Uma’s Ultimate Kona Konnection: Dave Ojeda

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Uma’s Ultimate Kona Konnection is a weekly column covering the music scene of Kailua Kona. This week she spotlights local Kona musician, Dave Ojeda, who plays bass in many bands. Catch him this Friday with Bottle of Blue at Laverne’s 7-10pm and Saturday at Gertrude’s Jazz Bar in the Uma Zuma Band from 6:30-9:30 pm playing rock & soul for your dancing & listening enjoyment. Or see him at the Honokaa Public House in his acoustic Duo July 20 or at BluesFest August 24.

Dave Ojeda is possibly one of the Big Island’s busiest bass players. You can catch him at Kona Brew Pub, Laverne’s, Huggo’s on the Rocks or Gertrude’s Jazz Bar, most weekends and some Wednesdays. He plays regularly in Bottle of Blue and the Uma Zuma Band. Some months he plays 7 to 10 gigs and sometimes 4 shows in a 5 day span! He also works a full-time day job as an Audio Visual Supervisor at a resort. On occasion he fills in for Johnny Shot, Larry Dupio, Colin John and Johnny Ness, plus his acoustic duo plays at the Honokaa Public House every 6 weeks & at private parties & churches.

Dave Ojeda (far right -back) at 2019’s Six-String Fling

Ojeda’s been playing bass professionally for almost 40 years after starting on guitar at 13 then finding out that his friends were also playing the same instrument. Dave studied guitar for a year with a teacher every week and practiced almost daily. His first gig was a talent show in high school on guitar but his amp blew up! The singer brought his motorcycle on stage. Ojeda also plays acoustic guitar, mandolin, sitar & ukulele.

Challenges and joys of playing music here on the Big Island

“I think we’re blessed to have so many venues supporting live music; we have so much freedom in the material we can play. Yes, even original music (yay)! Trust me, it’s not like that everywhere. I can remember a venue on Oahu with Johnny Shot; because we weren’t playing the latest Top 40 songs (we were a classic rock band), they practically pulled the plug on us! Challenges? Well, we can always have MORE venues to play in…LOL. We do have to watch our volume levels, but that’s a good thing. Some bands play way too loud. If it’s good music it doesn’t have to be that loud to be enjoyed. It can be a challenge to get into performing at venues if you’re just starting out. I started a band recently and it’s been tough to book gigs; thankfully, we’re slowly starting to get more. You have to stay diligent & positive; gigs will come. Even if you get a ‘no’ now, try again in a month or two…they may have a need and give you a chance!”

Biggest dream music-wise

“There was a time I dreamed of rock-stardom; it’s probably a good thing I never got it because I’d probably be in rehab or something…LOL. I’m happy to play music and watch people have a great time! I’d like to do a mini-tour in Europe.”

Proudest moment in music

“Opening for BB King at the Blaisdell Arena. Also, it’s always awesome when someone comes up to me after a gig and compliments me on my bass playing…that’s a great feeling! I mean…I’m the bass player, right? If I ever get noticed it’s a HUGE compliment…LOL.”

Suggestions for aspiring musicians

“Learn some theory…it can’t hurt! There are a lot of musicians that only play by ear; that’s cool and you have to have talent to do that, but music theory opens up more doors for you musically. Always look to improve…I’m still improving all the time at age 54 (oh *$%*…did I just give away my age?)…never stop!” Dave recommends to keep learning new material so you don’t get bored and to keep your show fresh.

Ojeda’s musical influences include the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Yes, the Rolling Stones, Santana, Aerosmith and the Grateful Dead. The Dead inspired him in a big way in his high-school days. He says, “I grew up in the SF Bay Area and went to a lot of Dead shows between 1980 and 1985. They blew my mind! It really inspired me to become a better improvisationalist (is that even a word?)…and to experiment with different musical textures. It taught me to stretch songs out and take your audience on a musical journey.” His bass influences include Chris Squire, John Paul Jones, Phil Lesh and Geddy Lee.

Catch Dave Ojeda this weekend at Laverne’s Friday, July 5, 7-10pm or Saturday at Gertrude’s 6:30-9:30pm. Both venues are open air with lovely ocean and sunset views. Dave’s other gigs can be found on Facebook,  and the Uma Zuma Band’s Facebook page. You can also contact him for additional upcoming events at:  808-315-3566


Love Guru Uma performs July 4 at the Waikoloa Bowl with Johnny Shot from 6:30-8:15pm. She also sings in the Uma Zuma Band, a duo with her husband AND plays solo ukulele; she is a substitute teacher, Uber driver, Tour guide and author. She just completed Book 2 in a series of adventure love story and self-help books entitled Love is Crazy – Lessons in Love: Creating your own Happy Ever After and Love is Crazy Satisfying. More at umaojeda.weebly.com

Photos: Gerald Besson and Steve Roby

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