Starting tonight music fans can catch this summer’s best lineup of local Island Reggae artists at the two day Tafe Summer Concert Jam at Shoreline Aquatic Park. Hosted by The World Famous BBQ Show’s Q and Joe Sav, the Tafe Summer Concert Jam will feature Kyle Paala, Joseph Soul, Loa Grayson, Bo Napoleon, and Essel on Friday. Dayvid Thomas, Swells, Mahi, and Local Culture perform on Saturday.
I met up with the members of Local Culture to welcome them back to town after their extended hiatus. Here is what the guys had to say about their brotherhood, the Island Reggae community, and their much anticipated return to Long Beach.
Jewell Faamaligi [LBI]: We are all so excited to have Local Culture back on the music scene. Tell us about the current line up of the band..
Local Culture: To appreciate the current Local Culture line-up, it’s cool to know about the original. After moving from New Zealand and settling in Long Beach in the mid 90’s our band was formed by our Pua brothers; Lole, Ray, Leo, and Roy and managed by our mom, Ainiu. Not long after finding our LBC groove, we were lucky enough to have Vika, John and Rob join the Local Culture family. Though some players have since come and gone, our original members: Lole, Vika, John and Rob are still with us, and now we’ve added Vaea and Jeremy who we were lucky enough to pick up along the way.
Since re-connecting after so much time off stage what have you found easy to pick up again?
Local Culture is a family before it’s a band. Even though we took a break from playing there’s not really a sense of “picking up.” We never had to re-connect because we’re connected no matter what we’re all doing and which directions we’re facing. Though we weren’t playing as a group, we still remained as a family so we continued to share the laughter, frustrations, highs, lows, challenges, and victories of life. That makes it a very easy transition to get up on stage and play music together as if we had just played the day before.
What has been the biggest challenge for you guys to start this new chapter?
Getting older and wiser brings challenges. Priorities have changed as we’ve grown our own families and/or pursued excelling in our day jobs. When we were younger, our priority was the band and playing music – that’s where we found our happiness. As we’ve matured, we’ve come to realize that there is something to be said about nourishing the other aspects of our lives as well, and that life balance is now the key to happiness. The challenge lies in knowing when as a group to be open to opportunities and when to say no because it will cause unbalance. Nobody likes to turn down gigs, but we all have to be on the same page at the same time and sometimes that’s tough.
Local Culture was one of the pioneering bands that established the worldwide Island Reggae scene that grew from the breeding ground of Long Beach venues like the Mai Tai Bar, Rhythm Lounge, Cohiba’s, and The Vault350; with those venues now gone are you still finding opportunities to play here?
We’ve been so blessed. Though venues come and go, the spirit of Island Reggae has not diminished at all. It continues to flourish and even better, it’s not just contained to the Polynesian community. With the help of social media, and open-minded venues, we’re finding fans from all cultures that connect to our music. Essentially all people are looking for the same thing; to feel a sense of community, to feel connected, to vibe with lyrics and melodies that lift their spirits, and to experience joy together. Local Culture prides ourselves on delivering that to our fans, old and new no matter where we play or who we’re playing for. That being said, there’s no better feeling than seeing old faces from those venues back in the day. You’d be amazed at how many times we have married couples come up to us and tell us their stories of meeting at a Local Culture show. Even crazier is seeing a whole new generation of Local Culture fans that have sprouted up from having their parents play our music while they were growing up. We’d be lying if we said we don’t feel lucky that we were there to help jump-start the Long Beach scene and even more blessed that we’re still around to see how much it has grown and really been embraced by the community.
Has your hustle changed from say 10yrs ago?
Hustle has a different meaning to us now, from a decade ago. Before, hustling meant following the path that musicians and bands were “expected” to take; getting a ton of gigs, touring, flirting with record labels, etc. – now hustling is about making our own path. The path that feels right to us, intuitively. We follow our own plan now and our hustle is contained in our own expectations. The hustle is still there, it’s just focused on where we want it to be, as opposed to the expectations of others. That’s where that balance comes into play.
Something I love to see on any Reggae lineup around the world is that Island Reggae artists that started their careers around the same time in California still stick together and lift one another up, which makes sense for us as a family oriented people. Do you feel a sense of family within the Poly music community?
There’s definitely a sense of family from the Poly music community. We’re all fighting the same fight and pushing to be heard. A victory for one Poly musician or band is a victory for all of us. It doesn’t matter who clears the trails – what matters is that we all have a path to move forward. It’s a group effort and inherently we all know we are family and it’s in our blood to stick together and push each other forward. Actually, sometimes we’re pushing each other forward and sometimes we’re pulling each other up but at the end of the day, we’re all working together, celebrating each other’s wins and mourning losses. Knowing we have that incredible support gives us the confidence to blaze those trails.
Who in the music community has embraced Local Culture and offered support to help get the band off and running again?
We’ve been so lucky to be supported by so many, but giving props where props are due, nobody is a bigger supporter than The BBQ Show and Island Block Radio. Joe Sav, Q and Ena have been cheering us from the start and continue to do so today. We’re blessed by all of the opportunities we’ve gotten simply because those guys are looking out for us and want to see us succeed. We’re also finding a lot of support from the new wave of Poly artists coming through that have grown up hearing about and listening to Local Culture through their parents. That whole nostalgia-thing people associate with Local Culture has really worked out for us (laughs).
Playing a Long Beach crowd should be a lot of fun for everyone this weekend. What can Local Culture fans expect?
High-energy and good-feel vibes. That old-school Island Roots Reggae with a mix of today. And fun. They should definitely expect to have fun!
Will there be a meet and greet opportunity for fans?
We’ll be taking pictures and signing posters at our table at 9pm after our set.
As music fans, who on the bill are you looking forward to seeing?
Honestly, we’re looking forward to seeing everyone. We are truly huge fans of everyone that will be on the stage, but there are two acts in particular we’ll be watching close. One is Tini Grey from the band Loa Greyson. Back in the day, we’d sometimes share the bill with his dad, Jerome Grey. It’s so cool because you can see little bits of his dad’s charisma and sound in Tini, but he also has his own thing going; something that’s more modern for the younger generation. The other act is Kyle Pa’ala, and it’s not just because he’s Lole’s nephew. It’s been a cool process watching him from where he started to where he is now. He started singing when he was about 8 years old and then not-too-soon-after started messing with a guitar. He practiced hard and as time passed, just got better and better. He’s now a full-blown artist and we’re excited to share the stage with a member of the family that we’ve seen work on his craft since he was a small kid.
This is going to be a great homecoming. Thank you guys so much for taking the time to catch us up on all of the wonderful things happening for you. We wish you continued success. Have a great show!
To see Local Culture and all of the great artists playing the Tafe Summer Concert Jam get tickets and event information here: