HAPA is one of the best and most innovative groups to ever come out of Hawaii and in my opinion they are the best group still performing in Hawaiian Music today.
The group, consisting of Barry Flanagan and Nathan Aweau, hardly performs Live in Hawaii anymore. Sure they give a monthly appearance at Chai's Island Bistro but they have not done a big concert at the Waikiki Shell or at Hawaii Theater in many years. The majority of their concerts take place in the continental United States and are widely praised with excellence. So if any Hawaiian group demands a Live concert release it is HAPA.
Yet here is the first puzzling part about the album "HAPA Live." It is not a concert recording but a recording of the group performing songs in the PBS studios for their TV special "HAPA Maui." So there is no audience present during the performance and the atmosphere is much more controlled than at a regular concert.
The pair run through ten songs culled largely from their first album "HAPA" and their most recent release "Maui." There is a rawness and live energy to the recordings but they do not differ from the studio versions very much. Only the song "Twinkletoes," a solo on Bass Guitar by Aweau, is drastically different from the album version and it is excellent. Flanagan, who is a Jimi Hendrix of Slack Key Guitar, never really breaks loose into a guitar solo that was not already established by the original album. He remains stuck in the original mold which is kind of disappointing.
Overall what is impressive about the album is how only two voices and two guitars can recreate album sounds that were created by ten guitars and five voices. So if you want a HAPA Live album this so far is your only option but it may not fulfill the anticipation. Another curious note about the album is that it was released without any publicity a year after the TV special release. The album was then discontinued shortly after its release, making it something of a collectors item, I guess.