STAR-BULLETIN / 2003|
When visitors to Aloha Joe's Web site asked where Aloha Joe's is located, Joe went looking for a place in Waikiki, even though he lives in California.
joins club scene
The club will showcase
traditional and contemporary
Aloha Joe is a guy who dreams big. He dreamed of doing an on-line Hawaiian music radio show back when most people hadn't even heard of the Internet. He's now in his 10th year running www.alohajoe.com.
He dreamed of producing compilation albums of his listeners' favorite songs and has done that too. And, he dreamed of someday creating a nightclub as a showcase for traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music in Waikiki. He's just opened Aloha Joe's Club Waikiki in The Miramar at Waikiki.
Danny Kaleikini, Raiatea Helm, Na Kama, Chad Takasugi and Ryan "Gonzo" Gonzales of 'Ale'a, steel guitarists Alan Akaka and Greg Sardinha, Gordon Freitas, and kumu hula Mika Goto were among the overflow crowd that stopped in for the Sept. 13 opening night party a few weeks ago. Joe promises a similar roster of scheduled performers and guests tomorrow night.
"We're looking forward to bringing the music of the islands back to the islands on a weekly basis. So far we've signed Na Kama, Ku'uipo Kumukahi, Kawika Kahiapo, Del Beazley... and Maunalua will be in on a couple of dates. It's all Hawaiian," Joe said during a break from emceeing the party and greeting guests, while sharing the story behind the new club.
IT ALL BEGAN as a "virtual club" on his Web site, where he'd receive e-mails from people who thought it was a real Waikiki nightspot and wanted to know where it was. He'd reply that it was "under construction."
Joe was walking through the Miramar earlier this year, noticed the Banana Patch Lounge, and thought it looked like promising location for a "real" version of Club Waikiki. The hotel agreed to give it a try, and Joe took it from there.
"(Miramar general manager) Russell Chun saw the (drink) glasses that I had on the Web site ... and said we should have some made. They're coming, and they'll have our signature drinks in them."
The only downside for Joe is that Waikiki is long way from his Aloha Radio Network studios in California, and it won't be possible for him to fly in each weekend to oversee operations. The hotel will book the artists based on his criteria, and Joe and his Web site audience will be able to watch the action each week via an Internet camera that has been installed in the room. The Web site coverage won't include "live" sound for now, so he'll be featuring the artists' music on his radio show while they're performing.
"People are going to see this place on our Web site and they're going to want to come (to Hawaii)."
That could add up to a welcome boost in visitor numbers. Joe says that he gets more than 2 million "page views" a month on his site and reaches "around 10,000 a day" with his on-line radio show.
"Hawaiian music is making an inroad (on-line), that's for damn sure. We're forging ahead. We have been for 10 years."
THE WAIKIKI CLUB isn't Joe's only off-air project. The opening-night party also marked the official release of his third compilation album, "The Legends of Ukulele -- The Hawaiian Masters," and introduced Aloha Joe 100 Percent Hawaiian Coffee (his line of Hawaiian products also includes cookies, beer, and T-shirts).
The club is a once-a-week occurrence for now, but Joe's hoping that there'll be enough support to expand to Sunday, and possibly Friday nights as well. He promises that he and the hotel aren't going to run the bait-and-switch game some venues play these days.
"We're not going to promote certain acts being here each week when we know that they're going to be touring in Japan.
"You want to hear Hawaiian music? Come here on Saturday nights and we'll be here!"
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