There I was - Friday November 4th in Greenville, South Carolina.  It was the first night of a 21 city tour.  On stage, rehearsing and doing a sound check, my cell phone rang.  I picked it up quickly and said, "I can't talk - I'm in the middle of rehearsal..." but a feminine voice cut me off - it had a soft, yet urgent quality.  "No, listen to me...this is important...I'm at Club Exit to see DMBQ tonight and I just saw Todd P.  DMBQ's been in a car accident...Mana's dead."

It couldn't be...I just saw her a day earlier.  I had bought the band a care-package of Ramen...I had hand delivered a note to Mana from her best friend in Japan...I had taken a photo with her that she wanted me to email to her best friend to let her know she was fine...

Right away I called Todd P.  Then I called Jeff S. who worked with Michelle Cable and traded off driving duties.  Little by little, the worst was confirmed, Mana was indeed deceased.  The rest of the band survived with minor injuries and Michelle Cable was hospitalized with severe injuries but expected to survive.

I was numb.  Here I was, 750 or so miles from home on my first night of the tour, receiving news that a dear friend was tragically killed.  I've managed to return home and the news still hasn't sunk in and I don't expect it to anytime soon.  Mana was a special person and a beautiful soul who filled everything she touched with light.  She had a bright smile, a giving personality and a wicked sense of humor.  And for those of us who had the chance to see her perform, we were witness to a true artist as well as a virtuoso.  Mana could play deep in the pocket, but when she was allowed to be herself, then she really shined.  Seeing Mana perform was a magical experience and as a musician, it never failed to inspire me.  And for those of us who had the privilege of being her friend, the best we could hope for was to catch some of the light she radiated.

Mana died doing exactly what she loved, on her own terms.  We all should be so lucky.  As her best friend, Mamiko Nakagawa said to me as we tried to make sense of all this, "Mana loved and enjoyed playing drums.  She never had any regrets.  She hated regrets."

At the moment the only rationalization that can give me any kind of solace is the knowledge that if someone as giving and talented as Mana was taken so young and suddenly, it must be because someone that special is desperately needed somewhere else.  But the reality is that Mana is gone.  There is no more light.

Mana's Funeral was scheduled in Japan for Thursday, November 17th at 1:00pm.  What that meant for us East-coasters was Wednesday night, November 16th at 11:00pm.  It was a great get together with some other friends of Mana and we raised a toast at that time to a dear friend and celebrated the life of one of the brightest stars that we'd ever had the pleasure of knowing.   You can't ask for more.  Thanks for everything, Mana.

The last picture Mana and I took together.  This was Thursday, November 3rd 2005 at 2:54 AM.  This is the photo she asked me to email to her best friend.

Mana has just received a phone call from her boyfriend which explains that smile!

Mana with a Shellshag shirt on!

Mana and Me in 2003

All the Photos on this site are mine except this one - and it's the only one I wish I had taken!
Special thanks goes to Jimmy Turri of the band An Albatross for giving me permission to use this shot.  It's just that I've never seen a better picture that illustrates Mana's gutsy, innovative and wild personality and drum playing.

Here I am pictured with Jeff and Jennifer Shagawat (and Mana in the background).  They were also very close friends of Mana, along with Shell of the band Shellshag (not pictured).  I just wanted to mention that these 3 individuals went above and beyond the call of duty and really rose to the occasion when Mana was taken from us.  They rented a hotel room in Delaware and stayed next to the hospital and took care of the band and Michelle Cable, as well as handling the police business, the paperwork and other duties too numerous to list.  Jennifer and Shell also held Mana's personal effects in storage until Mamiko could come from Japan to get them and personally return them to Mana's family.   I greatly appreciate them reaching out to me and letting me assist them during all this, but in all honesty anything I did pales in comparison to the sacrifice they made and special recognition should be made.  Mana was fortunate to know such people and be able to call them friends.  As are Mamiko and I.   Thank you.


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