Released on Places I’ve Been, 2008, performed by the Redwood Canyon Ramblers reunion band. The harmony vocals are by Ed and Neil. The Ramblers (myself on guitar, Scott Hambly on mandolin, and Neil Rosenberg on banjo) became the S.F. Bay Area’s first bluegrass band in 1959. Tom Glass was with us on bass fiddle for our biggest season, the summer of 1960, and Ed Neff has joined us on fiddle for important gigs since 1991.

In 1991, Neil and I were invited to play some gigs in Japan on a two-week tour, billed as the thirtieth anniversary of the Redwood Canyon Ramblers. Scott couldn’t get away from his job to join us, but very fortunately Ed Neff was available to play mandolin and fiddle and sing. Together with Toru Mitsui, our guide, impresario, and program-host, we wrote and performed this song to reflect our Japanese experience. The instrumental sections are an interpretation of “You Are My Sunshine,” which is well-known in Japan and one of Toru’s favorites.

Translations of Japanese words used:
Domo arigato = thank you very much
Sumimasen = please excuse us
Dewa mata minasan = we will see you later (ladies and gentlemen)
Tatami = floor mats used in traditional Japanese rooms, public and private
Shin-Kansen = New Railroad (the famous bullet train)

  We have finished our concert — our fingers are sore
It’s time for the party on your tatami floor
We will sip some hot sake, try to sit on our feet
While your homegrown music makes the evening complete

So it’s domo arigato and it’s sumimasen
There’s so much you are saying that we can’t comprehend
But the music you’re playing has that high lonesome sound
Dewa mata minasan, we will see you around

There are many friendly faces at the table tonight
We are tired from our travel but we’re feeling all right
There’s an ocean between us and the place we began
But there’s bluegrass a-plenty in the heart of Japan


We’ll be rushing in the morning to that old Shin-Kansen
In the next town they’re waiting for our little string band
When the evening is over and we have to move on
We will always remember how you welcomed our song


    By Mayne Smith, 1991 © Hillgreen Music <>