“Everywhere I go on the Big Island is so inspirational for my songwriting,” said Hawaiian musician Kalaʻe Parish in our interview before his Saturday night performance at the Kahilu Theatre. It’s his second concert since 2021. Previously he appeared under strict Covid protocols with an audience of cardboard cut-out figures and a limited staff for the livestream-only event.
This time he brought along fellow musicians Shawn Pimental (drums), Mikey Grande (keyboard), Paul Nelson (bass), Bin Yasuno (electric guitar), award-winning dancer Pono Fernandez, and his wife Kalenaku for what turned out to be a spectacular 90-minute show.
“Living in Waimea is a dream and playing at this venue completes that dream. I used to joke with my friends that living in Waimea and being able to ride a horse up the mountain, well, that’s the life for me.” His song, “That’s the life,” is about his manifestation to live there with his family.
Kalaʻe Parish has been a professional musician and entertainer in Hawaiʻi since 2013, performing throughout the islands and abroad. In 2016, he began his solo journey as an artist performing at venues in Honolulu and recording his very first EP.
The EP, Where I Reside, hit the airwaves in December 202o and features all original songs written and composed by Parish. The eclectic music is a fresh twist of pop country infused with lyrics about his island home to smooth Latin rock to love ballads.
At his recent Kahilu show, he shared several new songs, including one heartfelt number about the loss of his daughter. It’s called “All that’s left to Do.”
“Blaine wrote it for me. My wife and I recently lost our daughter at birth in December of last year. So, when I was finally ready to write again in January, I showed up at his house, and he shared the song with me.” Too emotional to sing publicly, Parish let Asing handle the vocals for this one. While I watched the performance from the front row, the lady sitting next to me was a close friend of the family and was moved by Parish’s song introduction – often covering her eyes and shaking her head over his loss.
Another touching song at the concert was “Better Man.” ” That was my pandemic song,” recalled Parish. “I think all of us songwriters, when we were not gigging and playing for an audience, we spent the time writing songs, and ‘Better Man’ was a special song to me, going through a hard time like everyone else. I think the song is relatable because I had to keep asking, telling myself, you know, ‘this can only make it better. You got to keep moving. You got to keep writing. It’s not going to be like this forever. You have a family to think about.'”
Parish has plans for an upcoming release. “I’ve been in the studio for this entire year, in and out, doing shows and jumping back in the studio. I plan to release my project, if not this year, beginning next year. It’ll still be in that pop/country genre, but I’m experimenting a little. It will have a few funky grooves and some rock and roll.”
“That rock part comes from growing up and listening to music my dad played – the Doobie Brothers, Eagles, Kalapana, and C&K. My dad played it on repeat and constantly in rotation. So, you can hear bits and pieces of it coming through my music. I had people tell me, ‘Oh, nice Eagles harmony in that song.’ I’m about halfway done with the project and aim toward next year.”
Notes & Links
After the Noon | You Should Probably Leave | I like Whiskey | That’s The Life | Lay Down Sally | All That’s Left To Do | Something To Loose | Akaka Falls | Always Remain | Don’t | Better Man | These Islands | Island Life |
Hana hou: Heart and Soul
Concert date: 08/October/ 2022
About the author: Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and Big Island Music Magazine editor.
Photo credit: Steve Roby