Off the Beaten Path

December 4, 2012 | By Allison Schaefers

Just a short walk from Waikiki hotel rooms and all the commercialized aspects of tourism that line Kalakaua Avenue, Hawaiian music entertainer Troy Fernandez shares his aloha by offering up free street concerts.

It’s a gift to watch Fernandez, who at 50 years old is considered one of Hawai‘i’s top ‘ukulele artists, pick his strings in such an intimate setting. You won’t find many other three-time Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts’ Na Hoku Hanohano award winners (that’s the local equivalent of a Grammy), playing on the same row as the guy dressed up in the Angry Bird costume or the fortuneteller.

“They just don’t know how good it is out here,” says Troy Fernandez, after giving a recent street concert that attracted about 70 people from all over the world.

Fernandez said he likes playing to an ever-changing crowd. He also likes sharing his music with people who can’t afford to buy his CDs or go to a paid show.

“Everyone is welcome. Music is my gift so I don’t tell anyone to go away,” says Fernandez, who was raised in a Palolo housing project. “I like to think of myself as an ambassador for Hawai‘i.”

Fernandez’s message of Hawai‘i, his love of surfing, and his music resonated with visitors Susan and Gil Burns of Lodi, Calif.

“It’s amazing to see someone with this kind of talent giving a concert right on the street,” Gil Burns says. “We’ve really enjoyed it and we’ll be back.”

The Burns’ were lucky to catch one of Fernandez’s impromptu shows. While Fernandez has been a fixture on Waikiki stages and in Waikiki hotels for decades, he only started entertaining on the streets about five years ago.

“I heard my daughters, Tia and Tory, singing at home. They were really good so I decided that they needed an audience,” Fernandez says. “They were having so much fun, they talked me into playing with them. Now, I’m just the opening act.”

Fernandez says he’ll keep singing and playing on Waikiki’s streets until his pop and hip-hop singing daughters get discovered.

The family plans to move to Los Angeles in 2014 so 11-year-old Tia and 13-year-old Tory, dubbed “TNT,” can get their own chance to reach stardom.


Troy Fernandez plays along with his daughters, Tia and Tory, most Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in front of the International Market Place, 2330 Kalakaua Avenue. Sometimes, they play Sundays, too.

A three-time national award winning reporter, Allison Schaefers serves as the Waikiki Bureau Chief for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Based in Waikiki, she covers Hawaii tourism and Waikiki issues. Contact her at