|Summertime is known, for most Shin Buddhists in America, as "Obon season" due to the many Obon Festivals that occur on almost every weekend between late June and August. For most Shin temples, the Obon is their biggest event of the year, because it not only brings together present and past temple members, but also of course, many guests from the immediate community.
West Covina Buddhist Temple's own Obon was held on Saturday, June 30, 2001, and the musicians and singers of the Lotus Band certainly viewed it with great anticipation, knowing it would arguably be their biggest gig so far. Interestingly, the night before the gig, the band had a pretty rough rehearsal. First, there were a couple of times when singers Lindsay and Allison goofed up so badly in the songs all they could do was stop and laugh (it was funny, but thinking ahead to the gig, it wasn't exactly a "rolling in the aisles" kind of laugh). If that wasn't enough cause for concern, featured saxophonist Amy Sakaue was saying she had "blown out her lip" due to over-practicing that week. To top it off, the the band was experiencing way more feedback problems than usual, due to the acoustics in the gym where they were rehearsing.
But despite all that, and despite having to work several hours in their Junior YBA soda booth in the summer heat before showtime, the band gave an outstanding performance. What put it "over the top" was that there were several "personal best" performances that were given. Truthfully, many of the peripheral friends, family and supporters of the group may not have had great expectations of them when the group was first started back in the late summer of 2000. Certainly, they were "promising" and "cute," etc., but there were naturally some "growing pains" having to do with musicianship that had to be overcome. It's probably an understatement to say that, if one year ago, you had described to them the high level of performances they attained here at the Obon, that they would perfectly execute intricate vocal harmonies in the style of N'Sync, jazz solos in the styles of Ronnie Laws and Grover Washington and more--they probably would not have believed you.
What a difference a year of steady, hard and focused work has made! Whether it was the sweet pop sound of "Sukiyaki," the sophisticated jazz-funk of "Always There," the impressive rendition (complete with authentic harmony) of N'Sync's "This I Promise You," the tight twin-guitar precision of Metallica's "One," the genuine warmth and lyricism of "Colors of the Wind," or the haunting and moving performance of Green Day's "Time of Your Life," the Lotus Band truly "wowed the crowd!"
At the rehearsal the night before, band director Peter Hata (r) talks to singers Lindsay (l) and Allison (middle) about the feedback problem