Kevin Kmetz is the first foreigner to win the Daijou Kazuo Award in Kanagi, and the Judge’s Choice Award in Hirosaki at their respective tsugaru shamisen tournaments. In 2006 and 2007, he placed Nyusho (runner-up) at Hirosaki and Jyun Yuusho (2nd place) at Kanagi. In 2008, Kevin released his major label debut on EMI Japan with his band, God of Shamisen. In 2012, he recorded two album with Masahiro Nitta and Kyle Abbott - Stellar and Resonance.
Kevin's is one of the first people (perhaps the first person) to truly respark the evolution of shamisen, playing many musical styles with it at a professional level and inspiring many to take the shamisen to the max of their creative potential.
When Youtube was released, Kevin immediately started making hundreds of shamisen videos, playing everything from traditional tsugaru pieces to technical pop covers, and in so doing has inspired many to learn shamisen. Check out his youtube channels, ShamiKami and ShamisenDemon!
Western perspective on shamisen