Steve Ingham, Sarah White, and Atsushi Miura at Tokyo Rose

By Amy Briggs

My hair started turning white two years ago. Every few days I find a new strand blanching from youth into old age. I hold my Mondays fully responsible. It's the sobering return to deadlines, the beginning of another five for the Man.
So for me, unwinding after work that first evening has become vital. Without it, I worry I'll be a silver fox by the age of 30.
But when many of the nearby restaurants/music venues are closed, what options are there besides TV and take-out? Following the Tokyo Rose renovations earlier this spring, owner Atsushi Miura decided to offer another place to relax. He opened the doors, invited some musicians, practiced his songs, and made Monday a good day to have a good time.  
I work there now, after my day job, and I like it. The meditative chores of the biz– polishing wine glasses and folding napkins– go very well with the casual performances. During the later hours of the evening, I'm able to rest against the boxes of cola syrups and watch the music.
No money pollutes the exchange; the musicians play for nothing more than a dinner, and the patrons pay no cover. All involved parties are there simply to enjoy themselves. Many of these tunesters have been involved in the Charlottesville music scene for years, hosting free shows of their own.
Last Monday night proceeded in typical fashion. Gate Pratt, ice cream man turned architect, started off the set with his acoustic guitar repertoire. Steve Ingham from the ever-pacific Holiday Inn (co-members Jeff Grosfeld and Matt Datesman were not there that night) soon joined in to sing several of his own Hank WIlliams-inspired storylines.
The surprise guest of the evening was Sarah White, whose two albums on Jagjaguwar Records (founded by former C-ville rock progenitor Darius VanArman) have gained her modest national attention.
However, the primary draw for Monday was Atsushi's performance. Quickly becoming the stuff of local legend, songs by the disarming chef have found their way over the past few years onto concert bootlegs and DJ playlists.
What touches people most is his clear, penetrating voice and simple, nostalgic subject matter. The innocent frankness of "School Days," "I Love You," and "Good-looking Girl" leaves us all feeling... good. And his passionate cover of Roy Orbison's "Crying" has been known to drop a few jaws.
After the performance, I asked Atsushi why he became a musician. In his characteristically laconic style, he responded, "To kill time, stress management, to be cool."
No wonder he doesn't have a single white hair on his head.