTOWN — International and local performers will blend for an evening of enjoyable music.

Japanese guitarist and singer-songwriter Hiroya Tsukamoto will perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Venue of Merging Arts, 305 Chestnut St. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

The international artist is a composer, guitarist and singer-songwriter from Kyoto, Japan.

Micah Mood, a member of the local band Striped Maple Hollow, is promoting the show.

“As we at VOMA continue to put on shows with outside promoters, it raises our profile, and we’re being contacted by artists to book a show,” Mood said.

“I like to put on a show every six to 10 weeks, and when we were contacted by Hiroya, I checked out his music and I liked what I heard.”

Mood described Tsukamoto’s music as folk music and acoustic finger guitar.

“He’s also a singer-songwriter,” Mood said.

“Usually when someone does acoustic finger guitar, they do classical instrumentals, but he does the blend.”

Tsukamoto began playing the five-string banjo when he was 13 years old and took up the guitar shortly after.

In 1994, Tsukamoto entered Osaka University and was introduced to a musical and social movement in South America called Nueva Cancion, meaning new song.

This genre within Latin American and Iberian folk music is widely recognized to have played a powerful role in the social upheavals in Portugal, Spain and Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s.

In 2000, Tsukamoto received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston and came to the United States.

He also is the recipient of the Professional Music Achievement Award.

His debut album, “The Other Side of the World,” with his band Interoceanico, was released in 2004.

A composition from that album, “El Otro Lado del Mundo,” was nominated as the finalist of the USA Songwriting Competition 2004, and another song, “Samba de Siempre,” was nominated in 2005.

“Seventh Night” from the 2006 album, “Confluencia,” was the finalist for the International Acoustic Music Award in 2006.

Tsukamoto’s third album, “Where the River Shines,” was released in 2008, and his most recent album, “Heartland,” was released in 2012.

In October 2012, he did four days of live performances on Japan Public Television.

Local musicians Dave DiStefano and Annie Pihs will open the show.

Pihs will be up first with her folk music influenced by ’60s and ’70s rock, followed by DiStefano who plays everything from folk to rock.

“I like to try to book local performers,” Mood said.

“Annie performed on our stage for the Ethnic Fest. She did a Janis Joplin acoustic. This show is a great blend of area performers, and someone with an international experience brings a different perspective. It’s great to see artists from outside the area.”

The concert is an all-ages show, and tickets can be purchased at the door pending availability.

In addition to performing, Tsukamoto will conduct a guitar workshop from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday.

“This isn’t only for advanced players and is not for those who never picked up a guitar,” Mood said.

“I plan to attend.”

The cost of the workshop, which is limited to six students, is $20.


Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at


What: Japanese guitarist and singer-songwriter Hiroya Tsukamoto.

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Where: Venue of Merging Arts, 305 Chestnut St. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

Tickets: $10 for general admission and $8 for VOMA VIP and students.




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