Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mel Cabang - Your Love  (For You Lady, 1978)

Mel Cabang was born at the Honokaa plantation on the Big Island of Hawaii, the son of a Filipino sugar worker and his Portuguese wife. After spending his childhood playing the guitar and feeding chickens, he left Hawaii for Pasadena City College in California. He worked his way through school by playing music gigs and managing a taco stand.

His first professional music gig was at the Newport Beach Club. "Jose Feliciano used to come in, and that was before he became a star." Mel even recalls the night Jose's seeing-eye dog bit him on the arm. Recent state legislation allowing pets in night clubs meant that the California club circuit was rampant with seeing-eye dogs. To this day Mel can't understand why the dog bit him, but he shrugs his shoulders. "Us musicians have to put up with a lot."

Mel decided to try his luck in Vegas, where he landed a regular gig in the Crown Room of the Hilton. Between sets, he would catch Red Foxx's show. Mel studied Red carefully and began working humor into his routine. "I used to call the audience 'a bunch of gorillas' and they just loved it."

But after a while Mel tired of singing the same old tunes night after night. "How many times can a human being sing Union Of The Snake without donning a safari suit?" So he moved back to Hawaii and decided to go solo. He built up quite a large following in Hawaii as the house performer at the Outrigger Hotel, the Gold Coin Restaurant, and the Hickory Steak House. His debut album Lady, which he produced, arranged and conducted, was the culmination of many years of hard work. Richard Wong, the owner of Gold Coin restaurant said it best: "Everybody has problems, personal problems... Mel helps folks forget all their troubles. He helps them forget they're even humans."


1 Comment:

heung shui said...

you know i actually saw mel at the crown room on a number of occasions. we would shout back "so throw us some bananas, ya schmuck!" but in a nice way because we loved him. and boy, what a voice! for me, he's right up there in the top echelon with matt monro and tony joe white.