The ‘Evolution’ Of ManoaDNA

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - July 14, 2010
ManoaDNA’s third release

The creative fabric of the Kawakami ohana began years ago with Iolani Sportswear, but the past five years have proven that music also is in their genetic stitching.

Dad Lloyd and sons Nick and Alex have lots to celebrate with the expansion and renovation of their Kaka’ako factory store and the release of their third album, Evolution.

Evolution is a better ManoaDNA sound,” says Nick. “We have worked hard over the last couple of years to hone and strengthen our sound, and Evolution represents that.”

The album features an interesting cover with hieroglyphics designed by Nick to portray the group’s experiences over the past five years.

“Each symbol represents an experience that we have shared,” adds Nick. “They are all original symbols, but have a certain value to one or all of us.”

The album features 11 tracks: Quicksand, Dancing In The Rain, Someone Like You, Down In Paradise/Ka Beauty A’o Manoa, The Way You Make Me Feel, Love The One You’re With, Reach Up For The Stars, Voices Sweet, Green Rose Hula and Our Hawaii.

ManoaDNA: Lloyd, Nick and Alex Kawakami

“Other than the four cover songs, Alex composed all the music,” says Lloyd. “I love Down In Paradise/Ka Beauty A’o Manoa, which we recorded with Tony Conjugacion, and Someone Like You. But my favorite is Dreams Come Alive, which Alex wrote shortly after my father passed away last year. We’ve tried to perform it a couple of times but could never finish the song because it’s still very emotional for us. Maybe someday ...”

The album represents their growth as a group, in their sound, as a family and as individuals.

“I think we’ve grown tremendously as musicians and individuals, especially the boys,” says Dad. “When I think of them five years ago compared to where they are now, it’s like night and day. They’ve had to grow up quickly in this tough business and have gone through many of the highs and lows. It’s all good in the end, though, as it made them tough, wise and compassionate professionals.”

A live weekly radio show called Discover Aloha With ManoaDNA that broadcasts in Nagoya, Japan, and weekly gigs kept the guys’ evenings pretty full.

Currently they can be spotted from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays at Lulu’s, and 6 to 9 p.m. Saturdays at Kani Ka Pila Grille. Don’t count on seeing them this month, though, because they’re touring Japan through August.

Besides promoting their release of Evolution, the group also is focusing its energy on its first Japan album, Pure Aloha, released in April, as well as starting a keiki hula campaign with the album’s hit song, Aloha You-Kizuna.

Michael Paulo teams up with some of the industry’s biggest stars for two jazz performances this month

“The sky’s the limit,” says Nick ...

ME Productions (Michael Paulo and Ed Nishioka) presents Smooth Jazz Nights Summer Series beginning with a concert featuring David Benoit at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Royal Hawaiian Theatre, located on the fourth floor of Royal Hawaiian Center.

Benoit, one of the most acclaimed jazz pianists of our time, will take the stage with internationally acclaimed saxophonist Paulo. The born-and-raised Hawaii boy will show audiences why his accolades go back 20 years.

A second show is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, July 30, at Royal Hawaiian Theatre featuring Mindi Abair, Greg Adams, Freddie Washington and Paulo.

Abair is regarded as the No. 1 female saxophonist with more than a decade of performances and recordings with some of the biggest stars in the music industry. Adams, a legendary trumpeter, also is founder of the horn-based Tower of Power.

Washington, a world-renowned bassist, received a Gold Album Award for the hit Forget Me Nots.

Tickets for both concerts are on sale and can be purchased at or by calling 550-8457. Reserved tickets cost $45 and include a seat in the general reserved section; VIP seats cost $85 and include a seat in the VIP section at floor-level with cocktail service and after party; Super VIP seats are $125 and include a floor-level leather couch with cocktail service, after party and a concert gift. For more information, visit


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