The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Saddle Up for a Good Time

Program details for this year’s Tokyo gala

By Barbara Hancock and Kevin Naylor

Keiko Walker had just returned from touring with Charlie McCoy—a mainstay in the Nashville music scene since the 1960s—in Kyoto and was rushing off to her next gig, when she stopped by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s office. Accompanying Walker was her manager from Blue Note Tokyo.

Of British-Japanese descent, Walker grew up around American country music, as both her mother and uncle were huge fans. She dreamed of becoming a country music singer herself, and was born with a natural talent and affinity for the genre. At the age of 16, she was discovered by country band “The Texas Company,” and was asked to join the group.


The young Walker would go on to sing in country live houses in Roppongi, “always accompanied by [her] mother.” She eventually formed her own band, “Keiko Walker & The Hot Street Band,” which went on to become one of the most popular country music groups in Japan.

Walker has toured and performed in Japan with such country music greats as James Burton, Ray Price, George Hamilton IV, Connie Smith, and Skeeter Davis. If you mention her name in the country music world, she is known as the Emmylou Harris of Japan and, indeed, her voice is certainly reminiscent of Grammy Award-winning Harris.

Influences on her music range from country to bluegrass, rock to folk, and even Celtic. At this year’s ACCJ Charity Ball, she promises an evening that will be sure to get you out of your seats and onto the dance floor.


Throughout the evening, the ball will take guests on a Western adventure. To start, you will walk through New Mexico’s Santa Fe Plaza or down the Texas Riverwalk in San Antonio, where the sounds of mariachi musicians can be heard.

On arrival, you will be greeted by the Saboten Brothers, led by Alejandro Palacios, whose extensive experience in Mexico will provide a truly authentic mariachi sound.

Entering the ballroom will whisk you on a musical journey featuring famous cowboy songs along with themes from Western movies and television shows. Think The Magnificent Seven, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke. The inimitable Mike Price will be putting together a selection that covers all of these. Price is a pillar of the Charity Ball, and has been part of the event for years.

For those who don’t know him, he is a jazz trumpeter and composer, originally from Chicago, who has toured and recorded with many big bands, including those of Stan Kenton and Buddy Rich. Price has been a resident of Japan since the late 1980s and has his own quintet and big band.

We look forward to seeing you all there—a perfect way to close out the year with your business associates, clients, and friends, and also to do a little fundraising for the ACCJ primary charities.


Barbara Hancock is vice president of Media Sense K.K., and chair of the ACCJ Charity Ball Committee.




Kevin Naylor is a sales director at en world Japan K.K. and is vice chair of the ACCJ Charity Ball Committee.