For the past 25 years, Kalapana has been a mainstay of Hawaiian music, and its evolution over time has been remarkable. Led by composers Mackey Feary and Malani Bilyeu, with the late guitarist DJ Pratt, Kalapana's music has gone through many changes since its inception. Bilyeu notes that the group's sound has evolved over the years, and this is evident when comparing their first two albums to Kalapana III. Feary and Bilyeu remain the primary songwriters, but all members are involved in the creative process. Kalapana's debut album is widely considered to be the pinnacle of modern Hawaiian music.
Two decades later, Kalapana's music is still as popular as ever and the band is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Sunday at the Waikiki Shell. Bilyeu reflects on the success of C&K and Kalapana in the 70s and says that today there seems to be less interest in original local music. The emergence of Guava Jam has been a major factor in the resurgence of true Hawaiian music. This genre is a local product, and is as disciplined and full of feeling as any other folk music. Hawaiians blended what they had learned from Mexican and Spanish music into their traditional songs, tunes, and rhythms, creating a unique form of music that was entirely their own. In the 70s, artists such as Cecilio & Kapono, Country Comfort, Olomana, Kalapana and the Beamer Brothers composed local music inspired by folklore and suitable for radio.
This period saw a surge in popularity for Hawaiian music, with many of these bands becoming household names. Kalapana's 25-year journey has been an incredible one. From their humble beginnings to their current status as one of Hawaii's most beloved bands, Kalapana has come a long way. As they celebrate their 25th anniversary this Sunday at the Waikiki Shell, we can only hope that they will continue to make great music for many more years to come.