Recap: The Two Year Anniversary of Soul Time In Hawaii

I feel like there are really just too many ways to tell you about this two year anniversary of Soul Time In Hawaii, which was actually more than just an anniversary — it was a week-long celebration of a humble party that’s grown to connect the dots across decades and time zones.

In 2014, Soul Time represented an opportunity to collaborate with like-minded people on the other side of the globe. That was when myself, Oliver Seguin, and London’s Cedric Bardawil put together a one-off party celebrating the unique Hawaiian grooves we’d been digging.

The following year, we pushed people’s perceptions of the limitations of Hawaiian music by spinning 100% Hawaiian vinyl for eight hours straight.

Today, in the year 2016, Soul Time has become a link across various channels locally and internationally, a bridge between the old with the new, an avenue to form new relationships through boundary-free collaborative efforts. Soul Time is now a way to bring together people of disparate geographical locations, musical interests, and historical backgrounds.

This year’s week of events elevated the concept of Soul Time to the next level, in other words, and I’m extremely grateful with how it all went.

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It was hard for others to believe, but my wife and I were meeting these people for the first time in real life after spending at least a year or two corresponding via email and Facebook. “Wait, you mean you’ve never met these people before?” Yes, that’s it. Cedric Bardawil of Soul Time In London, Bill Olson of Soul Time In Chicago, Danny McLewin of Psychemagik in London, and Hugo van Heijningen of Red Light Radio. We were hosting these guys in Honolulu for at least 10 days (Hugo for just a week, unfortunately! missing that guy already), and really had no idea of who they were outside of our conversations online and on Skype.

But what we had in common was a love of music, and that’s all we needed to make this happen.

Cedric arrived early, and we explored the island a bit (we went digging, in other words) before the other guys arrived.

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Idea’s Music and Books.

The first event of our weeklong series was the listening session at our home, located not too far from Hungry Ear Records. Bill Olson aka Solson arrived around 2pm that day. He cabbed it to his hotel at the edge of Waikiki because I was just too damn busy taking care of last minute errands before the rest of the crew arrived. Red Light Radio’s Hugo landed at Honolulu International Airport at 4pm, and we picked him up and drove straight back to the apartment. The listening session was to be broadcasted live on Red Light Radio — as would every event throughout the week — so Hugo needed as much time as possible to set up his equipment. Hideki and Oliver picked up Bill on their way to our place.

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Within a few hours (and after our share of technical difficulties), Hugo was ready to broadcast the listening session live to the world. At our cozy apartment down the road from University of Manoa, the guys and gals popped open some brews and kicked back to selections from the Soul Time In Hawaii crew: Roger Bong, Oliver Seguin, and Hideki Yamamoto.

Have a listen here:

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Listening session in full effect.

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The next day was dedicated to bringing together a mix of different local DJs who don’t often get the opportunity to spin together: Gorgonranks, shitzr, Jah Gumby, Seeko, and DJ Mr. Nick (with Solson filling in for Scott Ohtoro, who couldn’t make it at the last minute). We gathered at Hungry Ear Records just down the street and set up two turntables (after, not surprisingly, a handful of technical difficulties) to the store’s in-house system, which sounds stunning through their Klipsch speakers! We welcomed a new DJ at the top of each hour and basically hung out while listening to good music throughout the day.

Sets from shitzr, Jah Gumby, and the rest of the crew can be heard on Red Light Radio’s Mixcloud:

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Later that evening, Danny McLewin of Psychemagik arrived. We took him to Bevy for a much-needed drink after his long, long journey from London (“A drink? Sure, Hawaii not!”). We spent some time getting to know each other over a few beers, a couple of margaritas, a couple of mai tais, and a lot of laughter. Danny showed us a photo of the rainbow he flew through on the flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

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Rainbow flight. Photo by Danny McLewin.

That was Wednesday. Thursday brought us to the Red Bull office in Chinatown, Honolulu, where we we hosting a trio of veteran musicians from Hawaii to “talk story” about their experiences in and around Hawaii’s music scene. Kirk Thompson of Kalapana, producer Kit Ebersbach, and Mike Lundy joined Roger Bong, Cedric Bardawil, and Danny McLewin for a conversation that spanned roughly an hour and 30 minutes, and had them talking about Tom Moffatt, the Diamond Head Crater Festival, Stevie Wonder, and much more.

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The closing remarks from Kirk, Mike, and Kit left the biggest impression on me that day:

I think that nowadays, all music is relevant. Everything can be mined for the goodness, especially with remixing and with people interested in what’s going on in the world. Everything in every culture… It’s a very stressful world we live in. If the rest of the world can be a little bit more like we do over here… I think the world would be a better place.” — Kit Ebersbach

Keep it going, because it’s the same aspiration system that we’re all, and the younger generation—you guys just keep on going. You guys are supporting, obviously, this music and keeping it alive over there in Amsterdam and Great Britain, Chicago, here in the islands… We’re going back 50 years, but here we are in 2016 and you guys are still doing it so keep up the hard work.” — Kirk Thompson

It’s so nice to know that people out there are listening. It’s younger people, people that are interested in keeping this art going, in keeping the meaning and the theme and the groove going. We wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for all of you out there. Thank you for taking the time to give us a space to explain some of what happened in music history.” — Mike Lundy

 

Later that evening we all headed to Tropics Bar & Grill at the Hilton Hawaiian Village to celebrate Oliver’s birthday while watching Nohelani Cypriano perform “Lihue” live on the beach at Waikiki. Everyone was amazed! It was dream come true to hear this tune played just a few steps from the ocean, especially after spending such an enriching afternoon with Kirk, Mike and Kit talking about the music of Hawaii. Nohelani was grateful to meet these guys from Amsterdam, London, and Chicago. She also couldn’t believe that Oliver was any older than 17, haha! 😉

Wowww Nohelani Cypriano playing her 1979 classic hit LIHUE live at Waikiki Beach ✔️

A post shared by Red Light Radio (@redlightradio) on

 

And even later that evening, Mike Lundy and his band rehearsed for the first and only time for Saturday’s gig where Lundy would be performing his originals songs live with a full band for the first time since 1989. I popped in to the rehearsal studio for a quick listen, but didn’t want to interrupt the band so I made a quick exit immediately after they finished running through “Comin Home”.

You read that right: only one rehearsal before the gig! Next came Friday, the day before the main event. We joined Talyor Fujimoto (Tfuj) for his “last” Swinging Bananas radio show on KTUH. I really hope Taylor’s able to find a new time slot on KTUH because his show is one of my favorites (OK, my absolute favorite) on the college radio station. Taylor graciously extended the invitation to have Solson and Cedric on air to spin some tunes and talk about their Soul Time parties in Chicago and London.

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Taylor’s last show (at least in the 12pm – 3pm Friday slot; let’s hope he finds a new slot soon).

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We hope to have the recording from the KTUH broadcast soon.

After our time with Taylor on air, we prepped for the Strut Records x Aloha Got Soul release party at James After Beach Club. Located on Monsarrat Ave. amidst a handful of shops and restaurants (including my go-to, Pioneer Saloon), JABC is home to a stellar sound system and even more stellar guy: shop manager Junji Hashimoto, who houses his record collection at the shop. When planning the release party to celebrate the AGS compilation on Strut, I knew we needed to find a place that not only fit the vibe of the music (Junji plays the comp every day in the shop!), but had a solid sound system to do the vinyl pressing justice.

People trickled in within the first hour, and by 7pm the place was packed with friends, family, and original artists who are featured on the compilation! In fact, I had just finished putting on “Coast To Coast” by Rockwell Fukino when I looked up and saw none other than Rockwell himself! It was a huge surprise. I really wasn’t sure whether the artists I invited would be able to make it out to the event.

Other artists who stopped by included Mike Lundy (my man!) and Steve Maii. Another surprise guest was author and archivist Tom Tourville, who wrote a substantial discography of contemporary Hawaiian 7-inch records released during the late 50s through the early 80s, entitled Hawaii A Go-Go. Essential reading for the Hawaiian vinyl obsessive! 😉

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Oliver, Rockwell Fukino, Roger. Photo by Joseph Noah.

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Tom Tourville and Roger Bong. Photo by Joseph Noah.

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Danny McLewin and Steve Maii.

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Still with me? It was a long week. By this point I was exhausted. Hosting a handful of guests from out of town is one thing — throwing events every day at different venues with them is another! I’ve never done anything like this before, but so far we were having loads of fun (with only minor technical difficulties and issues that popped up, nothing major!). There was no sign of stopping, especially since every last Saturday there’s a massive sidewalk sale at Idea’s Music & Books (formerly Jelly’s).

Cedric, Hideki, myself and Danny woke up early to arrive at Idea’s around 7:30am (props to Hideki for getting there at 7!). Good timing, too, because right then Sheriff Norm and company started hauling boxes of vinyl outside. We first took to the Hawaiian section and swiftly picked over every LP. Then we promptly moved to the dollar bin boxes that kept coming and coming from the back of the store. (I later complimented Norm on the sale’s success. He mentioned that was only half of the stuff he had in the back! He plans to put the rest out on Record Store Day 2016.)

We picked up some goodies, but more importantly: we had a good time.

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This was the big day, the main event: Mike Lundy live, Danny repping Psychemagik, and the international Soul Time crew, all happening throughout the evening just across the street at Bevy. While the DJs did a fantastic job keeping the party going, it was Mike Lundy’s live performance that elevated the anniversary event to a new level. At 7pm, the band did a quick sound check with “The Girl From Ipanema”. Everyone in the crowd was curious to hear more, but they’d have to wait just a little while longer to hear the real performance: Mike Lundy and band playing cuts from his 1980 album, The Rhythm Of Life.

Finally, at 8pm, we introduced Mike and his bandmates — none are original members that played on his album. Instead, they’re a unique gathering of artists from different backgrounds. Bassist Alika Lyman is a long time friend of mine. Alika recommended drummer Scott Schafer, who knew Mike for years but never had a chance to gig with him. And Mike reeled in the very talented keyboardist Jeannette Trevias, who’s enjoyed a successful career in Honolulu and the Philippines.

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A strange coincidence occurred that signaled the recurring point that all of this is meant to be: drummer Scott Schafer revealed that he bought his drum kit from Mike Kennedy many years ago, and that it was possibly the same exact drum kit that Mike Kennedy used when he recorded The Rhythm Of Life with Lundy in 1979! Scott wasn’t 100% sure about this before Mike Lundy arrived at Bevy. Once Lundy was there, Scott inquired and after going through the photographs in his mind, Lundy confirmed that Scott’s kit was the same exact kit used on the original recording — crazy!

Lundy, Scott, and Roger with the original drumkit used by Mike Kennedy when recording The Rhythm Of Life in 1979!

Lundy, Scott, and Roger with the original drumkit used by Mike Kennedy when recording The Rhythm Of Life in 1979!

The performance was powerful, to say the least. Everyone who attended was awestruck by the band’s ability to bring to life Mike’s music and infuse it with as much energy it had when it first released in 1980. (I later found out, this would be the very first time Mike’s ever performed his songs live in Hawaii or the USA!) Alika, Jeannette, and Scott proved to be the perfect compliment for Mike and his music.

The band performed every song on the album except “Comin’ Home” (Mike decided it was too bluesy and slow for the gig, I agreed we save it for another time) and when they wrapped up their last song of the set, “Nothin Like Dat”, the crowd called out for an encore — “hana hou! hana hou!” shouted the audience. With no plan as to what song they should play for their encore, Mike thought quickly on his feet: what song does the band know, that’s not too complex, but still has a nice groove and will give us room for each musician to solo? “Mustang Sally”. It was completely unexpected — the band never discussed the possibility of a hana hou tune. It was one of their best songs of the evening.

*We’ll have footage and audio from the gig shortly. In the meantime, here’s a snippet from Danny McLewin’s Instagram where Mike talks about The Rhythm Of Life and its title track:

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Pat Lovell of Music & Video Hawaii was just as much a part of the band as the rest of the guys were.

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Kirk Thompson really enjoyed the performance.

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Danny too.

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Candid group shot with friends old and new: Oliver, Jeanette, Mike, Rockwell, Kirk, Scott.

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After Bevy, Danny popped over to the Asylum nightclub for an afterhours party that, from what I heard, when until sunrise and extended on into Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday, we were all too tired to do anything but relax and enjoy ourselves, so we drove to the North Shore and swam in the ocean, ate some garlic shrimp, and dropped Hugo off at the airport for his long journey back home to Amsterdam.

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Thank you to everyone who was a part of this special week of events, to all the listeners who tuned in to each event via Red Light Radio, to the venues that opened their doors to us — Hungry Ear, Red Bull, KTUH, James After Beach Club, Bevy — to the musicians who shared their stories with us, the journalists who helped us spread the word, Pat Lovell for helping Lundy and the band sound so good, and especially my wife for all her support and hard work she’s given.

Most of all, mahalo to Red Bull for backing this project. Without their support this wouldn’t have been as epic as it was! This turned out to be the best Soul Time anniversary celebration so far.

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Each event was broadcasted live on Red Light Radio and has been archived for playback on their Mixcloud page.

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