Review: 2nd Annual Big Island Blues Festival


The skies were clear above the King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotels’ Luau Grounds as the 2nd Annual Big Island Blues Festival started. In such a beautiful setting, it’s hard to feel “The Blues”, but once the music began, the crowd seemed to fall right into the groove.

Ronnie V & The Family Band kicked off the night with their version of the Willie Nelsons’ hit, Whisky River, followed by a 90-minute set made up of originals and an assortment of covers. When Ronnie V (Velvetta) is not fronting the band, he can be found hosting “The Big Island Morning Show” weekdays on LAVA 105.3 FM. With “The Always Rippin’ Dave Lawrence” on lead guitar and the addition of Shaun Barnes on the fiddle, the band had a cross-over of hippie-rock, country-blues going on, and the audience was digging it.

Tomi Isobe

After a quick stage turn-over, Tomi Isobe’s Blues Band came out of the gate swinging, hitting that bluesy groove with the first strum of Tomi’s guitar. On drums, Alan Shapiro, with a well-trained jazz flair, really brought the trio to life. Playing songs like “Black Magic Woman’, “Sweet Home Chicago” and a version of “Little Wing”, the band connected with the crowd. With a Hana Hou, The band returned to the stage and finished out their night with the Ray Charles classic “Georgia”, a tribute to the state where Tomi moved to from Japan in 1982.

With the tiki torches glowing and the audience all fired up, Bottle of Blue hit the stage and had the crowd on their feet with their first note. Bringing in guest Jon LaLanne on harmonica, gave an extra layer to the band’s sound. Mixing originals like “Sunday Afternoon” & “The Gamble” with covers of familiar songs like “If the House is a Rockin” & “Pride & Joy” the vibe turned from the concert to more of a party feel. As one of the busiest bands on the island, Bottle of Blue knows how to capture their audience. Playing a combination of rock and blues, the band finds a way to hold that steady tempo, keeping the audience on their feet throughout the show. With the debut of their newest song “Roll with It”, the crowd’s response said it all. It’s never a bad thing when the audience is singing and dancing to a song they have never heard before.

Bottle of Blue originated in 2013 with members Scott Reagan (Lead vocals) and Marion Geruschat (acoustic guitar, Keyboard and vocals) coming together. In 2015 Dan Corippo (Electric Guitar and vocals) joined the band and they released their first studio album Big Horizon. In 2016 they finalized their line up with Dave Ojeda (Bass) joining the band. Since then, they have worked to build their repertoire of original songs, as well as to build a solid base of cover songs. When asked what we can expect from Bottle of Blue, Scott replied “We are always writing and developing as a band” “we are working on releasing a new album in early 2019.”

Featured photo by Dominik Scythe. Tomi Isobe photo credit: Gary Hicks.


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