Royal Hawaiian Band returning to Kauai

LIHUE — How many knew the bandmaster of the Royal Hawaiian Band is a mayoral cabinet position?

Clarke Bright, entering his sixth year as the bandmaster for the band which was started in 1836 by royalty, said the city charter allows for 38 positions, but currently has four vacancies.

“It’s political,” Clarke said. “I started under Mayor Peter Carlisle, and when Mayor Kirk Caldwell was elected, I was fortunate to be re-hired. Now that it’s another election year, I still have to go out and hold signs.”

The positions are filled using the City and County of Honolulu protocol for advertising positions, reaching as far as the mainland, he said Thursday night during his appearance at a Kauai Museum and Daughters of Hawaii Special Book Club event at the museum’s courtyard, moderated by Chucky Boy Chock of the Kauai Museum.

“He’s coming back on June 18 with the band when we host the free Royal Hawaiian Band Concert at the Prince Kuhio Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” Chock said. “We’ve already put the word out to the different groups because last year, it was pretty crowded and we had to worry about where people were going to sit.”

Bright, formerly of the Kamehameha Schools music program, said he’d like the band members to be able to tour the museum and take in some of the exhibits before setting up for the concert.

“I’m one quarter Portuguese,” he said. “When I read the section about the Kauai Portuguese Band, I had to laugh because No. 1, it made me proud to be Portuguese, but No. 2, it said the band won a lot of competitions, but could never beat the Royal Hawaiian Band.”

He alluded to copies of “The Royal Hawaiian Band: Its Legacy” which went on sale at the museum’s gift shop and will also be available at the June 18 concert.

“I was happy working at Kamehameha Schools when the position came up,” Bright said. “But I put my name up, and I never thought I would get hired by then-Mayor Carlisle. I was scared, but happy, and I thought of the responsibility of being the 22nd bandmaster of this group of people who played in the band started by royalty and played Hawaiian music.”

While contemplating his new position, he said he talked with his dad, Ron Bright, a former teacher at Castle High School.

“He told me it was time,” Clarke said. “It’s time to take the baton, and I started crying.”

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