Hiroya Tsukamoto is a one-of-a-kind composer, guitarist and singer-songwriter from Kyoto, Japan, who is sometimes mistaken for a finger-style guitarist by those who haven’t experienced his performance. In fact, although Tsukamoto usually tours as a solo act ― or as a duo with a drummer ― he explains that his show is “a mixture of guitar songs, vocal songs (Japanese folk music and originals) and poetry with audience participation.” But there is some truth to the finger-style classification, because Tsukamoto’s introduction to music came in the form of bluegrass banjo. When he was 13, his father brought that particular instrument home one day, “but there was no way to find a banjo teacher in my hometown in Japan,” Tsukamoto says. “So I tried to learn from the only bluegrass record I had, Foggy Mountain Banjo, by Earl Scruggs.” The album by the North Carolinian proved to be a challenge because of Scruggs’ renowned top-speed picking, “but I just loved the music very much,” Tsukamoto says. His friends introduced him to the guitar, which he started playing about a year later, “but I still played banjo because no one [else had one], and I liked that fact.”
In 2000, Hiroya received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and came to the United States. He formed his own group in Boston, “INTEROCEANICO (inter-oceanic)”, which consists of unique musicians from different continents including Latin Grammy nominee Colombian singer Marta Gomez. The group released three acclaimed records (“The Other Side of the World”, “Confluencia” and “Where the River Shines”). Hiroya has released two solo albums (“Heartland” and “Places”) from Japanese record label 333 discs.
Hiroya has been leading concerts internationally including several appearances at Blue Note in New York City with his group and on Japanese National Television(NHK). Hiroya has performed, recorded and shared the stage with Esperanza Spalding, The Kennedys, Joe Jencks(Brother Sun), Michael League (Snarky Puppy), Brooks Williams and Jim Kweskin.