Uma’s Ultimate Kona Konnection: Drummer Kristin Johnson


Uma’s Ultimate Kona Konnection is a weekly column covering the music scene of Kailua Kona. This week’s focus is on drummer Kristin Johnson. Catch her playing tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Gertrude’s Jazz Bar’s PJ Party celebrating September birthdays from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Lingerie, pajamas or sleeping attire welcome, or just come as you are!

Several musician friends of mine told me that Kristin is their favorite drummer. I’ve heard her play in Bottle of Blue at Huggo’s on the Rocks. She plays with many bands in town, including Johnny Ness and now the UmaZuma Band. This Wednesday’s party will be super fun & thrilling, as Kristin and I will both be wearing a combo of pajamas and lingerie!

I’m always amazed to hear the musician’s stories, and hers is no exception. Her bass playing fan, my husband, Dave, seemed impressed by Kristin’s box-top playing at a young age. For that was easy to envision.

Here are her answers to my queries…

Any challenges and/or joys of playing music here on the Big Island?
Well, everything comes with its challenges, and playing music is no exception! The biggest challenge for me these days is making the time for it. I love being a drummer, it brings me an incredible amount of joy in so many ways, as do other things in life! So, for me it’s about finding a balance.

What got you started playing music?
It came naturally. My dad plays guitar every day and both he and my mom like to sing and enjoy music, so making music was always a natural part of life for me. The drums are what I got obsessed with though. I had some sticks from a young age and would play along to my Beatles tapes on cardboard boxes. It was the 90s, but I loved The Beatles and was really inspired by Ringo. When I was 10 years old and still playing on cardboard boxes, my parents decided to buy me a drum kit and have me take lessons. By ninth grade, I was playing with the high school jazz band and I’ve been jamming ever since!

About how many days in a month do you usually play?
It depends on the month. Sometimes maybe just two gigs, other times up to 10. I try to keep a balance between drumming gigs, my day job, and friends and family.

Your biggest dream music-wise is…
I’m living it! Being a drummer here on the Big Island over the last 10 years has been quite a dream. I’ve gotten to play with so many talented musicians at so many one-of-a-kind venues, private parties, beach parks, festivals…it’s been amazing!

What inspires your music most? 
I’ve always gotten a lot of inspiration from the rhythm of the ocean. It’s had a big influence on my feel and sense of groove.  And of course, all kinds of music. I listen to a lot of different styles that give me fresh inspiration. When I’m performing, I get a lot of motivation from the other musicians, the setting of the venue, and especially the crowd! I love seeing people dancing, just vibing with the music or laughing and having a good time with each other.

Your proudest moment in music was…
I feel pretty proud every time I set up my drum kit on stage. I’ve always been so magnetized to the drum set and I can’t help but feel proud to see mine up there, ready to rock.

Any suggestions for aspiring musicians?
I’d say just do you! There are a lot of different ways to approach being a musician, but what makes it worth all the effort is being true to yourself and finding your path.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
I’ve thought about this before. I’d choose to be fireproof, like to be able to withstand any temperature.

What TV show did you last binge-watch?
Queer Eye! That show really sucked me in. Also, The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. That one was really interesting and a good conversation starter if you watch it with friends or family.

Regarding bands Kristin plays with and upcoming gigs: Kristin says, “I’m pretty freelance and take gigs with various bands as I’m available. I have quite a few fun shows coming up with some of my favorite musicians over the next month!”

Kristin’s schedule for September and October:
Uma Zuma Band @Gertrude’s Jazz Bar – PJ Party – TOMORROW 9/25 75-5699 Ali’i Drive Bottle of Blue
9/27 @ Huggo’s On The Rocks (outdoor venue right on the beach at 75-5824 Kahakai Road., Kailua-Kona)
9/28 @ Mahukona Beach Park Highway 270. Kawaihae, HI 96743
10/4 @ Laverne’s 75-5819 Ali’i Dr, Kailua-Kona
Ydine & Another Evolution
10/11 @ My Bar & Nightclub – LGBTQ Friendly Hot Spot 74-5606 Luhia St., Kailua-Kona
10/19 @ Hilo Town Tavern 168 Keawe St, Hilo
Johnny Ness at Huggo’s On the Rocks in October, dates TBA; check the Huggo’s schedule to find out when!

Kristin’s drum videos and Ydine At Mana Fest can be found on:

Love Guru Uma performs solo acoustic ukulele – lately at weddings on the beach with Deanna, the Kona Wedding Officiant & sings in the 4-piece UmaZuma Band, which performs rock & soul at Gertrude’s Jazz Bar Sept. 25 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. She loves performing any chance she can, including in a duo with her husband, with an upcoming show at Honokaa Public House Oct. 12 from 8-11 p.m. Uma enjoys staying busy as a substitute teacher, Uber driver, Tour guide and self-published author. She just completed Book 2 in a series of adventure love story and self-help reads entitled Love is Crazy – Lessons in Love: Creating your own Happy Ever After and Love is Crazy Satisfying. More at

Featured photo: Ashburn Photography


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