Surrounding yourself with musicians is a great way to stay inspired. Living with them in a huge house by the beach? Even better.
Ron Yuen of the Hawaii band Summer recalls living with the members of Kalapana—including Mackey Feary, DJ Pratt, Malani Bilyeu, Alvin Fejarang—at a house in Malibu. Here’s part 2 of my interview with Ron Yuen.
The story of the Malibu house
“I’ll start by saying that the Malibu house was located on Cliffside Dr. in Point Dume and the owner of the place was Martin Milner who starred in Route 66.
I’m guessing that it was built in the 60s and had previously been rented by Bob Dylan and his family who had moved to their newly built “castle” by the time we became its new tenants. It was rumored that one of our neighbors was Linda Ronstadt so you get an idea of the kind of mystique the area had at the time.
It was fully furnished, had five bedrooms, a den and an adjacent maids quarters. The décor was primarily wood and stone and we had a fireplace. It sat cliff-side overlooking a private beach which happened to be a nude beach. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time on the balcony taking turns with the binoculars!
Roommates and friendships and fun
Having a limited amount of rooms meant that we had to double or triple up and share a room. I was first roommates with Malani Bilyeu and then Alvin Fejarang.
I remember the camaraderie between both groups—Summer and Kalapana—when we first arrived in 1977. One of our first “missions” was going food shopping and the carts of food at a time, forming a chain to bring in the food from the van.
Speaking of food, when dinner was ready and announced, if you didn’t make a bee line for the kitchen it was basically “Snooze You Lose” and quite often you’d end up eating just rice or beans and a salad without the entrée! It wasn’t uncommon to have people back home sent you a case of saimin that you could always stash and use as a backup if you had to.
Living with a bunch of young guys
Once Kalapana was due home from a road trip and we had made dinner prior to their arrival. We went back to rehearsing waiting for them when all of a sudden the door springs opens and we all scrambled and ran for the kitchen yelling “quick, their home”! LOL!
I also remember playing tackle football in the rain and mud at the local elementary school, although we had to be careful not to sprain a finger!
There was a pretty good surf break just off of Point Dume and although the water was really cold, Alvin and Malani would put on their wetsuit vests and charge the break with us cheering them on from the balcony.
Jamming in the studio with Kalapana
Musically, since there was only room in the den for one group to setup their equipment, it was usually occupied with Kalapana’s gear where they would rehearse between road trips but we’d all jam on whatever we felt like jamming on at the time. Drums, bass, keys; whatever.
DJ Pratt had a knack for recording Kalapana’s newer stuff for future production or arrangement ideas, often running cables throughout the house from the den to his bedroom where he’d have a mixer running to a 4 track reel-to-reel.
Thankfully despite all the jamming that we did, the police never once showed up (that I can remember, anyway).”
A big, big thank you to Ron Yuen. I’m grateful to be able to share his story and photos of the Malibu house, where the members of Summer and Kalapana made many fond memories together.