Hawaiian music

Hawaii comes to Thunder Valley Casino

Tia Carrere

Tia Carrere
Photo: Randy Miramontez

There was a whole lot of pupu’ing going on at Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Saturday as Hawaiian natives Tia Carrere, Daniel Ho, and the band Kapala entertained fans with some old-fashioned Hawaiian music.

Kicking off the show was Grammy Award winners Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho singing “He Aloha Melee” and “Pupu Hinuhinu.”

Carrere’s performance was flawless, as was Ho’s incredible guitar work. Carrere’s voice was smooth and silky as she continued on with “Me Ke Aloha Pumehana” and “He Nani,” from their award winning album ‘He Nani.’

You may recall Tia Carrere is a veteran actress who has starred in numerous movies and television shows, her most notable role was as rock singer Cassandra in the movie ‘Wayne’s World.’ She’s also the voice of Nani, in the movie and TV series of ‘Lilo and Stitch.’

Daniel Ho

Daniel Ho
Photo: Randy Miramontez

Carrere has come a long way since her start on the TV series ‘General Hospital,’ not only as an actor, but as a singer. Teaming up with childhood friend Daniel Ho, they have garnered a number of Grammy Awards including best album for ‘Ikena’ and ‘Huana Ke Aloha.’

Daniel Ho has released 18 solo albums and produced over 50 albums. Providing backup vocals for Tia on a number of songs, he played several instruments throughout the night including the piano, ukulele and guitar.


Photo: Randy Miramontez

When the band Kapala stormed the stage it was nothing but pure energy as band members Lance Kalanikai Artis, Ashley Kimo Artis, Richard Lanakila Heirakuji, Lopaka Ho’opi’i, Adriano Kawika Larioza and Zanuck Kapala Lindsey, put on a high energy and very entertaining show, kicking off their set with “96795” and “Chigasaki.”

The crowd really got into Kapala’s set as the band made their way through a number of their hits including “Come on Home” and “Palapalai.” Some fans headed to the back of Pano Hall to dance, while others danced at their seats.

It was a great night out, with Carrere and Ho putting on a spectacular show, and Kapala finishing up the night with some high energy tunes.


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Henry Kapono

Henry Kapono – Click for more images

Thunder Valley Casino Resort‘s Pano Hall was transformed into its very own Hawaiian island Saturday as Henry Kapono with guests Robi Kahakalau (aka Sistah/Sister Robi) and Jeff Rasmussen performed to a packed island.

First off were Sister Robi and Jeff Rasmussen singing a couple of Robi’s past hits. Her sound is a mix of Hawaiian and reggae, with a touch of jazz. It was obvious there was a large contingent of Robi fans in the audience as they cheered at the beginning of each song.

The standout song from their set was Fleetwood Mac’s “Leather and Lace,” with Rasmussen stealing the show. As Robi sang the first part beautifully, Rasmussen kicked it up a notch when he jumped in for the chorus. His voice was superb earning him a round of applause as soon as he started singing the chorus.

During a brief set change emcee for the evening, actor, and musician Branscombe Richmond chatted up the audience, while throwing out signed t-shirts, CD’s and other items to the audience.

Branscombe Richmond

Branscombe Richmond

Robi Kahakalau

Jeff Rasmussen and Sister Robi – Click for more images

Richmond was quite the comedian as he engaged various audience members, asking them what high school they graduated from. He made a request a couple of times for someone to come up and sing, which several people gladly did ““ and shouldn’t have. He definitely left the crowd wanting more.

Prior to Kapono taking the stage the band began playing his upbeat “Take Me to the Islands,” starting with an impressive bongo solo. As he made his way to center stage the crowd erupted into cheers, as he started strumming his guitar.

Right from the start you could hear shades of Bob Marley, John Lennon and Bob Dylan as he continued with “We are Friends” and “Kuu Home O Kahaluu .”

Henry Kapono

Click for more images



Kapono put on a great show, with Sister Robi joining in to assist. He has a great sound and while you can hear the Hawaiian influence in his music, his music is more than that. He adds just the right mix of jazz, blues, and folk, as he mesmerizes the listener.

If you haven’t had a chance to take in an Hawaiian show you’ll have another chance in October as Melveen Leed and Nohelani Cypriano with Waipuna and Bolo will be appearing at Thunder Valley Casino Resort.

HAPA-ning at Thunder Valley Casino

HAPA - Click for more images

It was a little bit Hawaiian at Thunder Valley Casino Resort Saturday night, with Hawaiian music sensation HAPA and comedian Mel Cabang bringing their Hawaiian humor and music to the stage.

As Pano Hall started filling the crowd was treated to the sounds of Ka Leo Nani, with band members Bonnie Brown (guitar/vocals), Susan Johnson (guitar/vocals), and Carla Fontinella (guitar/vocals) playing some nice Hawaiian tunes while hula dancer Pumehana Aquon danced to the music. Brown now lives in Florida and flew in for the event.

Their sound was pure and their vocals were great. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed their playing and cheered appropriately at the end of their set.

Ka Leo Nani - Click for more images


Band members Brown, Johnson, and Aquon are all past students of Naomi Kalama’s, who runs Halau Hula O Kalama, where she teaches traditional Hawaiian dance. Halau Hula O Kalama also provides entertainment at parties and other events.

Entertaining the audience in between acts was actor and stuntman Branscombe Richmond. Richmond frequents Hawaii and was instrumental in putting the evenings show together. As he tried his wit out on the crowd, Richmond started tossing t-shirt, bags of Hawaiian chips and macadamia nuts into the crowd, nailing a couple of unsuspecting audience members.

Branscombe Richmond

Comedian Mel Cabang started off the show, with his sometimes graphic and outrageously funny humor,  by engaging unsuspecting audience members in the front row. Cabang had the audience laughing from the moment he arrived on stage announcing that he used to be Filipino, but was tired of it, so he quit.

After insulting most of the front row, Cabang left the stage to venture out into the audience. Giving an elderly lady his King’s Lei he had the audience eating out of his hand. As he strolled through the audience, he sang a wonderful rendition of “Unforgettable.” Cabang was able to get off a few more zingers as he exited the stage.

Bringing their mix of Pan-Polynesian music that includes a touch of American folk/rock, HAPA started off with a recording of the beautiful chanting of late band member and friend Charles Ka`upu, leading into “Haleakala Ku Hanohano”. While the played their first song the beautiful and enchanting Edieann Heali`i `O Nalani Stanley performed hula.

As duo Barry Flanagan and Ron Kuala’au weaved tales through their music the crowd cheered as they played past hit songs and a couple of new ones as well.

Mel Cabang - Click for more images

Obviously missing from the group was Charles Ka’upu who passed away last year. As a memorial for Ka’upu they carry with them a photograph that’s displayed at all their concerts.

Both Flanagan and Kuala’au were pounding out one great riff after another on their guitars, with Kuala’au pulling out a ukelele, and later playing slack-key guitar. At one point Kuala’au had to restring his guitar due to a broken string.

Audience participation is always a plus, they had the normal sing along to “One Love,” followed by some audience members hula dancing onstage.

Believe me when I say HAPA has taken Hawaiian music to a whole new level. I’m not much of an Hawaiian music fan, but this was some great music with just the right mix of Hawaiian and folk. With HAPA’s powerful guitar playing coupled with smooth silky vocals, it was one hell of a performance.



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