As a musician from the east side of the island, Ron Margolis can remember the days when the Happy Talk Lounge at the Hanalei Bay Resort had a weekly jam session when residents and visitors alike could stop by and play a song or two.
“It was a beautiful scene, where you can look down on Hanalei Bay, and whenever guest artists were staying on the North Shore, they were likely to come by and sit in,” Margolis recalled. “Basically, the idea was that there’s a house band that has very, very good professional musicians, and if you’re in the neighborhood, you go, have a drink, enjoy the beautiful day and listen to great music.”
A 2011 fire, however, destroyed or damaged several resort areas, including the Bali Hai Restaurant and resort manager’s offices, and closed the Happy Talk Lounge. The Happy Talk Lounge is still closed and under construction.
To help keep the jam session tradition going, Margolis and several other artists kicked off a free, biweekly jam session last month, called Sunday Jazz and Blues Jam, at Shutter’s Lounge in the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort.
“My goal is to create that on the east side so that local musicians have a place to sit in and musicians out of town who want to jam with other musicians can stop by,” Margolis said.
That tradition will continue on Sunday, beginning at 4 p.m. and featuring Amit Heri on guitar, Mike Latif on bass, Chris Bush on saxophone and Margolis on drums.
“Each week, we feature a different horn player, so one week we’ll have a saxophonist, one week a trumpeter, one week a trombone, and some weeks we’ll have vocalists,” Margolis said. “If we have someone in from out of town who does blues harmonica, then that week we’ll feature mostly blues.”
This week’s featured guest, he said, is trombone player and vocalist Dennis McGraw, who also runs the Kauai Performing Arts Center program at Kauai High School.
At the last jam session on Feb. 8, Los Angeles-based drummer and jazz composer Abe Lagrimas Jr. stopped by after playing in the annual All Angels Jazz Festival at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.
“The main thing about jazz is that it’s a spontaneous art form, so just like the last jam with (Lagrimas), you never know what’s going to happen,” Margolis said. “It’s not the same musicians who maybe perform one night a week at a hotel and play the same songs from their repertoire. It’s a place to experience great spontaneity and for people to have their requests played.”