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.

On January 20, 2018, Sarah Bethany and band performed a soulful cover of the classic rock song, “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” at the Aloha Theatre. This tune was written by Blood, Sweat & Tears founder Al Kooper, and is the second track from the group’s debut – and only album recorded with that lineup – Child Is Father to the Man. While the song was never released as a single release, it did see some substantial play on progressive rock FM stations in the States. On her YouTube channel, Bethany notes: “This was a special one…

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Before his upcoming 2018 Hawaiian tour, I spoke with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Traffic co-founder Dave Mason. Mason is probably best known for his hit song, “Feelin’ Alright,”  a tune he recorded in 1968 while in the rock band Traffic, but everyone from Joe Cocker to The Jackson 5 has put their own spin on it. As a studio musician he’s appeared on recordings by Delaney and Bonnie, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Cass Elliot, and George Harrison.  If you were around in the 1970s and ‘80s, you may recall his solo recordings like “Only You Know…

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Texas bluesman Johnny Nicholas is no stranger to the Big Island. While playing here a few years ago, a mutual friend told Nicholas about Honokaa High’s award-winning Music Director Gary Washburn, and the school’s well-known Dragon Jazz Band. They met and soon their mutual musical appreciation developed into an opportunity for Washburn and his students to join Nicholas and world-renowned entertainer Marcia Ball on a multi-island tour in 2015 and 2016. Two years later, Washburn and Nicholas arranged a three-city tour of the Big Island – – Hilo, Honokaa, and Kona during January 26-28. Prior to this year’s shows, Nicholas…

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I had the pleasure of interviewing slack-key guitar player Manny “Boy” Varize Jr. at his home in Hilo, Hawaii. We talked about his history of playing music on the Big Island. Over the years he’s played with many legendary musicians, and continues to perform for the public. On this video he performs two of his songs, “Waiakea Town Railroad Blues” and “Ahualoa.” Mahalo to the Varize family for organizing this opportunity to document this local musician.

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Sarah Bethany Aloha Theatre, Kealakekua January 20, 2018 Jazz music is a bit of a rarity here on the Big Island, and when the annual Kona Jazz Experience concert happens at the Aloha theatre, it’s an event you don’t want to miss. The three-hour show opened with pianist Loren Wilken playing mostly original compositions and arrangements, backed up with some of the best players on the island like Bill Noble (alto sax), Jenny Brown (trombone), and Andrea Lindborg (trumpet). One of the surprises of the evening was when Wilken brought out 14-year-old drummer Nick Wong. Wong is so talented, that…

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Halfway to Hilo, there’s a rockin’ little roadhouse called the Papaaloa Cafe. If you time it right, you can catch one of country blues musician Richard Johnston’s monthly gigs.  He won’t be billed as Richard Johnston though, as he’s in a dispute with a German record label who released his 2002 debut album Foothill Stomp. Johnston recently moved to Hawaii to reinvent himself, and since last November he’s working under a new persona, Boozer Ramirez.  Johnston says his interest in the blues came during his college years when he discovered Robert Johnson records. Johnston started paying his musical dues as…

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