We're kicking off a series of interviews today centered around the influence of Kalapana, Hawaii's seminal contemporary band from the 1970s.
Kalapana left an indelible mark on Hawaii's local music scene — not only did they set the bar high with their self-titled debut in 1975, the group shaped what became the sound of the islands at the time. Their sound was unique —a difficult to pinpoint mix of rock, jazz, soul, R&B and AOR — and it proved to locals that Hawaii too could have a world-class, trailblazing act borne of its people and places.
With the help of music writer Jason Black, we're reached out to local musicians young and old to ask them three questions:
1. What is your all-time favorite Kalapana track? Why do you love it?
2. How has Kalapana and their music influenced you as an artist?
3. Tell us your best classic Kalapana story — whether you knew the band personally, met them in person, or are just a fan of their music.
Starting the series is bassist Robin Kimura of Greenwood, and 1970s dance band that primarily played the "high school circuit" with a solid setlist of Top 40 and regional hits of the day, from the likes of Tower of Power, Diamond Head, Billy Preston, and even Kalapana!
We elected to start the series with Robin partly because Greenwood were the "closing" dance act for the Mackey Feary Band at the Magic Mushroom. Robin reflected on his friendship with Mackey early on in this blog's existence.
What is your all-time favorite Kalapana track? Why do you love it?
I have two and for two different reasons. First is “Black Sand”! It’s pure genius and for Kalapana to break out with that tune showed everyone how great they were as musicians. I love everything from the intro to the structure of the song to all the signature solos. Pure GOLD!
The second is “The Hurt” for sentimental reasons. When I first heard it, I was a freshman at the University of Hawaii and I was walking to class. When I heard it on the radio, that guitar strum intro grabbed me from the get-go and later, I began to appreciate that song even more for all of Mackey's glory. Greenwood picked that up as our first Kalapana cover and Mackey eventually sang that song with us on stage when he had formed the Mackey Feary Band and Greenwood performed together with them at the Magic Mushroom.
After Mackey passed away, the song reminds me of all the talks we had and also the pain that he was going through emotionally. I still cry every time I hear it.
How has Kalapana and their music influenced you as an artist?
It showed me that a local band could get to the next level and they inspired me to go into the studio and eventually cut a record with Greenwood.
Tell us your best classic Kalapana story — whether you knew the band personally, met them in person, or are just a fan of their music.
The stories I have are all Mackey stories. He was a Kalani High School alum (The Falcons) like a bunch of us in Greenwood. I hold those stories and memories close to my heart and will keep them there. Kalapana was at the forefront of local music and bands from my time along with Seawind (formerly Ox) and Lemuria (formed by Kalapana’s own Kirk Thompson). They should be inducted into the Hawaii Music Hall of Fame, if we had such a thing.
Check back for more updates to these series, leading up to our March 2022 vinyl reissue release date!