Congratulations to Scott Reagan, frontman for the rock band Bottle of Blue, and visionary behind the Six-String Fling concert. The Aloha Theater lit up Friday night when six of the Big Island’s best guitarists came together on one stage to showcase each of their individual talents. The concept of having one house band (Bottle of Blue) back each guitarist as they performed both original songs, as well as covers of classics, made for a very special night.
Bottle of Blue opened the show with a set of original songs featuring their own lead guitarist, Dan Corippo. Dan had a bit of an advantage, as he has been in the band since 2015 and had written or co-written the songs he performed. None the less, Corippo had the pressure of being followed by five of the best guitarists on the island and he seemed to feed off of it. Dan let loose on the song “Sunday Afternoon,” showing the audience he belonged in the mix of what was to come.
With the ‘house band” in place, the turn over time between guitarists was minimal and it kept the show rolling right along. Next up was Tomi Isobe and if you had ever seen Tomi before, you knew what was coming. Opening his set with his original song “Doghouse of Love”, followed by “I’m Coming To You baby” Isobe had the audiences’ full attention. Tomi was joined on stage by Scott Reagan, to close out his set with a cover of U2’ “When Love Comes To town” and the crowd ate it up.
Now I hadn’t heard of Steve Fundy before the promotion of the Six String Fling began, but what a talented cat he is. Steve walked out on stage and said: “I didn’t make the band learn my original music, so we’re going to play what I do best, some psychedelic rock!” He kicked off his set with a 15-minute version of the Grateful Dead’ “Fire on the Mountain”, followed by a Pink Floyd mash-up. Steve’s current project, “JPGS” (an acronym of its band members names) is a semi-improvisational “jam band” influenced by the musical icons of the sixties and seventies. Fundy closed out his set with Jeff Beck’ s“Freeway Jam,” shredding on his guitar and giving guest drummer Bruce David a chance to really let loose.
Now we are halfway through the night and the man himself, Mr. Larry Dupio is up! Winner of “Rock Album of the Year” at the 2018 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, Larry is well-respected by his fellow musicians. Known as “Lightning Larry,” Dupio lit it up with a version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’ “The Sky is crying” and the title song off his award-winning album “Lightning strikes Hilo”. It’s always a pleasure to catch Larry on a show where he can crank it up and let his guitar scream.
Larry Seyer (rhymes with Fire) is a world-class studio musician who gained national recognition as both a producer and engineer while living in Austin Texas. For over 35 years, he worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry including Asleep At The Wheel, Huey Lewis, George Strait, Manhattan Transfer, The Dixie Chicks, Lyle Lovett, Dolly Parton, George Martin, Willie Nelson and over three-hundred other Texas and national artists.
From 1986 through 2007, Larry engineered almost all of the ‘Asleep at the Wheel‘s recordings produced during that time period. Doing so won him several Grammy Awards and Platinum records. In addition to his producing and engineering skills, he has written and scored original music for eight motion pictures as well as national TV shows and documentaries. Seyer kicked off his set with his original song “She Lies”, followed by a version of “Tennessee Whisky” and brought everyone to their feet with Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.”
Well, there was only one player left and last wasn’t going to be least! “The Always Rippin’ Dave Lawrence” came in playing from the back of the theater, got up on stage and didn’t let up. Opening with “Manic Depression”, the Jimi Hendrix classic. Master of Ceremonies and fellow Lava 105.3FM radio personality Ronnie V. (Ronnie Velveta), came out to join Dave on stage for The Allman Brothers “Whipping Post”. Dave finished out the night with Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”, sharing solos with Dan Corippo. Dave took full control of the final solo, ending to a standing ovation.
Not one guitar had left the stage throughout the night, so you knew these guys weren’t going anywhere without a final jam. All six guitarists came on stage, plugged in, and the finale was about to begin. The band launched into Jeff Becks’ “Going Down” and it was going down. One after another, each guitarist took their turn showing what they ’ve got! Seeing them all together really showed each guitar slingers individuality. Each with a different tone, stance, facial expression to set them apart, still all showing a shared comradery.
I had the chance to ask Scott Reagan this morning how he felt the show went and if he had any plans to do it again. “I literally couldn’t be any happier with how the show turned out,” says Scott. “From the time I came up with this concept, I knew it was going to be challenging to pull it off. But I’m fortunate to have an amazing group of people to work with and I have made so many new friends and fostered so many relationships along the way. When you take an idea like this, get great sponsors to back you, have amazing PR and marketing behind you, work with an incredible band and world-class guest performers, and have a beautiful venue with fantastically supportive staff, it’s a truly rewarding experience! And to the people of the Big Island that support live music, all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart! I am very much hoping that we can bring this show, with this cast, to the east side of the island early next year. And then I’d like to follow with a whole new cast of players later next year. This is a concept that I believe can only grow and with an amazing community of musicians on this island, I think it would be a shame not to continue riding this wave.”
It’s shows like this that bring the musicians and LIVE music fans together as a community. Get out and support LIVE music and the musicians who bring it to us!
Photos: Gerald Besson (featured image) and Steve Roby (concert images).