Big Island fans turn out for two sold-out shows
Twenty-five years ago, John Cruz produced Acoustic Soul, one of the most well-known and best-selling Hawaiian artist albums. His career skyrocketed after the release, and the musician won two Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards for the iconic recording. Last Saturday, he returned to the Kahilu Theatre for two performances packed with adoring fans.
“That album and the song ‘Island Style’ have been such a blessing,” noted Cruz in our interview. “People tell me they heard it on the radio when they first came to Hawai’i, and it’s been stamped in their mind. I knew that song would be a hit in Hawai’i, but I didn’t realize how universal the song was going to be.”
Both of Cruz’ Kahilu shows featured seven of the ten songs found on the original “Acoustic Soul” album and enhanced with crowd favorites like “Mamon,” “Burning Bridges,” and a new one, “It’s Time to Build a Bridge.”
While his first show was an excellent performance, it was the evening show where Cruz seemed more vibrant – his song intros were more detailed and engaged the crowd to help sing certain parts of songs. Perhaps the evening audience was filled with more friends and family.
In the second show, during the first song, Cruz left his spot on stage to accept a bountiful lei from a fan. Unfortunately, with all his gyrations and soaring electric guitar solos, most of the lei’s petals were scattered on the stage by the end of the show.
Cruz brought out his sisters Doodie Downs and Desiree Mona Cruz to join him on a few songs, but when his brother Tony left the stage to fix broken a string, he led the band into an impromptu version of “Amazing Grace.”
In addition to Tony Cruz on acoustic guitar, the band featured Blayne Asing on bass, Seann Carrol on drums, and Michael Ruff on keyboards.
Blayne Asing and John Cruz unexpectedly swapped instruments and stage positions midway through the concert, which allowed Asing to play lead guitar while John showed us his best bass chops.
Just before the show ended, Cruz’ three-year-old son ran across the stage to hug his dad before returning to his seat. Unfortunately, all these wonderful moments in the evening concert weren’t captured on Kahilu TV, since only the afternoon performance was livestreamed.
Cruz’ Acoustic Soul 25th Anniversary Concert tour heads to Maui next, where he’ll be joined by former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogarty. John explained: “Fogarty loves the song ‘Island Style,’ he’s posted videos of him and his sons singing it. He wants to record a song together, too.”
Cruz is offering an at-home concert performance as part of a contest. Fans need to submit any John Cruz Acoustic Soul era photos or footage taken before January 1, 2000, to his website johncruz.com by the deadline of June 30, 2022
Cruz also has plans to release new material in the coming months. “Some of the recordings were tied up legally for a little bit, but we’re past that now. I’m also going to be doing more projects with the Playing for Change organization. They have a band that tours around the world, and I’m going to be doing some stuff with them, going to other countries, and continuing to write and record newer music.”
Listen to an interview with John Cruz
Notes & Links
Na Na | Love Will Fins a Way | Amazing Grace | Island Style |Sitting In Limbo | Prayer For a Friend | It’s Time To Build a Bridge | Mama’s Lil’ Baby | River Runs | Kawailehua’a’alakahonua | Burning Bridges | Mamon | One of These Days | It Is What It Is | I Want To Be The One | Shine On
Hilo Town | Haul Away
Concert date: 28/May/ 2022
About the author: Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: ©2022 Steve Roby