Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | API Extravaganza was a cool evening of hot Asian American talent
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API Extravaganza was a cool evening of hot Asian American talent

Here are some videos from Sunday night’s API Extravanganza, an under-promoted concert that featured a bunch of great local Asian American talent, plus Chicago’s hilarious Asian American sketch comedy troupe, Stir-Friday Night.

The local lineup included singer-songwriter )and killer guitarist) Jack Hadley, Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu, Hype 303 hip-hop dance crew (shown above), sand painter Shaina Vo, covers by the Pacific Jam Band, award-winning singer-songwriter Wendy Woo and headliners Denver Taiko. The concert was sponsored and produced by Isle Casino Blackhawk, which, through Peggy Moore in ist marketing staff, supports a ton of Asian community events in this area. (Full disclosure: Erin was the emcee for the evening, and Isle Casino made a small donation in exchange to the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, for which Erin is the executive director. Most of these acts have performed at the festival.)

One of the coolest things about the lineup of artists was that most of the acts were Asian American, not the ol’ kimono-and-traditional-dance routines. Sure, the kung fu was old school, and taiko drumming is traditional too. But they’re cool, right?

Here are the other videos:

First, Hype 303 is a new crew that was established in January of 2010. They’re the Colorado branch of the The Hype 5-0/ HyperSquad dance studio in Hawaii, who won 3rd place in America’s Best Dance Crew last season. The members are Vietnamese, Chinese and Filipino. Ain’t it great that Asians have taken to hip-hop and are excelling? Hype 303 is the first hip-hop crew to play the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival’s Performing Arts Stage

Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu is an authentic, traditional Chinese martial arts school which happens to have a white guy, Howie Solow, as its Shifu, or master. He may be Caucasian, but he’s one of the most deeply Chinese people we know. He was one of the founders of the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, and he was trained by a master from China whose family fled the Communist revolution. So he’s a straight line to the traditional Shaolin style that’s taught in the mountains of China. This video captures Solow’s finale after his students demonstrate their mastery of kung fu. After meditating and following the principles of mind of body, he lies on a bed of nails and has a stack of bricks smashed on his chest with a sledgehammer. Folks, do not try this at home….

“The Donut” is one of the highlights of a performance by Chicago’s Stir-Friday Night sketch comedy troupe. We’ve seen them a couple of times before and each time this skit cracks us up. It was good to see them again.

Denver Taiko has been beating the drum of Japanese culture for 35 years — they’re the fourth oldest taiko drum group in the U.S., and they’ve received the Denver Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. They’re a cultural institution in Colorado, and they’ve played the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival every year since the first festival, in 2001.