8th Annual Maitai Rumble

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - September 26, 2008
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Koauka is the featured Aftershock band for the semi-finals on Nov. 25. The group released its newest album, Instantaneous, in November 2007. The album features nine original songs, including radio hit I Can Be The Guy .

Some of Hawaii’s best amateur bands will battle it out in a live, 10-week competition for more than $30,000 in cash and prizes every Tuesday at 9 p.m. beginning Oct. 7 at the Mai Tai Bar. But before the bands start banging it out at the eighth annual Mai Tai Rumble, past winners - Fab 4, Planet Jane, All Natro and Isouljahs - will take the stage next Tuesday (Sept. 30) for a special opening night bash. Other past winners include Epic Session, Hot Rain and Taimane.

After that, it’s all in the judges’ hands as groups take the stage competing in two categories: Island contemporary music and open mic (any other musical style). Each week only the top groups will move on to compete in the semi-finals and later the final showdown on Dec. 2.


“Because we have a lot of live music here (Mai Tai Bar), we had a lot of bands inquiring about wanting to play,” says general manager Francine Cekada. “This was our way of turning those inquiries into a music competition, which started in 2001.”

After the winners are announced each night, some of the biggest names in Island music will take the stage for the special Aftershock concert series.

Ten Feet will throw it down at Mai Tai Bar Nov. 4. Its latest album, Everyday, just released last month. After 13 years of performing together, the band says this album marks a new chapter in its journey together.

Here’s the lineup - Oct. 7: Ooklah The Moc; Oct. 14: Paula Fuga w/ Dubkonscious; Oct. 21: Beach 5; Oct. 28: Rebel Souljahz; Nov. 4: Ten Feet; Nov. 11: Kapena; Nov. 18: Sashamon; Nov. 25: Koauka’ and Dec. 2: Natural Vibrations.

“As more people come out, we decided to bring in headliners after the competition,” says Cekada. “We started it in 2006, and basically as soon as the judging is done (around 11 p.m.) they step on and play for about an hour.”

What also has changed since its inception are the prizes and the money. The first year rewarded its winner with $10,000; now $30,000 in cash and prizes is divvied up between the two winners in each category. The winner of the Island contemporary category will receive $4,000 in cash prizes and $8,500 in non-cash prizes. The winner ofopen mic will receive $2,000 in cash prizes and $10,500 in non-cash prizes.

Emceeing the event this year is the always entertaining Mento Mele of Island Rhythm 98.5, which means besides the great music there will be great fun and giveaways all night long.

Christian Yrizarry and Sani Apuakehau of the group Beach 5 plan to show guests a good time with their live performance Oct. 21.

For those who think their band is good enough to win it all, there’s still time to enter. Applications are available at http://www.maitairumble.com or at Mai Tai Bar.

The competition is open to all residents of the state of Hawaii 18 years of age or older, but all guests of the Mai Tai Bar must be 21 and older. Also, any grand prize winners of previous Mai Tai Rumbles are not eligible to enter, unless an individual performer is with another duo or group. A complete list of rules and regulations is available online, along with the application.


Many previous Mai Tai Rumble champions, runners-up and even non-placing acts have achieved success in their musical careers. Groups such as Reign, Epic Session, Red Degree, and the No-no Boys have all released albums since participating in the competition. And acts like Pohaku, Hot Rain and Wrecking Crew went on to secure regular gigs at the Mai Tai Bar and other local venues.

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