Page 5 - MidWeek Kauai - April 27, 2022
P. 5

The Green: Still Grooving, But Also Growing Into Fatherhood
     FROM PAGE 4
Nothing illustrates this feeling of tribal unity better than how the band rallies around each other — whether in difficult times (as mem- bers did earlier this month during a concert and fundraiser for current drummer Jordan Espinoza’s wife, Anjuli, who’s battling cancer) or in joyous ones (as when keyboard- ist-vocalist Ikaika Antone received the good news that he was about to become a daddy).
tersburg, Florida, and in February, it staged a West Coast swing “through eight or nine states” that included packed shows in Nevada, Colorado and Utah.
  “Look at our latest album, Brand New Eyes (released last Novem- ber),” notes Thompson. “Every- thing about that album pertains to family stuff. We all have brand-new eyes and it’s all based on our new outlook on life as fathers.
(Left) With drummer Jordan Espinoza and bassist Brad Watanabe laying the foundation for The Green’s sound, singer Caleb Keolanui is free to impress audiences with his vocal range and soulful stylings. (Right) Zion Thompson shows off his chops on the guitar.
Proving the band has no let-up, the members intend to play on with more road dates next month. Up first is the California Roots Music Festival on May 29 in Monterey, and the group will follow that performance up the very next day with an appearance at the Arise Music Festival in Love- land, Colorado.
“Take the song Young Man. Ikai- ka wrote that about the struggles of trying to have a child and the ups and downs of going through that with his wife,” Thompson contin- ues. “So, I remember the day when he finally got the call. We were on tour and he was in the hallway and he was FaceTiming his wife and I kind of noticed that she was crying, but she also looked happy. I busted out my phone to start taking pictures when she told him, ‘I’ m pregnant.’ And Kaiks just started crying.
“We were just sitting there at JP’s house with all this music we had been recording and we were like, ‘What are we going to do now?’” remembers Thompson. “And right there, the band just kind of formed.”
Hungry to strike a chord with reggae fans both near and far, The Green — which had already released its breakthrough single Love I — immediately joined up with fellow local musician Anuhea on her state- side Right Love Tour in 2010. But the band soon learned that gaining the attention of the masses would be a work in progress.
“Unless something goes wrong, we’ll do one show here (on O‘ahu) and one on the outer islands,” prom- ises Thompson.
“It’s been such a long road for them and we all knew about it,” he adds. “I still have those pictures on
Ultimately, the name stuck be- cause it resonated with the members despite the color not having any par- ticular meaning to them.
. my phone of him when he found out a s... I thought it was such a special vemoment.”
“It’s obvious because we’re a reggae band that people will think it (means) one thing, but for us, it’s not that,” he explains. “It could be
“But we’ve worked hard and the touring has been a huge part of teaching us how to be together and I wouldn’t trade any of that for the world.”
el ’re at ou re ’m nd ild it ies ng en m-
Undeterred, the band kept plug- ging away and soon the crowds started coming to experience The Green vibe, thanks in part to the willingness of college newspapers and radio stations to promote its music. Today, the group has five studio albums under its belt, a large following that stretches across the globe and a thriving touring sched- ule. Last month, it performed at the Reggae Rise Up Festival in St. Pe-
Nor would his fellow band members, all of whom intend to remain a part of The Green scene for a very, very long time.
common roots. Keolanui and guitar- ist-vocalist JP Kennedy are cousins and former members of the reggae band Next G, and both come from a family of musicians (their un- cle, in fact, is Danny Kennedy of Mana‘o Co. fame). And although Thompson, Antone and bassist-vo- calist Brad Watanabe aren’t blood relatives, they do hail from the same community (Kailua) and, in the case of Thompson and Antone, had al- ready evolved into close friends af- ter previously joining forces in the group Stir Crazy.
In recalling how The Green fi- nally came together to combine their vocal prowess (highlighted by the golden-throated Keolanui) and exceptional musicianship with their strong songwriting abilities,
Best of all, The Green intends to hold a couple of shows in the islands in the near future, although the dates and locations have yet to be deter- mined.
erhaps the shared closeness shouldn’t be all that sur- prising given the members’
Thompson explains that things hap- pened quickly once their prior bands began to “fizzle out.”
anything and doesn’t necessarily need to mean one thing or require a specific definition. It’s just us ... (it) felt right.”
One of their first decisions was to come up with a suitable name. Thompson can’t recall if it was Ken- nedy or Watanabe who first suggest- ed The Green, but he does recollect the name initially being tossed out “half in jest.”
“When we were starting out, there weren’t a lot of touring reg- gae bands, so it was usually just Ha- wai‘i transplants at our shows,” says Thompson, who at 39 is the oldest member of the band. “But the first time we went to New Orleans, we played at a spot called the Repub- lic, and there was nobody there — I mean literally no one.”
In summing up his thoughts on how the band has flourished in its decade together, Thompson would only say this: “We’re bless- ed — we’ve always felt that way. From the get-go, Hawai‘i has had our back, and we had great tim- ing when we released our music as far as what came out that year. Our very first album did well, and I just thought there weren’t a lot of heavy-hitting albums in the reggae genre that came out that same year, so we kind of got lucky. Things just aligned and a lot of things just worked out for us.
 As Thompson puts it, “We’re not going to stop. This thing that we have just works. It’s family.”
 y.” Family remains the priority for The Green’s members: (from left) Jordan Espinoza, JP Kennedy, Brad Watanabe, Caleb Keolanui, Ikaika Antone and Zion Thompson.
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