New York – At the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival, held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., a Japanese musician who goes by the name Fiddling Leona approached the microphone at the front of a makeshift stage. She raised her right arm above her fiddle, brought her feet together and faced the crowd.
The fabric at the front of her red-and-white gingham kimono began to shake as she moved her hands and fingers, almost slicing the bow across the strings. She tapped her brown Western boots to the music, a fast country tune called “Old Joe Clark.” John Paul “JP” Mathes II, Leona’s husband, stood to her right with a banjo in hand. He stomped his feet and shook his head, decked in a blue blazer and red flat cap.