Kelvin Underwood's Meidoko


Performing in the 2013 Green Show Thursday, July 11 and Sunday October 6.

This is their fourth season in the OSF Green Show.

High energy taiko drumming with elements of jazz and rock.

KELVIN UNDERWOOD At the age of 13 Kelvin Underwood was a self-taught drummer, loving Alternative Rock and Jazz. From then he decided that he would pursue a career as a professional musician. Little did he know that he would soon begin that career with the pioneering Japanese taiko group Ondekoza. Unlike most taiko buffs, Kelvin was presented with the opportunity to perform and travel the world with Ondekoza after attending one of their concerts at his high school in Fayetteville, North Carolina. At the end of this concert members of the group brought a large taiko drum to the lobby for those in the audience to play. Kelvin was one of those who did. Ondekoza’s director and stage manager Tagayasu Den witnessed his performance and was immediately impressed. He approached Kelvin and offered him the chance to actually join the group. Following a year of contemplation, Underwood seized the opportunity and set out to become one of the world’s most striking taiko artists. Knowing next to nothing about taiko, Japanese music, culture or language, Kelvin took it upon himself to learn Japanese and developed the skills and understanding of an obscure drumming art form by rote. Broken English, broken Japanese, and meticulous observation was all he had to work with at times to bring him to the level of the other players in Ondekoza. Being a fast learner, Kelvin became one of the groups top performers influencing other taiko groups such as Shidara and Zampa Ufujishi Daiko of Japan. Four years of touring and thousands of performances at such prestigious concert venues like Carnegie Hall had past when Kelvin left Ondekoza and began his studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. There, he focused his attention to drum set and a variety of percussion to continue his growth as a percussionist. Never aspiring to be like every other drummer, Kelvin has been determined to set himself apart with his unique blend of taiko and drum set virtuosity. He applies these talents with the contemporary taiko quartet On Ensemble and can be experienced at On Ensemble performances and heard on their latest studio recording Ume in the Middle. In addition, Kelvin has formed his own taiko group Meidoko which showcases a taiko performance heavily inspired by Ondekoza, music of the Brazilian dance/fight Capoeira, Jazz and Alternative Rock. Kelvin has worked extensively as a Taiko workshop leader, drum set performer and instructor, performed percussion in Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s productions Death and the King's Horseman, Ruined, Henry V, and Paradise Lost with composer and conductor Eric Whitacre. He has recently collaborated with Ugandan vocalist and kalimba artist Samite, Ashland, Oregon's Dancing People Company, Southern Oregon University’s Percussion Ensemble, highly acclaimed taiko artists Kenny Endo and Kaoru Watanabe, and percussionist Patrick Graham.

SUZEE GRILLEY Suzee Grilley has a long and colorful history as a professional dancer, choreographer and instructor. She has choreographed 3 seasons with OSF, performed and choreographed with numerous ensembles including a world touring tenure with the Nikolais Dance Theatre and local multi-media performance ensemble Sonoluminescence. Ms. Grilley has studied Taiko with Mr. Underwood for 3 years.

TRISTAN GUTNER A native of Boston, Tristan Gutner began playing the double bass at age 21. He has immersed himself in jazz, hip hop, Indian classical music, and folk musics from around the world. During his musical journey Tristan has had the good fortune to play with many master musicians, most notably legendary saxophonist Archie Shepp. He cites music as a main catalyst in expanding his consciousness and illuminating the interconnectedness of all things.

STEVE DAVIDSON Steve Davidson is one of the most versatile and creative saxophonists to come from the Rogue Valley. Steve has a Bachelor's in Saxophone Performance from the University of Oregon and a Master's in Saxophone Performance Pedagogy from Arizona State University.  Steve's performances with jazz greats include Peter Erskine, John Faddis, T.S. Monk, Mel Martin, and Frank Vignola, Steve currently lives in Ashland, where he teaches Jazz Performance at Southern Oregon University and performs regularly with his band The Steve Davidson Group.

JUSTIN DYE Justin picked up his first guitar at the age of 12. Spending his teen years involved in the punk rock scene and later in the then newly emerging “emo” scene, Justin became obsessed with music that was conceived from raw passion versus technical expertise. But like most things at that age, he soon grew out of it and realized his desire to pursue music at a deeper level. He fell in love with acoustic driven folk songs and began writing accordingly – training himself by ear with the sounds of bands from both past and present. In the decade and a half that Justin has been playing music, his inspirations have seeped in from a variety of different sources. Everything from punk rock to electronic dance music to highly technical guitar pieces have crafted a unique sound that is solely his own – an acoustic based but technically skilled and energetically driving sound that can easily cross musical genres depending on the accompanying instruments. Justin is now an Ashland based singer/songwriter, producer and amateur sound engineer. He has recorded 3 albums in his home studio, with one more about to be released and another in the works. He has recorded several bands and been involved with project management for other artists who wish to do the same.

Meidoko on Community: Meidoko is accessible to a broad demographic. They receive great acclaim from a diverse audience, particularly the World Music, Taiko and percussion, and dance communities; and strives to bring a traditional performance discipline to wider appeal.  We are inspired by the fact that Taiko is a versatile instrument and a vibrant art form; thus, we push the boundaries of convention in Taiko through exploration of the common thread of our highly energetic style of drumming with musical styles such as Jazz, Alternative Rock and the music of the Brazilian fight/dance Capoeira. With this diversity of musical and cultural influence we reflect....celebrating diversity....