Words by Bryant Dynasty | Photos by Jason Perez | Video by Vina Cristobal
Jabez Theodore, a singer/songwriter transplant from Wisconsin, begins to play a song titled “Something Special for You.” Its lyrics flow heavy with the strumming melodies reminiscent of a place far away from the botanical garden we’re standing in.
Originally from Hudson, Wisconsin, he mentions having sold all of his stuff to move out to Hawaii. He was able to grab a spot to do research work while attending graduate classes. He enjoys the Hawaiian weather, which allows for more biking versus the few months he’d been able to do so in a wintery Wisconsin.
I later discover that he’s been playing the guitar since he was ten or eleven, and he learned the skill from his dad. By fifteen, he surpassed his father and graduated to writing his own songs. Shortly after, he began playing with local rock and punk bands — bands in which their members travel an hour’s distance just to practice. This, with the addition of school, ultimately led to a hiatus from music.
The second track he plays for me, “Sleeping In,” has lyrics about smoking a last pack of cigarettes, a maternal fear, the notion of devil’s music and a Japanese pick-up truck.
He tells me his plans for the release of “Post-Grad”, a 4 song EP which will be available online in June with hard copies for sale at future events. After a year and half of writing songs, he’s sort of closing a chapter on them and presenting the work he’s been recording at Blue Planet Sound with his friend David Pichard.
His songs are narratives dealing with his childhood, although not completely autobiographical. He plays with reoccurring themes in the EP’s four songs. They come out sometimes through a repeated lyric, like Easter eggs — hints he weaves in and out. The songs’ themes of nostalgia, growing up and moving on, are pieced together from bits of his own life and others. He lets the songs take on a life of their own growing organically staying away from scripting the lyrics to capture a more emotional image or feeling.
Jabez wants to take his music out more on the Oahu scene and eventually to the outer islands. With a few travel plans over the summer, Jabez plans to play a night or two in Salt Lake City, Utah in August. Before heading home for the summer, he wants to play Minneapolis, Minnesota and then in Madison, Wisconsin so he can also visit friends.
His return to music after a hiatus, from a punk/indie rock band, has been a challenge. The music scene here in Hawaii is very different from what he came from on the mainland. No more circuit, independent or smaller regional travelling acts that would go state-to-state. The research of venues and finding locations to play has been a task for him. However, he thanks Preston Kauwe, lead singer of Scarlet Cord and founder of The Grind Entertainment, as the person responsible for his recent shows at Downbeat Diner and Hawaiian Brian’s.
Jabez has strictly kept his work on agriculture practices in the ideal ecology of Hawaii separated from his music. Using music as an outlet to get away from the computer screen and desk, he does not see these aspects of his life crossing over. Jabez plans to have his music take him as far as it can. The idea of playing music to incorporate the two wouldn’t go too far. After receiving his degree at University of Wisconsin and completing two years of graduate school here in Hawaii, he wants to move away from the academia and focus on his music. The investment in his music has been costly, but has kept him sane and has allowed him to express himself as an individual.