COURTESY ASIAN BLEND
Asian Blend circa 1970
That was then, this is now
Greenwood, Asian Blend, Phase VII, Power Point and White Light will perform in "The '70s Nightclub Reunion III" Saturday night at the Ala Moana Hotel
Promoting an oldies party -- a "tribute to the '70s" or whatever -- is easy for a promoter willing to cut corners. Find someone who was in a popular band back then, maybe the lead singer, maybe a guy who didn't sing at all, hire journeymen musicians to put a group around him, and then hype the show as if the original band members were back together. Add a couple of new bands that play oldies, but weren't even on the scene back then, and maybe one of those groups that play generic oldies shows for conventions, and there's your show.
'70s Nightclub Reunion III
Featuring Asian Blend, Greenwood, Phase VII, Power Point and White Light
Place: Hibiscus Ballroom, Ala Moana Hotel
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $35; $40 reserved tables
Call: Candy Au, 955-4811, ext. 4250, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Life would be a lot easier for Robin Kimura if he were that kind of promoter. But for his annual '70s reunions, Kimura won't put a pick-up band on the bill.
"You can't get one member of an original band and get professional musicians to put around him and call it a 'reunion,' " Kimura said. "That's not the right way to do it. It's got to be the real thing."
Which isn't easy.
"If every member of a group wants to do it, but they all have full-time jobs and some of them are living in other parts of the country, it may not be possible for them to do it," Kimura said, discussing the challenges he faces every year in finding local club bands from the '70s whose original members are available and willing to play.
"Unfortunately we've (also) found that bands have had their share of disagreements and internal disputes, and sometimes it's burn-out -- some guys just don't want to do it again. Thank goodness for our group -- everybody except one member is here on Oahu, but even with that, trying to get a practice schedule with 10 or 11 guys is very difficult."
COURTESY PHASE VII
Phase VII circa 1970
Kimura's band, Greenwood, was one of the last to headline in Waikiki before disco technology put an end to the local cover-band club scene. Joining Greenwood for "The '70s Nightclub Reunion III" Saturday at the Ala Moana Hotel are Asian Blend, Phase VII, Power Point and this year's big catch -- White Light, headliners at the Tiki after the Dimensions broke up, and then at the Hawaiian Hut.
White Light was one of the few Waikiki club acts with a "girl singer" (as they were known back then) -- Joy Kamisato. She's now Joy Kamisato Waikoloa, and is one of the five members of the group who'll be there Saturday night.
Kimura had also been hoping to get the Kasuals. "Most of them are in Guam and they have full-time music gigs going on ... who picks up the bill if they all take a week off from work to come here to play one night?"
Still, all but one of the original members had agreed to get back together this year -- drummer Roger Jeresa was the hold-out -- but Kimura had to change the date and move the show when the Ilikai Hotel was sold out, and the Kasuals couldn't reschedule.
Greenwood circa late '70s
"We approached Aura on the first go-round (in 2005). Things just didn't work out, but they were able to make the second one. They were slated to do the third one, but then Vincent (Mendoza) got hired by the Society of Seven (in Las Vegas) and they lost their drummer, so they can't do it."
Kimura admits that he's wavered a bit a couple of times when he felt that "the effort was made, and the heart was in the right place." Nohelani Cypriano didn't return calls asking her to join the other three members of Rock Candy in 2005, but when Kuulei Fukumoto Park said she'd fly in from Japan for the reunion, and Janet Cooke Fischer agreed to come home from California, Kimura felt comfortable announcing that Rock Candy was participating.
Asian Blend has been through a predictable number of personnel changes since headlining at the Foxy Lady Too at the Waikiki Beachcomber in the mid-1970s, but with founding members Mitch Hazama and Jay Molina still fronting the group more than 30 years later, Kimura is proud to welcome them back along with Phase VII and Power Point.
"Power Point has five (of the original members) out of seven, White Light is five out of nine and Phase VII has two of the originals -- but I know they exhausted all the options trying to get the other five."
Greenwood, by the way, is represented by nine of the 10 musicians from the days the group played the Point After.
"Between the time we started on the high school level (in 1972) to the time we disbanded in '81 we probably had 40-plus members ... so what we agreed upon was that we would use the band that was last together at the Point After, which could be considered the height of our nightclub career (and) Wayne Nakamura, our original sax player, finally joined us this year, so we're taking the stage with 11."
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Greenwood today consists of, clockwise from back left, Miles Uchida, Robin Kimura, Owen Kajiwara, Dwayne Higa, Brad Choi, Mark Silva, Randy Hoo, Curt Takahama, Wayne Nakamura, Steven Matsumoto and Michael Chock.
COURTESY ASIAN BLEND
Asian Blend circa late '90s.