Bryan and Herb first met in 1995, when Herb was working at Harry’s Music in Honolulu. A self-taught ‘ukulele player, Bryan began playing at age 10. Son of acclaimed `ukulele virtuoso Herb “Ohta-san” Ohta, Herb began playing at age three - and teaching at age nine.
Bryan had formed the group Side Order Band right out of high school with friends Del Beazley, Chris Kamaka, and Asa Young. Performing six nights per week, the young group also traveled with then-Governor George Ariyoshi to Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore to promote tourism in Hawai’i. The trip included a performance for the King of Malaysia – a major highlight.
While continuing to play with the Side Order Band, Bryan also spread his wings and began performing with many of Hawai’i’s most well-known and award-winning musicians and hula hālau, from Aunty Genoa Keawe to Karen Keawehawai’i, Jerry Santos and Olomana, Natalie Ai Kamauu, Napua Greig, Kuana Torres Kahele, Aaron Sala, Weldon Kekauoha, Hoku Zuttermeister and many more. He also found himself in growing demand for his contributions to dozens of recordings, and he released his own solo album, “Ka ‘Ukulele Lele” in 2005.
While Bryan was busy performing both locally and abroad, Herb was performing as a member of the prestigious Honolulu Boy Choir, the Honolulu Children’s Opera Chorus, and the University High School Select Choir. He also began teaching at his father’s ‘ukulele school, and later started his own ‘ukulele classes. He subsequently advanced to writing new songs, entertaining audiences at private and public functions, producing, and recording. Now an accomplished producer, composer, and instructor, and considered one of today’s most prolific ʻukulele masters, Herb has numerous awards and over 50 recordings to his credit, including ten solo albums and eleven duets; three with six-time Grammy® Award winner Daniel Ho, three with five-time Grammy® Award winner Keoki Kahumoku, two with his father, Ohta-san, two with multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winner and former Pure Heart front-man Jon Yamasato, and one with multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winner, composer, actor, producer, director, and kumu hula Tony Conjugacion.
Having become friends after their initial meeting in 1995, Bryan and Herb talked on and off of writing a song together - until one day in 1997 when they were sitting on a bench at Blaisdell Park. They composed the song “Gm [G Minor] Fleas” (“in about 10 minutes”), and later recorded it on Herb’s 2001 album “ʻUkulele Dream,” where it quickly became a fan favorite. Having appeared on at least four other recordings, “Gm Fleas” makes a return appearance on this new album – this time with special guest Jake Shimabukuro.
The two have been talking about doing something else together ever since. It only took them 18 years...