Party hearty with Go Jimmy Go
By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
But what set them apart from all the other feeling-good guys at the Tropics Bar at the Hilton Hawaiian Village was simple: They had instruments.
At first glance Go Jimmy Go could be anything frat boys, roommates, co-workers but hand them their instruments and suddenly the band appears.
"Did you feel that? Did you feel that?" yelled saxophonist Eric White, juggling the microphone and a mai tai. "I sure did."
Even at the Tropics Bar, not the band's usual hangout and not the most dance-friendly environment, the usuals surfaced: the tall brunette with the cropped bangs, the model-esque groover with the halter and hip-huggers, the pair of sisters who know every word to their songs. Go Jimmy Go plays, they come.
"It's music that appeals to all kinds of people, and everybody digs it," said White, who does most of the band's promotions. "That's definitely what we try to shoot for."
The crowd at the Tropics was a collection of ethnicities and purposes. Many were there for KPOI's "The World's Largest Mai Tai." Others just happened to be there. But there were those who knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. They came to hear GJG's blend of ska, rock steady, soul, rock and reggae, done like no other band in Hawai'i.
And the guys of GJG hope their vibe works on the tough West Coast crowd as the band makes its second summer tour June 20-July 10, touring L.A., Berkeley, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara and Vegas to promote its upcoming album, "Soul Arrival," due in September.
So they're celebrating Saturday at the Hawaiian Hut the only way they know how, with a huge party.
"Man, we love playing in front of a live audience," White gushed. "That brings out the better side of music in all of us. You work off the energy of the crowd, the environment, just everything going on. That's what makes it soooo good."
On the brightest possible Sunday afternoon, they dished out their Sunday best. "Argentina Girl" roused the females wearing bikinis and board shorts. They somehow created a small dance area fronting the stage, shaking their heads and hips in time with the beat. Onlookers soaked in the ocean view and grooved from their chairs, shaded by umbrellas.
Ian Ashley, his guitar casually slung over his shoulder, pointed to the two sisters sitting in the bar. He smiled. They were singing along.
Go Jimmy Go has been around for five years, starting as a stereotypic ska band complete with suits and ties, as envisioned by the band's "founding father," former lead singer Larry Gordon Jr.
"We dressed for three shows total pimp-out," joked White. "We looked good, but hell, our music was bad. That was the funniest thing. People couldn't get over that. But damn, we looked good."
When GJG emerged on the local music scene, Radio Free Hawaii, the lifeline of many grassroots bands, went off the air for good. Ska took a bow and ducked out the back door. "Music scenes always go in waves of popularity," White said. "But our first year, we were in the doldrums. There wasn't really a ska scene."
They got by playing punk shows and, in the process, lured a loyal following. Now the more mature incarnation of GJG has an original sound. Uncategorizeable, just like their fans.
"We've seen straight-up Goths, punks, skins, ravers, kids, average peeps, surfers, skaters, you name it," White said. "All at the same show to see the same band. That says something about Hawai'i. That's how we're unique. As a scene and as a band."
Meet the guys of Go Jimmy Go
Eric White: The 27-year-old saxophonist from 'Aiea teaches language arts, drama and Spanish at Wai'anae Intermediate School. He also played sax in the University of Hawai'i-Manoa marching and jazz bands.
Bison Freidmann: Real name Jason, the 29-year-old from Santa Barbara, Calif., joined GJG three years ago. When he's not seducing the microphone as the band's lead singer, he's a carpenter.
Ian Ashley: Both lead guitarist and back-up vocalist, the 23-year-old Hilo boy works as a security guard, often spotted at 99 Ranch Market.
Cam Wright: He's not that guy from Quadraphonix, though he gets that a lot. The 26-year-old bassist from Hawai'i Kai is the athletic director and after-school program director at Waldorf School.
Shon Gregory: The newest member of the group, the 27-year-old drummer from Hawai'i Kai, is a foreman who installs solar panels.
Fernando Pacheco: The 23-year-old trombonist from Waipi'o Gentry aspires to be a promotions director at a local radio station, utilizing his bachelor's degree in communications from UH.