‘Waiting for a Train’ the Toshio Hirano documentary now online!

If you know him, you love him. Toshio Hirano has been charming the hell out of Mission audiences with his country yodeling and hilarious stage banter for over a decade.

In 2009, director Oscar Bucher made a short documentary about how this fella from Tokyo fell in love with early country music and followed that passion to the United States. It had limited screenings, one of which I was lucky enough to catch then.

Finally, the film has been posted online for the rest of us, so check it out:


Toshio still performs at Amnesia on 2nd Mondays and the Rite Spot Cafe on the 4th Tuesdays.

Three Great Shows Tonight

Quinn DeVeaux and the Bluebeat Revue bring you back to the time when no one would take your seriously unless you had three hot chicks with long gloves singing backup and pantomiming lyrics. Singer Viola Viola, in particular, has a serious case of high-on-life. You’ll know exactly who I’m talking about when you see her. Revolution Cafe, 22nd and Bartlett. 9pm, no cover, tip lots.

The Nice Guy Trio will be playing their own arrangements of tunes by local composers and songwriters of all genres, including Marcus ShelbyMeklit Hadero, Aaron Novik, Dina Maccabee, and Dave Ricketts. The Red Poppy Art House on 23rd and Folsom. 8pm, $10-15 cover.

Everyone’s favorite yodelin’ Japanese-immigrant cowboy Toshio Hirano will be performing his monthly gig at the Rite Spot Cafe on 17th and Folsom. Ask him about how much he loves Jimmie Rodgers, and be prepared to have your ass charmed off. 9-12am, no cover, tip the man.

Aw hell, why am I even bothering to post today? You are all probably on your way to the park with a Rhea’s sandwich and a six pack of blue-ribbon-winning beer.

Toshio Hirano @ The Rite Spot Cafe Tonight

Sure, we’ve sung praises for the yodelin’ Japanese cowboy Toshio Hirano before, but I just found this video profile of him done by PRI that deserves some attention:

Toshio has a charisma and passion for music that is really sobering to all the cynical young musicians like myself. Here’s a guy who loved classic country music so much that he literally up and moved straight to the source. (Ok, so my love of burritos may have moved me from the east bay to San Francisco, but that’s not exactly the same thing.)

He’s no fool either, he’s well aware that there’s quite a bit of the novelty/freak show draw to his act. But hey, if that’s what it takes to get people to come out and see him doing what he loves, then he’s ok with that. Oh, and his between-song banter is hilarious… that’s no act. This man is funny.

Toshio will be playing tonight as part of his monthly residency at the Rite Spot Cafe on 17th and Folsom from about 9pm-12. Go get your two-step on.

The Bay Area A.V. Club Guide To How To Have Fun This Summer If You Live In SF And Your Best Friends Live in Oakland

[I did this feature for the Bay Area print edition of The Onion. They ran a trimmed version in their summer double issue last month, but since they don't put anything online, here it is. --Allan]

If your best friends live in Oakland, you’ll probably be spending a lot of time in the East Bay this summer. Today, the A.V. Club presents a guide to making the best of it.

First, try to think of every trip to Oaktown as a mini-vacay to a bustling mini-metropolis. Stroll Lake Merritt’s shoreline and you’ll swear you’ve landed in some tiny little bastard version of Chicago or something. Enjoy the view for a bit, then walk a couple blocks down East 18th Street and finally see a movie at the Parkway Speakeasy (1834 Park Blvd., 510-814-2400, www.picturepubpizza.com). As you’ve surely been hearing for years, it’s an historic movie house full of couches and beer and pizza, and it is every bit as fun as it sounds.

For slices and pints sans cinema, head over to Lanesplitter (4799 Telegraph Ave., 510-527-8375, www.lanesplitterpizza.com). It’s somewhat less polished than your beloved Little Star, but it has a longer draught list and equally mouth-watering pies.

Speaking of long lists of beer, on August 11th you can all take a mini-road trip down to Hayward for the Bistro’s 10th Annual IPA Festival (1001 B St., 510-886-8525, www.the-bistro.com). India Pale Ales will be ferried in from microbreweries all over the world, so designate a driver and drink up.

On your way back north, go to an A’s game. A’s games are great because you can enjoy the Great American Pastime without all the Bonds-related drama and T-Third-related transit confusion. Plus, the Coliseum is doing that cool thing where instead of sending you tickets, they just text you an image of a barcode.

Now that you’re back in Oakland, if you’re not familiar with the Oaklandish organization (www.oaklandish.org), read up. They sponsor subcultural events throughout the year, including this week’s shadow-puppet production of Sinbad the Sailor by Teatro Penumbra at the Parkway.

Suppose one of your friends just graduated from Mills and is in need of a place to host a celebratory barbecue. Redwood Bowl in Redwood Regional Park (10570 Skyline Blvd., 888-EB-PARKS) is an ideal place to grill up some bockwurst and toss around the ol’ Frisbee. The meadow’s uneven terrain means barefoot Ultimate can be hazardous, so be careful.

In the evening, check out one of those fabled warehouse shows, perhaps at a place like Ghost Town Gallery (2519 San Pablo Ave., 510-393-1876, www.myspace.com/ghosttowngallery). They’re cheap and laid back and charmingly sketchy – welcome respite from the too-familiar routines at the city’s proper rock clubs. You might meet local superstars like Brian Glaze and they might regale you with advice about how to get rid of clingy groupies (tell them you have AIDS) and how to pick up girls you actually like (tell them you’re friends with the Time Flys).

If local superstars aren’t enough, plenty of international ones play in the East Bay too. Canada’s Fucked Up will grace the stage at Gilman (924 Gilman St. in Berkeley, 510-525-9926, www.924gilman.org) on June 30th, and Daft Punk and the Rapture will rock UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on July 30th. Either of these would be a great sendoff for your friend that’s moving to Germany or somewhere the following week.

Lastly, if one of your friends tries to drag you to Ikea, there might be a sick view of the melted 580 connector from the parking structure, but other than that, leave your wallet at home and resist, resist, resist.

Whatever you end up doing, the looming question all damn night will of course be how the hell to get back to the city. Inevitably, we all end up sprinting toward a BART station at 12:26. That sucks, because you find yourselves sweaty and winded, and half the time you don’t even make the train. Alternatively, you can search the cryptic maze of schedules on 511.org for info on the All Nighter bus, but you’re drunk for goodness’ sake.

Instead, just opt for a sleepover. This way, you can drink ’til the bars close, stumble over to Taqueria Sinaloa (2138 International Blvd., 510-535-1206) for some carnitas, and then go home, watch Moonwalker again and pass out. In the morning, maybe you can all go to the city together…

East Bay kids are perfectly adept at coming to the city an Amoeba run and a show at the Fillmore, so be sure to turn your friends on to something new this summer! Show them Thrillhouse (3422 Mission St.) and Force of Habit (3565 20th St., 415-255-PUNK, www.forceofhabit.com) in lieu of Amoeba, and then drop into Rite Spot Cafe (2099 Folsom St., 415-552-6066, www.myspace.com/ritespotcafe) for a much more intimate concert experience (The A.V. Club recommends Ash Reiter‘s girl-with-a-big-electric-guitar crooning on June 25th or Toshio Hirano‘s little-Japanese-man country twang on June 30th).

By the way: Since your friends have nothing but a tape deck in their ’92 Acura Legend, be sure to have a few choice cassettes (think NPG-era Prince or the Ghostbusters soundtrack) ready to go for their ride back to Oakland. They’ll appreciate it.

 Browse more Mission Mission coverage of music, travel, food and drink, Muni, and The Onion.