May 12, 2018
The Kahilu Theatre had a spectacular close for its 37th season with a stellar show by award-winning singer-songwriter, Robert Cazimero. It was his 33rd performance at the venue, and one his fans won’t soon forget.
Cazimero opened his sold-out concert with a remembrance of Don Blanding, “Poet Laureate of Hawai‘i,” who helped start the 90-year-old celebration of “May Day is Lei Day in Hawai‘i.” About halfway through his introduction, Cazimero was honored with a beautiful pikake lei from Alva Kamalani, Kahilu’s Operations Director. For 30 years (since 1977), the Brothers Cazimero played annual May Day concerts on Oahu, and this year Cazimero gave one final show in honor of his late brother Roland who passed away last July. In many ways, last Saturday’s Kahilu show paid tribute to Roland as well.
Cazimero recalled the tragic 2014 Maui concert when his brother fell ill after being on stage for only three minutes. Robert continued the performance alone. “He always thought that I’d do fine (as a solo act),” reminisced Cazimero. “He helped me realize I can perform with shows like tonight’s, and I thank him for that.”
Cazimero praised the Kahilu for being the only venue that would book him as a solo act when Roland got sick. The others canceled their 2014 tour dates.
At that point, Cazimero announced that he’d do a song with his brother accompanying him. The theatre grew quiet with anticipation wondering what would follow. “You’ll hear him… in your own minds,” noted Cazimero. What happened next was one of those rare chicken-skin moments, envisioning the Bothers Cazimero back together again singing “Home in the Islands.”
The evening was enhanced by hula performances from members of Halau Na Kamalei o Lililehua, with Cazimero playing the Steinway piano. Stopping a performance mid-stream, Cazimero called out an error. “We have a deal in my show, that every time they make a mistake…I get a drink!” He said he’d earned seven drinks by the end of their song.
Cazimero revealed that he composes his set list on the spot, relying on the crowd’s mood. He also uses his cell phone for ideas and jokes about an occasional song request that’s texted by friends. In between songs he told heartfelt stories about growing up on Oahu and fond memories of his grandfather who lived in Kohala. Cazimero presented a wonderful medley of songs dedicated to Spring, e.g. the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic “It Might as Well Be Spring” from the 1945 film, State Fair.
Cazimero shared the spotlight with the talented singer Nicholas Kealiʻi Lum who performs traditional Hawaiian music with the Oahu trio Keauhou. There were also special moments when the lovely Mapuana de Silva who danced the hula and sang a duet.
Closing out his second sixty-minute set, Cazimero performed a moving spoken-word piece titled “Like You.” The final line: “For you I will fight for those things I believe in – people, kindness, land, recognition, for recognition,” brought a moment of silence in the room to which Cazimero brilliantly segued into the beautiful “Hawai’i 78.”
A non-stop hana hou chant and standing ovation brought the performers back onstage. Cazimero said they were trying something special, a chant for Pele, who has been so busy at Kīlauea lately.
After the show, Cazimero came out briefly to say hello to loyal fans and family. Pictured above is Aunty Betty who brought him some wild sunglasses to wear in this photo.
Mahalo to the hard-working staff at the Kahilu for keeping the Cazimero concerts a tradition. Robert will be returning for his 34th show next year.
May Day Is Lei Day | For You a Lei | My Sweet Pikake Lei | Hilo My Home Town | Real Old Style
It Might as Well Be Spring | South Pacific medley: Happy Talk/ Dites Moi / Younger Than Springtime | Do the Hula | Dancing Under the Stars (featuring Nicholas Lum) | You Make Me Feel So Young |Home in the Islands | Like You | Hawai’i ’78
To explore Robert and Roland Cazimero’s vast catalog of music, please visit Mountain Apple Company’s website:
Discover the trio Keauhou here: http://www.keauhouband.com
All photos by Steve Roby.
View a supplement version of this article.