Author: Steve Roby

Steven Roby is a respected music historian, journalist, and best-selling author. He has written feature articles and reviews for Guitar World, and has been featured in Rolling Stone, the New York Times, and Billboard magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.

Soulful Hawaiian singer Paula Fuga (pronounced Funga) gave a marvelous performance Sunday night at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel for 70 of her Big Island fans. The outdoor event was the first live public presentation for the Kahilu Theatre since it paused shows back in early August due to high COVID case numbers. The concert took place on the resort’s beautiful Luau Grounds, and the stage area was surrounded by sheltering trees, and tropical flowers, with waves crashing on the shoreline nearby. Some concertgoers spotted a shooting star in the full moon-lit sky midway through the show. Fuga’s 90-minute set…

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A vacant 30×30 lot in downtown Hilo will become a performance stage in the next few months, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the 2021 AARP Community Challenge Grants. Last Friday, Hawai’i County Mayor Mitch Roth and theatre director Larry Reitzer were joined by six young adults from OHANA (Oceania Hawaii Action Network for the Arts) who were there to help with the weeding, site clearing, and hauling on the site behind the East Hawai’i Cultural Center (EHCC) located on Kalakaua Street. The project includes constructing a modular, mobile theater for free and low-cost entertainment performances on the Center’s grounds…

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Acclaimed for originality in her song compositions and spellbinding, soulful vocals, Paula Fuga is one of Hawaii’s top musicians. I had the pleasure of speaking with her via Zoom about various topics, including her new album Rain On Sunday, and her Sept. 19 livestream concert presented by the Kahilu Theatre. Paula also shared a special heartfelt connection she had with longtime collaborator Jack Johnson. Tell me about your new album Rain On Sunday. The album was released at the end of June, and I’m really excited about it. I’ve been working on it for over five years and am just…

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Performing arts and music education has changed more than any other school subject as learning went virtual last year. With students returning to the classroom, practicing with classmates is challenging, and upcoming public concerts have been canceled. I spoke with three of the Big Island’s most respected music educators about what teaching is like during the second year of the pandemic and the challenge to keep music alive in our schools. After 43 years of teaching music, Gary Washburn remains a Big Island legend. Since 1978, Washburn has brought much attention and accolade to Honoka’a High School’s music programs. In…

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With COVID cases on the rise, venues and musicians speak out The decision was difficult to make, but in an August 2021 Facebook post, Sara Nealy, Executive Director for the Kahilu Theatre, announced the venue would be canceling its four-show run of Matilda the Musical. “The show, with a lot of too-young-to-be-vaccinated children in the cast [included]  children who leave the bubble to return to school this week,” Nealy noted. “Unvaccinated people in Hawaii County are at very high risk for COVID-19 infections. New cases are the highest they have ever been here; they reached 69 yesterday, a 9% increase…

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With a talented 60-member cast and three weeks of sold-out performances, the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast was just what Hilo’s Palace Theatre needed for a comeback after being closed for 16 months. The show also served as the inaugural production of the Palace’s newly created Youth Theatre Program. The award-winning musical is based on the popular 1991 animated Disney film of the same name and included everyone’s favorite characters and songs. The Palace Theatre’s production featured direction by Larry Reitzer, choreography by Nadia Schlosser, and musical direction by Lisa Taylor. Their combined hard work and the cast’s outstanding…

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