Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, December 7, 2001

The Brothers Cazimero return to Hawaii Theatre to celebrate the Christmas season.

Cazimero concert spreads
holiday spirit

By John Berger

Robert and Roland Cazimero have always loved the Christmas season and the festivities that are a part of it. Their two Christmas albums are among the best such seasonal recordings by local artists. It's not every year the Brothers Cazimero celebrate Christmas with a big concert, but they decided it's time.

"We haven't done one away from the (Honolulu) Symphony for a long time," said Robert. "Believe me, I love doing it with the symphony because it meant that a lot of the work was taken off my shoulders, doing a two-hour show as opposed to just doing a few numbers. But it's time to get off our lazy -- and get back into the swing of things.

"I'm kinda excited about this one," Robert said of the shows taking place tonight through Sunday at Hawaii Theatre.

Robert, left, and Roland Cazimero prepare to perform Christmas concerts at the Hawaii Theatre today through Sunday.

"I love that place. I love looking up and singing whether it's on a microphone or not. For a singer, the Hawaii Theatre is almost like a Disneyland. You can pick the rides you want and go soaring in ways that you never thought you could.

"I think there is a real spirit about the Hawaii Theatre, and if you respect it, it will respect you. I think if you approach it in that kind of way, it's a great ride."

One of the show's traditions is a finale that celebrates Christ's birth as the duo's "third brother," kumu hula Leina'ala Kalama Heine, cradles a newborn representation of the baby Jesus. Somehow, in years past, someone involved with the show always knew someone who was willing to allow their new arrival to star in the finale.

Another Cazimero tradition is having at least one special guest join the usual friends and halau members.

The Brothers Cazimero Christmas concert

When: 7 p.m. today and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Hawaii Theatre
Tickets: $22.50 to $40
Call: 528-0506

"We work real hard at making sure that people aren't disappointed, even if we wear shorts and T-shirts on stage," he said. Such casual garb was unthinkable in the brothers' early days as a duo, but they've gone casual several times in recent years.

Another secret to their show-biz longevity has been allowing each other the freedom to do solo projects. Both have won solo Hoku Awards. Both have recorded with other artists. Robert has become more visible in recent years as a solo performer.

"After we finished our regular gigs here, like at Bishop Museum, I started doing solo things like weddings, and I found myself (performing) in Japan, but what had (first) catapulted me in that direction was when we started doing fund-raisers for my halau. I couldn't always use Roland because it just wasn't fair, and I had to take on that responsibility by myself. That's how it started -- that, and the fact that my kumu, Maiki (Aiu Lake), would always have me play the piano for her fund-raisers. I was always there playing the piano, and I got used to it.

"Since I started playing at Chai's, I'm amazed at how much better I've gotten as a pianist and how well the fingers travel the keyboard. Also, when I'm by myself at the piano, I can do show tunes and stuff I've written. If they want to listen, that's fine, and if they don't, I'm OK with that, too."

And yes, he says, his mother was right. He hated piano lessons but she urged him to continue, telling him that someday he'd thank her.

"My piano has always been my solace, almost my best friend. It has been able to convey ... whatever emotions I'm going through.

"My friends know, even though I'm smiling on the outside, that I'm dying depending on what I'm playing on the piano."

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