Amongst the 6000 plus groups of musicians, dancers, comedians and entertainers from all over Australia who auditioned for the popular TV show "Australia's Got Talent 2012" (Channel 7), 16 groups of finalists remain, including blues singer George Kamikawa and Tsugaru-jamisen player Noriko Tadano. The two of them performed as a busking unit "George & Noriko" over this weekend (June 23rd).
Bourke Street was bustling with shoppers despite the cold wind, and standing in the centre of the crowd were George Kamikawa wearing a cowboy hat and Noriko Tadano wearing a bright yellow kimono. After a brief self-introduction from George, the pair quickly dived into performance.
The sound of George's harmonica, guitar and drum was profound and his singing carefree. Along with that was Noriko lightly tapping away on her foot and the sound of her crispy clear Tsugaru-jamisen that echoed across the streets.
Then all of a sudden, the crowd started moving their bodies and dancing to the music as they enjoy the performance of the two people who grasped Australia's attention. The unit's popularity was clear from the number of children and adults who asked for their autograph and photos during the break.
The following is an interview of George Kamikawa and Noriko Tadano with GoGo Melbourne. (G: George Kamikawa, N: Noriko Tadano).
– Why did you decide to go busking today?
G: I do this with Noriko sometimes, and we got permission for the venue. And because it's a Saturday.
– How do you feel about making it into the finals in the TV show "Australia's Got Talent"?
G: I never thought about making it this far so I'm really happy and surprised too.
N: I'm satisfied now since my goal was to reach the finals, but I will still do my best hereafter. My goal has been accomplished.
– What were the reactions of those around you after you appeared on TV?
G: People would notice us on the streets and say that they watched the show. They probably have voted for us as well so I'm really happy.
– What do you think it is about your performances that attract Australians?
N: I think it's because of the combination of George's performance of western music and mine of eastern music by the shamisen. I often hear people say that this is really unique and that they have never seen such thing.
G: I have never seen this kind of style before as well. You hear about shamisen with rock or pop music in Japan but not with blues, so I wanted to try this at least once.
– How do you feel about your performances being acknowledged?
N: I'm really happy, especially because I still receive so much support even though I've left Japan. Not only do I receive encouragements from Japanese but also from Australians.
– What does busking mean to you two?
G: For me this is the main source of income so I'm basically relying on it. Of course there are live performances too but they don't come every day so busking is how I support myself. I've been doing this since 10 to 15 years ago and have been happily making a living out of music.
N: I also enjoy it very much. For me it's like killing "four" birds with one stone. I get to practice, connect with audience by asking them "how about coming to the next event?" and develop my confidence. It's a good way for boosting confidence … as long as the weather is good.
– How was today's busking?
G: Very good don't you think? I think it's because of the influence from those who have seen the show. The crowd gathers around much faster when I perform with Noriko. Compared to solo performance, people seem to enjoy pair performance more.
– What is your goal hereafter?
G: Do my best in the final, and it would be good to make it to the grand final. We are going pretty well now so I'd like to maintain this way for a while, making new CD with original music along with Noriko. I'd also like to perform live music across Japan, Australia and overseas.
N: I'm proud of Japanese culture and I'd like to let more Australians know about it through TV. Youtube is also very convenient now and allows feedbacks from people all over the world. I'd like to show everyone that "it's possible to accomplish such thing". I'd like to continue on energetically with Japanese power.
– Do you have anything to say to your fans?
G: A big thank you to those who watch the show and those who have voted for us. Please continue to vote for us. Apart from TV show, we also have live performance so please come and support us. The TV show was more of a "might as well give it a try" thing. I'm glad that Noriko invited me to do so.
N: There is no conversation going on through TV show whereas we can really get to connect with audience through live shows. It's fun listening to George talk.
G: I get nervous on TV and talk really strangely. It will be much more fun if you come find me at pubs or live shows.
N: We will continue to perform like this throughout Melbourne and across other places too if possible. Please come and support us if you have the chance. Please vote for us!
The next busking event is on Wednesday June 27th. The location will still be somewhere on Bourke Street, and starts at around 12:30pm. Please come and support the live performance!
(Please note that the event will be cancelled if it rains).
From Mie prefecture
Came to Australia in 2001 following musical activities throughout Japan and New Zealand.
Performs live on Melbourne streets and in pubs.
Received first place in the 2004 Australia Country Music Busking Championship.
From Chiba prefecture.
Started learning to play shamisen at 6 years of age. Came to Melbourne as a Japanese language assistant. Has been performing shamisen on the streets and at various festivals in order to let more people know about Japanese culture.