The Kahilu Theatre’s 2018/2019 season came to a climactic close on Saturday with the appearance of Streetlight Cadence (SLC), the young, talented Alternative Folk Pop band. The four musicians are no strangers to the Kahilu. In late 2017, the band played the Mike Luce Studio, a small room adjacent to the stage used for more intimate performances.
SLC began playing on the streets of Waikīkī in 2010, and has been prospering with two Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, their 6th full-length album, titled M O M E N T A R Y, and the Emmy nominated KFVE-TV show Will Play For Food, which they are hoping Netflix or Hulu will pick up.
Between songs, lead singer Jonathan Franklin explained the origins of SLC, and how he came to Oahu on a college scholarship, but soon went broke because housing and food weren’t covered. Franklin started busking by playing violin in Waikīkī to survive, and eventually added other members. The group has now nurtured its own distinctive style of spirited music, merging pop ballads, metal hoedowns, with a touch of classical music and a side of accordion for good measure. They feed off the energy from a live audience, which the Kahilu crowd overwhelming gave them. The only thing missing from Saturday’s performance was seeing young people dance in front of the stage. The invitation was offered, but it was an older demographic that came out, and other than the aisles and your seat, there are not many other choices. Alternatively, it was a blast to watch these guys spring into action, as their songs typically build to a crescendo. On a few occasions, frontman Franklin feverishly whipped around the stage with his violin like he was at some super-caffeinated square dance. Jesse Shiroma (accordion) and Brian Webb (cello) gave Franklin space as he leaped four-feet in the air (maybe higher). New member, drummer Ben Chai, did an excellent job keeping the excitement going. Surprisingly he’s only been playing drums for a little over a year and decided to take on the instrument at the band’s request.
Early into their 90-minute set, SLC played their new single “Streetlights and Sirens,” a touching ballad about a female friend of the band named Heather who died in a car crash. Another emotionally charged tune was “I Miss You,” which Shiroma explained was about a time when his father left Hilo to work on Oahu in order to support the family. The band gave a shout-out to the Brotman Family who organize the annual Hawaii Songwriting Festival, where SLC played a set just last week. “If it wasn’t for this festival,” said Webb, “none of us would’ve truly developed as songwriters.” Later on, SLC dedicated “Rooftops” to the Charles Brotman’s grandson.
The unique combination of cello, violin, and accordion have become the signature sound for the band. “We grew up in various orchestra programs,” said Franklin. “Ben was the first chair, I was the last, Brian was the top of the cello section, and Jesse played in an accordion orchestra. Classical music has been a part of our lives, and sometimes we can’t escape it.” With that intro, SLC launched into “Don’t Let Go,” which starts out with a section from Canon, written by German Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel.
The band seemed surprised but grateful for the standing ovation and calls for a Hana Hou! Returning to the stage with leis around their necks, the band performed two more numbers, the highlight being a wild version of “The Devil Went to Georgia,” the classic 1979 song by The Charlie Daniels Band.
Past Life | Streetlights and Sirens |Vinyl Records | I Miss You | Invisible |Pokemon | Francis Ferdinand | Learn To Love | I Can’t Do This | Say So | Constellations | Counting on the Odds | The End of the World | Don’t Let Go |
Rooftops | The Devil Went to Georgia |
Listen to an exclusive backstage interview with Streetlight Cadence.
Go to streetlightcadence.com for updates and to find out where the band will play next. The new album
M O M E N T A R Y is available now. Fans can learn more by visiting the band’s social media pages.
Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and originally from San Francisco. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: Steve Roby