Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, January 18, 1999

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Thirteen-year-old Bruno Hernandez is already
an old pro at entertaining a crowd.

‘New’ Love Notes
got lotsa heart

The 'doo wop' group is
back with new old style

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


PETE "Dr. Doo Wop" Hernandez and the Love Notes are back for '99 with a new attitude. That means more a capella harmonizing and more emphasis on the traditional doo wop material that has always been the group's greatest strength.

The old celebrity impressions have been dropped. The narration and presentation of the songs is smoother and more accurate factually than in years gone by. As of eight days ago it was still a show-in-progress, but as singers and entertainers the Love Notes have plenty of old-style heart and soul.

Hernandez' son, Bruno, joins the group on several numbers. He sings solo with the group's four-piece Love Notes band on others. A duet with his dad's newest discovery, 10-year-old Tani Fujimoto, effectively presents him as a romantic balladeer.

"Cute" was sufficient 8 or 9 years ago when Bruno was simply "The World's Youngest Elvis Impersonator." He offers a lot more as a vocalist these days, and has become a fine young showman with clean-cut charisma.

The Love Notes are now Pete Hernandez (baritone), Tony Gahee (tenor), Roger Kurt (bass), Scott Moura (1st tenor) and Mike Pajil (high tenor). A salute to doo wop presents them at their best and takes the group back to its roots (Hernandez and the other members of the group were all East Coast expatriates). Wherever these guys are from they have a good doo wop look to them. More importantly, they work well together on stage. Guitarist Tangi Tully joins them on a doo wop version of "Come Go With Me."

It isn't all doo wop. The group sings a random cross-section of classic Top 40 oldies from the first 10 years of the rock era (think 1954-63). Sad to say, the band's bass tracks are synthetic at present. However, Kurt adds a visual sense of the instrument by pretending to play a life-size futuristic-looking stand-up bass. That's a nice touch. Drummer Keoki Von Oden likewise adds to the visual presence of the quartet by spinning and twirling his sticks. Ray Shigematsu (sax) and Aletia Train (synthesizers) complete the group.

Fujimoto is a charmer with plenty of potential. "Where The Boys Are" is her best solo number. She sings nicely throughout the show, but sometimes seems to be singing lyrics by rote without comprehending their emotions. This is most true when she addresses the Shirelles' sexually charged classic, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," which isn't appropriate material for someone her age anyway. An abbreviated rendition of "Johnny Angel" is cute, but her poodle skirt costume should be replaced with something closer to what teens were wearing in 1962; poodle skirts were long gone by then.

There are some other places in the show when some fine tuning is needed, but the new Love Notes show as-is will entertain fans of the music they love.


On Stage

Bullet Who: The Love Notes:
Bullet When: 8:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Bullet Where: Love Notes Showroom, Waikiki Terrace Hotel, 2045 Kalakaua Avenue.
Bullet Cover: $20 includes one drink.
Bullet Call: 955-6000.

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