Star-Bulletin Features




File
The Ka'au Crater Boys, Ernie Cruz, left, and
Troy Fernandez, are going their separate ways after Sept. 3.



Ka‘au Boys
separation official

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Rumors had been seeping out for a week or so when Roy Sakuma, manager of the Ka'au Crater Boys, decided it was time to make a formal announcement:

"The Ka'au Crater Boys have officially decided to end their seven-year relationship. They're respectfully announcing to their loyal fans that they have decided to pursue other goals," Sakuma said in a telephone call late Monday. The duo will record four new songs for a final album and play together through August. A farewell tour will conclude Sept. 3 in Las Vegas.

The announcement comes at a time when the Boys, Ernie Cruz Jr. and Troy Fernandez, are at the top of their game.

The duo won the Hoku Award for "Contemporary Album of the Year" two years straight. Each of their four albums, "Tropical Hawaiian Day," "Valley Style," "On Fire!" and "Making Waves," proved more imaginative and artistically ambitious than the one before. Each album maintained the core elements of the Ka'au sound. Now it's over.

Both Cruz and Fernandez emphasize that they are parting as friends. Neither will say "never" to a future reunion.

"We still love each other, no pilikia (trouble), nothing. I was surfing with Ernie yesterday," Fernandez explained, calling in shortly afterward.

Palolo -- Fernandez and long-time friends Chino Montero and Nathan Nahinu -- recently released its second album, "Kaliuwa'a" (Palolo is also managed by Sakuma). Fernandez will also be busy producing and writing for other groups. His first post-Ka'au project, an album by a group from Maui, is scheduled for release at the end of this month. Other projects are in the creative pipeline.

Cruz is looking forward to completing his long-delayed solo album and working with his brother, John.

"I've been singing background for him at a couple of gigs and I couldn't be happier. Troy and I have that little magic where we can just pick up a song and go, and Johnny and me, same smell. We were supposed to play as the Cruz Brothers 15 years ago. Troy and I gave 100 percent to Ka'au for eight years. Now we can each give 100 percent to our other projects," Ernie Cruz said, on the phone from his day job as a longshoreman.

The Cruz Brothers will make their official post-Ka'au debut in Las Vegas in September.

" 'The Cruz Brothers -- Direct From Las Vegas!' Use all those catchy phrases," Cruz said with a self-deprecating chuckle.

He and Fernandez are both aware that there is a degree of financial risk in their decision to "retire" Ka'au. Both say they're willing to take the gamble.

"From Palolo Housing we came -- Johnny, me, Troy, (the group) Palolo. When you think about what we had to start with -- pretty close to nothing -- I think we can appreciate what it is to be moderately successful," Cruz said.

"Ka'au is something that we worked very hard to do and we've had a good run. Through that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we have new opportunities individually. I may never reach the level of success per se that Ka'au had, but I have a regular job, so it's never been about the money.




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