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J Walk the Big Island

<p>Left to right: Craig Rusert, Daniel Wagner, Montana, and Alohi</p>

Left to right: Craig Rusert, Daniel Wagner, Montana, and Alohi

<p>From left to right: Alohi, Montana, Craig Rusert, Daniel Wagner</p>

From left to right: Alohi, Montana, Craig Rusert, Daniel Wagner

<p>From left to right: Montana, Craig Rusert, Alohi, Daniel Wagner</p>

From left to right: Montana, Craig Rusert, Alohi, Daniel Wagner

Part I:

(Based on a true story) A hawk was trying to be a fish. It was fun, the floating, the bobbing for food, the abundance. Hearing his fishy friends look at him, with their gelatinous eyes, and encouragingly say, “Be a fish! You are a fish,” would make him smile. He liked the fish life.

Water, swimming, and so much of the fish existence was truly cool. But, his heart had an anxiety, a stress, hard to describe. Something felt wrong, even though his life was good.

One day the hawk’s mother called to her son, as if she felt his anxiety, and said, “Hawk, when you knew you were a hawk, and acted like one, your life was filled with more magic.” Hawk’s mother counseled further, “Your life is good now, but do you recall the magic?” To stir the memory in him, she sang some Bob Marley, a song that she used to sing to him when he was little: She sang these lyrics, “There’s a natural mystic blowin’ on the wind.” Her voice, with those lyrics, awoke something in her hawk son. The vibrations of her voice created a breezy wind that calmed the ocean. As that gentle wind caressed the surface of the deep waters, Hawk’s mother cried out, “Feel the wind: Stretch out and embrace it!” Hawk lifted his wet feathers from the heavy ocean water. He stretched them out. The breeze fanned his feathers dry. Soon, he was lighter than air and the wind lifted him. He sailed up, up, onto the invisible air current.

High in the clear blue sky, hawk’s wingtips brushed the white wispy clouds. He saw, from so high up, the silhouettes of his fish friends swimming below. Hawk let the wind carry him towards the green land. It cradled him until finally, and safely, set him down onto the bay front streets of Hilo. His talons felt the rough concrete path and he saw that he landed next to a black guitar case belonging to a young man named, Daniel who was a tall hungry-skinny musician with black hair and gentle blue eyes. Daniel was in the middle of singing a song about being a bird, more specifically, a song about a bird learning to be a bird, again.

In Daniel’s open guitar case, even though his musicianship skills were unparalleled, sprawled only three pennies and one crumpled dollar bill - not even enough to buy lunch. Hard times.

The hawk hopped up onto the guitar neck, then up onto Daniel’s shoulder. Hawk introduced himself, “Hello, I am a hawk and my name is, Alohi.” They stared into each others eyes, and the hawk said “You are hungry, I will fly up and look for food.”

Part 2:

Alohi, born and raised on the Big Island, began classical piano training at eight or nine years old. After that, he was trained in voice. When he was in high school in New Mexico, Alohi says that he stopped singing, but was introduced to musical theater by a very “chance situation.”

In English class, they were studying the classic tragic romance genre, such as Romeo and Juliet. Alohi says he was doing badly in class, so he really needed the extra credit (to boost his grade). At the time, they were watching was West Side Story, and here’s how Alohi put it, “I really needed extra credit, so I volunteered to sing the Maria song, for the class.” Alohi describes the chain reaction, “I sang it, and my English teacher went and made me sing it to my counselor, who went and made me sing it to the musical theater teacher, who promised me the lead for the next musical on the spot!”

From there, Alohi played the lead in his high school’s musicals for the next three years, during which he also played keyboards for a dub band having the honor of performing for the Governor of New Mexico.

Fast forward, beyond that deep ocean of time, and there’s been a recent CD release, and now Alohi has a band of talented musicians who he just met. They practice rigorously and this fledgling ensemble calls itself, “Alohi, and The Free Life:” There’s Daniel C. Wagner, who we mentioned earlier; he’s the virtuoso on guitar. There’s Craig Rusert; he shreds on bass. And Montana Djembe, who drums steady. And of course, there’s Alohi, the singer-songwriter on guitar.

Alohi, when asked what kind of music the ensemble plays, says it’s, “acoustic-island- folk-hop; It’s got all those elements in it.” You just got to come out and see them and hear them play. Really. Save the dates, because they fly off the island soon for a very long tour.


Thursday, May 30 at Hilo Town Tavern at 8:30 p.m

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