Get ready Hilo! Radio station KWXX’s annual public Ho`olaule`a concert is coming Sept. 28, 2019, and runs from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Last year the downtown Hilo event drew over 25,000 concertgoers, and this year’s line-up looks like it will be even more exciting. The festival will feature four stages including the Palace Theatre, over 25 artists, along with 40 food and craft booths. Hoʻolauleʻa is the largest one-day music crowd-drawing event on the Big Island… and it’s free!
The celebrated festival was originated in 1993 by the late concert promoter John Leonard, who also founded Records Hawaii after moving to Honolulu in 1968. A year later Leonard started JFL Concerts that brought many big-name acts to Hawaii, including The Jacksons, Rod Stewart and Aerosmith during the 1970s. Leonard later helped a group of struggling Hilo radio stations back from oblivion.
Aloha Festivals, a nonprofit corporation, approached Leonard about doing an annual festival in Hilo, and offered funding. In 1946, Aloha Festivals began as “Aloha Week,” a cultural celebration of Hawaii’s music, dance and history. The concept grew from there, and Leonard’s son, Chris, now carries on the Hoʻolauleʻa tradition.
“There’s probably no other large music festival in the state that has a line-up as big as ours,” explained Leonard at KWXX’s Hilo studio. “Sure, you’ll find top names playing at the Waikiki Shell on Oahu, but they can only hold 8,000 people. We put 20,000 people in downtown Hilo on a Saturday night. It went from being a signature event for KWXX to a signature event for this island!”
This year’s headliners will include Natural Vibrations, Bruddah Waltah, Ekolu, and Anuhea. Band selections for this year’s Hoʻolauleʻa ramped up in May, and a variety of popular contemporary Hawaiian bands plus a stage dedicated to Big Island rock and blues favs like Tomi Isobe and Girls Night Out was the result. You can see a review and photos of last year’s event here.
KWXX has set a Facebook page dedicated to festival updates, and you can access that here.
Photo: Gerald Besson