Eddy Free seeks places for live music

“Rock fever” is what most people call the walls-closing-in, doldrums-like feeling they get sometimes, living on a small island.

The artist Eddy Free calls it “embryonic.” It’s a great place to write and record music, but there aren’t enough places to play, said Free, who won an Emmy Award in 2004 for outstanding music and lyrics in a documentary for “Because You’re Beautiful,” his collaboration with fellow East Kaua‘i resident Toni Childs and David Ricketts for the Lifetime program “V-Day, Until the Violence Stops.” Among his other ongoing projects, some fueled by the publicity and success of the award, Free is now on a mission to help establish more places for musicians to play live on the island.

There are so many creative people, so many musicians, so many talented singers and songwriters, but not many places where live music can be heard on a regular basis outside of hotel, resort and restaurant lu‘au shows, Free observed.

While he is busy getting his dance band, Freshy, into live-performance mode, he admits he doesn’t necessarily have a plan on how he’d go about creating more live-performance venues on the island.

Free first came to the island seven years ago, at the end of February, for his birthday, on a hiking tour into remote valleys of Moloka‘i, Kaua‘i (including Kalalau), and other islands.

“I felt like I had come home,” he said of his first steps on Kaua‘i.

“I decided to stick around,” said Free, who revealed his age only as “over 30.” “It’s a fabulous place. It’s great,” Free said of his island home. “It’s almost a bit too embryonic sometimes,” he said.

Freshy is Free on keyboards, Jason Bertucci on electric bass, and Justin Downey on drums. “We’ve been kind of hiding out and working on our show,” which will be all-original music, he said.

About the evolution of what would become “Because You’re Beautiful,” a bit of history must be imparted.

Childs was doing a local version of “The Vagina Monologues” at what used to be called the Kilauea Theatre, and the play’s author, Eve Ensler, happened to be in the audience.

Under development at that time was a documentary on Ensler, and Ensler approached Childs, and asked Childs to write an anthem for the film, Free said.

Together with David Ricketts, Free and Childs, and another Kaua‘i resident, producer and engineer David Tickle, the work began.

“It was an amazing experience,” Free said of the creative process.

“Because You’re Beautiful” evolved out of a 60-minute, improvisational jam session, where those assembled traveled around the world, musically, Free said.

The last 15 minutes of that journey became “Because You’re Beautiful,” fueled by Childs’s “moving vocals,” said Free, feeling honored to be invited to be part of the process.

He found out about the Emmy nomination, then a phone call confirmed that he had won the award.

Christina Applegate handed him his Emmy, and even though he was in his element among artisans in Hollywood, he couldn’t wait to get back home to Kaua‘i.

“It was very surreal. It was just a very surreal experience,” with the paparazzi, the interviews, the red carpet, the whole scene, he said.

“That was an amazing experience.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that could happen,” he said of his winning an Emmy.

He admitted, though, that he hasn’t taken full enough advantage of the exposure being in that rarefied company of Emmy-Award winners has afforded him. “I definitely need to follow up on that,” he said.

As a result of the Emmy, he did get some nibbles, and did some music for the TV cop show “Hawaii,” which was canceled after only a few shows. He also maintains an ongoing relationship with Fox officials in Hollywood, and hopes to get some film-score work, he said.

All proceeds from the sales of the song “Because You’re Beautiful” go to Ensler’s V-Day Foundation, whose staff and volunteers are on a mission to end violence against women, “some of the most important work in the world,” according to Free.

More information on Free is available on his Web site, www.eddyfree.com.

• Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or pcurtis@kauaipubco.com.

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