Joe Galisa's Rock Memorial @ Hawaiian Brian's


05.22.11 I've never had the honor of meeting Joe Galisa but I've seen him play countless times over the years in Big Dawg & Slug. (I also just learned he played with the legendary band Hawaii with Marty Friedman) Seeing the outpour of compassion as Joe Galisa's friends gathered to celebrate his life & times in the local hard rock scene was something to behold.

I attended a Rock memorial for Joe Galisa at "The Showroom" at Hawaiian Brian's. When I first arrived it felt like attending a reunion for a high school class I wasn't a part of. I was clearly 10-15 years younger then the average age of everyone there. I was told that I was "old enough to be their kid" more than once when I walked around introducing myself. So much for that feeling of being "old" I used to complain about at Jack's Nemesis shows. As I walked around the room I recognized just about every person from my gallery of photos I've taken over the years. But I was never on a first name basis with anyone in that room say for Brett of Big Dawg and my rockin friend, Dyann who seems to be a fixture in the local rock scene as much as I am.

The Piranha Bros. started the night and oddly enough I only heard them play live for the first time 2 days ago at the Irish Rose. Shows how much I know about the local rock scene. Apparently, brothers Mike & Tom Piranha have been tearing up stages & rocking faces off for the last 20 years. They played covers ranging from CCR to AC/DC & were funny as all hell in between songs, not even a bit worried about hilariously poking fun at themselves about how old they've gotten over the years. I can honestly say I've never laughed to the point of tears as I did hearing their parody, Hotel Honolulu, for the first time.


Their love for their friend was clearly evident throughout their performance as they ended their time on stage with a last goodbye from Mike Piranha saying Joe Galisa had merely gone to an early soundcheck in the sky.

At this point I started recognizing some familiar faces in the audience, not from the rock scene, but from completely random sources in my life. My bud & fellow HCC design graduate, David Silva showed up with his girlfriend. He was the last person in the world I would have expected at this thing. I remember he told me he used to set up sound at concerts back in the day. I had no idea that those shows were from this era of the local rock scene & he knew everyone in the house and was particularly close with Joe Galisa. After that I even saw my old next door neighbor from Ewa Beach. He was a part of this scene too!

After the Piranha Bros. set, a slidshow/tribute video was shown in honor of Joe from what I believe was a performance at Bayfest from the band Slug. A mix of heartfelt emotion rolled through the entire audience as everyone was glued to the screen remembering days long since past.


Stories were shared about "the good ol' days" & about the hard knocks you're given when you spend your life playing music. Watching the screen I realized I was at the majority of those shows too. Even some of my own photos were up there. That's precisely the reason why I love music photography so much. You were there, up front immortalizing the memory of that moment & now it'll live on forever for others to witness.

Following the video, Brett Wolfington hit the stage with his band Big Dawg shortly after rolling through a flurry of Led Zeppelin & other classic rock covers getting their audience young & old on their feet letting the music move them where it will.

After their set, a bunch of musicians who were friends of Joe started appearing on stage who I've never seen before, but who have been in the local music scene in the 80's & 90's. Everyone else in the audience recognized them instantly as long time favorites. I of course, didn't have a clue as to who anyone was or their contributions to the local rock scene in Hawaii. So the night became a formal education on the craziness that happened before my time.

As I google their names & attempt to research them on Facebook one by one, it's mind boggling how many of these guys I've never heard of before. Looking through the old photos, I have no doubt how active & dedicated the rock scene was back then & how most of them have never stopped playing, they just grew up.

A man named Jay Buchalter formerly of the band Zuproc (I hope I got that right) got up and announced to the audience that it's been 25 years since he's been on a stage. I'm embarrassed to say I've never even heard of him or some of the songs he sung but by looking at the faces of his friends in the audience it was something special having him up there with a mic in his hand.

I had to leave a bit early but I heard the end of the night was something to behold as bands & musicians reunited for the first time in decades. There are plenty of videos courtesy of Hawaiian Brians and my friend, Dave Silva bouncing around the internet for all of you to relive.

So I left the show with a newfound respect for the longevity of hard rock & metal in Hawaii. And I'll admit it, I got schooled royally by the old masters. I've never been in a room with so much musical talent & passion in one place. I can't describe the feeling of watching friends embrace (and rock out) with one another in memory of their friend.

As inevitable as it is, someday we'll all have to attend that great gig in the sky. We must never forget to cherish the time we have together. As along as we keep the spirit of rock alive, our memories will live on forever.