Libraries are quiet and peaceful, except when there's a concert going on, right?
Sometimes, but if the library is the Olympia Timberland Library and the concert is by Hiroya Tsukamoto, it's just the opposite.
The soothing sounds of singer-songwriter-guitarist Tsukamoto, who'll perform Tuesday at the library, transform what's typically a lively and bustling space.
“His music actually made the library more peaceful,” librarian Sara Peté said of Tsukamoto’s performance there in April 2015. “We see around 1,400 people a day, including babies and kids and adults having vibrant conversations, so … our atmosphere is not always peaceful. Hiroya’s music changed that, though.”
Tsukamoto, who grew up in Japan and now lives in New York City, is known for his skillful finger-style guitar, original songs and versions of traditional Japanese folk tunes. Many of his tunes are calming and tranquil, Peté said, and his 2015 concert filled the library’s atrium with attentive listeners.
Reviewers describe his music as a mix of folk, world and jazz, and Tsukamoto uses the phrase “cinematic guitar poetry,” coined by a presenter of one his shows.
“After hearing my concerts, a lot of people mention that they imagine some landscape or scenery,” he said in a Monday phone interview.
The concert will include both instrumental works and songs with lyrics, sung almost entirely in Japanese. “I tell stories about the songs — the background and how the words are — so people here can connect and understand,” he said.
Though he grew up in Kyoto, Japan, American folk music was a big influence on him.
“American folk music came into Japan in the ’60s,” he said. “My parents were playing those records when I grew up, so I listened to that kind of music as well as some American rock.”
In fact, it was his father’s love of folk music that gave Tsukamoto his musical start.
“My father got me a banjo when I was 13 years old,” he said. “I didn’t know what it was. He wanted me to try it, and that’s how I started.”
He fooled around with the banjo — and still plays banjo for fun — but soon switched to guitar.
“There was no way to find banjo teachers,” he said, “and also my friends were playing guitars, so I thought guitar would be easier. I got a guitar about a year later.”
He moved to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston and later moved to New York City for its rich music scene, he said. He’s played at prestigious New York venues and on Japanese television.
“Hiroya has played world-famous venues like the Blue Note in New York,” Peté said. “We're thrilled to have the chance to host him again in our possibly slightly less world-famous venue.”
What: Singer-songwriter-guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto brings his eclectic and peaceful music — influenced by both American and Japanese folk music — to Olympia.
When: 6:30-7:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 30.
Where: Olympia Timberland Library, 313 Eighth Ave. SE, Olympia.