Streetlight Cadence, the alt-rock band Hawaii adores, is brighter than ever with unparalleled artistic fervor. The expanded group of 10 — assembled in what was described as a reunion gig — returned to Blue Note Hawaii Friday night (Nov. 3) delivering an astounding one-nighter, attracting a nearly full house which saw a stunning performance that ran for 2 hours and 10 minutes and even included a couple of hana hou treats. Whew!
Streetlight has been known for its busking on the sidewalks and its “Will Work for Food” motto to gain free meals and perhaps a couch for a night’s sleep.
Jonathan Franklin, on violin, and Jesse Shiroma, on accordion.
Well, the group – currently a small trio – is led by Jonathan Franklin whose calls to former mates to reunite succeeded. Franklin developed a production worthy of showrooms not sidewalks.
Ten take-aways from the one-nighter:
1 — Franklin is an indefatigable emcee. He is a genial host and a wonderful storyteller, and he plays an electric violin, often shelving the bow and plucking and strumming his instrument like an ukulele. How cool is that?
2 – The assembled instruments included the violin, along with two cellos, an accordion, two guitars, a bass, a drum, a banjo and a piano. Impressive!
3 – Two women – Clara Stegall on guitar and vocals and Maia Wolfe on cello – bring a rich warmth to the show. Hooray!
Usually a trio now, Streelight Cadence had 10 musicians for its first reunion show at Blue Note Hawaii. Pictured from left, Mariconda, Wolfe, Shiroma, Webb, Franklin, Stegall, Chai, Arashiro and Umamoto.
4 – The gents are all over the place: The players include Jesse Shiroma on accordion, Ben Chai on banjo, Brian Webb on cello, Chaz Umamoto on bass, Matt Mariconda on piano, and Evan Arashiro on drums. They jump, twirl, leap, demonstrating energy and mobility, and on one tune, two dudes – think they were Chai and Umamoto – were lying, back-to-back on the stage floor, and singing. Jiminy Cricket!
5 –Every tune delivered was an original, mostly composed by Franklin (with Stegall serving up one of her songs). There are no “covers” on the Streetlight jukebox!
6—However, a few songs are somewhat structurally repetitive, beginning with calm, and building up to a furious storm…but there’s no lack of communication and interplay when the troupers jam and get the juice flowing, with constant interplay, like partnering in cadence.
7—It’s not easy to categorize the Streetlighters’ music. Yes, primarily, alt-rockers, but flavored with a savory mix of folk, country, hard rock, and in one tune, rap. The mood is like a jam, a hootenanny, a contagious crossover of many genres of music.
8— Franklin opened up a window to his soul and heart; clearly, he’s had issues, which are resolved in a song, notably about his longtime conflict with a sister in Japan, reflected in an honest, revealing, and soulful apologetic letter of sorts, on “Learn to Love.” Sounded like a diary admission of making up to heal wounds.
9—The audience was a peculiar but homogenous mix of young, old, mostly locals; they are not always fully familiar to the Streetlight repertoire (me included) but they’re loyal and addictive to the party on stage, perhaps attracted to the personalities, happily clapping along and offering an impromptu standing ovation at the end, and yes, howling “hana hou,” not fully satisfied with the earlier non-stop 2-hour-plus music fest. Geez!
10– With this kind of performance – pure, revealing, engaging – Blue Note ought to book the band again, which means Franklin will have to start convincing the ex-members to come back to Hawaii for a second annual reunion. Hana hou!
And that’s Show Biz. …