Sunday, June 25, 2006

Rodney Arias: Hawaiian lounge legend


Over the years, somehow, I've managed to find three different records by Hawaiian lounge singer Rodney Arias. One listen to "Live!" and you know that Rodney was no two-bit tourist hack - this man could put on a show. The intro alone to "After the Lovin'" makes me want to go back in time to the Outrigger East hotel, circa 1979, with an umbrella drink in one hand and a beautiful wahine in the other - truly paradise.

From the liner notes:
"'Rodney Arias has perhaps the finest voice in Waikiki at the moment. His notes are big, brassy, and bold; his repertoire is laced with oldies and current favorites. He can sing the bouncy pop stuff, right along with the hauntingly beautiful Hawaiiana; and when the Paradise Serenaders uncork their vibrant harmonies (with hints of falsetto), the result is chicken-skin music.' Thus wrote Wayne Harada, the Honolulu Advertiser's Entertainment Editor in his latest review of Rodney's Show. Rodney Arias deserves to be heard. A live recording is the quickest and most expedient method. It was impractical to bring all the necessary equipment to the Outrigger East Hotel, (a remote unit was not available), so the producers decided to reverse the procedure. They transported the club to the studio -- chairs, tables, ash-trays, a mini-bar, and pupus were laid out. The group set up on the opposite side and performed to a small but enthusiastic studio audiance (sic). The results are here on record. Unfortunately it is impossible to include all the numbers performed that evening. Some tough decisions had to be made. Most of the chatter was edited (awwwww! -- BR) to give you more of Rodney and the Paradise Serenaders."
"If My Friends Could See Me Now"
"Just The Way You Are"
"Last Dance"

"Love is The Way" is Rodney's second album. They were right - the "live" sound that works so well on the above record is missing here. This record is undated, but came after a 1973 record called "The Paradise Serenaders" and before "Live!" in 1979. In any case, here's his rendition of the ubiquitous "Quando Quando"

From the liner notes:
"After a very successful first album, Rodney Arias and the Paradise Seranaders have put together truly inspirational second album, featuring for the first time, Rodney Arias as a soloist. A strong baritone, Rodney sings in his own irresistible, distinctive and modern style that is pure enjoyment."


On a recent thrift trip, I was delighted to discover yet another Arias album. This eponymous effort is also undated, but as disco become tired, Rodney stayed fresh with country-tinged tunes. Blame Urban Cowboy. Check out, of all things, "Lukenbach, Texas".

"I'm an Entertainer" meanwhile shows that Rodney didn't lose his funky chops as he matured.

No liner notes on this record, but the back cover does have the wonderful full-body photo shown at the top of the page.

Rodney has appeared in an episode of Hawaii Five-0.
He has several other records, including at least one other with the Paradise Serenaders and another with a band called Sand.

Where Are They Now???
-- I think Rodney is still around. His son Rodney Jr. has a band, and I've had trouble figuring out if mentions are about Rodney Sr. or Jr.

Rodney Arias, Jr., has a cd available. His band features former members of the Paradise Serenaders. He's also a manager at the Honolulu Wal-Mart, after a stint as a butcher at the Waikele Sack N Save.

6 comments:

Here's Why I Did Not Go To Work Today said...

I simply had to buy Rodney's "Live" album when I saw it on the site. Oh, you can just imagine how pleased I was to get it in my hot little hands and place it on the turntable. Definitely "Joyce" caliber due to its I-can't-take-my-eyes-off-of-it-because-it's-so-gawd-awful allure.

Now if I can only find a copy of the ever elusive "Joyce," I will be in so-bad-it's-good Nirvana.

Jim

Tara said...

Trippy!

I worked at the Sheraton Maui's Discovery Room in the late '70s, and saw Rodney's show 5 nights a week! Pretty impressive, but even in those days it grew tiresome after a while. I still know all those songs by heart.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I want the Live! album!!!! Where the hell do I get to buy it?????

Dean Whinery B. said...

I remember Rodney and his band from their appearances at a Hawaiian dinner restaurant in Southern California. They were great, and I've often wondered about him since a Vietnamese group bought out the restaurant and drove it into the ground.
I'll be on the lookout for recordings by Rodney Jr.

zepcat said...

I,too, was employed as a wine steward at the Discovery Room in the early 80's when Rodney ruled the tourist entertainment in Maui. I also was the Broker-In-Charge for Hugh Menefee and a neighbor as our homes were near each other's in Lahaina. His home was at Wells and Wainee Sts and mine was about hundred yards away next to the Pat Sullivan homestead. Any way Rodney probably does not remember entertaining me with great stories and spiritual philosophy as we partook of the best herb Maui had to offer. Even though most knew Rodney as only as an A list entertainer in Hawaii, I found him to be much more. A very generous, intelligent, gentleman who could regale you with his spiritual beliefs with a sense of humor you seldom find in someone with such conviction for what he believed. I left the Sheraton as the RE business came back, sold my home and moved to another Maui location and for one reason or another we seldom saw each other again. However, I awoke this morning and for some reason thought about Rodney and what he might be doing. Maybe we still have that spiritual connection of the aina which will always be with both of us. Well I'm just an old Malahini, ex-kamaina, wishing he were still in Maui. Rodney it seems you still rule in Hawaii and I hope maybe our paths will cross again before our time on earth ends. Bless you man and keep up the good work. Mahalo Nui Loa, for the old times. Your old friend Jim Holliday, formally of 552 Wainee St, Lahaina.