ISLAND SOUL ARTIST FROM HAWAI'I
October 6th, 2023
FIRST FRIDAY in Downtown, Las Vegas
1025 S 1st St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Music has always been in my blood. My musical discovery journey started when I was 8 years old. I had a little Talkboy Recorder from the Home Alone movie and I would record songs from the radio, play the songs over and over and try to learn the notes on the ukulele.
It's kind of weird to say but I learned really fast that I process music differently. You know how some people listen to music and they see colors, when I listen I see texture. I can see what every part of the song is doing, the drum pattern, the bass movement, the orchestra down to the littlest keyboard part. And I got really good at learning music by ear.
My first taste of performing on stages was during my freshman year of High School. I went to Kaimuki High School and there was a class called Ohana O Mele. It was a music ensemble class and usually you had to take classes for 2 years and then audition to get into the class.
I got to audition before school started, nailed the audition and was put into the class and it changed the trajectory of my life. In Ohana O Mele, we would work on songs, create sets and then perform for middle schools and elementary schools on the island. I remember my very first solo on stage, "Everything I Own" by Bread (Ekolu version). I was giving it my all, people were vibing and the energy was crazy. I decided right then that I was going to pursue music.
In Ohana O Mele, I learned how to arrange music, I learned how to run a sound system, I experimented with other instruments and I started my first band. Mr. Loo had a show at the State Capital and he couldn't have all 30 of us there, so he asked if two of us can put together a group and that was the start of Local Uprising. That first show we had like 12 people in the band and after that show we cut the band to 5 members and most days at lunch we worked on music.
We started the bar scene when I was 15 years old, the benefits of being 6 foot 3 and having a little facial hair that young. I was hooked on performing. The feeling onstage when everything is in pocket, when the audience is locked in dancing and having a good time. 2 years later we joined a Battle of the Bands called the Mai Tai Rumble. It was ran by the big reggae radio station in Hawaii and back then bands would compete and the winner was usually the next big band to break. We got eliminated in the semi finals but the venue loved us so we started our shows at Mai Tais.
The band continued to grow over the years. While most people studied in college, I was going to Mai Tais 4 nights a week studying the musicians and what they were doing on stage. We had some songs on the radio and became the go to band to open up when big artists came into town. We opened up for all of my musical legends, the people I used to record on my Talkboy and learn from. Alpha Blondy, Tribal Seeds, Iration, Common Kings, New Kingston, Sister Nancy, Ekolu, Maoli, J-Boog and so much more.
I hit a crossroads a little after college. I was playing acoustic shows all over Waikiki and the band was doing their thing, but I wanted more. Since I was little, watching my uncle push his band, I always wanted to be like him. I wanted to tour, travel all over the country connecting with people through music. I wanted something more then just opening up for big bands, I needed a challenge.
In 2018, I went to a show at Aloha Stadium with my now wife. Bruno Mars was coming off a world tour and he was back in his hometown for the finale. I saw a. sold out arena singing every word to hit after hit and I decided that night that it was time to go all in. So we packed all of my equipment in my FJ Cruiser, put it on a ship and moved to Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world. If I could make an impact there, I could make it anywhere.
The beginning in Vegas was a challenge, I had to restart from scratch. I didn't know anyone, I didn't know any bookers. Up to that point, I only played about 4 solo shows and I wasn't fully confident performing by myself. I missed arranging for a band so I bought a looper pedal and really worked on a solo show.
Then I hit the streets, literally. I started busking on the Vegas Strip and Downtown performring in the hot sun to anyone who would listen. Got into fights with homeless over their spots, got robbed by cops who said they could either take me to jail or I had to give them all the money I made that day on the street. Then I started going to open mics, something I haven't done in 10+ years.
An open mic led to my first gig opening for Haleamano, a local reggae band in Vegas at the Goldspike. That's where I met my drummer. That gig led to a pool show at Tahiti Village where I met my bass player who was there with his family that day and enjoyed the music. Then I got picked up by one of the biggest talent bookers in Las Vegas which opened the doors to performing at every casino, restaurant and bar in Vegas. I played 270 shows in 2019 all over the place, started a new band called The BC Project, and learned that I did have what it takes and that there were such things as 6+ hour shows from 9pm - 3am... huh?!
In February 2020, I had an audition that unknowing to me was the beginning of a huge move. Moving here I had two big music goals.
1) To have my own show that I had full control over.
2) I wanted my own billboard, name in lights on the Las Vegas Strip.
(I know, kind of cliche but it was a goal)
After playing at the venue a few times, I got called into a meeting. I remember it vividly. It was March 16th, 2020 and I was asked if I wanted to take over and have my own show 4 nights a week at Margaritaville in the Flamingo Casino in the middle of the strip with a billboard knocking out both of my goals in one swoop. I signed the contract and then the next day on March 17th for the first time in history, Las Vegas shut down due to Covid.
The pandemic taught men how fragile the music industry really was. That musicians at every single level, from the bottom to the top, were affected and out of work in the blink of an eye. I used the time to really work on a special show, improve my skills and spend quality time with my wife.
On November 20th, 2020, I threw a socially distant festival called Reggae Roulette featuring three local Las Vegas band who haven't performed for 8 months since the shutdown. I wanted to throw a show for the bands and for people to prove that live music is important and can be done safely. Shortly after, my residency at the Flamingo started. For 2 years, I performed from Thursdays - Sundays giving it my all on stage every night. The goal of my show was a sweet, island escape in the middle of the crazy Las Vegas Strip.
It was a successful residency and after two years, I decided to step away from performing so much and step into more band shows, writing more, and heavy pushing a business that was starting to grow.