Music is a brutal business. I have been reviewing and interviewing musicians for over 10 years. From Punk Rock to classical flamenco guitar I have done it all. I have interviewed the famous and the unknown. Some have been self trained and some have gone to school to learn the trade. The one thing they all share is a passion for what they do.

I know that very few will make it to fame and fortune, the vast majority are destined to lead a double life, a full time job to pay the bills and a night time job playing small clubs, pubs and coffee shops.

Many years ago I crossed paths with the exception to the rule, a guy named Tokyo Rosenthal. I don’t even like the genre of Americana, but Toke’s tunes are infectious.

I have followed him through 6 cd’s, 2 books, and a radio concert series. We are friends but as with some friends I have never met him, we chat in email or the phone.


His latest CD is This Minstrel Life. It is a slightly divergence from his usual style half is studio and half is live with guests. I think it is fair to say Toke never shies away from a battle. Track 4 is Now I Believe There’s A Devil.

It should not be difficult to figure out the target of this delightful piece of composing. I have to admit than when Toke sent me an early copy I laughed for days.

In a less than subtle follow up track 6 is a revisit to The Immigrant. I am sure it is just coincidental!

Tracks 7 to 10 are live recordings with guests and they are very well done. Little Poetry Girl makes little sense until you understand the backstory. The little poetry girl is his daughter that is now a PhD!

Is this his best CD? I don’t know, is the short answer. I love it, the live part includes the ‘Toke stories’ and I always enjoy a Toke tale.

Fans of Toke will eat it up but will it appeal to new fans? I am not sure, maybe, maybe not. For sure new fans will love the Toke Stories and the songs. I sit back and wonder if the entire CD should not have been recorded live.


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