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"On the islands, we do it island style, from the mountain to the ocean, from the windward to the leeward side." About halfway through his set, Hawaii's Jimmy Buffet, John Cruz, started singing his signature song, "Island Style," and the nearly sold-out house came to life and joined in.

From the moment Cruz - dressed in requisite Hawaiian shirt - plugged his guitar into the amps and started strumming his acoustic soul (also the title of his first album), he cast a feel-good spell that reminded me of getting off a plane in Oahu and feeling the warm trade winds brush your senses.

Cruz sang almost all the songs from his two CDs with some surprises, including "Waimanalo Blues," a mellow, bluesy tune about one of my favorite beaches, which is being threatened by developers. He sang one of his songs "Hi'ilawe," which recently got selected for the soundtrack of the hit TV series Hawaii Five-0.

Cruz appears comfortable singing in Hawaiian and English. But not to be overshadowed by his songwriting or his singing, is his laidback, yet impeccable acoustic-guitar playing. He even flashed some Chicago-style blues guitar on "Baby's Gone Blues." Cruz ended his set and encore with the lyrics from another of his signature songs, which got embedded in my head, "Shine on, shine on, let your light fill up this world till dawn."

  • Concert: John Cruz
  • Date: January 20
  • Venue: Anthology
  • Seats: At the bar, main floor, center stage
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