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Hawai‘i's elder paddlers bring experience and wisdom to the canoe and rip it up on the water
Vol. 10, No. 3
June / July 2007

  >>   La Belle Vie
  >>   After 10
  >>   Love Among the Ruins

After 10 

photos by Sergio Goes

thirtynine hotel

Honolulu is not New York; it sleeps. It's not LA, where you can party all night and into the next day if you have the stamina. It's not Vegas, where if the sun is shining you might never know it. But here in the middle of the ocean, we still know how to have a good time, Island style. We asked a few of our writers to put in some late-night hours in their favorite haunts, dives and dens of iniquity—spots that make Honolulu hum after 10.

The Jam Upstairs
By Doug Matsuoka

I imagine that in the From Here to Eternity era, you'd walk up that narrow stairway to have something seriously illegal done to you. But today, rather than leading to some seedy netherworld, the stairs take me higher—to thirtynine hotel.

It's only 10 and the four young guys—the NewJass Quartet—haven't started playing, so I walk past walls featuring this month's art. The doorway past the bar leads to the patio where you can see the moon and stars—and into the chambers of the nearby luxury condo. They're watching TV up there. Or watching us watch them.

When I hear a perfunctory warm-up toccata emanating from the inside, I flop down on one of the art-loft cum after-hours-joint sofas near the stage. NewJass Quartet starts playing, graciously leaving the door ajar to an erudite musical discussion. Some numbers spring from air-conditioned contemporary funk, but the band's technique seems deeply rooted in the rigorous old-school of the live ensemble. Where do these young guys learn this stuff? Drums as a "lyrical" instrument? Justin James taps out nuanced, syncopated poetics on his small assemblage of taut skins and bits of metal. Saxophonist Ryan Kunimura sends a shimmering contribution from the academy of the tunefully tweaked tone and timbre.

At some point I'll have to walk back down that stairway to the Hotel Street sidewalk, but not yet. Not yet.
thirtynine hotel, 39 Hotel St., 599-2552