Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent, Havelock North Village Green, Havelock North

26/10/2018 - 26/10/2018

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2018

Production Details

George and Noriko break all the rules. This charismatic duo brings something unique, something unexpected, with a sound unlike anything you’ve heard before!  

Known as the Japanese Blues Cowboy and the Tsugaru Shamisen Player, the stars of Melbourne’s underground have been kicking up a storm wherever they play. George’s lightning fast blues licks and growling harmonica, enhanced by Noriko’s percussive sounds of the traditional shamisen (Japanese banjo), has morphed into a kind of bluegrass hard country blues with a Japanese twist.

Together with George’s quirky jokes, Noriko’s colourful costumes and their arresting, energetic stage presence, this promises to be an extraordinary, unforgettable evening.

Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent
Fri Oct 26th, 2018
Adult:  $45
Concession:  $40

George Kamikawa (lap steel guitar, drums, harmonica and vocals)
Noriko Tadano (shamisen and vocals)

Theatre ,

At once deeply familiar and refreshingly new

Review by Kate Tarrant 27th Oct 2018

George & Noriko are exotic, quirky and cool. Both performers display an undisputed level of musical talent: Noriko plays her traditional shamisen banjo like a rock star while George blasts out the tunes in his steel guitar, harmonica and range of foot percussion instruments simultaneously. The sound is a fusion of traditional Japanese folk with passionate blues covers.

It is refreshing to see such an original act – you don’t see a Japanese cowboy every day. George is the frontman and carries the show with an abundance of personality even if his perpetual jokes about getting drunk and buying the cd do get a little tiresome.

It is Noriko, the ‘straight-man’, who ultimately carries the performance with her deadpan yet hilarious humour. George comments, “Some people think we are a couple, but we are not together,” to which she replies, without missing a beat, “We are not even friends.”

There is something which transforms this act from being merely innovative. We are intrigued by the collision of East and West, old and new but the mix of flavours somehow works. This musical mixing pot highlights the roots of the different musical styles which at a deep level is an expression of soul. As such it is an affirmative and uplifting evening.

It certainly is cool to see a show in the opulent Spiegeltant although even at less than full capacity sightlines are still an issue at this venue. As George spends the majority of his time sitting low on the stage in order to access all the instruments, I find I am peeping through a sea of heads to try and see him or, invariably, just watching her. Luckily Noriko is easy to watch – with a colourful, easy glamour which could rival a catalogue model, Noriko carries herself with grace and sass. She is just beautiful. 

Just like finding lychee in your fruit-salad, George and Noriko’s music is at once deeply familiar and refreshingly new.  


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