KILAUEA — The 2022 concert season is warming up at the North Shore’s Anaina Hou Community Park.
An East Coast reggae band will make its local debut Friday before Hawai‘i favorite John Cruz celebrates 25 years of his award-winning release “Acoustic Soul” later this month.
Brandon Hardesty, frontman of the punk-infused reggae group Bumpin Uglies, describes the band’s sound as fun, high-energy music to dance to.
“All the songs are very much based around meaningful lyrics intended to tell stories and make people feel things,” he told The Garden Island.
Bumpin Uglies’ 21-and-older show is one stop on the band’s first-ever Hawai‘i tour. They have performed across the mainland for 10 years.
“It’s been a dream, for sure,” Hardesty said, of playing in Hawai‘i.
Cruz released his debut album, “Acoustic Soul,” 25 years ago.
The best-selling record, which features the iconic track “Island Style,” earned Cruz two wins at the 1997 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
The musician is now revisiting the album with a television special and anniversary tour beginning Saturday, May 21 at Anaina Hou.
Cruz is no stranger to Kaua‘i.
“I was there all the time (in the early 2000s),” he told The Garden Island.
Ironically, “Acoustic Soul” stemmed from the mainland. That’s where Cruz wrote most of the classic Hawai‘i album, which was recorded on O‘ahu.
“I had just returned from living on the East Coast — New York City for the previous 10 years, and before that in Massachusetts,” Cruz said.
“I was bursting with musical influences and new experiences and music that I had been immersing myself in there.”
Cruz had moved to the East Coast to further his career, like countless young artists before and after him.
He attended University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which he selected for its proximity to the Big Apple.
“I wanted to get to New York because I knew that’s where the s— went down,” Cruz recalled. “It was pretty daunting for a guy from Palolo to want to end up in Manhattan.”
But it paid off.
While on the East Coast, Cruz picked up copies of The Village Voice and thumbed through lists of upcoming shows, all of which he could attend and learn from in-person. And when he returned home, he cut a record that has never lost its appeal.
Cruz said a good friend summed it up 20 years ago.
“He goes, ‘Brah! You were the flavor of the month for about six, seven years,’” he laughed.
Cruz will play the entirety of “Acoustic Soul” at Anaina Hou, interspersed with new material.
He may even tease compositions for an upcoming romantic comedy and musical, called “Hawaiian Heart.” “It’s basically a love letter to Kaua‘i,” he said.
w Info: anainahou.org for concert tickets, johncruz.com for television special listings
Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island