WCBT's Lotus Band Performs @ The ESGVJCC's Historic 50th Anniversary Banquet

On Sunday, June 3, 2001, WCBT’s Lotus Band performed a great set at the Radisson Hotel in Baldwin Park, California. The occasion was the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center's 50th Anniversary Celebration. The ESGVJCC is the umbrella organization which maintains the property within which West Covina Buddhist Temple is located. The Lotus Band is comprised of Lindsay Ogino and Allison Haraguchi on vocals, Amy Sakaue on alto and soprano sax, Kyle Kagawa on guitar, Kevin Hata on guitar, flute and keyboard, Brandon Leong on keyboard and Kiyoshi Earley on taiko drums.

At the ESGVJCC's 50th Anniversary Banquet, the Lotus Band entertained the audience with a wide variety of music, including songs by N'Sync, Green Day and others.
Their unique and very musical set began with Green Day's Buddhistic song, "Time of Your Life," which featured Lindsay and Allison on vocals and a hot solo by Amy Sakaue on soprano sax. Then the band launched into their updated, funk-jazz version of the pop classic "Sukiyaki," which was given a unique vocal rendition by Lindsay and Allison, who sang the entire song not only in perfect unison, but first in Japanese and then in English lyrics!

Next, everyone except Amy, Kevin and Kyle left the stage while those three talented intstrumentalists performed a smoking version of the jazz-fusion group Rippington's signature tune, "Dream of the Sirens. The tune featured exceptioanally strong melodic playing by saxonphonist Amy and a fluid solo by guitarist Kyle. Kevin Hata drove the tune forward on guitar with his strong comping and timely power chords. Everyone in the audience was tapping their feet and bobbing their heads on this one!

The main ballroom of the Radisson Hotel in Baldwin Park, California, holds several hundred people!
Lotus Band's singers, Allison and Lindsay, are talented performers
Following the instrumental, the rest of Lotus again took the stage and the band offered their version of N'Sync's mega-hit, "This I Promise You, featuring not Justin, Lance and the others, but Lindsay and Allison singing excellent and impressive two-part harmony throughout the tune. Also doing a great job on this tune was the rhythm section of Kevin and Kyle on guitars, Brandon on keyboard and Kiyoshi on taiko drum.

Lotus ended their set with the popular (and very Buddhistic) "Colors of the Wind," based on the Vanessa Williams' version. Once again, Lindsay and Allison did a great job, not only singing in a very polished way individually, but also adding beautiful two-part harmonies to the original melody. Amy added a perfectly executed melodic counterpoint with her toneful soprano sax, sounding like an entire string section all by herself. Kevin, Kyle and Kiyoshi added a solid foundation of bass, guitar and drums.

Above, Amy and Kyle were the featured soloists on the Rippington's "Dream of the Sirens," a catchy jazz-fusion tune
Kevin Hata (left) and Kiyoshi Earley (right), helped create the propulsive rhythms of the Lotus Band
In terms of the reaction of the audience at this event, the most commonly heard comment was just how much the band has improved in musicianship compared to even just a few months ago (and they were already quite impressive then). This is a tribute to their hard work at the many band rehearsals, vocal sectionals and improvisation sectionals that have taken place since the inception of the band in the late summer of 2000. But in watching these young musicians during rehearsals, you really don't see anyone complaining, even though it is very hard work. In addition, these rehearsals of course require additional time on top of their other multiple committments, such as high school studies and activities (several are also in other bands as well), fundraisers required by West Covina Buddhist Temple, Jr. YBA seminars, etc., etc. The "secret,"of course, is that they all have a deep love of music and really enjoy playing together. Perhaps it can be said that this comraderie they share even transcends their music. Long after they all leave Lotus, they will no doubt look back fondly on the strong friendships and mutual appreciation fostered by their experiences in Lotus.

(left to right) Kevin Hata, Lindsay Ogino, Brandon Leong, Allison Haraguchi, Kiyoshi Earley, Amy Sakaue, Kyle Kagawa and Lotus Director Mr. Peter Hata