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The Opposite of A Laid Back Night at the Plastic Factory in Nagoya – and NOT to Have Been Missed!

October 9, 2016

plastic factory night club in Nagoya, Japan

plastic factory night club in Nagoya, Japan

NAGOYA, Japan – And then came one of those dream nights as I love them: A combination of a fabulous stage, a fabulous sound system, a fabulous crowd, a bunch of fabulous “other” musicians, and lots of fabulous people to talk to! That describes in a (fabulous) nutshell the evening I spent at the Plastic Factory last night in Nagoya. Any regular readers of this blog will know that I have been going to the Plastic Factory annually for a few years now, but I have to say I think that was one of the top two times I spent at this very cool, in-place in Imaike, owned and run by the fabulous Heinz Senn, of Switzerland.

I had to stay late at the racetrack, interview lots of people, pack in a few stories and organize my racing life. So I figured that I would not have the time to make it to the Plastic Factory, where Heinz told me that I was welcome to come, and maybe even if those who had booked the night allowed it, I would be able to play some songs. “Those” people being a group of musicians who meet at the Plastic Factory once a week, or once a month, or once in a while, to play a kind of open mic that actually consists of each of the musicians taking the stage for two or three songs and then handing it on to the next musician….
first at plastic factory

And so on until the early hours of the morning. And so it went last night, with a nice mix of expat musicians and some Japanese people in the crowd, and the wonderful Japanese harmonica player who accompanied me on “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” of Bob Dylan, and with some other musicians.
fourth at plastic factory

In any case, I had the most amazing time, and I was so glad that once again I proved to myself that I must never take “no” for an answer to myself. I realized as I got to the Nagoya station from the Shiroko station – near Suzuka – that if I ate a horrendous fast-food meal in the Nagoya station, and if I did not go back to my hotel to pick up my guitar, then I would make it to the Plastic Factory easily in time to see much of the show – and maybe even play.
second at plastic factory

And that’s what happened. The Plastic Factory is a fabulous venue with, as I said, a great stage and sound system, and on the first floor a space that is used sometimes as a gallery, sometimes for other things, and all together, it is a great meeting place for like-minded individuals looking for…great music, fun and chat.
third at plastic factory

What can I say. Just check it out. And check out the videos on this page to see the variety of musicians! They call their group, I believe – writing this from memory – “The Good ‘Ole Boys.” And indeed they were.

PS, and I almost forgot to mention! On the last weekend of the month, or something like that, they also have a real bona fide open mic at the Plastic Factory. So when in town and looking for an experience, or a place to play, check out the Plastic Factory.

An Anniversary at the Amazing Plastic Factory, a Jam at the Fabulous Nanbanya – a Night to Remember in Nagoya

October 6, 2014

plastic factory night club in Nagoya, Japan

plastic factory night club in Nagoya, Japan

NAGOYA, Japan – It has been 10 years now that Heinz Senn and his Plastic Factory have been drawing people together for art shows, open mics, concerts, DJ dances, pole dances and just plain drinking at the bar. And on Saturday night, the Plastic Factory celebrated that decade of presence in the Imaike neighborhood of Nagoya with an all night party, pole dancers, a wild DJ and lots of dancing.

The great thing about the Plastic Factory for me, is that it has this absolutely perfect mix of Japanese people and foreigners from the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, Germany, Switzerland – Heinz’s nationality – and just about anywhere else you can imagine. But, yes, an expat venue that attracts local Japanese people as well.

I missed the open mic by a week, unfortunately, but it was an honor to be able to make it to the 10-year anniversary. To share a little bit of the feel, I did some videos of the pole dancers….

And from the Plastic Factory, off I went down the street to the Nanbanya jam

I had to work the next day, though, so there was no way I could stay very late at the fabulous Plastic Factory party. And yet, I knew that my walk back to the hotel would pass me by the entrance to the Nanbanya bar that is only about five minutes’ walk from the Plastic Factory.

I discovered Nanbanya two years ago and was unable to make it there last year. But I’m really glad I did this year. It was Saturday night jam night, but I arrived late enough that the music was not really in full swing anymore. The crowd had died out to a night comfortable 15 or so people maximum, and a handful of musicians. People were chatting, going to the stage area to play a bit, returning to chat, returning to play… it was a much more laid back experience musically, i.e., more acoustic than the usual more rock and blues kind of full band thing.

But at one point I had my guitar, vocals, a lead player, bass player and drummer playing along with me. It was bliss. I got to do a few songs with two different guys playing lead along with me, too. I love Nanbanya, because the people are very cool, there are some great musicians, the bar itself is underground, long, low, comfy, and the stage area is well lit, a good sound system, and lots of instruments available.

After leaving the party at the Plastic Factory in full raucous swing, it was great to cool down at the Nanbanya and relax and play some music before returning to the hotel and readying myself for the last, nearly tragic, day of work in Suzuka. (A French driver, Jules Bianchi, was seriously injure in a crash.)

Playing at the Plastic Factory in Nagoya, and the Sleepers at McDonald’s

October 9, 2011

plastic factory night club in Nagoya, Japan

plastic factory night club in Nagoya, Japan

I discovered the Plastic Factory night club, event space and art gallery through an open mic internet search that revealed it is the local of an open mic on the last Sunday of the month in Nagoya. It was one of three or four open mics that take place once or twice a month on days of the week in which I am in Nagoya, but without being on the precise days when I am here! That is a common hasard of this open mic adventure. But what suddenly became interesting when I visited the Plastic Factory web site was that they announced that last night there would be an open stage for musicians and DJs. So I decided to take my guitar and take the subway two stops from my hotel and join in.

Well, joining in turned out to be not entirely the accurate word. Dominate would be better, as I ended up as the only musician present. Having said that, I played my heart out to a small but cosy, kind and interesting audience, including Heinz Senn, the owner of the Plastic Factory, who comes from German-speaking Switzerland.

Moreoever, after I played Heinz asked me about whether I’d ever recorded my music, and I produced a CD with the four songs on it that I recorded last year. He promptly put it on the turntable and piped it through the massive sound system very loud. I have never heard it in a club situation coming that loud through speakers, and it was very cool and inspiring!

So was the Plastic Factory, this is clearly a hip and comfortable joint, and no wonder it has lasted seven years. I think Heinz is putting on a party next week to mark the seven years of the place’s existence. The web site gives clear instructions on how to find the place, but the small hallway entrance is still difficult to notice from the street. You follow it down a long corridor until you come to the bright yellow/green entrance door, enter the room and you feel like you’re in a cool, private loft. There is a nice stage with a big DJ set up on it, but room also to play music in front of that, with a screen above the stage for projections.

Heiz said his Harmonium Parlour open mic is the biggest and most successful in the city and that they have 80 to 90 spectators and up to 24 musicians every month. And given the vibe of the place, I can believe it. And he may be of European origin, but he said the clientele at the open mic is very much a mixture of Japanese and foreigners. So was last night’s clientele, by the way.

This morning as I stopped in at McDonald’s in Sakae to have my daily dose of pancakes and egg McMuffin – in order to avoid the rice, fish and vegetable “breakfast” at the hotel – I saw once again the same scene I have noticed in this McDonald’s every day: Revellers or workers taking a morning nap on the tables of the restaurant. Is their lifestyle so tightly and overworked that they take every minute available to sleep? Just when I thought the McDonalds was a center for crashing out, a journalist colleague of mine in Formula One, told me that this morning he had seen them sleeping in the 7 Eleven store too….

The video I took this morning shows far fewer than the usual number of sleepers, but it was after 9 AM, and it was a Sunday – there are more on the weekdays. I just had to get a shot of it for the blog….

I also put up a couple of videos of my songs being piped through the sound system at the Plastic Factory, with a segment of “Except Her Heart” and a segment of “Since You Left Me,” which I also sang live.

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