Free Concerts this weekend will benefit Toys for Tots

The success of the musical group 1st Cut isn’t due to talent or long hours of rehearsal or a good song selection.

Nope.

The credit for 1st Cut’s winning ways belongs elsewhere. It belongs to the wives.

At least that’s what the three band members, Stuart Hollinger, Ricky Skerik and Jerome Camposeo, say.

“Thanks to our spouses for letting us have this journey and have them supportive of it,” said Skerik, who is married to Bev Brodie.

Camposeo’s wife, Susan, is an artist who worked on Hollinger’s last CD, “Endangered Species.”

“All our ladies are very talented in their own right,” said Hollinger, whose wife is Mika.

And those ladies are proud of their husbands who will be performing two free concerts this weekend to benefit Toys for Tots.

1st Cut is scheduled to play 4 to 6 tonight outside Rob’s Good Time Grill in Lihue, just before the Lights on Rice parade begins. They’ll play again from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday outside Ono Family Restaurant in Kapaa.

The public is welcome to stop by and listen, even dance, and drop off a new toy or just donate some money. Each person who contributes a toy or a monetary donation at either of these two events will be entered in a drawing contest to win prizes.

“Help us make this a Mele Kalikimaka for keiki,” says a flier.

Consider it an early Christmas present from 1st Cut.

“It’s the right time of the year to give back to the community,” Hollinger said. “We’ve all been blessed living here and enjoy sharing our music and our talents.

It’s also a bit like, “building our spiritual bank account. It’s good to give back to the community,” he said.

“That’s what makes our island so special and why we all live here. It’s giving back,” Hollinger said. “You’ve got to give back and it comes back one thousandfold.”

The men love taking the stage together and putting on a sizzling show. They’re not three individuals, but a unit.

“People get a vibe from us that we’re having a good time,” Skerik said. “We have a chemistry. There’s not a doubt about. We’re having fun.”

That word fun comes up several times in an interview with the three members of 1st Cut. It’s clear these guys enjoy each other’s company, socially and musically.

“What is really outstanding with the three of us, we have no drama,” Hollinger said, smiling. “We’re all working toward a common goal.”

Which is beautiful, rock and roll music.

Hollinger, two-time Na Hoku Hanahana award winner, plays bass and handles much of the lead vocals. Skerik join in on vocals and plays lead guitar, while Camposeo is on drums but doesn’t usually sing.

“We’re giving Jerome a reprieve for now,” Hollinger said, laughing.

They love to perform rock and roll, a mix of hits by the Rolling Stones or ZZ Top or Nirvana. And, they crank out some of Hollinger’s hits from Endangered Species.

“We play straight up rock and roll,” Skerik said. “We’re the rock and roll band of Kauai. This is rock music.”

The band formed nearly a year ago. They quickly hit it off and it showed on stage.

“It’s total enjoyment,” Camposeo said. “

Skerik, a musican since he was a boy growing up in Minnesota, said finding the right mix of talent and temperament for a band is difficult. But he said he and Hollinger and Camposeo have found the right notes.

“It’s definitely cool,” he said.

Hollinger said the band’s timing was perfect. Each was returning to the music scene or looking for a new direction or just wanting to contiue jamming with others.

“It’s a musical journey,” he said.

The name 1st Cut comes from the band’s ability to nail a song first time out.

“Can you do it in the first cut?” someone would ask before a song.

“Sure,” Camposeo answered.

Since, they’ve been playing around the island at community events, celebrations and festivals, as well as local bars and restaurants.

“We’re just getting going,” Skerik said.

Each is an experienced musician and lives on the North Shore. Each said 1st Cut has given them new energy.

“We kind of realized this was a good fit for the three of us,” Camposeo said. “It just kind of blossomed into First cut. Just loving it. It’s been fun for me to get the kinks back out.’”

“It’s a true power trio,” Skerik added.

Hollinger, listening to the conversation, offers a big smile and a final comment.

“Our music will bet you in the grove so you want to dance,” he said.

And tonight and Saturday, don’t forget to bring a toy.

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