Kailua Bands of the 1970s

A Windward Rock Revival: Kailua was a rocking town in the 1970s. Today, some of the old bands are reuniting, and sounding better than ever.

Photos: Courtesy Jud Haskins

1970s Kailua Band Syster

These days, Honolulu has a lock on Oahu’s nightlife. The Windward Side just doesn’t conjure up images of kicking live music in the way that Chinatown or Waikiki might.

It was a different story in the 1970s. “You’d start out at Bully Hayes and hear Syster play, and then head over to Rosey’s Boathouse to hear Stryder, and then to Pinky’s to hear Cooper’s Still,” remembers Jud Haskins, a musician who used to play in a Kailua band called Woodrose. “Places would be standing room only.”

1970s Kailua Band Cooper's Still

Most of those bars and the bands have been defunct for years. Haskins now runs a commercial music company in Los Angeles called Horrible Music, but, after running into one of the members of  ’70s folk duo Syster, he was inspired to track down the old bands and get them playing again. He calls the project Kailuabands and, in July, released a compilation album of newly recorded material from a range of old Windward favorites.

“The idea for the album is to try and relive one of those warm summer nights in Kailua,” Haskins says.

This being the 21st century, Haskins’ revival project has been fueled by online social media. He started a Facebook group for Kailuabands that, at first, comprised only the musicians directly involved in recording the new album. Nostalgic Kailua music fans found the group, however, and soon the Kailuaband’s page was more than 300 strong, with members posting old photos and swapping memories of crazy nights and amazing music.

1970s Kailua Band Woodrose

“Starting this Facebook group was like yelling, ollie ollie in come free,” Haskins says. “It’s become this passionate tribe of people coming together, and it’s one of the nicest surprises of doing this project.”

Kailuabands had a real-life reunion, too. In July, about 100 people crowded into Bob’s Sports Bar to recapture the feeling of the good old days. “A lot of these people I hadn’t seen in years,” says Dave Tucciarone, a former member of Cooper’s Still who’s best known today as a prolific local record producer and engineer. “It was short notice, but we got two-fifths of our old band together and played a few songs on stage. It was great.”

Haskins is already planning a three-day Kailua music fest for next July, and is confident that even more old Kailua bands will reunite, even if only for one special performance. “It’s going to be like Woodstock,” he says. “It’ll be Kailua-stock. Three days of fun and music. Except for this one we might need some Centrum Silver and medics on hand.”

Hear a sample from Stryder or click here to purchase the album.

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