For Gregory Shimizu, the Seeds of Booming Tree Taiko Duo, were planted in 1959 when his grandfather donated 500 cherry trees to the city of Prince Rupert, (another 1000 in 1960) His grandfather once lived there and co owned a hotel and cafe. It was all taken away during the war when all Japanese had to give up all their possesions and rights, and were put in the internment camps. Because of this gesture of kindness even after all that loss we named our duo Booming Tree.
Greg's first experience with taiko came in 1975, as a child when he saw Japan's first taiko supergroup Ondekoza (Kodo emerged from this group) play in Edmonton. Then, in the 1986 Greg's Father, Dr. Henry Shimizu, arranged to have a taiko group Northwest Namukai (Washington) perform at the Japan Pavillion at (the 10th) Edmonton's Heritage Festival and host them at his family home. Through showcasing taiko Dr.Shimizu inspired the Japanese community to organize another taiko workshop and provide funding for its own community group - which Greg joined. In fact, after serving 20+ years he became the longest running member to ever leave the community group. In 2008 Greg started Collaborating as a duo with Twilla and Booming Tree was created to be Alberta's first professional Taiko group and to take taiko to their next level of performance, collaboration, innovation and teaching.
In his work with Booming Tree Greg enjoys pushing the boundries of traditional Taiko by constantly creating 'new' shows and collaborations (such as "the Booming Tree Collectives production PULSE- every village has a drum" - Rock Taiko), by designing and constructing new drums such as their one of a kind 4 foot head 'odaiko', and by prototyping lighted 'Jedi taiko sticks' - LED lighted drumming sticks for the Flying Drum Show. He is proud of building a taiko 'group' with just two people. He is also proud of building and supporting the taiko community by creating the first ever Alberta Taiko Concert bringing together Alberta taiko groups(including out of town groups, Midnight Taiko Calgary and Hibikiya Taiko Lethbridge with Wadaiko Tokara from Japan). Also for doing Canada's largest taiko school project, teaching over 500 students to play taiko and do a 500+ finale, all with the help and support from Hibikiya taiko, Global Drums and Midnight Taiko. He also took part in the beginnings of the Taiko Community Alliance - North America's Taiko Organization.
Gregory has been playing taiko since 1989(hand on taiko workshop in 1986), with over 1000 performances and collaborations, workshops and appearances. In his early taiko journey (1990's) Greg also met and had a chance to have a workshop with Daihachi Oguchi, known as the founder of modern day taiko (kumi-daiko style). Over the years he has also had workshops from many of the well known teachers of taiko(odaiko, nagado, okedo and shime) in North America and Japan. To date he has performed and shared taiko with 600,000 people over his career. It is believed he is the longest running and most performed taiko player in Alberta from that 1st workshop with Namukai to his work in Booming Tree performing and teaching taiko.
Performing, teaching and studying Taiko has taken Greg coast to coast in North America: From LA to Virginia Beach and from New Orleans in the south to Yellowknife in the North, and many times across the ocean to Japan. He is a gifted teacher, with 25+ years of experience in instructing drumming workshops and classes tailored to both students and adults including teaching at the North American Taiko Conference held at Stanford University.
In his corporate life, Greg was a professional facilliator and corporate marketer/Marketing Manager and as an entrepenuer started the Pourhouse Bier Bistro 2010-2015 (on whyte ave).
Gregory is also a Vegan triathlete (swim-bike-run), starting the sport at age 35. He has travelled the world competing at Six Triathlon World Championships. He raced (2003- '05 , '06,-'07, '09 and also in 2014) as a member of the Canadian National team as an 'AGE GROUP' competitor. While racing in Sprint to Half Ironman distances, Greg typically focuses on Olympic Distance when at World Championships. In June of 2012 just weeks from a world championship qualifying race, Greg, while out training, was going down a hill on his race bicycle had a major collision with a van coming up the hill. He has no memory of the accident. He suffered a SEVERE LIFE CHANGING CONCUSSION along with numerous other injuries when he crashed face on into the side of the van. He is still recovering from the accident to this day (perhaps a life long phsyical, emotional and cognitive journey). During his pre accident athletics his most memorable races : mens 3rd in an Ultramarathon; 1st -(mens 40-49) 5th overall in a 1/2 Ironman; 41st (age group) in sprint division in the 2009 Triathlon World Championships (Austrailia). He only races now to support the Brain Care Center and is currently on the JOURNEY OF HOPE fundraising mission. He qualified is racing at the 2018 Triathlon World Championships this fall in Australia, to raise awareness of brain injuiry and concussion and to DEFY LIMITATIONS.
Yoshiko Shimizu, Gregory's sister, is also an accomplished taiko player and performer. She spent 8 years with Yakudo in Toronto before moving in 2008 and then 9 years with Midnight Taiko Calgary, she just moved back to Toronto and continues a new taiko journey there for 2018. Greg is also proud of his father Dr. Henry Shimizu, who recieved the Order of Canada for his lifetimes work in Medicine, the Arts and Community work. Henry is also a 'distinguished alumni' from the Uof A and has an Honourary degree from the University of Victoria. He is one of the last remaining survivors able to talk about the NEW DENVER internment camp, where the only internement museum in North America is located. If you want see it its is hard to get to but worthwhile.
In 2018 we look forward to our NEW SOLAR POWERED hand built taiko studio, perhaps the worlds first of its kind. We are also so excited to have won the inagural Westbury Family Fringe Theatre Award, that will enable us to create a new play. This is a huge project and we look forward to its premiere in May 2019. It will be a taiko infused tale inspired by Greg's journey of recovery. We are also looking forward to finding ways of contributing to the Landscapes of Injustice project over the next several years.