An evening with Robert Cazimero

As brilliant as his music is, and as much as people want to see and hear him perform, Robert Cazimero still pokes fun at himself.

He notes, for instance, that when he takes the stage Thursday evening at the Kauai Museum, he’ll be joined at times by two lovely ladies.

“It’s not going to be just some old guy playing on the piano all the time,” he said, chuckling. “If there are dead spots, it will be filled with some beautiful dancers, so it’s nice to have that eye candy.”

The 66-year-old has earned numerous Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in his stellar musical career. He and his brother Roland have performed at Carnegie Hall, Hollywood Bowl and other venues worldwide.

The concert, a fundraiser for the museum, will be his sixth such performance. Only 150 seats will be sold and each year, it sells out. But it’s more than a concert, too. He mixes song, conversation, laughs and smiles throughout. For some, it’s like an evening with a close friend who happens to be a legendary musician.

“I like working for the museum. I believe in its mission, I like what it’s doing,” he said. “I’m just happy to be asked to come back again.”

Chucky Boy Chock, in charge of displays at the museum, is delighted that Cazimero could return this year.

“He’s the greatest vocalist in this generation, with or without his brother. He’s great either way,” Chock said.

Cazimero is a worldly traveler, and Chock said he uses those travels to build bridges for the museum.

“Wherever he is at, after the museum concert, he’ll talk about it,” Chock said.

It has been suggested that the museum concert be held at a site with more seating, but Chock said that would take away from the intimacy of the evening.

“He likes that living room atmosphere,” Chock said. “He feeds off the audience. It’s up close, it’s his living room and he’s there to share his aloha.”

A portrait of Cazimero by Kauai artist Evelyn Ritter will be presented privately to him Thursday.

“I really felt it was an honor to paint him,” said Ritter, who finished the artwork earlier this year. “I really wanted to come up with something we hope he will love.”

The portrait is based on a photograph on the back cover of the book, “Men of Hula: Robert Cazimero and Halau Na Kamalei.”

Sometimes, portraits are very difficult to paint. Not so with this one, Ritter said.

“I would have to say it was a real pleasure,” she said. “He was wonderfully cooperative in getting on the canvas for me.”

Cazimero has been busy traveling and performing. He likes to keep shows fresh and fun, play some new material, and let the audience influence the flow of his songs.

“I like the idea of letting the audience tell me what it is they like to hear,” he said.

The Oahu man enjoys chatting with the audience, too, adding to the ambiance of the show.

“I tell them how lucky they are to live there,” he said.

“It’s a constant struggle to appreciate exactly what we have,” Cazimero said. “Go back to the energy of that idea, what the island can bring you, what it shares with you.”

He also likes to give accolades to the museum and its importance to Kauai.

“I hope for the people, they will realize foremost that they have a wonderful jewel in the museum and what it has to offer. There’s a lot there to share.”

Last year, Cazimero’s foot was in an air cast during his performance. But this year, he is feeling fit and fine and is thankful for each day.

“As long as I can open my mouth and some beautiful melody comes out, it’s a damn good day,” he said.

The concert is set to begin at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 with a no-host bar and pupus.

For tickets, call the museum, 245-6931, or swing by, 4428 Rice St., Lihue.


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