Getting into the swing

  • John Steinhorst/The Garden Island

    Trumpet player Bill Bryner (age 91) and lead trombonist Victoria Aiu (age 21) bridge the generations gap by playing music with the Sunset Swing Band.

  • John Steinhorst/The Garden Island

    Ed Valejo rehearses drumming with the Sunset Swing Band for their Kukui Grove performance on Jan. 19.

LIHUE — The Sunset Swing Band has some big shoes to fill.

The newly named band is a regrouping of musicians from the iconic Starlighters big band that played swing music on Kauai for more than six decades.

Led by alto saxophonist, Danny Hamada of Waimea, the Starlighters bid farewell at their final performance last December.

Now filling the void for big band music, the 12-member Sunset Swing Band is rehearsing for its debut show at Kukui Grove on Jan. 19.

“We’ve got a different leader and different personnel, and we’re hoping to continue the 50-year tradition of the Starlighters with a new name but the same music,” said lawyer Larry McCreey, who plays French horn and keyboard.

Although Hamada has retired from performing music, he continues to support the band by allowing them to use his equipment and music.

“It’s exciting starting a new band but a little nerve wracking too,” McCreery said. “We’re just trying to keep the sound going.”

Vocalist Ray Domingo is eagerly anticipating the band’s first live performance.

“We have a couple new people who have come in, and we’ve changed a little bit,” Domingo said. “We’re not changing the format of what we used to do. It’s going to be the same thing — oldies and goodies.”

The Sunset Swing Band also consists of band leader Mark Goodman; driving rhythm section with Ed Valejo and Tim Uno; new alto saxophonist Mira Hess; 91-year-old trumpet player Bill Bryner; 21-year-old KCC student lead trombonist Victoria Aiu; and an all-star cast of dedicated musicians.

“I’m just on the sideline really, but these are the people who really make the band,” Domingo said. “You will never ever hear the big band sound here until you come to the Kukui Grove Shopping Center.”

The band will be performing live at the outdoor venue every third Friday from 7 to 8 p.m.


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