The legacy of Tom Moffatt: a second-volume retrospective

August 19th, 2012

Hard to believe that it’s been five decades since Tom Moffatt has been on the music scene. His career spans radio, album production, concert presentation, TV, and, in more recent times, column-writing.
Thus, the arrival of “50 Years of Music in Hawaii / The Legacy 2” (Shaka Records) magnifies the deejay-show presenter’s impact and reflects his perspective as a music industry activist. This compilation includes a potpourri of songs he might have played on radio and some acts he embraced in concert outings or recording sessions.
Clearly, his show presentations have been his trademark — think “Show of Stars,” Elvis Presley, The Monkees, Menudo, The Beach Boys, Bette Midler, The Rolling Stones, and nearly everyone in the Beatles/British invasion — but that’s another story.
Moffatt — reverentially called Uncle Tom, thanks to his “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” foray on rock radio (remember KPOI? And the Poi Boys?) has been one of the handful of dedicated local producers who have given Island musicians vital support and a career boost either by playing their recordings — vinyl, cassettes, and CDs before the downloading iTunes and MP3 player era — and exposing them on Island radio.
Also, he infamously sang “Beyond the Reef,” in his early years. In this collection, he tackles “16 Tons,” which offers a chuckle of delight, but admittedly, his is not the best voice in this volume.
Still, the CD is a great one for Christmas gifting, particularly for those ex-pats who remember Moffatt and the his role in local pop music.

Highlights of the 19 songs comprising this CD:

• Best treat: Al Waterson’s “The Old Songs,” which thematically provides the thread for this sentimental journey. A reflective take on the Barry Manilow best-seller, it’s sweetly nostalgic and romantic, and Waterson’s pipes are in tip-top shape.
• End of an era favorite: “Lifetime Party,” by Cecilio and Kapono. Considering what has happened in life (personal problems for Cecilio, another reunion is unlikely, so savor this party fave.
• Enduring ditty: Pauline Wilson’s “Follow This Road,” a signature that gives jazz a good name and proves she was and remains the heart of Seawind.
• Voice of the future: Anelaikalani, whose old-style warbling bridges yesterday’s memories with tomorrow’s hope in an endearing traditional style.
• A feverish hit: The Society of Seven’s “99.8,” whichfeatured Albert “Little Albert” Maligmat as lead singer, raised the local group’s temperature on the charts. A composition by Frances Kirk and Ernie Freeman.
• A song for all seasons: Ehukai’s “Molokai Slide” takes the prize as the melody with lasting power, a classic if you will, embodying good fun and easy-going Island attitude.

A quibbling note: Though each act and entry receive a one- or two-line bio/explanation, a compilation like this, with its 50th year milestone, is worthy of a pull-out liner extra, perhaps with a then-and-now reflection/update to enhance fan appreciation.


For the record, here’s a rundown of the tracks, in the order they are featured:

• “Where Is the Love,” Sean Na’auao and Robi Kahakalau. This is a cover of the old Donald Hathaway-Roberta Flack hit, interpreted by two local soloists.

• “Follow Your Road,” Pauline Wilson. Her signature song.

• “Don’t Be So Cruel,” Go Jimmy Go. A solid chip of rock, from one of Hawaii’s most prolific and productive ensemble.

• “Juliette,” Kalapana. Early and underrated classic from Macky Feary and the folk-rock-pop group.

• “Lifetime Party,” Cecilio and Kapono. Still a party-hearty spirit by the duo that defined the era of the 1970s.

• “99.8 (Love Fever),” Society of Seven. The most enduring of the classic SOS combo which has endured a four-decades run at the Outrigger Waikiki’s Main Showroom. This is the group's lone bona fide chartbuster.

• “Rainbow,” Jake Shimabukuro. The ukulele virtuoso who has become, and still is, a world-class attraction and the face of the four-stringed instrument.

• “Heart and Soul,” Michael Paulo. An expressive and exceptional solo saxophonist, who delves in both the jazz and pop genres.

• “Mango Tree,” Keola Beamer. A legendary singer-composer-guitarist, from an equally legendary ohana of traditional Hawaiian music.

• “Hallelujah,” Jordan Segundo. Hawaii’s first “American Idol” contestant, who has found a place in the Island entertainment scene.

• “Tico Tico,” Taimane Gardner. A next-generation uke stylist, whose career got a jumpstart on the Don Ho show in Waikiki.

• “Let Me Take You to the Mountain,” The Krush. A now defunct, but a powerhouse in the 1980s, performing a tune here with a gospel undercurrent with appeal to fans young and old.

• “Only Good Times,” Malani Bilyeu. Another pillar of the Kalapana combo, whose solo venture demonstrated the depth of his creative power.

• “Waimanu,” Anelaikalani. A next-generation songbird specializing in traditional Hawaii sounds.

• “KHBC,” Gary Halaemau. A popular melody hitched to the call letters of a radio station, which signaled this performer’s bright sound.

• “Olinda Road,” Barry Flanagan. The founder of the Maui-based Hapa duo, who occasionally works as a soloist in Island sounds — not bad for a dude with New Jersey East Coast roots.

• “Molokai Slide,” Ehukai. A Song of the Year Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner in 1997, brimming with Island-style good fun and good times.

• “The Old Songs,” Al Waterson. Perhaps better known as an emcee, this is a singer with a voice of reckoning.

• “16 Tons,” Tom Moffatt. One of the few tracks the veteran deejay-show presenter has tackled (here, with apologies to “Tennessee” Ernie Ford). Happily, he gets by with the vocal — but is more successful off stage than on.


Moffatt will be focus of two upcoming TV specials:

PBS: Moffatt will co-host, with PBS president and CEO Leslie Wilcox, the upcoming live pledge show, “Ed Sullivan’s Top Performers: 1966-1969,” at 7 p.m. Aug. 27. During the pledge break, Moffatt will auction two tickets to the upcoming Glen Campbell concert in Honolulu.

KGMB: “Tom Moffatt — the Show Must Go On,” a retrospective on the life and times of the deejay-showman, is in post-production. Airdate: sometime in late September or October. Michael W. Perry will narrate; Phil Arnone is director.

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Monkees' Davy Jones dies; remember Hawaii concert?

February 29th, 2012

Davy Jones, the boyish and cute frontman of The Monkees, died today (Feb. 29) of an apparent heart attack in Florida, according to TMZ.
He was 66.
If you grew up in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, you’ll intimately know him and his colleagues, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork. Together, they were the frisky funsters on TV, on the radio, in the concert venues.
They were pre-fab rock stars, mounted in the aftermath of The Beatles (“A Hard Day’s Night”), who famously starred on an NBC series and sang a soundtrack of growing-up songs that topped the record charts. “Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees,” “Daydream Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer.”
I do — with an especially fond memory of Davy.
The Monkees gave their first-ever concert at Blaisdell Arena, then the Honolulu International Center, to launch a national tour that would have the kids going gaga and screeching, a la Elvis and Beatles style, in one wave of the pop music phenom — the manufactured act conducted with auditions of suitable young ones with potential box office appeal.
This concert was a screamfest; I reviewed it for The Honolulu Advertiser; the show was, like hundreds other since, a Tom Moffatt Production.
To my amazement, a few days after the Hawaii concert, my review ran in a double-truck advertisement spread, with every word intact, in Variety, the show biz bible. It was incredible and humbling, one of my career highlights to be so "quoted."
Certainly, The Monkees were off and running.
I had earlier interviewed them, in a suite at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and they were as goofy and nuts as their TV personas.
Davy was the mop-topped lead singer, his cuteness and boyishness targeting pubescent teen girls.
Unlike the others who played instruments, Davy rattled and thumped a tambourine a la Mick Jagger. He didn’t need instrumental skills; his slight frame and British accent (he was from Manchester, England) became the music that connected with fans.
OK, The Monkees’ success ran its course, but two seasons and 58 episodes weren't for naught.
“I’m a Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville” and “Daydream Believer” all were No. 1 hits on Billboard. Admit it, you bought 'em and played 'em and sang along.
The tunes would come to signify a period of growing up; “I’m a Believer” was featured in the original “Shrek” film, Neil Diamond continues to sing the same song he wrote when he was still an anonymous songwriter, a number of other acts have covered The Monkees’ music (think Smash Mouth).
Davy was theatrical, too, earning a Tony nomination in 1963 for portraying the Artful Dodger in the musical “Oliver!” and later played Jesus in a London mounting of “Godspell.”
In retrospect, you might forgive The Monkees for that pretty awful film, “Head,” but you can’t forget the hysteria and hypnosis of their original hits.
Mickey Dolenz later toured Hawaii in the musical “Grease.”
Do you have recollections of The Monkees in Hawaii?

Relive the '50s, '60s and '70s at these shows

August 29th, 2010

So you wanna stroll down memory lane, and visit the sounds, the memories, and — even in one case — the stars of the bygone ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s?

Gather round, my friends, and start remembering where you stashed those bowling shirts and poodle skirts, those flared trousers and hot pants, and those Angel’s Flight trous and go-go dance outfits — because nostalgia is right around the corner.

With the undeniable success of the recent recent ‘70s night here, there’s no reason why two upcoming oldies bashes, plus one in Seattle featuring Island bands and ex-pat boomers, shouldn’t also draw throngs.

Here’s the picture:

The 1st Annual Road Runner Doo-Wop Spectacular

7 p.m. Sept. 4

Blaisdell Arena

$45, $55, $65, and $129 (VIP)

800-745-3000 or

This one assembles star power to spare, with five stellar icons of the ‘50s and ’60s: Joey Dee and the Starlighters, of “Peppermint Twist” and “Shout — Part 1” fame; The Dovells, known for “Hully Gully” and “Bristol Stomp;” The Orlons, who helped established the Philly sound via “South Street” and “The Watusi,” The Angels of “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “Till” success, and The Crests featuring Tommy Mara, whose "Sixteen Candles" is a golden oldie.

The Hawaii-based Love Notes, led by Pete Hernandez, who prevailed over the decades as the state’s premier doo-wop group, will also be featured.

4th Annual Nifty ‘50s & ‘60s Oldies Bash 2010

5 p.m. to midnight Oct. 1

Grand Ballroom, Pacific Beach Hotel

$55 includes buffet dinner by Sept. 15; $65 thereafter; $75 at the door

Diane Yoshida at 834-1256, Wendell Kwan at 239-5360, or

This one will lure folks who graduated in the ‘50s and ‘60s, or any other mid-lifers hungry for the sounds and dances of yesteryear. Participating personalities: Deejay Tom Moffatt, OC16’s Champ and deejay Fabulous Woody.

A period costume contest is part of the evening; those attending are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for the Hawaii Food Bank.

Seattle Boomer Blast 2010

6:30 to 11 p.m. Oct. 2

Maplewood Greens Golf Club, 4050 Maple Valley Hwy., Renton, WA

$60, includes appetizers

Russ Shiroma at 224-9224, or

Gail Ohashi (formerly, Gail Kiyama, Kaimuki ’69) is organizing this retro event for Seattle Boomers; and retro dress is encouraged — and don’t forget to bring your Hawaii stories — with prizes for the best dress man and woman. Music of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s will be performed by The King Pins, led by Harvey Yamaguchi, Kaimuki ’69); The Beat Boys (led by Russ Shiroma, Roosevelt ’69 and formerly will The Cadientes); and The Boomettes, with Seattle guest singer Chris Shimada from Nine Lives.

Tube notes: More KITV news, restaurants on Food Network

March 25th, 2010

KITV: Adding 30 minutes of Saturday news time

May Day may be Lei Day in Hawai’i but at KITV4, the ABC affiliate, May 1 is when Pamela Young anchors an extra 30 minutes of local news from 6 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
Thus, Channel 4 will ultimately offer a 90-minute block of local and world news every Saturday, with the new slot added to the existing 5 p.m. local show, followed by the ABC World News at 5:30 p.m., and then the add-on 6 p.m. telecast.
In an announcement today, KITV president and general manager said in a statement: “We received positive feedback after expanding our weeknight 10 p.m. newscast to a full hour last fall. We believe our viewers not only want more news, but can be better served with the addition of local news on Saturday.”
Said Genie Garner, KITV news director: “One of our goals is to strengthen local news coverage in Hawai’i. Expanding our 10 p.m. newscast was a start; adding a Saturday newscast is another step towards this goal.”

Food Network: Highway Inn gets ‘Diners’ slot

Highway Inn, a popular West O’ahu eatery in Waipahu, will be featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” show, April 5.
The newly-remodeled restaurant shares the spotlight with Nico’s at Pier 38, Hank’s Haute Dogs, Rainbow Drive In and Poke Stop.
As part of the remodeling-reopening, the restaurant is offering a 40 per cent discount on everything on the menu on April 5. Consequently, Hawaiian Combo Plates normally ranging from $11.65 to $8.95 will be priced from $6.99 to $5.37.
“We’re so happy with the nostalgic look and feel of the newly redesigned interior, we thought it would be fun to continue the experience by taking 40 per cent off our entire restaurant menu in honor of the 1940s, the decade we first opened,” said Monica Toguchi, vice president and granddaughter of Seiichi Toguchi, Highway Inn founder.
Highway Inn is located at 94-226 Leoku St. and is noted for its signature beef stew, pipikaula and laulau.

KFVE: ‘Emme’s Classic’ continues Sunday reboot

“Emme’s Classic Island Moments,” a collection of Emme Tomimbang specials new to the KFVE Channel 5 Sunday lineup, continues from 6 to 7 p.m. Sunday (March 28).
The show revisits film producer Chris Lee, former president of Tri Star Columbia Pictures and the first Asian to head a movie studio; entrepreneur Tom Moffatt, the deejay-promoter who has staged an endless list of shows; and singer Nohelani Cypriano, who reflects on a CD-DVD project that honors her late mother, Leinaala Simerson.

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Island Sounds: Reviews of CDs by Bill Tapia, Alvin Okami, Go Jimmy Go and Various Artists

February 5th, 2010

Island Sounds reviews of recent CD releases by Bill Tapia, Alvin Okami, Go Jimmy Go and Various Artists ....

Bill Tapia
“Livin’ It Live”

Red Spider Producitons
World music

At 102, Bill Tapia reigns as the world’s senior ‘ukulele sensation, strumming with a joyous jazz stance. He’s definitely at the head of the class.
Overview: Tapia does it all, from hapa-haole (“I Want to Learn to Speak Hawaiian”) to jazz (“Satin Doll”), from Tin Pan Alley classics (“Honeysuckle Rose”) to local faves (“E Ku’u Morning Dew”), all with a deliberate, assured pace. The tracks derive from his road trips and Bay Area greats Ruth Davies and Akira Tana and Islanders Mihana Souza, Ledward Ka’apana and Lyle Ritz sit in. Tapia’s show-stopping “Stars & Stripes Forever” is a livewire, with sparks aplenty — and World War I roots.
Rating: 4 stars
— Wayne Harada, special to The Advertiser

Alvin Okami
“Just Uke and Me”

Adult contemporary

Alvin Okami was a singer with Herb “Ohta-san” Ohta four decades ago and now is the patriarch and pillar of the family-operated KoAloha ‘ukulele company. Of his solo CD debut, he says: “Although it has no commercial potential, I simply wanted to leave evidence for my three grandsons that grandpa could carry a tune pretty good.”
Overview: This is an unabashed labor of love for Okami, who is backed by a pair of legendary uke aces Ohta-san and Gordon Mark. The pipes are still pumping bold, big sounds; the fare taps the evergreen riches of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer, Lorenz Hart, Michel Legrand and others from Okami’s warbling heyday. Seek out “My Funny Valentine,” a timeless beauty of sensitivity.
Rating: 3 stars
— Wayne Harada, special to The Advertiser

Go Jimmy Go
“Go Jimmy Go”

Go Jimmy Go LLC
Ska, reggae, rocksteady

The indie ska lads of Go Jimmy Go are on the go again with this rousing reintroduction of its contagious and captivating reggae hybrid sound. New members Jay “Jayder” Kalk (bass, vocals) and Ryan Kunimura (trombone, melodics) provide a fresh palate for Jason “Bison” Friedmann (lead vocals), Ian Ashley (guitar, vocals), Shon Gregory (drums, percussion, vocals) and Eric White (tenor, baritone sax).
Overview: This is No. 5 for GJG, one of the state’s prolific and potent combos, which performs all original tunes by Friedmann like “Own Thang,” “Incarceration” and “Pain in My Heart,” each with distinct pleasures and a celebratory spirit. Go, go, Go Jimmy Go.
Rating: 4 stars
— Wayne Harada, special to The Advertiser

Various Artists
“Tom Moffatt: 50
Years of Music
In Hawaii”

Shaka Records

Tom Moffatt has been at the heart of Island music, from all perches: deejay, show promoter, emcee, recording producer, author, industry good-guy.
Overview: In many ways, this is a soundtrack of the past five decades, with nostalgia bursting at the seams: Melveen Leed (“Music of Hawaii”), Keali’i Reichel (“E O Mai”), Liz Damon’s Orient Express (“1900 Yesterday”), Don Ho (“I’ll Remember You”) and John Rowles (“Cheryl Moana Marie”), with contributions from The Makaha Sons, Keola and Kapono Beamer, Danny Couch, Marlene Sai, Raiatea Helm, Rene Paulo, The Surfers, The Kasuals, Society of Seven and Buddy Fo & The Invitations. Ah, golden memories.
Rating: 4 stars
— Wayne Harada, special to The Advertiser

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