Katchafire returns for Revive the Live Music Fest

Sep. 4, 2014 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition
Maori group Katchafire will headline the Revive the Live Music Festival at the Waikiki Shell. (Courtesy Katchafire!)

Maori group Katchafire will headline the Revive the Live Music Festival at the Waikiki Shell. (Courtesy Katchafire!)

BY STEVEN MARK / smark@staradvertiser.com

Reggae fans can rejoice at Revive the Live Music Festival on Saturday, where a half-dozen reggae bands from Hawaii and overseas will take the stage at the Waikiki Shell.

Headlining the roster of bands will be Katchafire, an all-Maori group that is billed as New Zealand’s “hardest touring band.”

A look at its schedule for just the last half of 2014 explains why: 19 concerts all over New Zealand in July and August, and, starting with the performance here, 23 concerts in the U.S. from New York to California from now until mid-October.

REVIVE THE LIVE MUSIC FESTIVAL

Presented by Hawaii’s Finest

» Where: Waikiki Shell
» When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday
» Cost: $20-$90
» Info: Blaisdell box office, WalMart, ticketmaster.com or 866-448-7849

With three of the original band members coming from the same family, guitarist Grenville Bell and his sons Logan (vocal) and Jordan (drums/vocals), connections are a driving force behind the band.

The Bells still perform with a seven-member band that also includes Tere Ngarua (bass), Hani Totorewa (keyboards, vocals), James Ferguson (keyboards, saxophone, vocals) and Leon Davey (percussion, vocals).

“Family is everything to us,” Logan Bell stated, in an email response to questions from TGIF.

“We all have huge families, and when they get together it’s an occasion. They come with us on the road when can, and ultimately are the reason we work so hard.”

As the group’s name suggests, Katchafire was inspired by Bob Marley, whose fifth album was titled “Catch a Fire.”

Marley and his group the Wailers visited New Zealand in 1979 and immediately resonated with the indigenous population there “as a brown man singing about our struggle,” Bell said. “He was the first person we saw being himself that was totally talking to us as a people.”

Marley inspired a reggae revolution in New Zealand, which now has more than 100 reggae groups, and Katchafire originally formed as a Marley tribute band.

Now, its well-traveled ways have allowed the group to incorporate a variety of different genres and musical cultures into its sunny sound.

Maui-based band Ekolu will perform at the festival Saturday. (Aaron Yoshino / Special to the HSA)

Maui-based band Ekolu will perform at the festival Saturday. (Aaron Yoshino / Special to the HSA)

The group has produced five albums, four of which were among the top five reggae albums in New Zealand in their respective years. More recently, Jordan Bell has written a new single “Down With You,” that the group will perform here.

“The Jamaicans call our style of music South Pacific reggae,” Logan Bell said. “It’s distinct to Maori Pacific island people. We can’t hear it because it’s our interpretation, but the Jamaicans can.”

REVIVE THE LIVE was started two years ago after some local supporters noticed that interest in reggae music concerts seemed to be falling off — and decided to put a festival together to build up new excitement.

This year’s lineup of local bands will range from the traditional to the up and coming, with longtime reggae master Fiji performing hits like “Sweet Darling,” “Naughty Girl” and “Smokin’ Session,” and newcomers Kolohe Kai and Maoli contributing popular tunes like “Ehu Girl,” “He’e Roa,” “Write Me a Letter” and “Get Right.”

Also on the bill is Maui band Ekolu, whose 1999 hit “Down in the Valley” made them a nationwide sensation, and roots reggae band Ooklah The Moc, which has opened for many top visiting reggae groups over the years.

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