Big Island Music Report: April 2 Edition

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It’s been nearly one month since we saw the Big Island’s live music scene come to a screeching halt. Back in early March, many of the Island’s artistic directors picked April 30 as a date when they thought the live music might resume, but as of this writing, it looks like October might be the new spring for touring acts to return. (Singer Joan Osbourne, who was slated for a March 20 show at the Kahilu, will now appear on October 2.)

The Kahilu Theatre was about three-quarters of the way through its 2019-2020 season when it suspended operations after a March 8 concert with singer Makana. Ten days later, board president Mimi Kerley did a Facebook live stream outside the theatre and talked about patrons donating previously purchased tickets back to the venue to help keep the non-profit afloat. “The board is working hard to best handle this situation with all of the unknowns involved,” added Kerley. “It’s pretty tricky, but we’re doing the best we can.” There were over a dozen upcoming shows scheduled through June before the theatre shuttered its doors.

The Aloha Theatre has created a stay-at-home course for actors called Sip & Script: A Virtual Script-Book Club. On their Facebook page, the description reads: “This series is an open space for folks to better understand ‘script reading.’ Led by Education Director and actress Jaquelynn Jeanne Collier, each session will focus on the many elements that make plays and musicals entertaining to read aloud or in silence.” All are invited to attend, but the course, which runs March 30 – April 27, is recommended for ages 13+. This is a free series, but students must pre-register online (at no cost) to receive a link to the Zoom-meeting. For more details about the Video Classes for Isolated Times series, visit the theatre’s website.

Vertrude’s goes live

With local public performance venues shut down, and countless musicians in quarantine, Kona’s Gertrude’s Jazz Bar is trying a new approach with live entertainment. They’re calling it “Vertrude’s,” a live streaming Facebook concert from “The Barn.” Co-owner Marlina Shirley acted as MC and iPhone camera operator for the launch while her husband Greg played acoustic guitar and was joined by a variety of local musicians for a 65-minute performance.

Ronnie Velveta     Photo: Gerald Besson

Singer-songwriter and a familiar face on Kona’s music scene, Ronnie Velveta has released an appropriately titled song on SoundCloud called “Quarantine Blues.” The nearly 3-minute acoustic toe-tapper will have you singing along with its catchy chorus.

“Quarantine has been a bit of a challenge,” noted Velveta in a Facebook Messenger comment. “I’m enjoying the time home with my family, but I’m so used to having a huge amount of public social interaction. It kind of fuels me, keeps my ‘tank’ full. Needless to say, my energy levels have been pretty low being restricted to the house. On the third day of the quarantine, I decided to set up a little home studio. Not sure what I was planning on doing with it. I just needed to set up my rig so I could plug it in and feel like I was filling up the ‘tank’ a bit.  That night I tested it out after the family had gone to bed and I’d had a gentleman’s portion of Wild Turkey. It felt good.  I laid down a few tracks of my favorite original tunes.”


“So, my new fresh lick of the day is what quickly became the “Quarantine Blues.” I walked up into that G and then kind of gave it a bluegrass form. It wasn’t long after that I was humming a melody. The lyrics rolled out in about 15mins. They represent a lot of the sentiment I’m feeling & reading off of social media. Stay home. Stock up. Especially on booze. Missing the crowd. Ghost towns. Try not to get mad at the condition of the world. I put a couple of metaphors in there… “turning water into wine/drink it by the gallon for a dime” is referencing the Bible and the fact that because I have no income, If I want to have a drink, I gotta drink the cheap stuff. ‘Home Sweet Home’ is a reference to another of my songs that I really enjoy. I usually try to thread a common story like that into my songs.”

“After I finished the lyrics and form, I ran it through a couple of times and took it into the studio. Recorded it in 1 take all the way through. Which is how I prefer to record. I like them to feel more organic.”

“A few more nights have gone by and now I’m 6 tracks into recording my first solo album. Something I’ve been wanting to do for years, just haven’t had the time. Well, now I do. If we stay quarantined for much longer it might be ready in a few weeks.”

Llosh Winne in his studio. Photo: Lauren Canton

Hawi musician Llosh Winne let us know about a new tune called “Living in Hawaii” that’s on YouTube now with a slideshow. “It’s a song is about living in Hawaii with my wife,” says Winne via Facebook. “This time, in this place, is exactly where I want to be.” Winne is joined by his friends on the song: Tom Penny (saxophone), Jack Hutchings (electric guitar), Ash Miller “OSH” (drums), Llosh Winne (guitar and vocals). “I have a home studio and being at home for the past week has created an opportunity for me to write more than I have in a long time. Not having my regular work schedule has opened up my ability to spend all day in my studio, and to pop in and out of my studio at leisure,” Winne adds.

Seishi Saegusa told us about a few of his songs on Reverb Nation like “Nene” and “No Drama Llama,” a 53-second fun ride, and an earworm that will be with you for some time.

And finally, if you haven’t done so already, check out Hawi’s non-commercial community radio station KNKR-FM. The low-power station has been around since 2016 and offers a variety of music and talk shows along with archives of previous broadcasts. To learn more, or live stream the station, visit http://knkr.org.


Featured image: Neonbrand

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