Archive for July, 2011

Casey elevates Hilo hip-hop scene

July 14th, 2011

In a land of palm trees and lots and lots of rain, Big Island resident Casey Espejo stands out. The power and influence of hip-hop music stretches all the way to Hilo, where the 23-year old Hilo High School graduate is trying to make a name for himself with his new EP, "Hawaii Five-0."

Hilo-based hip-hop artist Casey Espejo. (Courtesy photo)

"My first intoduction to hip-hop in general was my neighbor," Espejo said by telephone from Hilo earlier this week. "I was, like, nine years old and he used to breakdance, so he'd be listening to a lot of electro-funk. I got into it … (and) they started letting me into clubs, because I was breakdancing."

He got into crafting rhymes at the age of 13, and two years later he had his first MC battle win under his belt. The win also secured him a recording deal, which led to the release of a single, "808 to the NYC."

Espejo cites mainstream rappers Joe Budden and Jay-Z along with underground artists Toxic and Abyss as some of the major influences on his music career; his bio also lists Juelz Santana, Lil' Wayne and Kanye West as other artists he looks up to. He's also attended the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Arizona to learn the technical side of engineering tracks for the music industry.

"This is my dream," he said. "Ever since I was 15, I've never stopped. People thought I was nuts, coming out of Hilo, Hawaii, talking about how I wanted to do this an make it a career.

"I have two albums that I finished in the past three years. And then there's the actual release of 'Hawaii Five-0,' which came out earlier this year."

The cover for Casey's latest release, an EP of tracks inspired by the hit CBS television series filmed in Hawaii. (Courtesy photo)

Espejo's latest EP contains eight tracks, which feature guest appearances by national recording artist Bun B along with rappers Shady Ray and Busy Signal. It also features production by Salaam Remi, Johnny Juliano, and Espejo himself. Offered as a free download, "Hawaii Five-0" is available exclusively via Espejo's website, He describes the sound as "Island Urban Music," and credits his east coast-based management team for helping to get his career to the next level. Over the recent Fourth of July weekend, his single, "My Money," was the featured "Jam of the Week" on MTV's nationally-syndicated radio broadcast, "MTV Jams."

"The Internet is a huge help. … We run this whole business on the Internet," he said. "It still kind of blows my mind. … I'm starting to realize there's a lot of work left to be done. I find myself in the studio constantly.

"Now that this happened, it's given me the fire, the push to make me go even harder and put that extra boost in it."

Espejo said that while he hopes to make the move to Oahu soon, his goal is to remain a Hawaii-based artist while building his fan base in other markets.

"I'm looking to make a move to Oahu eventually … to get the backing from where it's needed," he said. "Hilo can only supply so many hip-hop heads."


Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at

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Pimpbot celebrates 10 years

July 13th, 2011

Pimpbot is back with a new CD — and an affinity for zombie sushi? (Courtesy photo)

I've got a soft spot for Pimpbot, the local ska band fronted by talented vocalist/trombonist and recently re-hired radio personality Fernando "The Love Machine" Pacheco.

Fernando Pacheco. (Courtesy photo)

When I started covering nightlife in Honolulu a decade ago, Pacheco and his buddies Rylan Yee and Tom Coleman were faces I recognized from elsewhere in the Honolulu music scene. Pimpbot was a side project at the time — a way for Pacheco to deal with his need to be a frontman and direct the sound of the music he was making.

I'll be honest. I wasn't the biggest fan of 2004's "Vertical Lobster," the band's first effort. It was always fun to watch the guys play live, but that magic didn't seem to translate once they got into the studio. I was more impressed by 2008's "Admit One," which solidified the band's sound and showed Pacheco's growth as a songwriter.

Now, 10 years after Pacheco first got the band together, it boasts its largest lineup to date (five members) and a sound that all the guys agree is the most "authentic-sounding" they've ever heard on CD. And despite his role as husband and father, in addition to a new gig at 105.9 KPOI-FM, he couldn't be happier with the stage he's at in his musical career.

Pimpbot poses for a photo while on tour in Japan in 2009. (Courtesy photo)

"In the past, I just had to make a lot of compromises," Pacheco explained. "Now, having more musicians at my disposal, it's awesome. I can achieve the sound I have in my head. It's all matching up.

"I hit this nirvana, where it's like, I love this lineup. If I can keep this thing going, I'll keep it up forever. We make our own schedule … and our families are very supportive. So we're going to keep on doing this while we're living life.

"Getting married and having kids doesn't mean you gotta stop."

According to Coleman, the new album is "the culmination of everything we've done so far." The addition of Nic Ramos to the band "really tightened up our sound," he said.

"We've learned a lot about ska … and we're still having a great time. That's why we're still doing it. It's still so much fun."

Pimpbot's new, self-titled album features more of the entertaining song titles fans have grown to love. Starting with "Meet You at the Bar" and moving into "Hobo Chili" and "Zombie Fasi," they keep things interesting throughout the 10 tracks on the CD, finishing strong with songs like "Please be a Ninja" and "Beer and Homies."

"We always want to keep doing things that make us different," said drummer Eric Lagrimas. "Granted, we're not the downtown darlings or the current hipster favorites, but we do our thing. And we do it with pride and passion. We eat, breathe and live this s--t. It matters."

AND WHEN I say I have a soft spot for these guys, I'm not the only one. While it's Matt "Haz-Matt" Wells' job to keep tabs on the local rock scene as an on-air personality at Star 101.9 FM, he's stuck with Pimpbot the last decade for more personal reasons.

Pimpbot in Washington, D.C. while touring the east coast earlier this year.' (Courtesy photo)

"I went to their shows based on other people telling me that I needed to check them out, and then I was lucky enough to end up spending some time with Fern and the guys," said Wells. "And they're cool. You like them. How can you go wrong with that? I like the music, and I like the guys themselves.

"What they bring (is) the consistency. Like Fern was saying, they've grown into their own skin. They've stuck around for a decade, and that's nothing to short shrift.

"When I grew up, I was a one of those fans of punk and ska in a place where if it wasn't grunge or country, you were laughed at. If this stuff was around when I was in high school, I would have been all about it.

Now, I look at it from more of an industry eye, but they take me back to when I was just a fan."


Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at

Pimpbot CD Release Party

» Where: Waikiki Sandbox, 2260 Kuhio Ave.

» When: 10 p.m. Saturday, July 16

» Cost: $10

» Info:

"Pimpbot" by Pimpbot by PulseHNL

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‘Kailuabands’ CD a reunion, too

July 9th, 2011

The past will come to life this weekend in Kailua, when a handful of bands that last played together some 35 years ago reunite to celebrate the release of a new compilation CD.

From left, Susan Lee, Suzan Gilleland and Jud Haskins perform as Syster in the 1970's. They'll reunite at Bob's Sports Bar in Kailua on Sunday, July 10. (Courtesy Jud Haskins)

"Kailuabands" is the result of the efforts of a Facebook group with more than 275 members and one dedicated music producer in California. Jud Haskins owns his own company — Horrible Music — and writes the jingles you hear in commercials for some of America's biggest companies. He woke up one day a few years ago with the idea that he wanted to "record some good music for a change," and "not just another ditty for McDonald's."

After reconnecting with some of his friends from back in the day, he realized the potential Facebook brought to the prospect of working together again.

"Kailua in the mid-70s was like Yasgur's Farm (of Woodstock fame), only with flip-flops," Haskins wrote via email. "I couldn't have known when I started the Kailuabands Facebook group that I was re-connecting the old neighborhood, only this time with digial fenceposts to talk over. The response has been overwhelming."

Four years after starting the project, "Kailuabands" will be introduced to the world with a reunion show that will feature bands that haven't performed in the neighborhood in decades. According to Haskins, Gerry Erwin and Stryder, Syster, Cooper's Still and Woodrose will all play at Bob's Sports Bar from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, July 10.

"The larger insight is that local bands of our youth were as important a part of musical memory as the famous groups of the time," Haskins said.

The CD will be available for purchase direct from Haskins; Oahu residents can pick up a copy at Hungry Ear Records starting on Monday, July 11.


Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at

'Kailuabands' CD Release Party

» Where: Bob's Sports Bar, 170 Hamakua Drive

» When: 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, July 10

» Info: Click here for Facebook event listing

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iTunes offers free concert feed

July 7th, 2011

Linkin Park performs in London on Monday, July 4 as part of the iTunes Festival 2011. (Courtesy photo)

Technology is a beautiful thing these days — especially for music fans. More and more of the big festivals are incorporating live feeds of performances as part of their online offerings, and more often than not they are absolutely free to watch.

The iTunes Festival 2011 is the latest to offer free access to images, video and other exclusive content from London. Available both as an iPhone/iPad application and directly via iTunes on your laptop/desktop, viewers can tap into 31 straight days of festival coverage. Did I mention it's free?

And not only can you watch live sets, but all the performances are recorded and archived so you can go back and see what you missed — or just watch it all over again! Artists like Paul Simon, Linkin Park and Adele have already played, but you will not have missed anything once you download the app.

Here's a complete list of upcoming performances through next Thursday; visit the festival's website for a complete schedule.

Adele performs in London during the iTunes Festival 2011 on Thursday, July 7. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, July 8

» Ed Sheeran, 9:15 a.m.

» Bruno Mars, 10:30 a.m.

Saturday, July 9

» Evaline, 8:45 a.m.

» My Chemical Romance, 10 a.m.

Sunday, July 10

» Cat's Eyes, 8:45 a.m.

» Glasvegas, 10 a.m.

Monday, July 11

» Jimmy Eat World, 8:45 a.m.

» Foo Fighters, 10 a.m.

Tuesday, July 12

» Loick Essien, 8:45 a.m.

» The Script, 10 a.m.

Wednesday, July 13

» Alice Gold, 8:15 a.m.

» The Naked and Famous, 9:15 a.m.

» White Lies, 10:30 a.m.

Thursday, July 14

» SBTRKT, 9:15 a.m.

» Friendly Fires, 10:30 a.m.


Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at

Posted in Events, Music, Technology | Comments Off on iTunes offers free concert feed

Remembering a fallen bicyclist

July 6th, 2011

Family and friends of Zachary Manago, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver near Wahiawa last December, are asking for the public's support with their efforts this weekend to make Oahu's roads safer for bicyclists.

18-year old Zach Manago was killed last year while riding his bicycle near Wahiawa. (Photo courtesy Daphne Manago)

Manago, a Moanalua High School graduate and baseball star who was set to play for Hawaii Pacific University this year, started riding last fall when he enrolled at HPU and discovered the lack of automobile parking in the downtown Honolulu area. He was killed while on a late-night ride with friends near Wheeler Army Airfield.

"We are asking the state of Hawaii to kokua with this memorable event to show their support for our efforts to make Hawaii’s roads safe and accessible to cyclists and pedestrians so that we can prevent future tragic events like Zach’s death," wrote Sheika-Ann Ambatali, Hawaii Bicycling League Volunteer Coordinator, via email.

On Saturday, July 9, and Sunday, July 10, the HBL will coordinate a two-day, island-wide ride to celebrate Manago’s life, memorialize his tragic death, raise awareness about safety on Hawaii’s roads and raise money for a safety education fund that will be used to educate drivers, cyclists and pedestrians about the laws of the road and safe driving/riding practices.

Register for the ride and get a full schedule of events online at the HBL website — there is no registration fee, and participants are not required to complete the entire 144-mile course. Organizers are also asking for support during a bicycle safety clinic at the Hawaii State Capitol building at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

"We particularly need the community to come out to the free bicycle safety clinic … and to bike with us the following morning from the State Capitol to Waikiki," wrote Ambatali. "Strength in numbers."


Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at

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