Asian American group Far East Movement tops the charts, “Like a G6” is everywhere

This has been an exciting year for Asian American music fans. Taking off above a bubbling community of AAPI singer-songwriters and individual performers, we’ve seen Bruno Mars, who’s of Filipino and Puerto Rican descent (and born and raised in Hawai’i) hit the top of the charts with “Just the Way You Are,” and Far East Movement, the first-ever all Asian American group (Korean, Chinese, Filipino and Japanese), bust out of Los Angeles’ Koreatown and also top the charts with its catchy electro-hip hop dance single “Like a G6.”

The song was certified Double-Platinum this week by the Recording Industry Association of America, which means it’s sold and impressive two million copies. That’s a pretty cool accomplishment for a group of pals from K-town. Their big break was being included on the soundtrack of director Justin Lin’s “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift,” and their music’s shown up on various TV shows. Earlier this week I even caught “Like a G6” blasting in the background during a nightclub scene of “CSI: Miami.”

The group’s third album, “Free Wired,” is still on its upward curve, and the second single, the ballad “Rocketeer,” is going strong, featuring Denver native Ryan Tedder as a guest vocalist.

For Colorado fans who may have miss FM when they played in Denver, the group will be playing at CU-Boulder in the spring.

(Cross-posted from my pop culture blog)

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:
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New interview: Meet Dan Kuramoto, founding member of Grammy-nominated group Hiroshima

Dan Kuramoto, founding member of the Grammy-nominated fusion jazz group HiroshimaWe’ve taken several months off, but Erin and I are ready to resume our series of interviews with inspirational Asian Americans for 2010. We’re especially proud to be able to speak with Dan Kuramoto, one of the founding members of the fusion jazz group Hiroshima, because the group has been nominated twice for a Grammy award! We’ll be speaking with Dan on Tuesday, March 2 at 6 pm PT (9 pm ET). You can register now for the call and submit questions for Dan on our webcast page.

Only a few Asian Americans have been nominated for a Grammy Award over the years, and Hiroshima has managed the feat twice — once in 1980 for “Winds of Change,” a track off the groups second album, “Odori.” Hiroshima was nominated again for their latest album “Legacy,” a collection of re-recordings of songs from the band’s first ten years together. The band has been together for over 30 years, and have become an institution on the fusion jazz and R&B scene. Continue reading

Jake Shimabukuro interview from TED conference

The social media blog Mashable snagged a pretty cool interview with Hawai’ian ukulele maestro Jake Shimabukuro at the annual TED conference (TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design” and it’s a chi-chi invitation-only think-tank gathering of great minds) after his performance yesterday, which drew a standing ovation.

I’ve written about Shimabukuro before, and I’m glad he got to play in front of such an august audience. Good for him — I hope it sends him to superstardom status in all of pop music, not just ukulele fanatics.

I’m embedding both parts of the video interview, plus the very popular video of Jake creating new and amazing art out of the old George Harrison chestnut, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” There are tons of Jake Shimabukuro videos out there on YouTube. Check em out:

Download Kina Grannis’ free single “Valentine” & pre-order her new CD “Stairwells”

I downloaded my copy. You should too. Kina Grannis is letting you download a free copy of “Valentine,” the catchy folk-pop track that’s captured in the lyrical video above, as a preview of her new full-length album, “Stairwells,” which is available for pre-order. You can get a signed copy of the “Stairwells” CD, which officially releases on Feb. 25, for a mere $12. I pre-ordered. You should too.

Grannis, if you don’t know, is a talented hapa singer-songwriter whose prolific work is available on a YouTube channel that includes her hummable originals and tons of interesting covers. Back in 2008 I wrote about her when I stumbled upon and was enchanted by her breezy cover of “Sukiyaki.”

She’s part of a growing list of Asian American musicians who are making a mark on the mainstream pop scene.

One of these days, Grannis, or one of the other musicians in this circle, which includes the likes of Dawen, David Choi, Meiko, Tim Be Told, Vienna Teng, Mia Doi Todd, Cynthia Lin, Wendy Woo, Hello Kavita, Dwight Mark, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Rachael Yamagata, Phyllis Heitjan, Dengue Fever, Priscilla Ahn, Goh Nakamura and others, is gonna break out with a big hit.

Then, maybe everyone will get more of the attention they deserve.