Heading to Japan, But Without My Guitar?

Aloha friends!

Had fun last week at SWIM Bar at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki on Wednesday playing with Mark Tanouye.  Got to hang with my classmate Sean and his friend, Ashley, along with many Japanese friends and my family.  It’s definitely harder to play without the full DNA experience but it’s also fun because I get to try out new things and play different songs.  We were back in action as the full band at Lulus and Kani Ka Pila on friday and saturday respectively.  Photo Credit to Nick’s Instagram (@nikl_us).

Mark and I at the SWIM Bar

Mark and I at the SWIM Bar

This week we got the full ManoaDNA band at the SWIM Bar on Wednesday but we’ll be off from Lulus and Kani Ka Pila because we’re heading to Japan!  Like I said though, I won’t be bring my guitar so why would we all be going to Japan??  Our family business, Iolani Sportswear, paired up with UNIQLO to make a line of clothing that will release on May 12th.  It’s a great honor for me to be a part of this experience and I’m very excited to see my family’s hard work go public.  It’ll be nice to hangout in Japan and not have to worry about performing.  We’ll be playing golf, having dinner with many friends, and sightseeing! Oh, and of course I’ll be hunting for some good whisky along the way too…

Pharrell in an Iolani Ad for UNIQLO

Pharrell in an Iolani Ad for UNIQLO

Although this isn’t a tour, I’ll probably still bring my KoAloha Ukulele just in case inspiration strikes. Not excited to fly tho…as many of you know I HATE flying.  I’m already feeling anxiety!  But it’s all worth it when heading to Japan because it’s such an amazing place.

See you all soon!  I should have pictures from our trip next week.  Aloha!

Bruno Rocked, But Who Else Caught My Attention?


I had a great opportunity last weekend to watch one of Hawaii’s own rock the Blaisdell Arena and win over the whole state of Hawaii.  Bruno Mars came back home and sold out 3 shows last weekend and proved why he is one of the top entertainers in the world right now.  He put on a show that not only was musically amazing, but the production quality was off the charts.  He didn’t just sing, he entertained.  He inspired me to become a better entertainer.

I arrived in the arena right as Bruno’s Dad’s band was playing and rocking some doo-wop/latin music that was different from the norm but I really enjoyed it.  Something about good conga players peaks my attention.  After they finished their set, the proud father took a bow and waved goodbye to the crowd to make way for the next act to open.  Back in high school I played in a band called “Pa’ani” and our bass player’s name was Brad Watanabe, who is now the bass player/keyboard player for the band The Green.  They came on next to pave the way for Bruno and got the crowd up and dancing and loosened everyone up.  They did a great job opening for Bruno and I know they have a VERY bright future ahead of them. It was great to catch up with Brad a little after he finished and I wish him all the best. We may collaborate on something in the future too…

The Green was on fire!

The Green was on fire!

After The Green finished it was a short wait till Bruno came up and holy smokes he did not disappoint!  I knew he was good but he impressed me with his vocals and his overall ability to entertain.  His band was amazing too!  After the concert it really made me think about what I’m doing with my music career and how much harder I need to work to get to where I want to be.  It’s so easy in Hawaii to be laid-back and fall into a slump because no matter what happens you’re in Hawaii and Hawaii is amazing.  But after watching Bruno it made me think about how much work goes into this and he inspired me to want to get better and practice more to become a better entertainer and songwriter.

But like I said…there was someone else that caught my attention.  Bruno’s brother Eric Hernandez, a.k.a “E-Panda” is his drummer on tour and this is not an over exaggeration, but he is one of the finest drummers I’ve ever seen in my life.  It wasn’t because he could solo like a maniac (he could), it’s not because he could play fast and in time (he could), it’s not because he played with one hand while drinking water (he did), and it’s not because he made it look easy (he did)…it’s because of how tasteful his playing was.  He didn’t try to bang around and over power the music, he played simple enough so the essence of the song remained familiar but also threw in perfectly timed fills and crashes.  I might’ve watched him more than I did Bruno.

I went home after the concert and started reading about Eric Hernandez and his story.  He originally moved to LA at the age of 18 to try and work as a drummer and ended becoming an LAPD police officer instead because he had to pay the bills.  He pretty much put his drums in storage until Bruno moved up and things started to get exciting.  He also took time to take lessons even though he knew he was good.  That right there tells me a lot about him because you’re never too good to learn and he is a great example of how hard work will always pay off in the end.  Go google him and read about him, great story.

E-Panda – if you ever read this, thanks for being an inspiration and not giving up when the going got tough.  I would love to jam with you someday so keep a lookout for me in the future!

Thanks for reading peeps…got some exciting news coming in the next few months so stick around.


Great concert, Bruno!

Great concert, Bruno!

Sapporo Snow Festival: Amazing fun, till the end…

Wow it’s been awhile! I would say Happy New Year, Merry Christmas, Happy Thanksgiving, etc etc…but I missed a lot so let’s just say, “HAPPY LIFE EVERYONE!”

I went on an adventure a few weeks ago to play music at the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri, or Snow Festival.  I’ve heard about this festival so much over the past 7 years ManoaDNA has travelled to Japan so I was so excited to get an opportunity to perform there.  Thank you to Panasonic, FM NorthWave, Reiko and Leila, and all the friends and fans that came out to support Sarah Kamalei and me at the POKA POKA Station Stage!

To start off the trip we were so happy to see snow in the -6 degree Fahrenheit weather!

It was snowing so hard all day and night.  We walked for hours braving the awesome cold weather!

It was snowing so hard all day and night. We walked for hours braving the awesome cold weather!

Although the snow made it really cold and wet it was really cool to watch it snow and walk around town while getting covered in white powder.  I think it was cool because it is the EXACT opposite of Hawaii weather.

One of the HUGE snow sculptures for 2014.

One of the HUGE snow sculptures for 2014. This is a big as a small building.

Our second and third day in Sapporo we performed at the Panasonic POKA POKA Station stage right in the middle of the whole festival and got a chance to see a lot of friends from Sapporo.  Inside of the Panasonic booth it was around 80 degrees and outside was around 25 degrees, so my mind was going crazy with HOT/COLD/HOT/COLD…I didn’t know what to do!

After a great few days in Sapporo, Sarah Kamalei, Pele Reiko, Leila, and I were all ready to head to our respective hometowns.  We needed to fly to Haneda (Tokyo) first to connect to our flight back to Honolulu.  Because of a snow storm on Saturday night many of the domestic and international flights were delayed in and out of Tokyo throughout the day on Sunday so we were a little worried about our flight.  Our original flight was suppose to be 6:30pm-8:10pm and we would have time to transfer to our flight home at 11:40pm.  However, our domestic flight was delayed till 9:10pm, making us arrive at 10:40pm…giving us only an hour to make our international flight.  This was cutting it close, but we would’ve still made it.  We all boarded the plane and were ready to go but ended up sitting at the gate for 45 more minutes!!!  Why you might ask?!?  Well, there was a group of 6 or 8 people who the airline waited for because they needed to make an international connecting flight. Because we waited for them, a big group of us missed connecting international flights because our planes didn’t wait for us.  We had to stay in the airport till 4am to work out our future flights and ended up finally getting a flight home the next night in time to make a ManoaDNA gig back home. I still don’t understand how they could hold a flight for a few people and make a big group of people miss our flights…AND they tried to blame it on weather so they wouldn’t have to pay for hotel accommodations or flight changes!  Oh well…it all worked out and we made it home.

Even though the end of the trip was really bad it didn’t take away from the amazing time in Sapporo.  Can’t wait to go back!



When I Was Your Man – Chords (Ukulele)

I got a few requests for the chords I play for this song…they’re a little weird but I use a capo to make it easier. It’s not in th same key as the original recording and I am playing a D-VI KoAloha Ukulele.  Let me know if you see any errors and please enjoy!

Watch my video here!


When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars
Charts by Alx Kawakami may be different than recording.

Intro: C# Eb Ab (2X)
Fm                                                            Bbm
Same bed but it feels just a little bit bigger now
Eb                                                             Ab
Our song on the radio but it don’t sound the same
Fm                                                                                        Bbm
When our friends talk about you, all it does is just tear me down
Eb                                                                  Ab
‘Cause my heart breaks a little when I hear your name

Ab                                   Fm Cm
It all just sounds like oooooh…
F#                                                          Ab
Mmm, too young, too dumb to realize
Eb                                                             C#
That I should have bought you flowers
Eb                        Ab
And held your hand
Should have gave you all my hours
Eb                             Ab
When I had the chance
Take you to every party
Eb                                                        Fm
‘Cause all you wanted to do was dance
Bb                               C#
Now my baby’s dancing
But she’s dancing with another man

Verse: (Same chords as above)
My pride, my ego, my needs, and my selfish ways
Caused a good strong woman like you to walk out my life
Now I never, never get to clean up the mess I made, ohh…
And it haunts me every time I close my eyes

Although it hurts
Eb                                                        Ab G/Eb Fm Cm
I’ll be the first to say that I was wrong
Oh, I know I’m probably much too late
To try and apologize for my mistakes
But I just want you to know.

Chorus: (Same as above)
I hope he buys you flowers
I hope he holds your hand
Give you all his hours
When he has the chance
Take you to every party
‘Cause I remember how much you loved to dance
Do all the things I should have done
When I was your man
Do all the things I should have done
When I was your man

Just Plane Exhausted…

If you follow my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, then you know that our last trips to LA, Nashville, Florida, and Vegas, were filled with many plane failures and delays. I’m tired of my planes turning around mid flight, not taking off, and delaying because it makes me so tired and full of stress. I think I’m still recovering after a week of nutsness!

Since we’ve been back we’ve been nonstop gigging and working, which, don’t get me wrong, is really awesome, but I’m running on fumes. Even if I get a good amount of sleep I still wake up exhausted and have trouble concentrating throughout the day. I think after wednesday or so this week I’ll have time to relax. One can only hope…

We’re finishing up a project for Dole this week, then it’s on to our new Japan album. So excited to get some new songs down for you all to hear!

I’ll be back soon with another update..

Songwriting in LA

In LA right now trying to write music that we’ll record later this week. We’ll be working with Ken Caillat next week so I’m writing with one of his writers names Eric Berdon. We wrote some good stuff last night and today I have the day off to relax and get more good ideas down before we meet again tomorrow. I was so nervous about writing with someone I’ve never met but it felt good and I can’t wait to start again.
I could get used to this kind of living so hopefully ill be able to come back more often to work in LA.
I’ll post some more stuff on my FaceBook and Twitter so follow me for updates and picture!

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