Blues in Paradise: Feelin’ the Beat on Oahu


OK, maybe Hawaii is not paradise. But it’s not the most likely place I would have thought to look for a thriving blues scene. The thing was, I didn’t have to look for it. Our hosts on Oahu, Paul and Lorna Gomes brought it right to me. Paul has been playing drums for blues bands on Oahu for decades, and he had two gigs the week we were there, one with Bluzilla at Kona Brewing Company’s Koko Marina Pub, and one with the Flat Five at the OnStage in Honolulu.  I love Paul’s playing; he has a big, full sound that propels the music along.

Bluzilla is a quartet (guitar-bass-drums-vocals/harmonica).  As a guitar player, I was amazed by Mark Pearlman’s improvising. He plays with complete abandon, taking chances and pushing himself to his limit. Listen to his solo on “Freddie King’s “Look Over Yonder wall”, below.  I also really enjoyed Corey Funai’s harp and vocals.  Below that are portions of Taj Mahal’s Diving Duck Blues and “Dump That Chump” by Little Charlie and the Nightcats.


The Flat Five is a larger band headlined by Kevin Coleman (harp/vocals).  He’s a great player and frontman.  On the below video, he shows his stuff on “Nobody But You”.


Below, JP Smoketrain sits in with Kevin and the boys, singing and playing lead on Billy Boy Arnold’s “I Wish You Would”,  adding some touches from the Allman Brothers’ “One Way Out”.  The dance floor was full on this one.


3 responses to “Blues in Paradise: Feelin’ the Beat on Oahu

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    How are you doing after that procedure you had yesterday? I trust everything went well because you’re up and running on your blog.

    Of course I really like the newest post on your travel blog. The BLUES is alive in Hawaii! I will be sending it out to all musicians involved.

    I was thinking about sending you some Ledward Kaapana music. Do you have any of his albums?

    Take care Mi Amigo and I’ll talk to you later.


  2. Paul – thanks again for introducing me to the Hawaii blues scene and the great players you make music with. It was a return to some of the earliest stuff I learned to play. I got re-bitten by the blues bug!

    PS – would love to hear Ledward Kaapana. I only have one song of his, a version of “He Aloha No’o Honolulu” I heard on the Hawaiian Connection show on KBCS.

  3. Yolanda Perez

    Veo disfrutaste mucho la parte musical de tu viaje.
    Yo particularmente soy poco conocedora del blues y reconozco no me gusta mucho. O tal vez no he tenido oportunidad de apreciarla. Pero bien por tí…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s