Category Archives: Music Review



                                       REVIEW BY DJ NOCTURNA


Singer and songwriter Ginai performed at the Blue Note Hawaii last Sunday, July 29, 2018 with a special tribute to soul, R&B singer, Anita Baker. The legendary Grammy Award-winning contralto singer, born in Ohio, but raised in Detroit, known for her repertoire of soulful ballads, sadly announced early last year with a series of tweets that she will be retiring from the music industry.

Ginai, charismatic and driven to please, is a longtime fan of Baker. She wanted to do a tribute show because Baker inspires her “because of her many hits and still very active following.” Ginai said she often borrows some of Baker’s vocal stylization of love songs. She said, “her slides and slurs were very sexy tools for selling love songs” and funky grooves.  Ginai, in a beautiful blue shimmering sequin dress, covered a catalogue of songs, some of which are from Baker’s biggest selling album, Rapture, released in 1986 on Elektra. The patrons at the dimmed candlelit venue swooned from one moving hit after another, including “Sweet Love,” “Caught up in the Rapture” and “Been so long.”  Ginai’s sensual and sultry vocals captured Baker’s soulfulness and passion with “No one in the world.” The encore “Same ole love” with all its alluring tinge of sadness, opened up old wounds, yet it felt so good, leaving the audience craving for more.

Ginai was accompanied by a band of skilled and accomplished musicians, the best of the best, tight, with impeccable timing, stirring up deep emotions. They started the set with Jason Gay, playing tenor and soprano saxophone; while performing on piano was Alan Okuye; George Coppedge on bass; Kevin Hirasa playing guitar; visiting tenor saxophone player, Doug Buchanan and drummer, Justin James. Background vocalist and gifted singer, my hometown boy, Santino Sgambelluri returned to the Island and gave us a heartfelt rendition of “Witchcraft” popularized by Frank Sinatra in 1957.  Baker was fortunate to have recorded “Witchcraft” with Sinatra in a duet in 1993 before he passed away five years later.  Background vocalist, Hasani Lawson, a rising young talent also shared the stage.  I marveled at her solid and powerful solo performance of “You bring me joy.”

Ginai, whose name means “one who loves” is an island girl with humble beginnings. She was raised in Waianae and later went off to attend college in the San Francisco Bay Area where she discovered music and fell in love with jazz and R&B.

Since then Ginai has opened up for Bruce Hornsby, Lou Rawls, Diana Krall, and the legendary, Ray Charles, just to name a few.  She has traveled around the world as a Whitney Houston impersonator for Legends. Ginai is also an international acclaimed jazz singer, a three-time Hawaiian Music Awards winner and the winner of two Na Hoku Hanohano awards for the albums “Hot Club of Hulaville,” “Django Would Go,” and “Hula Joe & The Hut Jumpers.”  Ginai said she “prides herself at being very diverse musically but revels in jazz, funk, soul and R&B.”

When Ginai is not singing or performing, she is at the beach surfing or volunteering at nursing homes and hospitals. You can catch Ginai’s upcoming shows around town or at the Blue Note Hawaii, sometimes solo or with trumpet player, Mike Lewis. They have produced and performed numerous shows together.

The Blue Note Hawaii, dark, classy and romantic, showcases two performances nightly in an intimate setting, located inside the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. The venue features a wide range of local and international musical entertainers, one of which I had the pleasure to see up close and personal on October 14, 2017, Burt Bacharach.  I was fortunate to sit a few inches away from the Living Legend, one of the greatest songwriters and record producers in the world. He was so close to me that I chuckled when he looked at my food and asked me if I was enjoying my dinner.

Blue Note Hawaii also offers a full dinner menu with great selections of food, appetizers, wine and custom created cocktails for many celebratory nights. Their martinis, their French onion soup and their Caesar salad are some of my favorites. Check out their upcoming shows:

It would be a shame if there will never be another Anita Baker tour or another album, but the pendulum of life swings and who really knows what hiatuses really mean. We can definitely expect that tribute performances will live on like how old love sonnets are re-told and revised as frequently as heartbreaks and heartaches continue to influence musicians and poets to write love ballads because love conquers all !

Tribure to Anita Baker

Ginai Anita Baker



Alia Synesthesia on Electric Bat Records

Hailing from Toronto, Canada is Alia Synesthesia, also known as SUBTERRANEA. A classically-trained operatic singer, her latest album, just released on Electric Bat Records, September 21, 2017 is entitled Kingdoms Fall.

Nine tracks that will take you back in time to a world you once lived in another lifetime. If only you could remember, cold memories and remains. Never fear, she will help you to remember as you get to know the songs more intimately. She’s a storyteller, a songwriter, a singer and plays the synthesizer.  The title of her songs has a history of their own. Sidhe, in Irish folklore are people of the mounds, living under mounds and fairy raths. It flows nicely to another favorite of mine, Forest’dweller. Uggla Sang and Corpus Meum (body) are my two favorites. However, after listening to the album a few times, I am mesmerized.

Her beautiful sometimes apocalyptic lyrics are beautifully sung about the destruction of civilizations. Inspired by black metal, her music is haunting, driven by passion, reverberated vocals, pulsating drums, reminiscent of familiarities of mine such as Trance to the Sun and Faith and Disease, but Alia is in a league of her own: Refreshing, Invigorating, rejuvenating, inspiring.  I am taken by this genre called electronic black gaze, a fusion of black metal and shoegazing.

This is an album wonderfully mastered by Attrition’s Martin Bowes. Alia has one of the most beautiful ethereal voices. It is no wonder she is performing with Attrition for the 4th Annual Hawaii Horror Ball on Friday, September 29th at Next Door ( 43 North Hotel Street). The following night, Saturday, she will also be performing solo, her side projects, Subterranea + Queen Witch, witch house and darkwave projects at Anna O’Briens (2440 South Beretania St). You do not want to miss these two live shows.

ATTRITION are pioneers in dark electronic and darkwave music. Formed in 1980 in Coventry, England, influenced by a mix of punk ideology and experimental art aesthetics, they emerged as part of the early ’80’s UK Industrial scene alongside contemporaries Coil, Test Department, Legendary Pink Dots, In The Nursery, Portion Control et al, Chris & Cosey, Cabaret Voltaire and more.

 Martin’s increasing studio production work at his studio, The Cage, has included mixes for The Damage Manual (Martin Atkins, Jah Wobble, Geordie Walker, Chris Connelly et al…), Die Form, In the Nursery, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Mona Mur/En Esch and mastering for countless bands and labels…

 He contributes synths and vocals on a song on the last Pigface album, is the narrators voice on US horror series, “C for Chaos”, has written the score to US horror film G.H.O.S.T from Mutantville productions …

Their most recent album, Millions of the Mouthless Dead (inspired by Martin’s grandfathers experiences on the Western Front in 1917) includes collaborations with Anni Hogan.

It will be a memorable night to remember and to cherish to have Attrition in Hawaii where the sun shines  !  Please join us !