It was imperfect, but Robert Cazimero’s return to the limelight last night (March 28) at Chef Chai’s was momentous and a measure of what the local show biz has been lacking for months.
Cazimero’s gig, dubbed the Full Moon Concert, had been a monthly fave at Chai’s, linked to the lunar calendar. It was sidelined last year by the pandemic, so the homecoming of one of Hawaii’s luminous troupers drew a full house.
But like a vehicle idled for an extended time, Cazimero had to pull the throttles, step on the gas, and look in the rear mirror to find his footing. Behind his keyboard, he’s a master, but it took an effort to get his engine purring.
The format here is sharing moods and memories, a structure that allows him to cruise with tunes from all genres, and in the driver’s seat, he doesn’t speed, he coasts and maneuvers his ride without a formal agenda nor a GPS. Thus, it’s a ride that’s equally familiar yet unexpected, because he and his viewers have been on that road before.
It’s curious that the car-ride Hawaiian oldie, “Holo Holo Kaa,” was among the fare, with his two hula dancers, Sky Perkins Gora and Bully Keola Makaiau, chugging along joyfully. This punctuated the evening of magical memories.
Surely, the tapestry of tunes – “Rainbow Connection,” “Keawaiki,” “My Sweet Pikake Lei,” “Waikiki,” “Always,” “At Home in the Islands” – painted a reflective tone of a casual party.
Folks in the audience – Manu Boyd, singing and dancing, Cha Thompson hulaing — joined the celebration. From her seat, singer Nina Keali’iwahamana Rapozo was mouthing the lyrics, simulating a duet with Cazimero, several times.
Of course, there were a couple of Cazimero charm; he shared local-style sing-along ditties, tapping “Happy Birthday,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “I’m. Little Teapot,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “You Are My Sunshine.” Cute, crazy, Cazimero stuff.
Then not surprisingly, he closed his set with a Christmas song he learned back in the day from the late Mahi Beamer. Who else could get away with a yuletide gift now?
Future Full Moon Concerts are scheduled for April 25, May 27, June 24 and July 23. Reservations: 585-0011 or www.chefchai.com.