FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Beach 5 -- Christian Yrizarry, left, and Sani Apuakehau -- played Tiki's Grill and Bar in Waikiki recently. The duo are working hard to make a name for Beach 5 on the local music scene, and work in Waikiki is one way to help secure success. They're also slated to take the stage at the Jammin' Hawaiians concert Saturday at the Shell. Joining them will be City Side, Ekolu, Fiji, Ilona Irvine, J Boog, Justice Moon, Kawao, Laga Savea, Lambs Book, Lukie D, Mana'o Company, O-Shen, Next Generation and Rebel Souljahz.
The tide is high for Beach 5
THIS is a year of rebuilding for Christian Yrizarry.
After nearly a decade as half of popular island contemporary duo Ho'onu'a, Yrizarry was forced to re-evaluate his career in 2006 when Jared Keo left to pursue a job outside of music. It didn't take long for him to realize the future lay in a partnership with Sani Apuakehau.
With performances by Beach 5, City Side, Ekolu, Fiji, Ilona Irvine, J Boog, Justice Moon, Kawao, Laga Savea, Lambs Book, Lukie D, Mana'o Company, O-Shen, Next Generation, Rebel Souljahz
Place: Waikiki Shell
Time: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $10 to $35
Call: (877) 750-4400
Now known as Beach 5, the two released a new album in December and look forward to reconnecting with fans on a larger scale at the Waikiki Shell this weekend.
"I really think this might be the rebirth of 'Jammin' Hawaiians,'" Yrizarry said before he and Apuakehau played at Tiki's Grill and Bar last week. "This is the first big island music concert at the Shell this year ... so I'm expecting big numbers."
BEACH 5's self-titled debut is the culmination of a musical relationship that began years ago at Makapuu. The two met during kanikapila sessions before playing together in Waikiki, with the new name picked as a tribute to the area.
"I saw music more as a hobby ... it was just something to enjoy," said Apuakehau. "I went to school with Jared, so that's how I met Christian."
With two solo albums of his own, the Kamehameha Schools graduate was an easy fit as a backup musician for Ho'onu'a. A regular acoustic gig at Tiki's also helped build artistic chemistry between the two.
When Keo retired in 2006, plans were already in motion for Yrizarry and Apuakehau to collaborate on a project, if for no other reason than to have something to sell at Tiki's.
"We must've missed out on 1,000 CDs that could've been sold," said Yrizarry. "People kept on asking, but we could never give fans something like what they heard at our gigs."
THE NEW album provides a mix of cover songs and Beach 5 originals, following the "Feel Good Island Music" formula that made Ho'onu'a successful. According to Yrizarry, it also pays homage to the success of a band that was influential during his high school days at 'Iolani.
"What the Ka'au Crater Boys did helped pave the way," he said. "Whether it's a tourist or a local person ... they want to hear what they know (at our gigs). They want to hear songs that they've heard before, just in the Hawaiian style."
Playing covers of songs like "Here Comes the Sun" and "Steal My Kisses" doesn't bother either one of them, who are each talented songwriters in their own right. Yrizarry penned the band's first radio hit, "The Way She Moves," and Apuakehau wrote "Beach 5," which opens the album and introduces the group to listeners.
But performing in Waikiki means adapting to the reality of a live audience.
"If they want to hear covers, we've got to do covers," Apuakehau said. "We do some original songs here and there, but for the most part we play what they want to hear."
PLAYING LIVE four to six nights a week translates into more potential fans for Beach 5, who see their debut as an "audio business card" that can be popped into a CD player. Maintaining a high profile is an important factor in securing even more gigs.
"We're not going to make money selling CDs and we've come to terms with that," Yrizarry said. "We've got to make the CDs now so that we can give them out and build the demand to see us perform live."
So in a sense, the pressure is on Yrizarry and Apuakehau to turn in a good performance on Saturday. Yet the two seemed relaxed and ready to rage at the Shell.
"I don't feel like I have anything to prove at this point, but I have a desire to entertain," Yrizarry said. "We'll get 20 minutes to show everything that we can do."
Maybe it's due to his training at the Honolulu Fire Department, but Apuakehau looks even less worried.
"This is an opportunity to see Beach 5," he said. "We'll come out with a banging set."
Following Saturday's concert, the two will return to Tiki's with plans to develop an even bigger live set. This year is the first in recent memory that they won't travel to to play the college luau circuit.
Beach 5 hasn't held an official CD release party, either, so Yrizarry wants to do it big at least once more in 2008 before heading back to the mainland next year.
"We have such good players in our band ... (and) the ability to put an experience together, so that's where I want to put the priority," he said. "With Ho'onu'a, we had that because we'd been playing the same songs for 10 years."
"Now, the challenge is to top that in one-tenth of the time."