As promised, in anticipation of the Fitted x Aloha Got Soul Hawaiian Salt mix CD, I’m going to be blogging plenty leading up to the April 20th release (that’s Record Store Day). And what better way to kick of this blog series than with the legendary Lemuria.
My utmost respect goes to Kirk Thompson, founder of Lemuria and original member of the groundbreaking contemporary Hawaiian group Kalapana. This guy’s got so much history to his name, so many stories about Hawaii’s music scene all the way back to when he started out with Don Ho‘s show at the age of six.
Yup—he started playing professionally at six years old. But that’s another story.
Kirk formed Lemuria to scratch an itch
Around the time Lemuria came to be, there were a lot of musicians on Oahu feeling frustrated, waiting for action. They wanted their break too, just like Kalapana, Seawind, Cecilio & Kapono—Hawaiian groups that made it on a national scale and took off to the mainland.
But there were dozens of musicians Kirk knew who were still stuck in Hawaii, surrounded by water, looking for an opportunity to explode into the music scene.
Waiting to scratch an itch.
“When we left [for the mainland], I knew plenty guys who were just as good as Kalapana and just as hungry,” Kirk told me. Take guitarist John Rapoza, for example. “He was a monster guitar player” from Waipahu and as good as George Benson—he even played with George Benson.
Kalapana’s success on the mainland demanded the need for a full-time drummer and sax player, so they called up Alvin Fejarang and Michael Paulo—two Hawaii guys with massive talent—to fly up to California to join Kalapana. On the downside, John lost two extraordinary bandmates. Alvin, Michael and John were rocking in a local group called Beowulf.
But that ended when Kalapana called and Alvin and Michael left for the mainland.
John wrote “Get That Happy Feeling” and a slew of other songs with Beowulf—”he could play the guitar, these braddahs from Waipahu could slam their instruments, but they were all waiting for their break” Kirk said.
When Kirk left Kalapana and returned to the islands, he wanted to give John and 16 other musicians a chance to showcase their talent in a super group called Lemuria.
Now, John’s “Happy Feeling” is forever preserved for your listening pleasure.
Kirk knew a ton of other guys and girls ready to strut their stuff and he wanted to give them their break, so he brought together these island musicians—Creed Fernandez, Stacie Johnson, Azure McCall, Star Williams, Gary Sprewel, Bert DeJesus, Gordon Uchima, Bill Popaka, Mike Morita… there are 18 band members total!—into the studio and laid down what is probably the best Hawaiian R&B album ever!
The Fitted x Aloha Got Soul mix CD and limited tee drops April 20, 2013.