Local songwriters take center stage at Waimea venue
After a three-month gap, the Kahilu Theatre re-opened its doors to live audiences, and last Friday’s third installment of the Song Circle series proved once again that we have some exceptional performers who deserve broader recognition.
With his musical roots in the Austin/Nashville music scene, Don May has been developing a traditional singers-in-the-round show since April, and it keeps getting better. These intimate performances allow each singer to reveal subtleties about their songwriting that might otherwise be overlooked by an audience in a crowded bar.
In addition to May’s country-tinged tunes, this time, he featured singer-songwriters Kelly Hyde (Hawi) and Kimberly June (Kona) for an 80-minute acoustic set.
Kelly Hyde opened the show with an uplifting island-style song, “Little Lucky.” Hyde’s from a small town in New York, and she began calling the Big Island home in 2009. She gravitated toward the baritone ukulele and has been developing her unique style ever since. Hyde recently released the single “Seminole Wind,” a collaboration with Grammy award winner Peter Rowan.
In our post-show interview, Hyde spoke about rebranding her stage name from Kaahele to Kelly Hyde. “In 2020, I went through some big changes in my life – I lost my father, all of my gigs, and was stuck at home,” recalled Hyde. “After some research and feedback from friends, I realized I have a great name and wasn’t attached to the former. It’s been going well, and it feels right.”
Don May’s lyrics are deep and thought-provoking. Take, for example, the closing line in “All or Nothing” – What most people call living/We call dying real slow. He said at the time he was writing it about someone else, but in reflection, it could also be about his younger self.
Besides Song Circle, May noted how the Kahilu had played a part in his musical journey. “In 2005, KKOA radio was doing the Colgate Country Showdown at the Kahilu,” recalled May. “I made some original song demos and eventually ended up in the regional finals in California. That’s where I met publishers and musicians, and I kind of went, ‘Oh, you know, maybe this country thing is a little bit more in my veins.’ So, I shifted in that direction, and that propelled me forward to the whole publishing thing in Nashville.” May is looking forward to sharing his years of experience and connecting with enthusiastic local songwriters.
Kimberly June (KJ) has lived all over the world. Originally from Maine, she grew up in the Dominican Republic, went to college in Nashville and Boston, and lived in Hawaii for nine years. She plays a rare well-strummed Cordoba Mini SM-CE, with identical body size and scale similar to a baritone ukulele, but with the richness of a classical guitar.
KJ’s song lyrics tell honest stories about love and romance. She played her newest single, “Someone Who Gets Me,” which became the high point of Friday’s show. “I think it’s essential to find somebody that you can be your complete self with and that loves you exactly how you are. I didn’t even realize at the time when I was writing it that I was manifesting that (person) and I found somebody amazing,” professed the singer and then pointed to her sweetheart Jason in the audience.
Don May plans to do another installment of Song Circle in the coming year and finish up his EP of primarily acoustic material slated for a January release.
Notes & Links
Don May: All or Nothing | Border Town | Going Under | Done’s Still Done | Nothing Good Goes in a Straight Line |
Kelly Hyde: Little Lucky | Golden Time | The Breakdown | Fight On | I Love You Like |
Kimberly June: Love and Be Loved | Why Don’t You Surf Anymore | You Turn Me On | Someone Who Gets Me | Stoked |
Concert Date: 05/NOV/2021
To catch a show and stay up to date with the Kahilu Theatre’s new online platform Kahilu TV and connect with the artists, click on the links below.