Gypsy Pacific

  • How would it sound…if legendary Hot Club Band with gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Sephane Grappelli were transported from Paris to Waikiki?  Gypsy Pacific and Wela suggest the answer.

  • wela. 1. (vela) nvt. Hot, burned; heat, temperature.  Fig., lust, passion; to feel such. Ua wela kekahi i kekahi, one lusted for another.  Wela ka hao!  The iron’s hot! (now is the time for fun!).  Lima wela, fiery fingers.

  • Wela is an instrumental collection of classic Island Swing and ballads performed with passion, elegance and dazzling musicianship in the Hot Club style known as Gypsy Jazz.

  • Gypsy Pacific is Tom Conway, lead guitar; Willy Wainwright, violin; Marcus Johnson, upright bass; Phil Benoit, rhythm guitar.  Their combined years of working as professional musicians total more than a century, and individual musical credits would fill a small book. For more information on Gypsy Pacific, visit

  • One heck of an adventure…for the ears, for the soul. 

    -- Wayne Harada, The Honolulu Advertiser

  •  Gypsy Pacific offers exciting listening for people looking for fresh ideas in Hawaiian music. 

    -- John Berger, Honolulu-Star Bulletin

  • Gypsy Pacific is…one of the hottest Hot Club-style bands in the U.S. 

    -- Vintage Guitar Magazine, 11/04

  • Gypsy Pacific was…one of the first bands to grab my attention on Maui.  I know Django would be proud that his music is so elegantly presented. 

    -- Willie Nelson

Where to Purchase

Song Samples

 “Wela” – the songs:
  1. Moku Kia Kahi
    (Lydia Bray)
    A song dating from Hawaii’s territorial days, the title translates as "One-masted Schooner.”  Hula dancers traditionally danced this song with pu`ili or split bamboo rattles. Gypsy Pacific learned this instrumental version from the Peter Moon Band, to whom they pay tribute with several of the songs on Wela.

  2. Sophisticated Hula
    (Sol K. Bright)
    Classic hapa-haole Island Swing with a tempo change and swinging solos a la Gypsy Pacific!

  3. On a Little Street in Singapore
    (Peter De Rose & Wm. Hill)
    This exotic show tune from the forties has been recorded by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Glenn Miller among many others, including the Peter Moon Band.

  4. Pandanus
    (Peter Moon)
    A lively instrumental with intricate, captivating guitar lines – a natural fit for Tom Conway and Gypsy Pacific.

  5. My Little Grass Shack
    (J. Cogswell, T. Harrison & J. Noble)
    Maybe the most familiar of all the hapa-haole songs, it provides a perfect vehicle for Island Swing, Gypsy Pacific Wela-style.

  6. Hawaiian War Chant
    (R. Freed & J. Noble)
    Another oft-recorded song from territorial days with an almost frantic melody line and burning Gypsy Pacific solos.  Fasten your seat belt!

  7. Hanalei Moon
    (Bob Nelson)
    This lovely ballad from 1974 lets us catch our breath with sweet violin harmony lines in the familiar chorus; crystal clear guitar harmonics provide bell-like highlights while Marcus and Phil keep everything smooth and moving.

  8. Hilo Bay
    (Bernie Ka`ai Lewis)
    The classic vocal arrangements are picked up instrumentally by Willy and Tom as we sail away on Hilo Bay!  Another song also previously recorded by the Peter Moon Band.

  9. `Opihi Man
    (Craig Kamahele)
    Gypsy Pacific learned this song from the Ka`au Crater Boys’ release.  Just as `opihi are plucked from ocean shore rocks, Willy plucks the melody on his violin and then gets into a marvelous trading-off of solos with Tom as though they were medley sprinters in a heated race, handing off the baton in perfect stride, never missing a beat.

  10. Lahainaluna
    (Kui Lee)
    This lovely ballad was written in the mid-1960’s and memorializes the beauty of Maui and Lahaina, unforgettable mountain vistas and exhilarating sunsets. The guys do it soothing and mellow with a steady Gypsy-jazz rhythm and beat.

  11. Little Brown Gal
    (Don McDiarmid & Lee Wood)
    More classic Island Swing from 1935 with Tom and Willy answering one another in the verse and trading solos in the Gypsy Pacific Wela-Swing style.

  12. Beyond the Sea
    (A.  Lasry, J. Lawrence & C. Trenet)
    Who doesn’t know this classic ballad popularized by Bobby Darin?  Well established in Honolulu’s top 10 in 1958, this uplifting version will ease your mind, elevate your spirits and transport you beyond the sea. Marcus’ amazing bass solo picks you up and delivers you to the next port of call, while Phil keeps steady time alongside. The whole band sparkles and shines with the energetic spirit of Bobby Darin’s original big band, floating you home on a sea of music.

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