My drum teacher asked me to join in a tour to perform in two US cities, Nashville (Tenn.) and New Orleans (La.). Our first gig was the 'Celebrate Nashville' festival on an outdoor stage at Centennial Park, near the famous Parthenon. However, getting there proved to be quite a challenge. Continental Airlines took four hours to fix a toilet problem before the plane could leave Tokyo. We arrived late in Houston, and could not get on any connecting flights to Nashville, so we had to spend the night in Houston. Fortunately, we found one agent who was able to get us on a flight early enough to make our gig. Still, it was touch-and-go. It was our roughest performance, but the atmosphere was far from formal, so it didn't matter too much. The stage had a rather exuberant hand-painted backdrop. The other acts on the program included a lot of zydeco, bluegrass and the like. After our performance, lots of photographers showed up to photograph our fantastic dancers in the park's lush greenery.
For many Japanese, American food is a bit of a problem--too rich, too greasy, too much. Fortunately, my teacher and I were introduced to a great, inexpensive sushi place in Nashville. Later, we were able to tour around a bit to see some of the music scene. We went to a fairly small and simple place called the Station Inn--it was cozy and much more my style compared to some more famous places that seemed over the top to me.