CD Review:
Band mixes it up, blending souls and sounds
Posted April 20, 2007

Although Kapakahi, a reggae-ska band from San Francisco, has titled its debut album “Twisted, Bent and Confused,” the album is anything but. To the contrary, each song is perfect, polished and refined to bring out the best qualities and facets of the music played.

This is because the band cannot be simply described as reggae-ska. The influences of pop, Latin music, hip hop, funk, jazz and rock can be heard throughout the entire album, combined to create a distinctive, catchy sound.

Kapakahi first began in April 2005 as a five-man act. Now with four musicians the band has gained popularity because of their ability to blend the musical preferences of each musician into a well-defined, upbeat sound.

The band consists of Mike Dayao, lead guitar and vocals, Steve Salta, drums, Chris Jones, bass and vocals, and Nick Rous, saxophone. After almost two years of playing several big name venues, mainly in the Bay Area and in various other locations, the group has released its first album.

“Twisted, Bent and Confused” has 13 tracks, each a funky fusion melody with a reggae-ska background.

The first song on the album, “Body Glove” is a quick, fast-paced song. The crazy jazz opening and the catchy chorus make it a great song to start off the album. Rous’ masterful saxophone skills add a wild feeling to the music, while Dayao’s vocals are loud and clear. He uses the music and the tone of the song to his advantage, bringing out the dance feeling in the song.

“Africa,” the next song, starts off with a jungle opening, which softens into a more traditional reggae sound. The song picks up pace and then slows down, giving each musician a chance to play his best. Salta’s drums can be heard beating out a jungle theme, while Jones’ bass creates a beautiful melody with Dayao’s voice.

An example of their rock side, “She Could Be the One” starts off with a guitar, sounding like an alternative band. The music itself becomes slower, but the lyrics and the saxophone are fast-paced. This third track on the album combines a Latin sound with a slow rock feel, mixing Rous’ jazzy saxophone with Dayao’s fast, hip-hop style lyrics.

The fourth track on the album, “My Bad,” is a slow, island song. It channels the quiet, colorful spirit of Hawaii, but the chorus is catchy and fun. When Dayao sings “my bad,” the track seems like a casual around-the-fire type song.

Salta’s drumming is upbeat and steady, while Rous’ almost Latin saxophone adds a jazzy step-step quality to the music.

The first four songs off “Twisted, Bent and Confused” are only a small example of the great range in Kapakahi’s music. There is a definite reggae feel to the music, but each track has its own unique style. It seems difficult to mix so many genres together, but the band plays with ease.

For being a debut album, the band plays with experience.

Rous’ saxophone is beautiful, adding flavor to the music when Dayao’s voice stops. Jones’ ready bass keeps up the variety in the music, adding a rock, funk or Latin beat when necessary. Salta’s drums are wonderful. He keeps the rhythm for the other musicians but is able to hammer out his own, turning his drums and percussion set into more than simple background music.

Dayao is a subtle frontman, using his own island heritage to bring something more to the music, but still a great collaborator with the other musicians. His smooth voice ranges from a slow, quiet conversation to a quick, crazy shout.

The artists are able to come together and use their differences to create an awesome, fun album.

Each song has its reggae-ska roots, but Kapakahi has been able to add so much more.

In the sense that they twist, bend or confuse their music to create an entirely new sound. Their album as a whole is a prime example of a band that loves their music, coming together to make a harmonious, creative album that blends all types of melodies, styles and personalities.

For more information about Kapakahi and their debut album visit their Web site or

Lilia Cabello can be reached at

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