From Feb. 24th – March 1st, 2015, The Pier’s Blake Taylor, David Norris and Mike Patti were invited out to Honolulu, Hawai’i courtesy of EKM Records for their Tune-In Party, a closed to the public, private event for us media to meet, greet and network with their line up of artists.
Blake Taylor, a long with photos by David Norris, provide an all encompassing recap of The Pier’s trip & experience to Hawai’i with insight into the history of the island and music. If you read carefully enough, you will find links to FREE MP3’s with an opportunity to discover new music from the islands. Read the recap of our Journey to Hawai’i and discover new artists who performed the EKM Records Tune In Party and hear our ridiculous interview with Island 98.5 and the Wake Up Crew – Enjoy!
The Pier Goes Hawaiian…
What are the odds our planet’s interior would breach the ocean floor and pile on top of itself through 18,860 feet of water to the surface over a span of 5 million years into the most perfect climate in the Earth’s atmosphere? The ‘aina, or land, has always been considered sacred to the various Polynesians who have inhabited the most remote island chain in the world.
Fast forward to the days of King Kamehameha who invited the Spanish and Mexican paniolo, or cowboys, to the islands and trained them how to handle the overpopulation of cattle. Of course the Spaniards brought their guitars along with basic lessons on rudimentary technique. The laid back Hawaiians adapted to the guitars, loosening the strings to give it that long sound creating what was known as the “slack-key” guitar style so often heard on the islands today.
Joseph Kekuku is credited with using different metals from bolts and the back of a knife blade to create the original steel guitar sound. If history is to be honest, even country music stems from the Hawaiian island style. It was only a matter of time before the music of Hawai‘i made its mark on the world. By the 1930s the Hawaiian steel guitar became the first electric stringed instrument a few years before Les Paul and Charlie Christian modified their instruments.
Hawaiians have sacred and strong traditions based around the ‘ohana, or family, common decency and respect. Now that a music scene consisting of top island talent made it to the mainland and surrounding continents, the resurgence of island artists has caused a musical revolution that is not based around money and fame, but Aloha.
EKM Records ‘Tune In Party’
I made it to O‘ahu, also known as “The Gathering Place,” mere hours before the EKM Records “Tune-In” Party at The Manifest in Honolulu’s Chinatown. In order to understand the kind of night we were in for, let’s get to know the EKM Records ‘ohana and who we were flown out to see perform:
The listening party was brought together with tunes from DJ Hapa Boy, a highly sought after local disc spinner. Big Koa, Music Director and host of Island 98.5’s “Reggae Cafe,” and Jamie Hyatt, VP of Programming were also in attendance surveying the future of content on their media outlets. Local and soulful singer/songwriter Kimie Miner came to show her support and jammed with the Jimmy Weeks Project like no one was watching.
EKM Records has a belief in their artists that resembles the love a parent has for their child. Passion is the number one virtue they look for when deciding on acts to collaborate with and this was a great opportunity for the artists to share their music and stories with people from the local music scene.
You can watch the live stream of the private “Tune-In” Party by clicking HERE!
The Pier On The Air with Island 98.5
The next morning came too quickly and we barely had time to prepare ourselves for our interview with Island 98.5’s Wake Up Crew. They have been on the air with Hawai‘i’s number one Reggae Radio Station for about a decade and after having listened to them for the last year and a half, I had no idea what to expect.
Their first words to us were: “Looks like we have the guys from Duck Dynasty coming up,” referring to the beards Norris and I have. It might be that not many locals here have much body hair and it must have been like seeing a unicorn for the first time when Norris and I walked into the studio with our beards.
They asked us who we thought was the grandfather of reggae was, to which we replied Bob Marley. They followed that question up by asking who the Michael Jackson of reggae was, to which we replied J Boog. If we had more time to prepare we probably would have asked, “Michael Jackson from what year?” The Wake Up Crew threw us for a loop when they asked if we thought pakalolo, or ganja, was a part of the culture at The Pier to which I replied, “No comment. I plead the 420th.”
They went surprisingly easy on us as we walked out of the studio with a heavy appetite. When it comes to ‘ono grinds, large Hawaiian-style portions, and fresh ingredients, Sprout Sandwich Shop was the obvious next stop.
The Pier’s Journey Around The Island
Even though they have been open for less than a year, Sprout has developed quite the reputation and amazed taste buds with their signature sandwiches, The Sproutwich and The Duke. The rustic design of the interior created a laid back, surfer/skater environment to enjoy our lunch in the neighborhood of Ka‘imuki’.
We decided to forgo our food comas and drive to the Windward (East) side of Oahu. Of course we had to take a couple of stops to view the waves from the Makapu’u Lighthouse and go for a swim at Waimanalo Beach. We still had a big weekend of music ahead of us and spent most of the night soaking in aloha near the Ambassador Hotel in Waikiki.
Honolulu is also known for its thriving art community. The last Friday of every month, the Honolulu Museum of Art hosts Art After Dark, a bustling night of art, music, and plenty of locals. Mike Love, who is on the bill for the 6th annual California Roots Festival, can be seen playing various venues throughout the island. We were fortunate to see a set with him and local vocalist/ukulele master Paula Fuga at the museum together for the first time in seven years.
We caught enough of Mike Love’s set before mobbing down to Hawaiian Brian’s to hear local guitar guru, Kaimi Hanaoeau. He did a solo set singing traditional Hawaiian songs on his ukulele mixed with mellowed out rock ‘n roll anthems. Later, he celebrated the release of Are You In by his band HiRiZ (High Rise). The way Kaimi utilizes nearly every note on every portion of his guitar further solidifies his style based on inspirations like Jimi Hendrix and Prince.
Download “Rah Jah” and “Shadows” for FREE by HIRIZ inside our MP3 Massive section by clicking HERE!
We got out of town on Saturday, onwards to the world famous North Shore of Oahu. We started with a quick bite to eat at Breakers in Hale‘iwa and made a journey around the Northwest side of the island, stopping to soak in the sunshine and snap some shots of the breathtaking scenery.
By the time we made it around to Wai‘ahole our appetites had become unbearable. We were craving some local grinds. Bryce, Pat, and Gabe from O‘ahu’s Dread Ashanti met up with us at the Wai‘ahole Poi Factory for a pupu style lunch filled with Kalua Pig, Pork Lau Lau (Lau means leaf and is named after the Ti Leaf the pork is cooked in), Hand-Pounded Poi, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Chicken Long Rice, Haupia (a delicious coconut pudding), Squid Lu‘au, and Ahi Poke. We extend a big mahalo to the reggae veterans for feeding us some local Hawaiian ‘ono grinds.
Download “Dread Again” and “Stoplight” by Dread Ashanti inside our MP3 Massive section by clicking HERE!
While Mike and I took the opportunity Saturday night to visit with friends from the Island, Norris went off to see Peni Dean, former lead singer of Natty Vibes, perform with his new solo-act aptly titled Peni Dean Music about 30minutes outside of downtown Waikiki.
The Pier Finds ‘Ohana in Hawai’i’
On our afternoon, bass player Steven Ashcraft of a local reggae band called The Urchinz and co-owner of Sprout Sandwich Shop treated us to a Home-BBQ with some of the other islanders we met. It fit along with the central theme of the weekend of ‘ohana.
Although O‘ahu is relatively small, there was little time to see everyone. Nahko and Medicine for the People performed at Wanderlust at Turtle Bay as he continues to turn heads and add more people to his tribe each day, even featuring The Late Ones on stage for a collaboration. Hot Rain has released chart-topping music while sharing the stage with J Boog, Rebelution, Fiji, Siaosi, and many more. We will have to save that coverage for our inevitable return to paradise.
To say that Hawai‘i’s music scene is vibrant would be a considerable understatement. The energy of the music and lyrics comes from the fact that Hawai’i was an extremely successful and original constitutional monarchy. The land and culture of Hawai‘i has been hijacked by western civilization since Captain Cook first spotted the secluded island chain and became the first European to make contact back in 1778. Just listen to Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole’s song “Hawai‘i ‘78” and you might catch a glimpse of the injustice.
Its lush resources and strategic oceanic location made it a desirable place by United States businessmen and military installations. To avoid bloodshed, Queen Liliu’okalani surrendered the islands and the kingdom was overthrown in early 1893. As the years went by, the tourism industry, made up of mostly mainland enterprises, have exploited the culture for monetary gain. The idea of a free Hawai‘i as an independent nation is still alive and the hardships the native culture speaks clearly through the music.
Our trip was the experience of a lifetime getting to know the local music scene first hand. We are three haoles from the mainland and were treated like close family. I have never experienced such a tight knit group of artists in my life. Be sure to catch all of the Polynesian artists who are currently on tour all across the mainland. When their set is done, show them some aloha by yelling “Hana hou!” to have them play a couple more.
We were extremely fortunate to meet some of the pure talent coming from the Hawaiian Islands. The island scene seems to be catching fire like the heart of Pele and spreading to the mainland and beyond.
Eia Ka Manawa. Now is the time.
EKM Records Website
Island 98.5 Website (Listen Live!)
JAH Maoli Facebook
The Jimmy Weeks Project Facebook
Kiwini Vaitai Facebook
Dread Ashanti Website
Mike Love Facebook
Article by Blake Taylor
Photos by David Norris
MAHALO (Thank You and Respect) to…
The Late Ones
Jimmy Weeks Project
The Urchinz – Steven Ashcraft, Kaimi Hananoeau, Pat Harrison, John Moon
Nahko and Medicine for the People
Sprout Sandwich Shop – 1140 Koko Head Ave
The Ambassador Hotel, Waikiki
The Modern, Waikiki
Rivals Sports Bar
The Poi Factory