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Streetlight Cadence Takes It From the Sidewalk to the Global Stage

It all started with a Craigslist post. Now this delightfully unusual quartet is getting ready for a new album.


Photo: Roy Nuesca


If you’ve gone to a local community event lately, or walked through Waikīkī at night, you’ve probably heard indie-folk rockers Streetlight Cadence perform.


“We literally started on the sidewalk,” says Jesse Shiroma, accordionist and foot percussionist for the band. Four years later, they still play on the streets of Waikīkī weekly. “Hawai‘i hasn’t really gotten to know us through traditional means.”


Which makes sense, considering how delightfully unusual this quartet is. In addition to Shiroma’s accordion, Brian Webb plays the cello while standing (so he can rock out), vocalist Jonathon Franklin often strums the violin like an ‘ukulele (an improvisation after he broke his arm and couldn’t hold it up to bow) and guitarist Chaz Umamoto dresses to impress. “We do get a lot of remarks about our novelty,” Shiroma says, but the band’s accolades prove it’s not about gimmicks.


In 2013, Streetlight Cadence won The Republik’s Bacardi Oakheart Iron Battle of the Bands. This year, the band won the Honolulu Hard Rock Rising Battle of the Bands and placed 13th in the global competition, which had 10,000 entries, and took home the grand prize in the annual Mai Tai Rumble at Ala Moana Center. Not bad for a bunch of guys from Hilo, Kalihi, Houston and San Diego. “We were kind of blown away,” Shiroma says. “To know that we came as a bunch of college kids on the sidewalks playing for grocery money, and now we literally have an international fan base and we’re able to compete and write and arrange these songs people like—look how far things have come.”


The band formed in 2010 when Franklin, who was attending HPU, and another musician friend put an ad on Craigslist to start a band. Shiroma, a student at UH Mānoa, responded, and soon they roped in a few other college friends. There have been lineup changes over time, but the current members are planning on turning Streetlight Cadence into an LLC and pursuing music as their full-time jobs. They even give lessons on how to play their respective instruments.


The group, none of whose members studied music in college, plays everything from Pachelbel’s Canon to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and “Royals” by Lorde, as well as original compositions, some of which made it onto their recent EP, After the War. “[That] was our first successful Kickstarter project,” Shiroma says. “As a band, we’re totally self-managed; we’re not going through any middleman. Now that we got our feet wet, we want to push forward.” They’re currently working on their next album, which they hope to again fund through Kickstarter and produce on the West Coast. It will include revamped versions of the songs on After the War as well as some new tracks. Though they put out a full-length album before, “[it] was at a past stage of the band, before Chaz joined. Ultimately, we hope this new project will be a defining start to what is Streetlight Cadence.”


 Go to streetlightcadence.com for updates and to find out where the band will play next.


Read More Stories by Katrina Valcourt


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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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