Kona trumpeter triumphs with funky blowout
Big Island musician Ann Hoku Lyn, and her mighty nine-piece band, served up a mixed bag of old-school funk, R&B, and reggae for an unforgettable show last Thursday at the Kahilu Theatre. With the house lights partially up, some of the audience got in the groove early, finding space to dance without hesitation.
Originally from the Marshall Islands, Lyn began playing trumpet in fourth grade. She moved to NYC, where she was a freelance musician for ten years. Lyn’s performed at Madison Square Garden and Jazz at Lincoln Center and has won numerous ASCAP writing awards for her compositions.
When the trumpeter moved to the Big Island, she began playing with Ollie Mitchell’s 12-piece band The Olliephonics, and gigged with the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra, Kona Brass, and the Kona Music Society Orchestra. Lyn is also the co-director of the Big Island Music Academy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young people through music education.
Thursday’s concert opened with Kona singer Binti Bailey doing a cover of En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” and Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster.” Bailey is a true treasure, deserves much more attention, and we are so fortunate to have such a talent on the island. She then passed the baton over to Lynn for the remainder of the show, including all originals.
The performance was billed as “The Love Rebel Concert,” which ties into Lyn’s “Love Rebel” single that dropped in February, as well as her philosophy on life.
“It comes down to choosing love in our relationship with ourselves and with the other people around us,” noted Lynn in our interview. “There are so many complex things happening now; it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel powerless. For me, being a love rebel is an empowering thing. You can be a sentient being and aware of all these things, but still, you can choose love, choose positivity in a natural way, not in a toxic way, and choose to continue to believe in hope and love.”
On “Love Rebel,” Lyn invited guest singer Moni to join her and background vocalists Baily and Haunani Wehrsig on the reggae tune. Later, Lyn featured Big Island vocalist Jeannine Guillory-Kane to sing lead on “Mama Don’t (Take No Mess),” an upbeat funk number Lyn released last year.
Lyn’s Love Rebel band featured her husband Truth Musiq (Luke Clebsch), who offered several soaring solos and terrific blues harp moments. Saxman Reggie Griffin was flawless. Drummer Russ McKinnon held the show together with his impressive playing, while keyboardist Loren Wilken stepped out of his ordinarily classical mode to show us his funkier side. L.A. bassist Eric Sittner flew in for the show and has performed professionally for 25 years. The Kahilu Theatre was the perfect venue to showcase a band this size.
“Brokedown” brought things to an exuberant finale with the audience cheering and the band in a satisfying sweat.
Ann Hoku Lyn plans to release a single per month and have enough material for her debut album. “Most of the material was written during COVID and is coming out of a love of the arts, and a need to get together and celebrate together through music. I think the listener will hear that redemptive quality,” said Lyn. You can find her music on all popular streaming services.
Notes & Links
Free Your Mind | Master Blaster | Light of the Sun | Love Rebel | Come Home to Your Dinner | Broken | The World Is Spoken | New Jerusalem | Piano Interlude | Actions Speak | Mama Don’t (Take No Mess) | Make Me a Diamond | Truth to Power | Free Soul City |
Concert date: 24/March/2022
Musicians: Ann Hoku Lyn (vocals, trumpet, melodica), Binti Bailey (vocals), Haunani Wehrsig (vocals), Reggie Griffin (sax, guitar, synth, Vocals), Truth Musiq (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Loren Wilken (keys), Russ McKinnon (drums), Eric Sittner (bass)
Guest vocalists: Moni, Jeannine Guillory-Kane.
Photos: Steve Roby
Steve Roby is the editor of Big Island Music Magazine.