Hawaiian musician Barry Flanagan says he wants to meld the soothing sounds of his home island with the beautiful sights of the San Juan Islands.
“You can expect something very high energy and very personal. We pour a lot into these shows,” said Flanagan, founding member of the Maui band HAPA.
This Hawaiian super group returns to Lopez Center for Community and the Arts on
Wednesday February 24th at 7:30pm. The Flanagan and his bandmate Kapono Na‘ili‘ili played on Lopez and Orcas three years ago.
“The audiences were amazing,” Flanagan said. “There were also so many people originally from Hawai’i. It can be emotional for people.”
Flanagan grew up on the East Coast in New Jersey and shortly after moving to Hawaii in 1980, he formed HAPA. The name reflects the diverse backgrounds of its musicians and the mix of cultures that converge in Hawai‘i. Often described as the “sound of Maui,” HAPA’s music evokes a feeling that many people refer to as simply “heavenly.”
HAPA played over 500 live shows per year before releasing its benchmark self-titled first recording in 1993, which still remains the number one-selling recording by a group or duo in the history of recorded Hawaiian music; it swept all six categories for which it was nominated at the 1994 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, the Hawaiian equivalent of the Grammy awards. Television viewers know HAPA music from the show “Hawaii Five-O.”
Flanagan, a guitarist, has been the guiding force of the group since its beginnings. He says the band has changed a lot over the course of 35 years, but one thing has remained the same: the Hawaiian sound.
“Every island in the state of Hawaii is very different, but there is a universal feel to it and that comes through in the music,” Flanagan said.
HAPA’s influences range from ancient genealogical chants to the strummed ballads of Portuguese fishermen, Spanish cowboys, and the inspired melodies and harmonies of the traditional church choirs of the early missionaries – add to this a dose of American acoustic folk/rock.
Band member Na‘ili‘ili is a singer, Hawaiian chanter, multi-instrumentalist and hula dancer. Adding to their performance is former Miss Hawaii USA Radasha Ho’ohuli, who performs traditional hula dances throughout the concert.
For more than 20 years, HAPA has spent the winter months touring. They play up to 35 cities on the East Coast and perform nearly 20 shows on the West Coast.
Flanagan and Na‘ili‘ili just wrapped up their first studio album entitled Nu, which will be for sale at the local concerts.
“We have released tour CDs over the past five years, but this one was done in an actual recording studio with a producer,” Flanagan said. “It’s Hawaiian music, but super contemporary. It’s fresh and new and eclectic. I really like it a lot.”