Sara Kohno: Saramountain

I’ll start by saying this is more than a review of a CD. It’s a call to remember Sara Kohno who spent about a year with the HVBA, and to review her new CD, Saramountain. Sara is from Japan, plays the mandolin, and has a keen interest in bluegrass music. I remember the first jam she attended. She speaks only a little English, does not have a car or license. She was brought to the jam by her host here in the US. First lesson, and one I keep having to re-learn, over and over, don’t judge a book (or person) by it’s cover.

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“Pirate Canoe”

Sara is very polite, and not knowing it’s ok for anyone to “take a break” when they are so moved, she just chopped along. I’m thinking maybe she is learning to play, and doesn’t have the confidence or something like that, but couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Someone encouraged her to take a turn, and what I heard made me feel pretty small for underestimating her. She confidently played a mighty fine break, in kind of a bluesy Monroe style. At that moment she turned more than one person’s head. More songs followed, and she kept hitting home runs with her contribution. Of course this was only the beginning of what became a very happy friendship for many of us with Sara. We hope one day she will be able to return and join us in making music once again.

Sara’s CD covers a wide range of styles, instruments, and voices and the 7 cuts are all her original tunes. The rhythms are cheerful, and throughout you get a bubbly, happy feeling from these rhythms that remind me of their composer. I really believe she had fun making these songs. The liner notes are all in Japanese, as are the lyrics of the songs, but it’s surprising how much one can understand just from the emotional content of the voice. The only words in English on the CD cover states: “All rights reserved. Unauthorized eating, using as a coaster, listening to without dancing, and using as a Frisbee prohibited,” yes, it’s about having fun.

For anyone interested in seeing what Sara is up to she has a MySpace page and a blog

Finally, Sara if you read this, we enjoyed your visit, enjoyed your CD, and hope you keep making wonderful music in the future.

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