I got to photograph Kishi Bashi for the first time in 2014 at Cincinnati’s Bunbury festival, and again last week in Columbus’ A&R Music Bar.

Initially, Kaoru Ishibashi performed solo on stage with a looper. When I photographed him in 2014, he had a full band performing with him. This year, Kishi seemed to be more comfortable on stage than when I last saw him. Banjoist Mike Savino and bassist Daniel Brunner joined in on back up vocals on an omni-directional mic. People sang along to Bright Whits despite the chorus not being in English. But when it came to the lovely ballad from Lighght Q&A, Daniel hushed the audience. This happened on a few tracks where Kaoru wanted everyone to be able to hear his vocals.

Some might think he was controlling, but it is a refreshing change from those artists whom I shall not name that strongly recommend or even orchestrate a sing-a-long. When I buy a ticket, I go to a performance to hear the artist sing, not the person next to me who is two beers away from being thrown out or passed out.

As I was leaving the venue, I was approached by a man named Jay who refused to have his photo taken, or pay for a ticket to enter the venue.

He stood outside listening. When I passed by, he stopped me to ask who the performer was. We talked about it for more than I had planned. Jay and I were talking about Lindsey Stirling, and Kishi Bashi. I reiterated what I had written once before on my bio on my own website—Kishi Bashi wasn’t concerned about his fans liking his music, his concern is that his art; his message was not going to be delivered exactly how he had it planned in his head.

Seeing that during the conversation, Daniel Brunner (drummer) stepped out for a smoke, I leaned in and invited him into the conversation with, “I could be wrong though.”

Daniel took a small puff from his cigarette and said, “No, that was beautiful. You got it completely right.”

I’ve never spoken to Kishi Bashi, but he should know, his art is being received by his fans with open arms. He is a classically trained iconoclast that will continue to evolve and amaze.

Courtesy of Harry Acosta Photography.