As people from all walks of life figure out how to get by in the age of coronavirus, musicians are left to figure out how to adapt to a world in which live concerts are out of the question. While the self-isolation continues, we’re checking in with some of our favorite musicians to reflect on years past (both the good times and the bad), see what they’re most looking forward to once ongoing live event hiatus comes to an end, and find out what they’d like to do differently when that time comes.

For the latest installment of this series, Japanese percussionist Keita Ogawa (Snarky Puppy) offers up his ‘2020 Reflections’. You can also read the previous installments of the series by drummer John Kimock (Mike Gordon) and bassist Chris DeAngelis (bass, Kung Fu/The Breakfast).

Hailing originally from Nagasaki, Japan, Keita Ogawa is a Grammy-winning percussionist for Snarky Puppy. Throughout his career, Keita has become a high-demand percussionist, and his abilities have landed him on stages with contemporaries ranging from Yo-Yo Ma, Charlie Hunter, Eric Harland, Bokante, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Banda Magda, and more.


My first big gig happened when I was 24 years old. I had 3 concerts with Yo-Yo Ma and The Boston Symphony Orchestra as the solo percussionist. This was my first experience playing with a conductor and orchestra at a classic concert hall, so it was a big deal for me, let alone playing with Yo-Yo.

On the last night of the run, Yo-Yo said let’s have whiskey shots before we go on the stage and swap instruments between the four soloists and walk to the stage holding different instruments. After two shots of whiskey Yo-yo passed me his Cello and grabbed an accordion from a musician. We all walked in together and everybody thought I was Yo-yo but they realized something was wrong and started to laugh. That was fun and is a great memory to have.


The first time I took an airplane for a gig, it was a concert with Danilo Perez and Tiger Okoshi. I brought all my toys and instruments, which I have a lot of in my percussion rig. I was so excited to play that gig, it was a huge deal for me at that time. Unfortunately, the Airline lost all of the instruments that I had checked for the flight. Everything I needed showed up after the concert was over. It was a heartbreaking experience.


I never want to go back.


The things I think I want to change, keep changing.