Kursat breathes life into thirtyninehotel
I was so blown away last Sunday night watching KC perform with her Kings of Spade at The Republik for their Amy Winehouse tribute show. The percussionist was probably very irritated with me before they went on as he was near the sound booth when I was asking if they had ear plugs. I asked him if he was working tonight.
“Nope. I’m PLAYING tonight.” He said with a huge smile.
I was just as excited, it was going to be a great show. A tribute to a female legendary vocalist with guest and local female powerhouses singing our favorites including Paula Fuga, Candy Diaz, Erin Smith and many others after Kings of Spade and special guest from Chicago Jenn Hall took the stage. It was a powerful night with outstanding performances all around.
I was in the front watching Kasi do her thing (which is an amazing thing) probably with my mouth hanging open when I was poked and handed a note. It was from artist Omer Kursat, who had scribbled “She is ... real” on a hotel pad of paper and handed it to me.
If I wasn’t already blown away from the pure rock stars doing exactly what they were born to do right in front of me I was even more at this small but huge gesture.
I mean, I had earplugs in (I found them! You can buy them at the front desk at The Republik) and in the front the sound was great but also very loud. Sometimes you want to communicate but shouting in someone’s ear is the worst. Bless Omer for knowing this and for realizing to always have a hotel pad of paper in his pocket and a pen. I always want to take those but never know what to do with them.
Omer is one of those people if you are out enough over the past couple of decades you’ve seen him or met him or possibly even had a conversation with him. He is a tall well-dressed man from Turkey always observing, always smiling, usually with a camera. You might have seen one of his photography shows at the Manifest or In4mation. You may have seen one of his books Over The Pali, 2 AM No Pork or Young Turks.
After growing up in Izmir Turkey, Kursat moved to the United States in 1978. After attending USC he moved to Hawaii in 1994 and has lived in Waimanalo for 22 years.
He likes to frequent the less pretentious places and events, and is a regular at Bevy. Before thirtyninehotel closed he was a card carrying member of the inner circle of friends that loved what it created so deeply. I don’t think there was ever a night I was there dancing where I didn’t also see Omer and his lovely wife Dee.
“Thirtyninehotel allowed me to discover an aspect of Honolulu culture that I could immerse myself info with no pretense, always feeling at ease.” He wrote to me in an email.
“The diversity of the age, style and hipness of the crowd, the new sounds of local bands, tunes by visiting and local DJ’s, the fine art, art installations, movies and the fashion events and quality cocktails and food all contributed to the vibrant energy of the place.”
On view at Bevy Bar you can find some of Omer’s beautiful photographs of those days. It’s a collection of prints which has three images from an earlier show called “Dancing in the Dark” all photographed at the late thirtyninehotel over a period of several years. There are also a few images from Kaka’ako Waterfront park, hinting the changes that are going on in that area.
Special guest DJ Timo will be back to play music which is a huge treat after the KTUH DJ moved on to New York City but will be spending a few weeks on Oahu to play at this show and then later next week with legendary UK artist Bonobo at Nextdoor. The electronic DJ is most recently known for blowing away a Boiler Room live set this past summer.
It will be a nice welcome back to a time that has since long gone.
There will never be another place like it.