Johnny Nicholas and Honokaa Jazz Band Rock The Big Island with Three-Show Tour


Blues master and roots music aficionado Johnny Nicholas from Austin, Texas will perform with the young musicians of Dragon Jazz Band for three exceptional concerts on Hawai‘i Island in January. The shows will be at the Hilo Palace Theatre on Saturday, January 25, Gertrude’s Jazz Club in Kailua-Kona on Sunday, January 26, and the Blue Dragon Tavern in Kawaihae on Sunday, February 2nd.

Led by Gary Washburn, music director of Grammy Foundation Award-winning Honoka‘a High School, the Dragon Jazz Band is a select group of students who have proven themselves as strong performers, ready for a professional music experience.

Gary Washburn and the Honokaa Jazz Band (photo: Sarah Anderson)

“The involvement of Gary’s very talented group of kids is a collaboration that has provided for a very exciting show and a tremendous learning experience for the fledgling Honoka‘a musicians,” said Johnny Nicholas, who has been involved in similar educational projects in Texas over the last 20 years. “It is amazing to see what kids can do when they get involved and excited by musical stimulus and exposure of this nature and professional level.”

Nicholas is no stranger to Hawai‘i, having toured with his band, Hell Bent, as well as backing up Delbert McClinton and Marcia Ball. Nicholas described as one of the premier blues and roots music interpreters and artists alive today, has performed with blues legends, such as BB King, Big Walter Horton, and Johnny Shines. He was one of the lead singers, writers and multi-instrumentalist in the band Asleep at the Wheel when they won their first of many Grammy Awards.

“The opportunity to tour and perform with Johnny Nicolas offers many educational opportunities not normally offered in the high school education system,” said Washburn. “Students work with and experience the real professional tour and road expectations and responsibilities. Setting up, sound checking, rehearsing while on the road, and interacting with professional musicians offers a great mentoring opportunity,” Washburn continued. “When touring with Johnny in 2015, I witnessed his band members willingly tutor the young musicians to help improve their musicianship, inspire developing improvisational skills, and have fun at the same time.”

Nicholas will be touring with some of his band members and will spend an entire week prior to the shows working with Gary Washburn and his Honoka’a students on their ever-expanding repertoire. In addition to the talented horn section, this year’s Dragon Jazz Band will include several musicians and singers, all of whom will perform as a part of Nicholas’s band in the three shows.

If you go… Have a good show!

Johnny Nicholas & the Dragon Jazz Band’s Big Island Tour Schedule

When: Saturday, January 25, 7 p.m.
Where: Hilo Palace Theatre, 38 Haili Street, Hilo.
Cost: General Admission – $25.Side Reserve – $35. Center Reserve – $45
Info: All tickets are available now at the Hilo Palace Theater Box Office. Tickets can be purchased in person or over the phone with a credit card, Monday-Friday between 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at 808-934-7010. All reserved seating is only available through the Palace Box Office. General Admission tickets are available online.

When: Sunday, January 26, 6 p.m.
Where: Gertrude’s Jazz Club, 75-5699 Ali’i Drive, Kailua-Kona.
Cost: $26.06
Info: Tickets available at

When: Sunday, February 2, 6 p.m.
Where: Blue Dragon Tavern, 61-3616 Kawaihae Road, Kawaihae
Info: Tickets available at the door. Call: 808.882.7771

For more information, check out JohnnyNicholasBlues.comGaryWashburnMusician, and JohnnyNicholasBlues on Facebook.


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