Saturday, December 20, 2008

SOS LV & Jasmine Trias

A real cool picture of Jasmine Trias with the SOS LV and the brains/mastermind behind the creation of the band, SOS leader Tony Ruivivar.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Now that was just soooo cool!!!!!!

Got the chance to catch the SOS LV this past Tuesday night featuring American Idol finalist Jasmine Trias at the Waikiki Outrigger Hotel last night. It was the final night for Dwayne Higa, Greenwood's keyboardist, who was subbing for SOS LVer William Daquioag, and we (some Greenwood group members and friends and family) took this opportunity to catch the group up close and personal. Too many times, living in paradise we just take for granted the good things there are where we are. We are blessed with a lot of talent in our state, and the SOS LV and Jasmine Trias are prime examples of the jewels we have right in the back of our yard. So, how was the you ask? In one word, "cool!!!!" From beginning to end it was first class entertainment and just great!!! You could just see how hard these entertainers have worked at their trade and just how much passion they have for what they do. Plus, they are genuine "cool" people who just so happen to be exceptionally great musicians and vocalists. If you've never seen the SOS LV live and have never seen Jasmine Trias perform, this is a must, must see. They will not disappoint. Below is Star Bulletin writer John Berger's review of a show done by the group and Jasmine Trias earlier in the year. It's not a review of the show that we caught, but you can see in his write-up how John Berger was equally impressed by the show. Read on and when you can, take a trip to Waikiki and catch undoubtedly "the best" kept secret in Hawaii, the SOS LV with the one and only Jasmine Trias. Cool!!!!!

Honolulu Star Bulletin

Vol. 13, Issue 207 - Friday, July 25, 2008

Jasmine delights

By John Berger

In the 39 years since Tony Ruivivar and the original Society of Seven opened at the Outrigger Main Showroom in the Outrigger Waikiki, the group has become one of the most consistent and successful franchise acts in local entertainment.

Place: Outrigger Main Showroom, Outrigger Waikiki On The Beach Hotel, 2335 Kalakaua Ave.
Time: 8:30 p.m. nightly except Monday, through Aug. 7
Tickets: $51.25 (buffet dinner and show, seating at 7 p.m.); $29.50 show only
Call: 923-7469

The equivalent of three complete seven-man groups had been members by the time the group received a lifetime achievement award from the Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts in 2007. Today, the original Society of Seven is now based in Las Vegas while their protege group, the Society of Seven - Las Vegas, is in its seventh year as headliners at the Outrigger. Ruivivar knows what works - in a Waikiki showroom or a Vegas lounge - so there no surprises, and only a minor miscue or two, as the SOS-LV welcomes "American Idol" finalist Jasmine Trias as a "guest artist" through July 31.
The guys - William Daquioag, Mike DeGuzman, Jonathan Kaina, Glenn Miyashiro, Richard Natto, John Salvatera and Freddy Von Paraz - are as tight and self-sufficient of an act as always. Trias fits in nicely in several segments.

A short Miami Sound Machine medley introduces the septet as a powerful and versatile act. Musical celebrity impressions, a high-powered set of big-band standards and a salute to Broadway are among the components of a polished 90-minute show.

This season's audience participation segment is a revival of the "Society of Seven School of Elvis Impersonators." Three members of the audience become stars - for a few minutes, anyway.

As always, the SOS is long on talent. Von Paraz steps out from behind the drums for a surprisingly good impression of Mick Jagger. He also earns applause channeling Flavor Flav in a nicely choreographed "VH1" segment.

Salvatera and Miyashiro are audience favorites, as always, as Sonny and Cher. Other members of the group perform as Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, James Brown and Frank Sinatra. Salvatera returns as Sammy Davis Jr., and the guys all participate in a tribute to the Beatles.

Trias has performed with the original SOS in Las Vegas and at the Blaisdell Concert Hall last summer; plus, the SOS-LV has accommodated guest vocalists in the past, so the double-bill format is familiar territory for all. Trias' first appearance onstage builds on her "American Idol" fame with a pair of Natalie Cole hits. She returns as Natalie opposite DeGuzman as Nat "King" Cole on "Unforgettable."

Trias adds a trio of impressions to the show with her take on Shakira, Britney Spears and Beyonce. Spears, her best character a year ago, is still tops, but she also has mastered the choreography for her Beyonce performance.

The SOS-LV's show-closing salute to Broadway includes Trias singing "Happy Talk" and "I Would Die For You"; the classics showcase how significantly the artist has grown since her "American Idol" days.

The comic affectations added to "And I Am Telling You," however, spoil the final number in her Broadway set. Old-time SOS fans will already be comparing her rendition with "Little Albert" Maligmat's powerful interpretation circa 1983, and even without Maligmat to think about, it's not a song to be done for laughs.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The 70's Nightclub Reunion in retrospect...Part IV

As the years have gone by, more and more bands from the 70's have come forward to reunite. It has not been an easy task to say the least as there are many challenges to overcome for each band that wants to participate. When each band finally does agree to participate, it’s for the right reason and when their intent is unified, it happens. Although it is unfortunate that both Phase VII and Aura will not be able to join us for Reunion V as originally planned, Power Point and the New Experience have graciously agreed to take their slots. Ashberry was able to assemble five out of its six original members to take the stage as the “new addition” to the line-up for Reunion V. Out of all the major Waikiki nightclubs of the 70's era, we previously did not have any band representing “da Sting.” Now we’re complete with Ashberry’s inclusion. We round out Reunion V's lineup with White Light and yours truly Greenwood.

Well, there you have it. Thanks for being patient with me and reading through this. As several members of participating bands have had surgeries to repair life-threatening conditions, we begin to appreciate even more, this second chance to reunite and get back on stage. Life is fragile and in some cases very short. We need to live life to its fullest and not leave anything to rest. A very close friend used this phrase from a Climax song on my birthday cake early in Greenwood’s inception. I live it as best as possible…. ”If you believe in dreams enough, then they’ll believe in you….”

Mahalo and A Hui Ho!


The 70's Nightclub Reunion in retrospect..Part III..

What many people do not realize is that these bands are not “performing” bands. With the exception of Asian Blend, who from time to time performs with two original members, the rest of the bands who participate in this event do not gig on a regular basis but are truly reunited bands from the 70's. Most of these reunited bands have only about a week to practice together as members fly in several days prior to the event to finally rehearse "as a group". The sound that they are able to put out in such a short time is actually remarkable given these circumstances. This shows that the chemistry that made all of these bands successful in the 70’s is still present today even if it’s been 25-30 years since they last performed together. We do not require any of the bands to submit a song list. Our philosophy is again very simple. When we all went nightclub-hopping back in the day, all the bands played their version of the most popular hits during that period. It was not unusual to hear “Play That Funky Music” or a given Commodores, Earth Wind & Fire or KC & the Sunshine Band song performed multiple times throughout the night as you were “hopping”. Therefore, we let the bands perform whatever is most comfortable for them given the amount of time they have to prepare. Yes, there are tons of other songs we all want to do, but realistically, most do not have the luxury of time and/or the logistics in place to do this. Fortunately, it has worked since every band had their own distinct style and preference of artists they catered to.

Many current cover bands have asked if they could participate in our event. It’s been difficult but necessary to diplomatically and “gingerly explain that this event is reserved only for the bands that played in the 70’s, in what were the prominent nightclubs in and around Waikiki in that era ( not in Korean or military clubs ), and are reuniting with actual members (leader included) to perform. We feel it necessary to stick to this formula as it gives our event a unique distinction that no other venue offers. Not everyone will understand, accept or agree with what we’re doing, but, in the same breath, we feel that the masses have spoken by supporting the event as it grows in attendance every year.

Aloha Dennis Yost

Some thirty or so years ago in the good old "hanabata" days, a successful group was one that would come up with hit after hit after hit. One such group was a group called the Classics IV featuring lead singer Dennis Yost. Starting with the hit "Spooky", followed up with "Stormy" and "Everyday With You Girl", and then the monster hit "Traces", this group was "classic" for sure. Long before the reunion circuit was cool, I remember seeing Dennis Yost solo doing one of those "oldies but goodies" productions at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel in Hawaii. Aloha Dennis, thank you for all the wonderful memories, you will be missed. You will always be cool in my book. Here's something from Rodney Lee's Honolulu Advertiser "Midlife Crisis" blog. Thanks Rodney for the cool writeup!!!!

A True Classic is Gone
December 12th, 2008 by Rodney
Dennis Yost, the lead singer with the rock group the Classics IV, which in the late 1960s and early ’70s challenged the then-ascendant music of drugs and protest with a more laid-back, softer sound in Top 10 hits like Spooky, Stormy and Traces of Love, died on Sunday in Hamilton, Ohio. He was 65.
The Classics IV Web site announced the death. Mr. Yost had been hospitalized since suffering a brain injury in a fall in 2006. The cause was respiratory failure, a hospital spokesman told The Associated Press.
The music of the Classics IV lacked the hard edge that characterized much of rock during the years of the group’s success, 1968 to 1974. Later singles, like Everyday With You Girl, placed higher on easy-listening charts than on rock charts.
Mr. Yost’s throaty baritone defined the sound. Buddy Buie, who with guitarist J.R. Cobb wrote many of the group’s songs, said in an interview with Mix magazine in April that Mr. Yost drew passion from his youthful devotion to r&b and doo-wop.
Mr. Yost moved to Jacksonville from Detroit when he was 7, and in high school played drums for a group called the Echoes.
After the Echoes broke up, he joined a band called Leroy and the Moments in the mid-1960s. With his arrival, that group changed its name, inspired by his Classic drum kit. It became the Classics and specialized in cover versions.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 70's Nightclub Reunion in retrospect..Part II

With the Ilikai Hotel in limbo due to the change in ownership, the Ala Moana Hotel recognizing Candy’s talents hired her as their new Director of Catering, and with that the event was given new life in a new home!  Reunion III in 2007 drew some 850 people and Reunion IV in May of 2008 set a new record with 950+ in attendance.
The basic theme and concept of this event is to feature bands from the 70's Nightclub era, with their actual members to reunite and perform on stage as one.  We remain true to this idea and formula today as we head into our fifth year.  No promoter was willing to take the time to do what it takes to do this the “right way.”  There were “half-hearted” attempts in the past to feature a local recording artist from the 70’s as the headliner, supported throughout the night by what was purported to be local 70’s bands from the era.  However, what actually transpired were one or two members of these 70’s bands performing with a house band, disguising themselves as the real thing.  We did not want to take this same illusionary approach.  Instead, we made sure that the leader of each participating band would be on stage performing, and that only after every effort was exhausted to bring together original members that substitute members could be used to complete their lineup.  Unfortunately, as even we found out, because of the passage of time there were instances where several members might have passed away, and/or some band members just “disappeared” and/or were just difficult to locate. 
Many members of bands from the 70's era did relocate out of the state of Hawaii, and to our best knowledge our event is the only one committed to financially assisting band members to return to the state so that they can rejoin their band-mates on stage once again.  Since our event has no "promoter pockets to fill", we are able to fit this into the budget and take responsibility of the cost of airfare for all band members flying in from the mainland U.S. and neighbor islands to participate in our event.  Our main purpose financially is to cover our expenses and not be in the “red” at the end of the night.  Some people may have the perception that someone is making a “killing” by the number of attendees at our event, but, this is far from the truth.  I for example in my role as the coordinator of entertainment and promotions am paid the same rate as the rest of my band members in Greenwood for a 45 minute set, not a cent more or less. The bottom line is we believe and choose to participate year after year to make this event successful. We do so not for money, but for the right reason, for the love of it. There are no hidden agendas, its just plain and simple, good fun!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The 70's Nightclub Reunion in retrospect..Part I

Here's a bit of the history behind the successful 70's Nightclub Reunion series as written by Greenwood bandleader Robin Kimura, which he graciously let me include as a part of my blog. Because of the length of this piece, it will be posted in sections. Good read, cool stuff!!!

History and Moving Forward - Part 1

Candy Au and I go back some thirty years. She is like a "sista" to me, so when she was the Catering Manager at the Ilikai Hotel and invited me over one day in 2004 to "talk story" over lunch, I was all ears. She asked if we could get Greenwood back together and if so, would we be interested in "doing something" at the Ilikai. Although at the time it was unclear what "something" meant, we both began to see the potential, that something big could come out of this. Candy would provide the location for the venue and the expertise of setting up the room for an event but would leave it up to me to put together a committee to move forward with the idea. I assumed the responsibility of finding a theme for the event and then securing the necessary entertainment and the related support services (sound, lights, etc.) associated with implementing such an event. We had a $ 0.00 budget when we started and no promotional help. Everything we were eventually able to secure (feature article in the Star Bulletin by John Berger, an old friend and tremendous supporter), Tiny TV spot, Tiny radio promotional interview, Honolulu Advertiser TGIF inclusion, to name a few) came by utilizing our "ole time" contacts and "kokua" from those who believed in the concept. Along the way, we were so fortunate to gain some awesome supporters and integral committee members such as Irwin "Supes" Santos to join in, enhance and strengthen our cause.

Reunion I became a reality in 2005 and drew some 600 people. Before the night was done, calls for an encore performance echoed throughout the room. Because of this overwhelming response, Reunion II came a year later with 800 strong in attendance. As we planned for Reunion III, the Ilikai Hotel was abruptly sold, Candy was unsure of her future, and all of a sudden everything was in limbo and the event was now without a place to call home.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The SOS LV with Jasmine Trias and

for a week, Dwayne Higa. I've had the pleasure to have known Dwayne since the 70's while playing with Greenwood, and playing with the SOS LV for a week is a nice feather to add to his cap. Dwayne is one of our bands most talented members playing keyboards, bass as well as singing and putting together our vocal arrangements. In addition to that Dwayne also played trumpet at one time, and if I remember correctly he bought my Bach Stradivarious trumpet that I had bought from Sounds of Innocence bandleader Wesley Kira many, many moons ago.
Here's a little information passed on via email by Dwayne:

Aloha! I will be subbing for William Daquioag of the SOS LV on December 11th - 16th, with Monday night off. The show runs from 8:30pm to about 10:00pm non-stop. Kamaaina rates are $ 29.50 for the cover charge. If you plan to see the Society of Seven LV show on one of these dates, plz let me know 2 days ahead of time so that I can let them know to reserve seats for you. If you haven't seen the show, these guys put on a great performance. Check it out! Jasmine Trias is also on the show. She is a totally different performer from what you saw on American Idol. She will surprise you!

The Main Showroom is located in the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach on Kalakaua Avenue directly across the International Marketplace (oceanside of Kalakaua). Valet parking is available. If you decide to attend, plz be nice to the keyboard player as he will be under tremendous stress. BTW: He won't be dancing either!


We're planning to be there on the 16th. Wouldn't miss this one for anything, cause it's gonna be real cool to see our friend and co-musician Dwayne on stage with The SOS LV and Jasmine Trias. Now that's cool Dwayne!!!!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The 70's Nightclub Reunion V.....Ashberry

Here's a pretty old photo of the band Ashberry who will be closing out "The 70's Nightclub Reunion V" (courtesy of Ashberry bandleader Garrett Shirai). The band members in the photo, with the exception of female vocalist Karen Cartwright, will all be together for the first time in at least a couple of decades. Talk about a reunion, five out of six members!! Now that's what I call getting back together. Pretty cool if you ask me.

In their heyday, Ashberry was the full-time band at Da Sting in the Princess Kaiulani Hotel. Like Natural High who eventually became the house band at the Hula Hut, White Light who became the full-time band at the Tiki, Destiny who moved on to a full-time gig at the Beef n' Grog, and our band Greenwood who became the full-time Waikiki off night band, Ashberry, whose earlier name was Sage, paid their dues playing at the once upon a time all you could drink for ten bucks for guys and five bucks for gals watering hole, "The Magic Mushroom" in the old Gold Bond Building on Ala Moana Boulevard.

It's gonna be great seeing the guys from Ashberry all together on one stage again. Now that's pretty cool indeed!!!

The 70's Nightclub Reunion V

The last entry to this blog was in August? Sheesh!!! The football season is almost over, Halloween has come and gone, Thanksgiving 2008 is a thing of the past and lurking right around the corner is "The 70's Nightclub Reunion V". The band lineup had to be tweeked due to some unforeseen circumstances but it's official, Saturday Night, February 28, 2009, the Ala Moana Hotel is the place you gotta be. It's just so amazing that the time can fly by so quickly. Like my Mrs. Harada my Japanese language teacher told us, "I can wait, but time won't". So true sensei, so true.

It's gonna be one cool evening this coming February for sure. Don't wait too long to get in touch with Candy Au at the Ala Moana Hotel 'cause with the limited available seats tickets will be gone in no time.

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