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July 2nd, 2009; Issue #40 - 7/2/2009

Music is Alive at… Sand Island R&B

Music is Alive at… Sand Island R&B

A column featuring venues that support live music on Oahu.

Sand IslandIn the industrial area of Honolulu, makai of Kalihi, out near the piers, and just a little ways down Sand Island Access Road is a gritty dive bar where you can drink a cheap drink, play pool, and listen to live music. Sandwiched between a marine supplies store and an abandoned strip club is the welcoming neon sign of Sand Island R&B, a bar that has, somewhat surprisingly, become one of the primary supporters of the underground rock and blues scene.

Since I became involved in the music scene, Sand Island R&B stopped hosting live music, or hosted shows very sporadically. Six months ago, however, Jai (pictured) was hired as the new manager and she has changed everything. She felt that the bands that had been performing at Sand Island were slow and brought very little crowd. She was more interested in having bands that would encourage Sand Island’s customers to “party and have a good time.” A live music fan herself, she adds, “I enjoy the atmosphere and energy of live music.”

Now, Sand Island R&B hosts a full spectrum of events. Wednesdays is open mic night. If a band new to Sand Island expresses interest in setting up their own show, then they must first perform at an open mic to prove that they have the skill and the draw to successfully pull off their own promotions. Then comes Irie Thursdays, featuring a reggae band and a wet t-shirt contest (yes, we know you’re excited). Fridays and Saturdays are assigned to various promoters, usually Nemesis Productions or another rock promoter, Chemisstry, or their newest addition – salsa music. Every other Sunday is the regular Chemisstry event for womyn. Jai explains with pride that she helped Chemisstry start booking live bands for their events. “They were the first gay party on the island to host live music.”

I visited Sand Island R&B on a Friday night for Nemesis Productions’ Metalcore JaiIII, featuring hardcore, hard rock, and metal oriented bands like Affront the Weak, This Ghost is Dancing, GIGO, Phoenix Rose, and more. Portable stage lights were set up in front of the stage (a new additional only for that night), video cameras were scattered around the room, and Heavy Metal Burger was grilling up eats outside. Jack, the main man behind Nemesis Productions, says that’s why he loves working with Sand Island R&B as supposed to more regulated venues. “They are the most open to do what it takes [to work with a promoter]. Jai thinks more outside of the box.”

In fact, it was when Sand Island and Nemesis Productions teamed up a few months ago that the venue started to host so many shows, taking its place as a major supporter of the scene. Jai gave Nemesis Productions many nights to work with and Nemesis began to build up a regular following, sometimes even throwing multiple shows in the same week. Because the Nemesis promotions were so successful, the doors have opened to other promoters.
There is one more reason why Jack, a lover of heavy music and the bass player of Pheonix Rose, loves to throw shows at this venue. “Sand Island is a great venue for metal. We’re in an industrial area with no residential neighbors for miles. Bands can play as loud and hard as we want.”

If you are interested in promoting a show of your own or want to know what’s going on, contact Jai at Sand Island R&B or check out

Sand Island R&B
197 Sand Island Access Rd.
Honolulu, HI 96819
(808) 847-5001

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