Birthday Bash brings gifts for isle music fans
It's been 16 years since KCCN-FM program director David Daniel's attended the inaugural "Birthday Bash," yet he describes the show as if it just happened last week.
KCCN FM-100 Birthday Bash
Place: Waikiki Shell
When: 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Cost: $20 to $28 (two-day discounts available)
Friday: Aaron Sala, Kani Makou, Next Generation, One Groove, Brother Noland, 'Ekolu, B.E.T., Fiji and Katchafire. Saturday: Ho'okoa, Revival, Lahaina Grown, Malino, Koauka, Kekai Boyz, Ho'onu'a, Kapena, Natural Vibrations and Katchafire.
"I remember being so anxious to see Kapena, and when I got there ... somebody was like, 'They pau already,'" he recalls. "I wanted to cry, brah, I was so salty. And come to find out, braddah was lying!"
In an increasingly crowded island concert landscape, the annual Bash has become the measuring stick against which others are compared. It's been so popular, the station had to expand it into a two-day affair six years ago to not only accommodate additional listeners, but also artists clamoring to be part of the lineup.
"This is the time when my phone goes off the hook," laughs Daniel's. "I feel real popular around this time of year!"
HEADLINING BOTH nights of the 2006 Birthday Bash is reggae band Katchafire, who arrive after a recent tour of Europe. This will be the first year an international act closes the shows.
Hailing from New Zealand, the Maori roots crew formed almost a decade ago as a Bob Marley tribute group before recording original music. Led by guitarist Grenville Bell, the eight-piece band includes his two sons and has collectively sold more than 70,000 copies of its first two albums, "Revival" and "Slow Burning." One song in particular, "Who You With," is extremely popular here.
"Right now, Katchafire is the hottest group in Hawaii," says Daniel's. "We know that people want Katchafire, so we want to put on a show that appeals to our listeners."
He also plays up the relationship between native cultures, describing the Maori as "just like Hawaiians" and others from the Pacific region.
"Have you ever hung out with some Maori people?" he asks. "They look like us, they act like us -- the only difference is their accent. They believe they came from here, from Hawaii, so it really is a Polynesian thing."
PERENNIAL FAVORITE Kapena returns yet again on Saturday, while Brother Noland will makes his Birthday Bash debut Friday. Daniel's was impressed with his latest album, "Mystical Fish," and wanted to introduce younger fans to the person who helped build the career of another band.
"One Groove, they do 'Big Ship,' so we thought that would be kind of cool to have the guys who made it a hit in the new millennium do it with the guy who did it from back in the day," he says.
Daniel's is also looking forward to seeing B.E.T. on Friday, who will play after dark at the Bash for the first time. The prime slot can bring higher expectations, and he's confident the duo will deliver.
This year's performance by J.D. and Papa T will be their most elaborate -- like Sean Na'aua'o riding in on a motorcycle, Ho'onu'a bringing a full drumline or the Mana'o Company dropping flowers onto the crowd from a helicopter.
"This year, they're bringing in one gospel choir and one halau," he says. "And that's the one thing about Birthday Bash -- all these groups ... bring one show. That's kind of one of the things that sets us apart. ... It's one 'friendly' competition, (and the bands) all want to knock the socks off the audience."
ANOTHER TRADITION is a free gift distributed to select listeners both nights at the Shell.
In 1990, it was a visor imprinted with the KCCN logo. This year, those who arrive early enough will score a collapsible cooler. It's a way for the station to say "thank you" to its loyal fans and supporters of the local scene.
"You drop your money for come to the show, and yet we turn around and give ... part of the investment back," Daniel's says. "Every year, we have to do it. That's our tradition.
"Just to be able to experience this ... still gives me chicken skin, (and) I get really, really excited about this concert because we get to give back. I still get butterflies."