Ed Durbrow

Ed DurbrowOccupation:

Time in Japan:
19 years

Where are you from?
Sacramento, California.

What brought you to Japan?
I was studying in Switzerland and wanted to go back to California. I decided to take the long way home via India and Japan. I bought a year open ticket, thinking I' be home in two or three weeks. It took me nearly a year. I was impressed in Switzerland with the guitars and gadgets that were coming from Japan. I guess I had an underlying interest from childhood, too. I remember doing brush painting and origami as a child and a couple of years of judo as an adolescent.

What do you do?
I have a recording studio in my house. I can make my CDs here. I record my music and occasionally have customers. I've rearranged things so I have more room now and I've got an acoustic piano and full drum set, so I'm hoping to draw some customers out here and do more and more recording. My performance jobs are divided among three things: One man band (vocal, guitar, bass drum, high hat and harmonica), Renaissance lute (in period costume), and my Renaissance group La Primavera. La Primavera's members vary but we always wear period costumes and play Renaissance music and a bit of Renaissance dancing. I always play at events rather than traditional music gigs. I often gig with jugglers, magicians and balloon artists. I really love it and have played all over Japan.

Why Renaissance lute, and how long have you been playing?
Why? Because the lute has a sublime sound and a huge repertoire of some of the greatest music ever composed. I was familiar with Renaissance lute music because I played classical guitar, which draws part of its repertoire from the lute. I was probably drawn to it because of curiosity to hear the music in its original form and a yearning to be a bit different, but I've developed a strong affinity with Renaissance music. I think the lute repertoire has the perfect balance between mystery, challenge and refinement. That is, we know more about it than medieval music, which involves a lot of guess work in regards to instruments and how they were played, but we still have to figure out things, solve puzzles and strive to recreate what we think they must have sounded like. Harmonically, Renaissance lute music is similar to a lot of modern folk or pop music. There is always room for improvisation, too, so that appeals to my rock en' roll roots. And then on the serious side, the Renaissance masters reached a high water mark of western civilization. If you were Super Lutenist, you could play a different masterpiece every day of your life. I've been playing the lute since 1975.

Do you do any other work besides music?
I teach English in three universities and a rather special high school in Hanno.

What was the weirdest thing you've seen or experienced in Japan?
I had a one-man band job once where they said I had to be Russian. They said sing in Russian or don't sing! Since my entire repertoire was songs, I had to do some fast thinking. I played Classical Gas and some blues with my drum accompaniment then tuned my guitar like a lute and played lute pieces with a beat.

What's the one thing you want to do here before leaving?
Make a rock band and release a CD on a major label.

What's your recipe for a happy and successful life in Japan?
Get out at least once a year, especially during allergy season.

Ed Durbrow spoke to Maki Nibayashi.

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? If so, email us at
349: Tim Spangler
Recreational Equipment, Inc.
348: Robin Rozzell
Tribal Nation Security
347: Marco Invernizzi
Bonsai artist
346: Charles E McJilton
345: Chris Chavez
344: Donna Burke
Singer and narrator
343: Dennis Sun
Artist, freelance graphic design and illustrator
342: Martin Hope Berry
Natural food shop owner
341: Donald James Berry
Technical Adviser
340: Amy Jorrisch
Tokyo International Players
339: Anthony Al-Jamie Ph.D.
Education consultant and journalist
338: Joel Silverstein
President of Outback Steakhouse Japan
337: Neal Dauber
Termite and Pest Control Operator
336: Marcus Spurrell
CEO of No Mass Media, Internet Co.
335: Stefan Fanselow
Flight Instructor
334: Colleen Lanki
Theater Artist
333: Ben Leibson
Scuba Diver
332: Bernard Yu
Executive Director of TELL
331: Hayden "Hay-chan" Majajas
Informations Systems Manager
330: Alistair McLachlan
BootsMC Finance manager
329: Ronald Lee Davis
Missionary / Teacher
328: Ed Durbrow
327: Isabelle Maranda
Marketing Coordinator
326: Brian Marcus
Food & Beverage Director at Tokyo American Club
324: Murali Kupusami
Furla Tea & Coffee Owner/Model
323: Angela Jones
Fire Dancer
322: Tim Tsang
Coordinator for International Relations (CIR)
321: Chris Monnier
320: David Snyder
President of Rising Crane Sports Consultants, Inc.
319: Juliet Hindell
BBC's Tokyo Correspondent
318: Sid Lloyd
Football team captain
317: Niels Frederik Walther
Chef for the Danish Ambassador
316: Jonathan Katz
Jazz musician and composer
315: Yoichi Hayase
President, True Travel, K.K.
314: Ira Bolden
Program Manager
313: Benjamin Gurnsey
Corporate Communications at Sony Computer
312: Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist
311: Roy Kilner
Izakaya Manager
310: Neil Day
Senior Software Research Engineer
309: Stuart Ablett
Sakaya Operator
308: Maggie Tai Tucker
Animal Trainer
307: Carmine Cozzoline
Restaurant Owner/Chef
306: Alison Noonan
305: Kevin Meyerson
Rainbow Japan Inc. President
304: Randy McGraw
DirecTV Marketing Manager
303: Roy Ron
302: Antonio Plozay-Liberatore
Economist/TV Talent
300: Miguel Angel

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