I’m always in search of live music, whether I’m traveling or cruising at home in the islands. So when I heard about the Twilight Jazz concert at Royal Hawaiian Center, I jumped on the opportunity to enjoy a free show under the stars at one of Waikiki’s happening spots.

Local singer Starr Kalahiki serenades the audience with her powerful voice.

I can’t say I’m a musician nor am I a singer, but I’ve always appreciated this art form no matter what the genre. It’s easy to find live Hawaiian, slack key and reggae music around town but not too much jazz. Usually those concerts are pretty expensive because they feature world-renowned musicians. But this one was free to the public and showcased local performers, like the Honokaa Jazz Band, Kit Ebersbach Combo and Honolulu singer Starr Kalahiki.

The Honokaa Jazz Band isn’t just any band; they come from a small town on the Big Island and are all younger than 18. But the band’s greatest accomplishment would most certainly be winning the prestigious GRAMMY Signature Award last year, as one of 36 schools from the 22,000 that entered. Their Royal Hawaiian Center performance took us on a musical journey with an arrangement of songs spanning from Michael Buble, Etta James, Ruth Brown and even modern-day composer Christina Aguilera.

VIDEO: A musical medley in Waikiki showcasing local talent and voices.

The show took place at an opened-aired courtyard called Helumoa, which sits in the middle of the Royal Hawaiian Center. It’s nice there because people can come and go as they please or just listen from afar at one of the shops and eateries. I spotted a few locals in the crowd, wearing sweet-smelling lei and singing along to a few familiar tunes. Almost everyone tapped their feet in unison as beautiful local jazz filled the warm Waikiki night. And what a night it was! Despite the bright Honolulu city lights, an even brighter blanket of stars spread across the skies and twinkled to the beat of the music below.

A light rain started to fall when the second group played, and quite appropriately, it was a song about the misting Hawaiian ua (rain). I liked how their set list had been dependent on the simple point of the pianist’s finger; he’d flip through his music book and confidently choose their next number, as the guitarist next to him would give the final nod of approval.

Kit Ebersbach’s pianist running his fingers along the keyboard.

If you missed this show, then there’s sure to be many more at the Royal Hawaiian Center. After undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, the center not only strives to be a top shopping and eating venue but also a place for visitors to learn and appreciate the Hawaiian culture – with music and dance at the top of their list.

ROYAL HAWAIIAN CENTER • 2201 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815 • Find out about upcoming performances at www.royalhawaiiancenter.com or 808-922-2299


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