The early Doo-Wop bands of the 50s are his primary influence (besides his Dad of course): Shep and the Limelights, Bobby Day and the Hollywood Flames, The Penguins, The Cellos, The Heartbeats, The Skyliners, and early Elvis. Also local groups: The Mop Tops, and the Causals. These groups instilled in him a strong love of harmonies and simple melodic lines.
From his Dad, Bla learned about Hawaiian music, the importance of strong rhythms and an appreciation for Latin music.
Bla’s style ranges from rhythm and blues, good-time rock and roll to soulful renditions of traditional Hawaiian favorites. Many remember Bla playing at the Sand Castle or Betty Reilly’s and bringing down the house with his versions of classic rock and roll tunes. Even today, when jamming, the songs will eventually turn to the old classics.
His two best-known songs are Moonlight Lady written by Carlos Andrade and recorded with his Dad and Waimanalo Blues written by Liko Martin and performed with Cyril and Martin Pahinui, Ry Cooder, Jim Keltner and David Lindley.
Over the years, he has had several bands (Jimmy and the Playboys in the early 60s) and played with many of Hawaii’s best musicians: Peter Moon, Palani Vaughn and the Brothers Cazimero in Sunday Manoa, with his brothers Cyril and Martin in the early 90s, Ledward Kaapana, Bernard Kalua, Dennis Kamakahi, and Mike Kaawa.
Bla has recorded albums with George Winston on the Dancing Cat label and The Mount Apple Company.
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