By Jason Black
Tahiti Rey and Jason Alan are the perfect acoustic accompaniment to a serene Hawaiian sunset.
On a balmy, breezy May evening, it’s golden hour at the laid-back and chic Sunrise Pool Bar at The Modern Honolulu. At the moment, there’s a smattering of hotel guests and residents enjoying pau hana (happy hour) as they cluster around some small tables poolside. A light, warm trade wind blows across the cement slab and wooden bar while out, on the horizon, the moored ships in the nearby harbor sway gently side-to-side.
Under an overhanging canopy of blossoming Miami pink bougainvillea, Tahiti Rey and Jason Alan are strumming the opening chords to Colbie Caillat’s 2007 hit “Bubbly.” As they hit the chorus, a young hapa girl in a kid’s plastic green hula skirt runs up and begins doing a mock hula while they play. Everyone laughs and smiles at this genuinely heart-warming scene.
Rey and Alan’s mix of contemporary acoustic soul and intoxicating two-part harmony is the perfect romantic accompaniment to sipping a signature Modern cocktail and taking in a sunset at the start of another memorable evening in paradise. Tonight’s audience is feeling this bar traveling music too with rounds of warm applause in-between their heart-felt renditions of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me”, Bob Marley’s “Good Lovin’,” U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” as well as a few well-timed original tunes including “Give Me Butterflies.”
“I think our audience finds us because we offer them an alternative to the usual Waikiki entertainment,” affirms Jason Alan, one half of the dynamic duo between the evening’s hour-long sets.
As the story goes, the two met about a year ago through a producer they both shared for their respective solo projects. The chemistry was right and they’ve been playing side-by-side ever since. A quick peek at their monthly gig schedule makes it clear that offering a musical alternative in Honolulu for visitors and residents alike is paying off big time.
Each week, Rey and Alan run the musical gauntlet playing at The Modern Honolulu, Hyatt Regency Waikiki, Tiki’s Bar & Grill and Mai Tai Bar among other local hot spots. On some nights, they’re double-booked with shows at two different venues in a single night. And, most weekends, they’re captivating audiences at private events and weddings around town. So, with their hectic, non-stop gig schedule, how do they keep it fresh night-in and night-out?
“What we enjoy most about playing out in Waikiki is meeting new people,” says Rey, who was born and raised in Kailua, the talented youngest daughter of notable local Latin entertainer Augie Rey.
Alan, who originally hails from Phoenix, Arizona, agrees: “We’re lucky that we get to play for people every night and it’s helped us define our own style.”
As we speak, the two are in the process of defining their stripped-down, authentic sound even further by writing and recording their first album together. And, Rey concedes, they’re finding that process very challenging.
“We’re working hard to try and figure out what we want to say,” echoes Alan.
So, if you’re fortunate enough to catch these two out by The Modern’s Sunrise Pool Bar on Wednesdays, inside at the Lobby Bar on Friday nights or at a local event over the weekend, what can you expect from their performance? That’s simple: pure soul.
“Our audience can expect songs we love in a passionate way,” responds Rey.
“It’s easy when you love what you do,” chimes in Alan. “And I think that comes through in our show.”
Mondays 9-11 p.m.
Fridays 10 p.m.-midnight
Tiki’s Bar & Grill
(808) 923-8454 [C:11 Waikiki Map]
Wednesdays 5-8 p.m.
The Bar at Sunset Pool
Fridays 6-8 p.m.
The Modern Honolulu
(808) 943-5800 [D:3 Waikiki Map]
Thursdays 5-8 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa
(808) 923-1234 [C:9 Waikiki Map]
Saturdays 9:30 p.m.-midnight
(808) 922-2268 [C:8 Waikiki Map]
Subject to change