My interview with Robin Kimura was lengthy (in a good way), but not nearly as long as the extended performances Greenwood played at Waikiki’s popular discos back in the 1970s.
Greenwood started out in Waikiki clubs as the ‘off-night’ band—when a club’s main performer had the night off. But when it came to Mackey Feary, Greenwood actually played after the Mackey Feary Band—sometimes with Mackey joining the funky ensemble for songs like ‘Nightbird’ and ‘The Hurt’!
Here’s another excerpt of my interview with Robin, as promised in part one.
This time, Rob remembers Mackey and the Magic Mushroom, a Honolulu nightclub on that became Greenwood’s stepping stone into the Waikiki nightclub scene. Enjoy!
Aloha Got Soul: Was Greenwood the band for Mackey Feary on off-nights?
Robin Kimura: “That was at Magic Mushroom. So, Mackey’s Kalani [High School alumni], DJ Pratt’s Kalani, you know, but little bit older than us. Mackey was closer to our age and he knew Owen, our guitar player, really well.
“When he kinda broke off from Kalapana—I don’t know if they were gone at that time, I think they disbanded—Mackey kinda went on his own and he formed his band. So our booking agent and the owner of Magic Mushroom gave Mackey the opportunity to get started by doing kinda like a dinner show. And they said, ‘OK, we want to do the back end of the evening with Greenwood, so you guys can do the dance portion of the night.’
“It sounded good in the begining, but if I looked at it now I could see the major hole in the booking. We had two different crowds. The people that came to see Mackey is not the dance crowd. And you expect them to stay for us, right? And the nightclub dance crowd is not like a Mackey crowd. So it was like oil and water.
“It didn’t work. What happened eventually was Mackey—I don’t know if it was the time or the amount of nights he played—he just couldn’t sustain the crowd to get the revenue he needed. So that kinda ended.”
Aloha Got Soul: How long did that go on for?
Robin Kimura: “It was supposed to go through the whole summer cause I remember we blocked off the whole summer, and after about one month they cut it. I was pissed because I had July and August with no gigs. We had to scramble. And, on top of that, they didn’t pay us for the month we played. So we were out like two grand. I was furious!
“But, you know, it’s one of those situations with entertainment, that’s what happens.
“And then Mackey kinda—he was fighting drugs at that time too, sad to say. But we had some good times, talk story, you know, during practices [and] got close to him. I remember him coming into the Point After and was like, ‘Rob! Eh you know what man… completely off the drugs! How do I look?’ I said, ‘You look really good.’
“He said, ‘OK, I got the band [together] and kinda re-did the band—and we’re playing at Fisherman’s Wharf. I want you and Owen to come down and check us out. Let me know how we sound, I trust you guys, you know, Kalani [alumni].’
“That was one of the last times that I seen ’em cause they didn’t last in there too long. By the time we wanted to go in there they were gone. And then we just kinda lost touch after that, yeah.
“I still remember him telling me about ‘Moon & Stars’, he wrote that in eighth grade!
“One of the neatest memories I have playing with them [at Magic Mushroom] is—he wanted to stay away from Kalapana stuff yeah, he like do his own thing. But when we took the stage we told him, ‘Mack, c’mon, come up sing ‘Hurt’.’ He goes, ‘No…’ and we said, ‘You know what, people gonna love it. We ain’t Kalapana. They gonna see you, that’s your song, you wrote that.’
“So he came up, sang that. I said, ‘Come up, sing Nightbird!’ Sang ‘Nightbird. We was doing that for a while until he said, ‘I no like sing Kalapana anymore.’
“We said ‘OK, come up and sing Stephen Bishop then, you know, ‘On & On’. He came up and sang that with us. He’d come up and was like, ‘Ho, this song is high! Record key, brah I don’t play ’em in record key!’
“I still remember that, during the song he turns back and goes, ‘This song is kinda high!'”
Aloha Got Soul: Was he a big influence on you guys?
Robin Kimura: “I want to say no. That wasn’t our genre, but we played Kalapana stuff. Like ‘Hurt’, ‘Nightbird’, ‘Naturally’, you know, just because they were great songs and it kinda fit into our mix. But we weren’t in that Country Comfort, Summer, Kalapana, top-of-the-shop kinda thing.”
Aloha Got Soul: You guys had more of a mainland sound.
Robin Kimura: “It’s kinda funny because even now when you see the bands take the stage, you get comfortable or your band is suited for a certain artist. You play certain artists, it fits into your make-up.”
Stay tuned, more to come! Check out these vintage and new school Greenwood pictures.
Read the previous excerpt, The Story Behind the “Sparkle”: Robin Kimura on Greenwood’s 45.