Mark James warms up Lemongrass Grill

After a long exhausting day, I found that a meal and music at the Lemongrass Grill made a peaceful end to my evening.  

Every night from 6 to 9 p.m. a different artist plays, but on this Wednesday night I found myself enjoying the relaxing sounds of Mark James. James and his acoustic guitar gently accompanied the laid-back atmosphere of the restaurant, showcasing his repertoire of classic Hawaiian tunes and the classics we all love.

“I try to keep a balance between the Hawaiian songs and the oldies,” James said.

Each night he plays, James passes out laminated lists of his most popular hits to tables in the restaurant, so that anyone may request a song.  Because tables turn over at a steady pace, however, he finds many of the same requests being made several times per night — even though his playlist sheet has 80-plus songs on it. Choices range from Patsy Cline to the Hawaiian warrior chant, but there are always a few that get requested all the time.

“The Hawaiian wedding song gets requested a lot … people come down here for weddings and anniversaries all the time,” James said.

Isreal “Iz” Kamakawiwo‘ole’s songs are another favorite. While they remain forever popular, James says he also gets a lot of requests for the oldies as well, so he always tries to update his library of songs.

“I just learned a new song called ‘Knee Deep’ by the Zac Brown Band and Jimmy Buffett,” James said.

While James has an endless amount of songs in his library, he is perfectly content with playing the songs that fans like to hear.

“Playing music is fun, and the thing I enjoy most is when people get into the song,” James said.

The Lemongrass Grill is located at 4-885 B Kuhio Hwy. in Kapa‘a. The restaurant can be reached at 821-2888.

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