Having performed at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for his first time, main headliner Sammy Johnson closed the 2019 Aloha Bash on Friday, April 26, at Andrews Amphitheater.
“I’m just excited to be here,” Johnson said before the venue doors opened and the stage lights turned on.
Johnson opened his Aloha Bash performance with the song, “Give Me All.”
The song was released in 2013, but still remains a classic with his fan base, as some members of the audience at this year’s Aloha Bash sang the lyrics, word for word.
“I just think it’s so important to create timeless music that people can literally have as soundtracks of their life,” Johnson said.
He explained that being able to help his fans is one of the most fulfilling experiences throughout his music career. Johnson gave the example of having the opportunity to create music that sticks with other’s personal moments or even paying for a fan’s wedding. He finds the fact that people remember specific moments of their lives by the tunes or lyrics of his songs “so humbling.”
Johnson performed a few all-time favorites during his set such as “Fall In Love,” “Sleepwalker” and “Hey,” along with his newer songs, “Since I Met You” and “Moonlight Lovers” from his latest EP.
Currently, “Fall In Love” is one of his favorite songs to perform, and “Sleepwalker” is a song that he holds close to his heart as it reveals a more personal side of his life.
Making music for himself and the community, especially the Polynesian community, Johnson focuses on making music that is positive and uplifting.
As life can sometimes be heavy for everyone, “we need a little break from that (obstacles in life), and reggae music provides that I think.” Johnson said.
With the release of his latest EP, “Moonlight Lovers,” one of his goals is to stay true to his cultural roots as each song represents a different Polynesian folklore. Creating this project not only helped him express value in Polynesian culture, but also gave him the power to tell his people’s story in a different way—through music. “Moonlight Lovers” shines light on his love and pride for Polynesian culture, as well as his efforts to keep his roots alive.
“If we don’t do that then it’ll be lost,” Johnson said.
While performing his last song of the night, “Don’t Say Goodbye,” Johnson brought out guest singer Tree Vaifale, who is featured in the original track. He also kept the crowd on their toes by moving from the stage to the audience during his set. He even gave up the mic to an audience member who, thankfully, knew the lyrics to his song and impressed him with her vocals.
For a college student who wants to get in the music industry, Johnson said, along with a lot of hard work, “it’s important to know who you are.”
Johnson also said that in creative arts, on top of being talented, it is essential to learn how to connect with a body of works to make it your own and be able to deliver it to a crowd.
Thanks to the audience’s roar of “hana hou’s,” Johnson ran back on stage to sing his song “Hey” one last time.
Despite back-to-back performances and currently being on tour, Johnson delivered an upbeat, yet heartfelt show with laughs on stage and in the crowd. Within the past week, Johnson performed in Seattle, Surfer The Bar in Honolulu and then for the Aloha Bash in Mānoa. The day after, he flew to Maui for one of his last shows on tour.
Johnson will be completing his Moonlight Lovers tour at the end of May in Anaheim, California.