Being an aspiring Big Island musician comes with a set of challenges – not enough proper venues, very few tips, and not properly being heard or appreciated in a live music setting. Living on the Big Island also means traveling is involved. Most paid gigs are either in the populated areas like Kona or Hilo, but if you live somewhere in between, you’ll have a least an hour’s drive ahead of you, and there’s no guarantee you’ll make enough cash to cover gas.
Three Big Island musicians have been looking for a venue and event that’s geared toward the artist, and they launched a new project called The Listening Room. The innovative musicians include Dagan Bernstein, Brad Bordessa, and Higgs, all who have appeared at numerous venues around the island.
“The Listening Room project is set up for the audience to enjoy the music, and allow the artist not feel like they’re playing in the background,” said Honokaa musician/rapper Higgs. “It gives them a platform to share their songs and stories. Our first effort took place at the Waimea Coffee Company, and we hope to make it a monthly event.”
Their February concert featured R&B singer Joey Bradley and Higgs. Bradley is no stranger to the stage, and has opened for music icons like Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, and Flora Purim. Locally he’s a current member of Richard Russel’s band The Castaways, produced Kaahele’s studio album, The Star That Met The Tide, and was the live sound engineer for “The Barn,” the performance venue at the Kohala Village Inn.
Higgs is a 30-year-old Big Island native. His music defies any single genre, and draws on elements of rap, pop, reggae, and R&B as well as singer/songwriter vibes to create a unique sound. His debut EP, The Letdown, was recorded in 2016, and has since released 4 singles. The latest, “No Plans,” took First Place in the 2018 Hawaii Songwriter’s Competition. His first full-length album, with the working title Autopilot, is scheduled for release in mid-2019.
As far as future plans for The Listening Room, Higgs has announced a similar live show titled the Big Island Songwriters Showcase. It will take place at the Mike Luce Studio, adjacent to the Kahilu Theatre, on Friday, March 29 at 7 p.m. The Kahilu Theatre is located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, in Waimea.
“This event is a chance for all of us to share some of our songwriting talents. There will be 12 performers, each playing two songs. Genres range from folk to island to acoustic rap. The performers will be: Matt Binder, Brian Nakasone, Teresa Young, Keoni Caravahlo, Marriane Bacon, Ryan Higgins (Higgs), Rachael Scott, Scott Buccholz, Kristin Lagasse, Robert Savery, and Bub Pratt.”
Higgs adds, “Our first Listening Room Show was a success, and we are making it a monthly event. This next one is on Friday, March 22, and will feature Brad Bordessa and Kimberly June. The show in April will have Dagan Bernstein and John Keawe on the bill.”
If You Go
What: Big Island Songwriters Showcase
When: March 29. Doors at 6pm, show at 7pm.
Where: Mike Luce Studio in Waimea.
Admission: $5 cover – proceeds go to the sound crew/theater.
Info: Drinks will be available for purchase.
For more info Higgs and his music, visit: http://www.higgsmusic.com. The Big Island Songwriters group have a Facebook page where they list their activities.