I often think back to the autumn of 2013—the year my life underwent a big shift in all areas—and the blog post I wrote with it. "To say that September brought extraordinary opportunities to my door would understate the fact that it was probably the busiest, craziest, most serendipitous and exhausting month in my life thus far, passing in what feels like a single day."
That's from this post made two years ago, when apparently I was working harder than ever before in life, love, and the label (although at the time Aloha Got Soul was a year away from becoming an actual label). But now I'm wondering: does life just get busier and busier as the years go by? Because it seems as if, in fact, that this September is the longest one of all—and it's not even a week in yet! Maybe it's because August blurred by just as quickly, blending seamlessly with September. August seems to have joined forces with September to become one big driving force that has brought forth a number of updates I've been meaning to update you on... but just haven't had a chance to. Here goes.
Amalia performed in Honolulu
Soul singer Amalia was back in Honolulu, some two years after her successful performance with us at Motown On Mondays Honolulu. When we found out she'd be passing through Oahu again, we booked another special evening of uplifting musical vibes with MOM HNL's host Maria Remos. Although the night wasn't as packed as it was in 2013 (we didn't give ourselves enough time to get the word out, I think), it was still a blessing to reconnect with the Vancouver, B.C. soul songstress who recently finished another project with Cherries Records.
The return of 70s Nightclub Reunion
August also saw the return of the 70s Nightclub Reunion Concert series, a popular event organized by Greenwood's Robin Kimura to bring together bands who used to gig regularly back in the day. Last year, Greenwood found enormous success with their first-ever debut album, Lost In Paradise (which has an incredible back story—an album 30 years in the making) and is releasing a vinyl version of the album shortly. (We're planning to stock it at the AGS shop.) Some of my favorite tunes from Lost In Paradise are: "Sparkle" (of course!), "Suavecito", and "Summer Sun". At the 70s NCR concert, Greenwood invited a surprise guest to the stage: the original guitarist from the Jamestown Massacre, John Gilleran, to join them on stage for a special performance of "Summer Sun"—JTM's hit tune from 1972.
Josh Gilleran of Jamestown Massacre with Greenwood at the 70s Nightclub Reunion concert, August 2015
Also performing that evening was a "musician's band" called Beowulf. They were unbelievable, incredibly talented!—but not nearly as unbelievable as they once were so I hear. As it turns out, guitarist John Rapoza (who you probably know of from the Lemuria LP) suffered a stroke some years ago and can no longer play the guitar. John joined the band on stage, but perhaps it just wasn't the same level that Beowulf once was? Back in the day, they performed alongside Carlos Santana (if I'm not mistaken) at the epic, albeit now-mythical Diamond Head Crater Festival. That's John in the center of the photograph on this low-quality YouTube recording:
Soul Time continues to reach new highs
Soul Time In Hawaii continues to grow strong, its sister parties in Chicago and London included. Recently I've had the pleasure of becoming friends with photographer Hiko Arasaki, a vinyl enthusiast who shares my interest in reviving and perpetuating local music from the 1970s and 80s. Hiko's been documenting our monthly all-vinyl sessions in Honolulu, no matter what kind of turn out we have. Here's a few selections from the August and July editions of Soul Time In Hawaii.
Just in time for the Nohelani release party is some amazing news: the test pressings for Greenwood's vinyl version of Lost In Paradise have been approved, the LP is now underway. I met up with bandleader Robin Kimura to check it out. He's been gracious enough to lend me a copy to spin at the Nohelani release party. https://instagram.com/p/7HFsZekvRs In a way, this Thursday is going to be so, so much more than just a one-time release event. It's going to be a culmination of everything that's been happening lately. Greenwood's LP, Nohelani's reissue with be With, the strengthening of Soul Time, plus some special appearances by newly made friends Junji Hashimoto and Hideki Yamamoto (and possibly others?) on the turntables. By the way, that's Junji in the background of this photograph, taken by Mark Kushimi for an upcoming issue of BRUTUS Magazine. https://instagram.com/p/6glOhSCdsR
The Rhythm Of Life opens up
I'm writing the night before the release party, in the middle of a bedroom which is currently not a bedroom at all. We're in the midst of moving to a new apartment, and there are boxes and clothes and things strewn about the room. Records are no doubt the heaviest luggage to move. Not fun. But worth it. Just hope I don't misplace any records I want to spin at the release party... It's also two days after the official announcement that pre-orders for Mike Lundy's The Rhythm Of Life LP have begun. On the eve of September 2015, I sent word out to the AGS mailing list that pre-orders for the first Aloha Got Soul LP are now open. In the following days, regional pre-orders popped up in Japan, Germany and California. You can reserve your copy here, which will be printed on a reverse board jacket and includes a liner notes booklet with never-before-seen photos from Mike Lundy's archives. Something along the lines of:
In conclusionHow does one conclude a blog post about the spoils and struggles of a month that hasn't even ended yet? After spending so much of late July, all of August, and the first week of September knee deep in "things to do", I can tell you that even when my head's in a daze and my body's exhausted: it's worth it. Reading emails from supporters who want to say "Good work again bro" or "looking fwd to seeing what you guys are going to do next" is part of the huge reward. It pays off, even if it gets grueling. I find myself blogging less and posting more on social media (I always prefer the former!). Here, the format is open, fluid, and much less unrestricted. It's always been that way with the Aloha Got Soul. My goal is to continue that mission with the label and beyond. — Roger