Ten Feet step in new direction


POSTED: Friday, August 21, 2009
This story has been corrected.  See below.

The men of Ten Feet have come to a crossroad in their long career.

The veteran island rhythm band is not only hosting their second annual music festival tomorrow night at Aloha Tower Marketplace, but their latest album, “;Everyday,”; has signaled a new direction in their music.

Front man and lead songwriter Josiah Kekoa is expected to further hone his writing talents, with the group now under the business guidance of former Natural Vibrations manager Rick Davis, himself a Canadian expatriate and longtime music businessman who knows the ins and outs of the sometimes hard-nosed industry both here and abroad.

Davis took the band under his care after Ten Feet parted ways with Duane Oyama and Mass Appeal Productions. It was with Mass Appeal that the band made their reputation, building their fan base with two hit albums, including the 1991 Hoku Award-winning “;Island Feeling.”; (”;Everyday”; itself was a Hoku nominee this year.)

But while the band members stress that they're still homeboys from Kalihi with deep roots in the islands, they and Davis know Ten Feet has to look abroad as well. The band is busy enough here—we caught up with them at one of their regular gigs last week at the spacious Shack in Waikiki—but places like the mainland, Japan, Guam and Saipan are part of their touring master plan.

“;There is growth in the international market, and we're making a serious endeavor to be part of that growth,”; Davis said before the band went on stage. “;After about 10 to 12 years together, and a bit of a break after leaving Mass Appeal, the guys have come back together to record their most diverse album ever. While it's a progression in sound, it's important that they don't forget their roots, so that's why they're doing the festival again.”;


Tomorrow's festival lineup will not only include favorite local acts, but will highlight the band's friends from Auckland, New Zealand, reggae band Three Houses Down, who will be celebrating the release of their new album, “;Breakout.”;

“;The two of us did the Grassroots concert in Anaheim, Calif., earlier this month,”; Kekoa said. “;Plus, they opened for us at our CD release party for 'Everyday,' so we're just returning the favor.”;

Lead guitarist and co-writer Andres “;Drez”; Delos Santos said, “;The intention of the festival is to bring all of our friends together, and to remember all of the acts before us who cut their teeth playing places like Aloha Tower. We want to bring back the vibe of when Henry Kapono used to play there regularly at the Pier Bar, or when the Makaha Sons and Kalapana used to gig often, or even the feeling of what would be Iz's last concert.”;

After some 15 years together, the band considers themselves better musicians. “;We're older and wiser, and we don't take anything for granted,”; Delos Santos said.





        Featuring Three Houses Down, Ooklah the Moc, Maoli, Anuhea and Nesian Nine

» Where: The Waterfront, Aloha Tower Marketplace


» When: 7 p.m. to midnight tomorrow


» Cost: $20 pre-sale, $25 at the door and $40 VIP, 21 and over (available at GCI Wireless stores, Barefoot League in Avenue Shops on Kapahulu, and the University of Hawaii-Manoa Campus Center)


» Info:




Ten Feet already has a confident stage presence that highlights Kekoa's lead vocal, supported in harmony by Delos Santos and fellow guitarist Ericson Carnate. Delos Santos himself is a strong lead guitar player who doesn't waste a note onstage, and the rhythm section of John Irei and Nate Martin click together with confidence.

But now it's on to the next level. While their “;Everyday”; album still showcases the band's command of island rhythm music, songs like the title track and “;Little Things”; show the potential of what the band can do outside its comfort zone.

“;The new album represents the kinds of music we like more these days,”; Delos Santos said. “;We know that our fans like what we've done in the past, and they still want to hear those songs when we play live, but for myself, I think we're a better band when we expand our sound.”;

As Ten Feet smoothly move through their set at the Shack, Davis said confidently, “;This band can go somewhere. When we talk about their careers, while it's important to connect with their fans, there has to be some separation from the audience. I mean, look at them, they have a dynamic presence on stage, and I think Josiah has the possibility of being a star.”;

Ten Feet will also be performing at the Surfrider Foundation benefit at Restaurant Row's Oceans 808 club on Aug. 28, and be part of Ala Moana Center's 50th-anniversary celebration at Centerstage on the 30th.







Mass Appeal Productions is operated by Duane Oyama. Oyama was the producer of island music band Ten Feet’s first two albums. Originally, this article mistakenly gave the wrong name and also said that Oyama’s company was defunct.