Oahu has several key spots for Hawaiian music. A delightful (and powerful) addition to the Waikiki music scene is Hawaii's queen of falsetto, Genoa Keawe, who fills the Lobby Bar of the Hawaiian Regent Hotel (tel. 808/922-6611) with her larger-than-life voice. You'll find her here from 5:30 to 8:30pm every Thursday; the rest of the week, except Monday, other contemporary Hawaiian musicians fill in.
Brothers Cazimero remains one of Hawaii's most gifted duos (Robert on bass, Roland on 12-string guitar), appearing every Wednesday at 7pm at Chai's Island Bistro (tel. 808/585-0011), in the Aloha Tower Marketplace. Also at Chai's: Robert Cazimero plays by himself on the piano on Tuesdays at 7pm; and Jerry Santos and Hula performs on Mondays at 7pm.
Impromptu hula and spirited music from the family and friends of the performers are an island tradition at places such as the Hilton Hawaiian Village (tel. 808/949-4321), which has live music nightly at the Tapa Bar and at the Tropics Bar and Grill. Plus every Friday night is the Rocking Hawaiian Rainbow Review with fireworks starting at 7pm. Its Waikiki Style Luau features Hawaiian entertainment with dinner five nights a week (Sun-Thurs) for $120. The Royal Hawaiian also has its own form of luau.
At Duke's Canoe Club at the Outrigger Waikiki (tel. 808/923-0711), it's always three deep at the beachside bar as the sun sets; extra-special entertainment is a given here, from 4 to 6pm and again from 9:30pm to midnight every night.
Nearby, the Moana Surfrider offers a regular nightly program of live Hawaiian music and piano in its Beach House (tel. 808/922-3111), which surrounds an islet-size canopy of banyan tree and roots where Robert Louis Stevenson loved to linger. The Veranda serves afternoon tea and cocktails.
Our best advice for Hawaiian music lovers is to scan the local dailies (especially Friday's pull-out TGIF section in the Honolulu Star Advertiser; www.staradvertiser.com) or the Honolulu Weekly (www.honoluluweekly.com) to see if and where the following Hawaiian entertainers are appearing: Kekuhi Kanahele, an accomplished, award-winning chanter and kahiko (ancient hula) dancer; Hookena, a symphonically rich quintet featuring Manu Boyd, one of the most prolific songwriters and chanters in Hawaii; Kealii Reichel, premier chanter, dancer, and award-winning recording artist; Robbie Kahakalau, another award-winning musician; Kapena, for contemporary Hawaiian music; Na Leo Pilimehana, a trio of angelic Hawaiian singers; the Makaha Sons of Niihau, pioneers in the Hawaiian cultural renaissance; Fiji, a performer whose music is classified as Hawaiian soul; and slack-key guitar master Raymond Kane.
Consider the gods beneficent if you happen to be here when the hula halau (school) of Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett is holding its annual fundraiser. It's a rousing, inspired, family effort that always features the best in ancient and contemporary Hawaiian music. For the best in hula, check the dailies for halau fundraisers, which are always authentic, enriching, and local to the core.
The Waikiki Improvement Association also puts on free hula performances every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 6:30 to 7:30pm, at Kuhio Beach Park.
The blues are alive and well in Hawaii, with quality acts both local and from the mainland drawing enthusiastic crowds. Junior Wells, Willie & Lobo, War, and surprise appearances by the likes of Bonnie Raitt are among the past successes of this genre of big-time licks. The best-loved Oahu venue is Anna Bannanas, 2440 S. Beretania St., between University Avenue and Isenberg Street (tel. 808/946-5190), still rocking after 30 years in the business with reggae, blues, and rock -- plus video games and darts.
To find out what's happening in the jazz scene while you're in town, check out www.honolulujazzscene.net. Duc's Bistro (tel. 808/531-6325), downtown, presents live jazz on Saturday nights.
In Waikiki, tops in taste and ambience is the perennially alluring Lewers Lounge, in the Halekulani, 2199 Kalia Rd. (tel. 808/923-2311; www.halekulani.com). Recently renovated (with a higher ceiling, a contemporary color scheme, and comfy intimate seating around the pillars), this is a great spot for contemporary jazz nightly from 7:30pm to 1am. Be sure to try the "Hpnotiq" liqueur, a blend of premium vodka, cognac, and fruit juices from France, served over ice or in various concoctions.
Outside of Waikiki, the Veranda, at the Kahala Resort, 5000 Kahala Ave. (tel. 808/739-8888; www.kahalaresort.com), is a popular spot for the over-40 crowd, with nightly jazz music and a dance floor.
In Honolulu, jazz fans will love Jazz Wednesdays at the Honolulu Club, 932 Ward Ave. (tel. 808/543-3900), where the seventh-floor lounge of this ultra-upscale fitness center turns into a jazz nightclub with a wall of windows overlooking the Honolulu skyline. Music begins at 7pm (and lasts until 11:30pm), but the tables start filling up at 6pm. The cover is $10 and the crowd, often from the surrounding offices, generally ranges from people in their mid-20s to 50s. Skip the high-priced pupu (appetizers), but the local jazz musicians are well worth the price of drinks (martinis, ranging from $7 to $9, are your best bet).
Around town, watch for Sandy Tsukiyama, a gifted singer (Brazilian, Latin, jazz) and one of Honolulu's great assets, as well as for jazz singers Rachel Gonzales and Loretta Ables. Other noteworthy groups in jazz, blues, and R&B include Blue Budda, Bongo Tribe, Secondhand Smoke, Bluzilla, Piranha Brothers, and the Greg Pai Trio.