Ippei YAMANAKA was born on the east side of Osaka, the so called "Kawachi" area, which is an agricultural and industrial district since early times.
He learned "Kawachi Ondo," a dance music of folklore, in his childhood and recorded 4 songs when he was 18 years old: "Kawachi Junin-Giri (Blood Bath in Kawachi)," "Kanzaki Yogoro Azuma Kudari (Yogoro Kanzaki meets a pack-horse man)," "Osho (The Story of Sankichi Sakata)," and "Raiden (Raiden Tameemon)." These songs were sold under "Singer Unknown" as Ippei YAMANAKA hadn't made a contract with the recording company, however the singer was Ippei YAMANAKA himself.
Shochiku Geino, a show business company in the Kansai district, scouted Ippei for his mature voice and he started a career as a professional performer on stage. In those days, Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe had a lot of entertainment halls, in which Manzai (a comic dialogue), Rakugo (traditional Japanese comic storytelling) and Kawachi Ondo were widely performed. At the time, Ippei was not only fascinated with Kawachi Ondo but also with "Kayo kyoku (Japanese popular music)" and he became a pupil of a musical composer, Kou NISHIZAKI, who had produced many hits. In 1977, Ippei released a single with 2 songs called "Zanza Osaka" and "Sakaba Jowa."
He lead a busy life as his records sold well and he enjoyed a flourishing performing career, however, suddenly he quit the entertainment industry. He also cut his relation to others, and entered a temple called Hieizan Enryakuji temple (built in 788), which is a special temple to many Buddhists. The public assumed that he might have had a big change of mind.
After he spent 12 years as a monk in Hieizan, he returned to his career as a musician in 1992. He returned as a singer of Kawachi Ondo and performed mainly in "Bon Odori" folklore dance festivals. Through his activities, he met his future wife Mariko AKAE who introduced him to a famous producer Noboru ABE(1950-2010) who advised Ippei to work with musicians from the Kansai district. The people of Kansai had a fondness for "soul" music, perhaps because of their sociable and warm-hearted character. In those days, "Kansai Rock," a mix of blues, southern rock and funk, was popular among people and had been since the 1970s. In 1994 he released a single called "Osaka Midnight Blues," and re-recorded "Zanza Osaka," "Sakaba Jowa" in 2003. He gradually changed his field of performance from "Bon Odori" folklore dance festivals to stages and music pubs.
Kawachi Ondolyers was put together to act as the backing band for the Haru Ichiban Concert in 2004. The Haru Ichiban Concert is a historical rock festival held during the Golden Week national holiday season in May and is produced by Noboru ABE.
Ippei put together a rock band, which included keyboard, drums and bass as well as Japanese traditional instruments used in Kawachi Ondo such as Wadaiko and Shamisen. He wanted to devote his Kawachi Ondo music not only for listeners but also for dancers by making the music danceable and aggressive. Thus his own music style was born.
All of the members were great musicians who had leaded the rock scene in the Kansai district. Their improvisational style responded well to Ippei's flexible vocal and gave the impression that a new type of music was born.
Recent members are Satoru WATANABE(key, pf), Koji NANKAKU(EB), Kenji KOBAYASHI (Dr), Hiroshi MURACHI(Sax), Toshiki MORI(EG) and Tomomi NIJI(Shamisen), Mariko AKAE(Japanese Drum).
In July 2010, the album "On Stage" by Ippei YAMANAKA & the Kawachi Ondolyers was released. (Zashiki Records ZASK-001) This live album contains a recording of the Haru Ichiban Concert, and the symposium and concert named "University of the Arts and Kawachi Ondo" held in Tokyo University of the Arts in May, 2010.
In 2012, "Osaka Midnight Blues" and "Keiyo Suiko-den" were release on a CD single(Zashiki Records ZASKS-201), performed by singer and Shamisen player Shigeto UENO in 2000.