Big Island’s Blayne Asing and Brother Noland paired up and delivered an epic livestream concert filled with heart-warming tunes that capped off a most unusual year.
Saturday’s show started with Brother Noland seated comfortably in a makeshift living room while he offered a sneak peek at his exclusive Kahilu TV online series called The Pueo, The Camera, and Me. “Tonight we’re going to introduce you to the music, lifestyle, culture, and all the things that make Hawaii a unique joy to the world,” Noland said. The legendary Hawaiian singer/songwriter will travel around the state, stop and talk story with local musicians while sharing the scenic beauty along the way. The title of the show is a variation on a tune he wrote in the ‘70s called “Pueo, Tara, & Me,” and Noland explained that the celebrated pueo (a Hawaiian owl) represents knowledge and vision, and the camera would document his intimate adventures as he narrates.
Noland then introduced the award-winning musician Blayne Asing and the two shared stories from their musical journeys together. They first met twenty-five years ago when Asing was performing in a children’s choir and had the opportunity for some mentoring from the professional performer. Asing mentioned that it wasn’t just the music that was shared between the two, but Noland also taught him survival skills, such as hunting and fishing. Picking up their guitars, the duo transitioned into “Aloha ka Manini,” a song written by Braddah Iz, which demonstrates the respect and gratitude that Hawaiians have for both the ocean and fish.
Leaving the living room, Asing then performed a solo set of original songs from a different part of the stage. He’s no stranger to the Kahilu, opening for John Cruz in 2018, kicking off the Luce Unplugged series the following year, and appearing most recently in the virtual 18th Ukulele & Slack Key Guitar Festival.
The O’ahu born singer/songwriter began playing ukulele at age eight, and at 13, had the opportunity to hang out with the late legendary Hawaiian musician Ernie Cruz, Jr. Asing has come a long way since his early days, and his debut album Young, Old Soul, released in 2015, earned him the 2016 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award (Hawaii’s Grammy Award) for Most Promising Artist. His second Hōkū came the following year for “Molokai on My Mind,” which was honored as Single of the Year.
Asing’s calming set of music seemed like the perfect remedy for the storm that was raging outside the theatre. It’s not hard to imagine folks enjoying the show from home in post-Christmas bliss. The singer introduced an unreleased song called “A Lovely Night For Love,” a breathtaking tune that’s destined to be a hit.
Surrounded by a bevy of guitars, Asing picked up a Gretsch round-neck resonator guitar. He said this unique all-metal instrument that he picked up a few weeks ago allowed him to be creative in a different way. “All of these guitars (on stage) are like people,” Asing explained, “and you have different relationships with them.” He then launched into “Trouble Is Your Name.” A handful of stagehands scattered throughout the theatre broke into applause and cheers as the song ended.
Near the end of the show, Asing invited Brother Noland back to the stage for a few final tunes. The duo wrapped up the concert with a tribute to old Kona and the played song “Kona Kai Opua.”
To catch a show and stay up to date with the Kahilu Theatre’s new online platform Kahilu TV, click on the links below.
Blayne Asing Setlist: (90 Minutes) Aloha ka Manini (with Brother Noland) | Poor Man Blues | One Day Soon | That’ll Be Alright | A Lovely Night For Love | That’s The Way It Goes | Trouble Is Your Name | Just Another Face | Molokai On My Mind | Maunaloa |Puu Anahulu | Kona Kai Opua (last three with Brother Noland) |
E Hihiwai (Blayne Asing with Brother Noland)
Both Blayne Asing and Brother Noland have appeared on the Songs & Stories podcast.
Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and host of the Songs & Stories podcast. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: Steve Roby
Editor’s Note: Check out my post-show interview with Brother Noland and Blayne Asing on Kahilu TV. There are some fun moments including finding out what was the first record they bought with their own money and the last song they sang in the shower.