This month we shine the Spotlight ON! Shinichi Kakiuchi.
Shinichi and his wife Kumiko are familiar faces in the Hawaiian steel guitar community. They have been frequent guests and Open Stage performers at the Maui Steel Guitar Festival, the Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Festival, and Waikīkī Steel Guitar Week. Most recently they have appeared in Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase Open Stage presentations.
Shinichi grew up in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. He and Kumiko currently reside in Fujimino, Saitama, Japan.
School music classes notwithstanding, Shinichi's first exposure to music, according to him, "was folk music at age 14, singing with an acoustic Dreadnought guitar."
"At that time, Japanese musical instrument makers were increasing the production of copies of Martin's acoustic guitars, and they had a lineup of 50 units from the current $100 to $2,000," says Shinichi. "
"Music magazines for young people had TAB-marked and lyrics-only chords for classic country music songs," says Shinichi. The tablature also provided technical phrase playing techniques.
He put the guitar aside for a year and a half. However, he twisted his neck in high school, forcing him to become bedridden for a short time. This provided him with an opportunity to resume his guitar journey.
He recalls, "For the next two days, I was able to master the D chord and C chord while lying down. After that, I spent my time without playing the F chords at all."
Because of the injury he soon realized that his neck was greatly misaligned forward making it difficult to play the non-adjustable guitar. He spent his first high school summer vacation trying to adjust the guitar and the experience he gained through this is now useful for adjusting the body of a steel guitar.
Shinichi describes how he got started on the Hawaiian steel guitar. "I have a fragmentary memory of a band called Hiroshi Wada & Mahina Stars, and a mood song that used [the] steel guitar as an accompaniment in a Japanese song program when I was a child. That is the encounter between the pentatonic scale and the melodious sound of a steel guitar."
While Shinichi receives steel guitar training from Bobby Ingano, he also admires many other steel guitarists including Alan Akaka, Greg Sardinha, Geri Valdriz, Owana Salazar, Isaac Akuna, Jeff Au Hoy, Kapono Lopes, Dwight Tokumoto, Pomai Brown, Elmer Lim, Ed Punua, Al Nip, Konapiliahi Lau and more. He says he's always seeing them perform and is inspired by them. He states, "Furthermore, even children's performances are no exception," referring to performances by NextGen steel guitarists.
In addition to performing in festivals and showcases in Hawai‘i, he also performs in Japan and has participated in the annual Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association (HSGA) conventions. He has performed with Takeshi Shirakata and Tetsuo Fukuta at Shibuya Buckie, joined Noli Bravo's live show at Puka Puka in Fujisawa, and with Yasue Iwabuchi and Keikis hula dancers at a local festival and with Yasushi Osakabe at the Fuzzy Steel Guitar festival. Kumiko sometimes accompanies him in his performances.
Shinichi and Kumiko Kakiuchi at the 2019 Waikīkī Steel Guitar Week Open Stage with Larry Holu and Addison Ching. PC-Don Touchi
Shinichi also plays the ‘ukulele, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar.
Professionally, Shinichi is an electronic circuit development designer. Because of his profession, it's relatively easy for him to concentrate on devising the constants of the electronic parts of the steel guitar. He says, "However, the problem is to know 'real sound quality,' not electronic technology, and this task is far from the final goal in connection with the above-mentioned playing technology,"
This video is of a performance by Shinichi Kakiuchi doing "Mapuana" at the former Dot's in Wahiawa. This arrangement by Bobby Ingano is backed up by Kaipo Asing on guitar, Shinichi's wife Kumiko on ‘ukulele, and Tadashi Arakawa on upright bass. Bobby Ingano can be seen in the audience.
The video can also be seen on YouTube.