Shoji Tabuchi (田淵 章二, Tabuchi Shōji, April 16, 1944) is a Japanese Americancountry music fiddler and singer who currently performs at his theater, The Shoji Tabuchi Theatre, in Branson, Missouri.
Shoji Tabuchi was born April 16, 1944 in Daishoji, Ishikawa, Japan. When Tabuchi turned 7, his mother encouraged him to learn how to play the violin under the Suzuki Method. Tabuchi always loved American country music and vowed that one day he would make it to America.
On the path to success:
In the mid-1960s, Shoji was a sophomore in college and had heard that Roy Acuff, of the Grand Ole Opry, was coming to Osaka, Japan. Tabuchi went to his concert and got to meet Acuff backstage. Acuff told Tabuchi that if he was ever in Nashville, to look him up. Acuff's music inspired Tabuchi to pursue country/bluegrass music.
When Tabuchi was in college, he formed a band called, The Bluegrass Ramblers, which led them to win a national contest in Japan. He decided to travel to America with his violin and only $500. Tabuchi had lived in San Francisco, Kansas City, and Louisiana. Then he eventually made it to Nashville, to meet Acuff. Acuff was true to his word and arranged an appearance for the young Japanese fiddler on the Grand Ole Opry radio variety show. Tabuchi later made numerous appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.
The Shoji Tabuchi Show:
Tabuchi arrived in Branson, Missouri around 1980 , after performing successfully for a few years. He took a gamble and built one of Branson's most elaborate theaters, which was finished in 1990, and began his show, now going on 25 years, as of 2013. Besides country music, the Shoji Tabuchi Show also has incorporated polka, gospel, Cajun, Hawaiian, rap, rock, and patriotic music.
While Tabuchi has never produced a recording on a major label, he has developed a loyal fan base through his Branson show. He employs about 200 personnel at his elaborate 2,000-seat theater, where he performs two shows daily during most of the year, often selling out the shows.
The "Shoji Tabuchi Show" became the subject of a long running joke on the RedLetterMedia segment "Best of the Worst." The VHS of the show was finally watched on the "Wheel of the Worst #4" episode in February of 2014. It was voted "best of the worst."
Mary Jo, a patron at a financial-district restaurant where Tabuchi played for tips, became his first wife in 1968, after which he became an American citizen. They moved to Kansas City, and Tabuchi began performing at the Starlite Club in nearby Riverside. In 1974 the couple had a son, Shoji John Tabuchi. Tabuchi began performing at venues in Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma, but his marriage broke up under the pressure of his constant touring.
After moving to Branson, Missouri in 1980, he met his second wife, Dorothy Lingo, after she attended several of his shows at the Starlite Theater; and he became the stepfather to her two children from a previous marriage. Currently Lingo helps with numerous aspects of The Shoji Tabuchi Show such as choreography, costumes, and the theater's interior design. Tabuchi is sometimes accompanied by his daughter, Christina, who performs part time in Branson and part time in Nashville and other locales. One son, Thomas Jason Lingo-Tabuchi, died at the age of 19. There is a scholarship in his name at a Branson school music department and a community center in Oak Grove, Louisiana, named in his honor.