Shelter Belt -- from left, Anthony Knuppel, Nick Pribyl, Jedediah Vondracek, Chris Sorensen, Chris Ageton, Jesse Otto and Rachel Hospodka -- used their own money to play gigs in Hawaii.
Working their way to paradise
Flying in all the way from Omaha, Neb., the band Shelter Belt is looking to make some new friends in Hawaii.
They're coming in on the cheap, on their own dime. This visit is strictly D.I.Y., do it yourself, Belt member Anthony Knuppel said by phone from the Midwest last week.
On stage: 9 p.m. Saturday
Place: Anna Bannana's, 2440 S. Beretania St.
Admission: $5 cover, 21 and over
Working without a booking agency, the band basically cold-called local clubs and asked for open dates in January. The result is a three-date minitour, with a show in Hilo Monday and another in Haleiwa Thursday.
The club end of the "working vacation" ends Saturday night at Anna Bannana's.
"It wasn't likely our band was going to be asked to come out there," Knuppel said, "so booking ourselves was reason enough to do a great trip, go to Hawaii, and maybe grab a few fans." They're coming with copies of their latest self-released CD, "Under the World Awhile," to sell for a few shekels at the local gigs.
The first sentence of the band's press release is straightforward and an apt description: "We are a group of seven multi-instrumentalists and songwriters." Considering that the bulk of the album was recorded in a basement, the music is surprisingly rich and meticulous in sound and arrangement, buoyed by Jesse Otto's sensitive and soulful vocals.
"Even though we've studied a little music in school, a lot of us are self-taught. We all met in school in a small town north of Omaha. ... It's always been a pretty collaborative effort. Jesse has been the main songwriter to date, but everyone contributes in one respect or another."
Although Shelter Belt's studio sound is exacting, "we just try for enjoyable live performances -- it makes for a different challenge for us," Knuppel said. The band is musically adept enough to switch up on instruments on any given song, including playing trumpet and clarinet.
"We're a pretty diverse band," he said, "since we come from different musical backgrounds, whether it be punk, artsy or reggae. We listen to every type of music between the seven us, which may explain why our music can't be pegged to any one genre."