Blues draws musician from Japan

January 16, 2009 12:05:48 PM PST
When Yoko Nodge came to Chicago 25 years ago, she was unable to speak English or play the piano. Now, she's a well respected Blues singer and musician. Noge will tell you there is magnetism in the blues -- so strong that it reached all the way to Osaka, Japan and caused her to come to Chicago. A singer, Noge wanted to be immersed in the real thing.

"When I came here, I was intending to listen to the blues music that was played in black neighborhoods because I believed black music should be played in a black neighborhood, that it should be authentic," said Noge.

When an accompanist failed to show up, Noge started key board lessons. Now she and her Jazz Me Blues band are the mainstays at Andy's Jazz Club.

"She relates to the audience. There is a variety in her music. She does Japanese musk as well as straight-ahead jazz and blues," said Jimmy Ellis, a band member for eight years.

Noge and her husband, Clark Dean, who is a soprano sax player, organized the band 21 years ago.

"Things just come to her and she'll take a few days and she'll have a new song. And then she won't have another one for three or four months. It just happens," said Dean.

During the day, Noge is a correspondent for the Japanese Nikkei Financial Newspaper.

"I love the people I play with and I love the music I play, but there is always a craving that I'm not doing enough," said Noge.