2016 was a great year for the label. The previous year had seen the release of Mike Lundy's The Rhythm Of Life to solid praise around the globe, and especially in Europe and London thanks to the help of my good friend Cedric Bardawil (together we launched the Soul Time party series in 2014).
In 2015, Cedric introduced me to Quinton Scott of Strut Records, with the hopes that we'd find a way to release a compilation of funk, soul and jazz gems from Hawaii.
We did just that! Beginning in early 2015, while Mike Lundy's music reached new fans around the world, I was working quickly to track down artists and licenses for what would become the Aloha Got Soul (Soul, AOR & Disco in Hawai'i 1979-1985) compilation.
Little did I know, a dedicated digger and DJ by the name of Vinyl Don had just been tasked with hosting a brand new weekly party in Venice Beach, called Mahalo Monday.
It was Los Angeles producer Carlos Niño who told Vinyl Don, "Hey, you should do a weekly night called Mahalo Monday. You can do it, right?” Don told him, “Yeah, I have Hawaiian records!" and things were set from there.
Carlos gave him a month to prepare before the party kicked off at Townhouse Venice, one of the oldest bars in the area.
With a month to prepare, Don connected with the owner of Record Surplus, Neil Canter, in search of more music from Hawaii. Neil had over 100 pressings of records by The Ventures, and so much more. Curious to dive deeper, the two agreed to share their findings and favorites of music from Hawaii and Polynesia. That's how Record Surplus became a sponsor of the event in its earliest phase.
Days before the first Mahalo Monday in 2016, Don dropped by Amoeba Records to check the Hawaii section.
There sat the Aloha Got Soul compilation, waiting to be discovered. It changed the course of Don's party to where we are today. But before I get into that, here's a little more backstory for you.
Carlos Niño checked in to the Surfjack Hotel at the same time we were meeting with Casea Rose, the hotel's Experience Director. Casea asked if we knew Carlos — "not personally," I replied, "but a fan of his work!". She revealed he'd be checking in at any moment and would love if he could join the conversation.
A lot transpired from that chance encounter (thanks Casea!), but relevant here is that Carlos mentioned the Townhouse (he's the musical director) — which reminded about this guy who had emailed me out of the blue, totally enthusiastic about AGS, asking about all kinds of rare records from Hawaii, and mentioning a regular night in Venice called "Mahalo Monday".
That guy was Vinyl Don.
With Townhouse as my only reference, I asked Carlos if he knew Vinyl Don. "He's like my little brother!" Carlos told me. From there things locked and I linked with Don in Los Angeles not long after.
In May 2019, Don joined us for Soul Time in Tokyo (his second time to Japan; his first trip — two months prior — was so good he couldn't wait to return ASAP). Not long after, Carlos, Don and I decided to bring a stronger AGS presence to the weekly party in Venice Beach.
Long story short: Mahalo Monday is now presented by Aloha Got Soul. Drop by the Townhouse from 9pm to closing for an eclectic, unexpected mix of music sourced from Hawaii and the Pacific — everything from exotica, surf and garage rock, 80s jams, funk and soul, and much more.
To celebrate, Vinyl Don has made a 1-hour mix representing the night's evolution over the last 3 years, from Polynesian & Hawaiiana records, moving into a touch of surf & exotica classics, and then some Aloha Got Soul gems to polish things up.
"These are some of my favorites from Mahalo Monday's beginnings. The selection here is intentional classics; these are songs that otherwise would sit in the back of the bin."
Enjoy, and don't forget to drop by if you're in LA area on a Monday.