Rising Camarillo brothers in concert
Lineup of entertainers excited to play for drive-in audience
Kihei-born brothers Kamaka and Kala’e Camarillo will take the stage Saturday night at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s A&B Amphitheater, joining Hawaiian legends Henry Kapono and Keola Beamer for a free drive-in and livestreamed concert.
“It’s like a dream come true,” enthused Kala’e Camarillo. “It’s great to be performing in front of people again. It’s been a while. The Hokus were also a dream come true.”
Opening the Saturday show, both brothers were winners at the 2020 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. Kala’e won Contemporary Acoustic Album for his sophomore release, “Feel at Home,” while Kamaka’s smooth recording, “S.O.U.L: Songs of Unexpected Life,” won R&B Album.
“I totally wasn’t expecting it,” Kamaka Camarillo said about his Hoku win. “I was just grateful to make it on the list. It was quite a surprise.”
The brothers will perform together at the MACC along with bassist Tarvin Makia, and a surprise guest, Robi Kahakalau. “We don’t play together too often anymore,” said Kala’e. “But we’re both familiar with each other’s music, so it’s going to be me and him, and Robi is going to make a guest appearance. I play with her on Oahu. We met on Maui and I’ve been playing with her for the past year and a half.”
Kala’e’s award-winning “Feel at Home” finds this talented musician conjuring a collection of romantic-themed songs that feel warm, bright and bathed in sunlight. A number of beguiling songs recall the breezy acoustic style of C&K and John Cruz.
“I wanted it acoustic,” he explained. “Ka’au Crater Boys and John Cruz were my biggest inspirations growing up. I wanted to go with that vibe, even like C&K and Kalapana, I wanted to bring back that sound. And I’m a huge James Taylor fan, he influences a lot of my playing.”
The brothers were raised around music. Their mother is a sister of Na Leo’s Lehua Kalima, and their father, Rama Camarillo, is a well-known teacher who started the Kalama Intermediate Ukulele Band.
Graduating from Kamehameha Schools Maui, both brothers attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, with Kamaka studying classical guitar and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in music education, and Kala’e obtaining a degree in elementary and special education. Kamaka currently teaches music at Kaiser High School, while Kala’e teaches music at Kapalama Elementary School.
Before his 2020 Hoku win, Kamaka was nominated in 2019 for Hawaiian Single and Music Video of the Year for his catchy song “E Pi’i Mai,” which was inspired by Bruno Mars’ hit “That’s What I Like.”
Exploring a smooth neo soul and reggae-flavored sound on his winning “S.O.U.L” album, on tracks like “Na Moku O Hawaii,” Kamaka adds a cool Steely Dan groove, while “Schemes” evokes upbeat Luther Vandross, and a Santana-style guitar propels a couple of songs.
“R&B is my favorite genre,” Kamaka explained. “Soul music is the foundation with reggae.”
“When we started playing together it was good because we could play all kinds of different venues as both of us covered different genres,” Kala’e said. “I covered more the local contemporary stuff.”
Looking forward to performing on Maui again, opening for Henry Kapono and Keola Beamer, Kala’e was happy to discover Kapono likes his music.
“There was a songwriting festival in Kona two years and Henry was one of the mentors, so I actually had a one-on-one session with him. He got to hear my songs before they were released. He really liked what he heard and said, ‘We should do something together one day.’ It’s happening on Saturday.”
The free “Live @ the MACC” series continues on Sunday night with John Cruz, Barry Flanagan, Eric Gilliom and Anthony Pfluke. Show time each night is 6 p.m. in the MACC’s A&B Amphitheater. The shows will be livestreamed on the MACC’s website and its Facebook and YouTube pages. Due to the limited space and special logistics required, advance registration was required to attend in a vehicle.
The MACC has also held drive-in movie nights as a way of bringing back safe, socially distanced entertainment.
“We’re excited to present these three shows featuring some of Hawaii’s top entertainers in a safe, drive-in concert format,” said MACC CEO Art Vento. “Through generous support from the County of Maui and the Office of Economic Development we’re able to make these events available to Maui, and the world, free of charge. We will continue to address and evolve creative solutions during these challenging times, and look forward to presenting more ‘Live @ the MACC’ virtual events in the coming weeks.”