Monthly Archives: December 2011

Little Albert Maligmat & Eddie Ramirez @ Tapa Bar, Hilton Hawaiian Village

I had a lot of fun watching and listening to this concert.

I arrived just a minute or two before the show began, and the duo really grew on me as the evening went on. Little Albert Maligmat on guitar and vocals, Eddie Ramirez on bass and vocals. At first, they introduced themselves by playing a couple of mellow covers, namely an Eric Clapton, nothing too over the top, just nice laid back ambiance music, ideal for couples cocktail sipping.

Progressively, both brothers began demonstrating some particularly unique skills: Eddie would play the flugelhorn with his mouth, and various other trumpets (not only was this impressive to hear, but also very interesting to watch how he would mimic the instruments), and Little Albert did vocal impersonations. Excellent!

What I found amusing is that I think Little Albert looks very much like Jackie Chan – so not only was he doing impersonations, he also looked like a celebrity. The bar eventually became quite crowded, I suppose because around 9PM/10PM it is a popular time to come and hang out at the bar, but it may also have been that the duo were catching some ears, and people were coming out to have a listen.

The duo animated their audience by getting us to clap, shout out ”Aloooooo-haaaaa!” or sing some lyrics from time to time. They also separated the audience in two and judged which side was singing better. The real cherry on the cake was when they did a cover of ‘We Are the World’, and Little Albert did all the impersonations very well, calling each one out by name before he would do it. ”Diana Ross: We are the world!”, etc. The concert sort of turned into a fun show, and their music became more and more upbeat.

They also played latin American music and Little Albert sang in Portugese. They covered numerous Christmas songs, including one of my current Hawaiian favorites ‘Mele Kaliki Maka’.

I met with Little Albert and his brother Eddie during their break – they were in such good spirits, and were very nice people. Little Albert told me he had just been inducted to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, which is great news and so I congratulated him on that. I didn’t know this before having come to the concert, but Little Albert was a previous band member of Society of Seven, a popular Hawaiian group formed in the 60s.

All in all, another surprisingly good concert – this one particularly fun and animated.

Tahiti Rey & Jason Alan @ Apartm3nt

What an absolute treat this concert was. Situated in the most chic bar I’ve been in Honolulu so far, this duo really captivated me.

Apartm3nt is a very in, trendy and lounge-y bar, where Johnny Depp has been spotted numerous times. It is very inconspicuous, situated on the 3rd floor of a somber building just outside of the city’s center. It is dark, yet cosy –  there was even a fireplace with logs burning, which added a comfortable Christmas touch to the evening. The drinks menu offered an eclectic choice of mouthwatering cocktails, and some extremely tasty wines. Gourmet food is also conveniently served until 12.30AM.

The duo were setting up when I had arrived, and began playing on time at 8PM. Both on electro-acoustic guitars and microphones. Tahiti Rey’s custom made golden glittery guitar strap caught my eye, and suited her style so perfectly. This curly haired attractive lady knows how to sing. She has a spectacular voice, a really magical presence, and covers songs in such a way that honestly gave me goosebumps. I found her voice entrancing, and thought to myself as soon as she started singing that I could stay and listen to her all night. Which is precisely what I did.

Her partner, Jason Alan, was also gifted. His guitar strumming was particularly good, and despite his illness – he admitted to having a cold and flu like symptoms and was sipping tea at the bar before playing the sets – he did a great job at singing and performing. You could hear there was a bit of a blocked nose or something sickness-related going on with his vocal chords, but you could also tell that behind that was true talent.

They were inspiring – they played a few of their own of their compositions, but mainly excellent covers. The Fugees, Bob Marley, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Adele, Coldplay, Louis Armstrong, all sorts – and beautifully each time. They took requests, and played for a couple of girls’ in the bar who were celebrating their birthdays. The time they played really flew by. They took two breaks, played three sets, and it was already 11PM by the time they had finished.

I was lucky enough to get chatting with Jason Alan, who not only is a great musician (with a Bachelor degree in Music Composition might I add), he has also a very kind spirited personality. He was fascinated by my travels, and it seemed it was really him who began interviewing me, and not the other way round! Very flattering. Despite everything, I managed to get quite a few bits of interesting info from him…

Tahiti and himself play as a duo as they share the same producer. They now have a habit of playing together. He gave me their sepia colored business card, which looks fantastic and really suits their laid-back easy-listening style.

They had just come back from the Philippines, where they were invited to play for DJ Vice’s wedding (a well-know DJ from LA). Jason told me they had an absolute blast. And during their performance last night, Tahiti introduced the song they played apparently as the couple were marching down the wedding alley to exchange vows. It was indeed a stunning song.

Tahiti and Jason play on average about 5 to 6 times a week in Waikiki, in many different bars and venues. I was not surprised to hear this, as I can understand their popularity. Jason introduced me to Rob, a friend of his who apparently is also a keen music-scene discoverer, and comes to listen to the duo every Wednesday there at Apartm3nt. He seemed very enthusiastic about me having discovered them too, and also recommend I look out for Yoza, another talented musician who is playing at the Hard Rock Café this Saturday. Great!

What else to say? I’ve summed it up: Tahiti and Jason are absolutely great. I loved their performance, and it was delightful meeting and speaking with Jason.

Their website: http://tahitireyandjasonalan.com/

Apartm3nt’s website: http://apartmentthree.com/

Jack, the indie session drummer

I got talking to Jack yesterday, a young guy who sells mochi bread and other bakery treats at some of Waikiki farmer’s markets. He explained to me that this was his part time job, and that his real occupation was being a passionate musician. Here’s a recap of our pseudo interview:

What instrument do you play? 

– You mean, how do I stay so lean and fit? The drums – I work out every night by playing several hours on them. 

Do you play in a specific band? 

– No, I’m a session musician. There are a lot of bands here in Oahu who look for drummers for their shows and concerts. I therefore play for several bands. 

When is your next show? 

– This Saturday, at Mercury bar in Downtown. It’s due to start at 9PM, but we probably won’t play until 11.30PM. 

Is Mercury bar a popular musical venue? 

– Well, actually the whole of Downtown is. A lot of people also refer to Downtown as Chinatown. In terms of creativity and musical talents, it’s where it’s all happening. 

What kind of music can one stumble across in Downtown/Chinatown? 

– Everything indie and alternative. 

Is the music scene there very different from here in the center of Waikiki? 

– Yes, very much so. Downtown caters for all the music that isn’t allowed to be played in Waikiki. Indie and alternative stuff is not touristy enough. 

Needless to say, this interview enabled there to be a different light shed upon the Waikiki music scene – it seems as though it is a bit more controlled than I had expected. It is true that I have discovered there are only three principal genres playing each night here in the center: Hawaiian, Jazz and Rock.

Kailua Bay Buddies @ Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber

These guys are full of energy and good humor, they really lit up the night at Jimmy Buffett’s. They took requests, played a whole range of songs in a sort of island-rock style, did some interesting covers, got members of staff to come up and sing with them, had guests come up to – they were experienced and truly fun to watch.

The bar next to the stage became instantly more animated once the band played. The band’s drummer, also the lead singer, a rare site to see, joked around a lot with clients of the bar asking them for requests or suggestions for a genre of music. The band encouraged Jimmy Buffett’s clientele to dance, which actually very quickly happened, and a few couples and singles often came up to strut their moves infront of their stage.

It was a very convivial atmosphere – the stage was so close to the bar, the members of the band were very conversational, the bar tender was making excellent drinks and also entertaining us with bottle throwing tricks.

This was a nice laid back fun place to be on Friday night, and the music was just what one wants in that kind of setting – fun loving and upbeat.

Mana’o Trio @ The Shack Waikiki

Another one of my favorite performances. Having read in the Honolulu Weekly that this was going to be a Hawaiian style of music, I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was actually island reggae.

The trio plays at the Shack every Thursday, and do sound like they know what they’re doing. They played all their songs so fluently, smoothly with such ease – they were an absolute pleasure to listen to. I could see some people bopping around and nodding their heads frequently in the restaurant.

The very talented left handed electric guitarist was the band’s solo master, and was playing with good spirit and a smile. You could really tell this thursday evening routine was something this band looked forward to, and enjoyed thoroughly. They waved and winked at a few regulars who came in and out of the bar, which demonstrated their popularity.

This is my number 2 band after Streetlight Cadence. I love reggae, and particularly like this island style reggae that Mana’o Trio concoct so well. I will love to see them again, and why not return to see them next Thursday at the Shack?

Pearl Harbor Parade

The much anticipated Waikiki Holiday Parade marking Pearl Harbor’s 70th anniversary, was certainly a hit yesterday evening. There were many marching bands, student choreographies, cheer leading and other musical performances.

Waikiki’s main street was heaving with people, tourists, residents, workers, it was certainly the busiest I have seen the city yet. My favorite musical performance was Taiko’s – a giant truck towing a platform which held a group of Japanese musicians hitting drums and various other percussion instruments. They were good fun to watch, and added great rhythm to the parade.

The cheerleaders of most of the schools were not as synchronized as one might expect, but still just as appealing and fun to watch. There were also some traditional Hawaiian dancers, who did a great job at wiggling their bamboo skirts. The marching bands, all, were excellent, and really were the heart and soul of the event. It was a happy colorful parade, which really portrayed the multiculturalism of the Hawaiian state.

Miss Hawaii strolled by on top of a sport’s car, as did Elvis Presley!

Official website: http://www.waikikiholidayparade.com/?cmpgn=2168

Sizzling Sunday @ Zanzabar

I heard Zanzabar was the only real night club of Waikiki, so decided to check it out last night. I purposely picked Sunday because I wanted to see how crowded it would get on a week night. I researched before going, and found out that it was ‘Sizzling Sunday’ and that a couple of DJs were going to get the party going with all the latest hip-hop and pop hits.

I entered the very air-conditioned club around 11PM. It was a 10$ entry. The music was not blaring as loud as I was expecting, but that picked up as the night went on and people began to pile in. At 11PM, there were maybe 40 or 50 people in the not-so-big club. A few on the dance floor, a few around the bar, and some parties scattered round tables and chairs.

The music was OK. A blend of the latest hits, some good, some really cheesy and unworthy of the dance floor. Progressively, couples and singles of all adult ages from 18 to 50 I would say, came in to the club to strut their stuff on the floor. The music got louder, the DJs became more enthusiastic, the clubbers more tipsy, and the dancing became more expressive.

Around 12:30AM two hired not-so-dressed dancers stepped up onto their stages and energetically busted their moves for a good hour or so. The music got more interesting: more dance-y, faster rhythms, better blending of songs.

However, Sizzling Sunday ceased to sizzle around 1AM when most of the people began to depart or get tired. Interestingly, this is when the DJ chose to play some good dubstep, which personally got me to bust out my best most energetic moves of the night.

I’m sure the club gets very busy on weekend nights. It is a shame however that Waikiki is not equipped with more late night dancing facilities and more options. Perhaps because Waikiki’s tourists are predominantly couples, the city is not used to hosting people who want a bit more night life until the early hours of the morning?

Zanzabar’s website: http://zanzabarhawaii.com/

Streetlight Cadence @ Waikiki Beach Walk streets

As I mooched around the busy Saturday night Waikiki beach walk street yesterday evening, I heard the familiar sounds of an accordion. I love live accordion music, especially at night time on busy city streets, so I headed towards the sound.

To my surprise, as I approached, it became apparent that this was not only an accordion, but a young quartet. An acoustic guitar, a violinist/vocalist, an accordionist and a cellist. Their sound was so unique that a very large crowd had formed around them, pleasantly surprised by the freshness and talent of their music.

The violinist and cellist were from an orchestra I heard them mention, and certainly did seem to master their instruments like orchestral musicians would. It was also surprising to witness the talent of the accordionist, who was obviously very young (teens or maybe early twenties) – one is used to seeing this instrument played by much older folks. The guitar player was the shyer member of the band, but without his strumming, their songs wouldn’t have sounded the same.

And so I sat down in front of them, and really soaked in the originality and full-bodied music that was coming out of these gifted students. ‘Streetlight Cadence’ – the name of their band, which suited them so well. A talented group of passionate and skilled musicians, performing under the Waikiki streetlights.

 

 

Their Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Streetlight-Cadence/113504642017812

Mai Tai Bar

The Mai Tai Bar is certainly one of the fanciest venues I’ve been to yet. Situated right on Waikiki’s beach front, one can enjoy a sunset view and an excellent eclectic selection of cocktails.

I was there on Thursday’s early evening, before sun down, and a traditional Hawaiian duo band and hula dancer performed and serenaded us drinkers. The setting was excellent – relaxing calm swaying Hawaiian sounds accompanying the sun down the horizon until it disappeared to another side of the planet. Truly magical.

Obviously, one has to experience a hula type show at least once on one’s stay in Hawaii. It is such a fascinating dance – entrancing in its positivity and soft movements. Hula dancers are always very smiley, and in completely harmonious synchrony with the music. Their tropical movements and get-ups remind us of the natural organic beauty of the Hawaiian islands.

And what better way to enjoy a show like this than at the Mai Tai Bar, a truly splendid area to sit back and relax after whatever activities one has been venturing off on in Waikiki’s wilderness during the day. As previously mentioned, the cocktails are unique, and they offer some interesting wines too.

I highly recommend this bar, and coming to it before sundown. Check the website for live performances, and hopefully you will be just as content by your serenade as I was last Thursday evening. http://www.maitaibar.com/honolulu/about.php