Penny’s from Heaven (Mike Penny on DAY 3)

Mike Penny, that is, with DAY 3’s very turbulent and supernatural account of a bizarre trip on a helicopter! You’ll see some of your favorite personalities from “the other side” or what some people have deemed “the great beyond.”

This short film stars Jean Natalia of Wig Out fame, Jean also recently hosted SparkleBlob’s Spooky-tacular Autumn Gala at the Bob Baker Theater in Los Angeles. Wig Out is a monthly club featuring cabaret presentations by an entirely wig-clad cast of performers. Both patrons and those who brave the stage are clad in wigs, it’s always a night to remember, and it’s always lots of fun, nightclub glamour with edgy wigs, what else could a person need in Los Angeles?!?

So what’s that crazy Japanese banjo-type thingy Mike’s playing at the end of the video? Well, that’s called a shamisen, a three-stringed fretless instrument that you play with something that looks a lot like what you’d use to scrape ice off the windshield (a plectrum or bachi.) It is believed that the ancestor of the shamisen was introduced in the 16th century at port Sakai near Osaka, Japan. As you might guess, an instrument like this has some seriously detailed and highly-studied types of playing, and even the instrument itself, and it’s plectrum are divvied up into different thicknesses and lengths, so that there is an exhaustive amount of shamisen information should you want to buy one or get started playing one.

This video from 2010 shows you how the shamisen and banjo are similar, but different!

And here’s Mike doing the Tennessee Waltz on three strings, with improvisation included!

I have no idea how long Mike Penny has been playing the shamisen, but I can tell you that he can shred out an incredible version of “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns-n-Roses on that thing, it’s mesmerizing to watch him play. Mike is not the only shamisen player following “non-traditional genres” but he does have a style all his own when he plays it. If you’d like to see/hear more Mike Penny, visit his YouTube site and the Mike Penny Orchestra site today!

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