Uma’s Ultimate Kona Konnection is a weekly column covering the music scene of Kailua Kona. This week she spotlights Ryan Sabate, who graces the stage at Laverne’s Sports Bar Nov. 16. You can always expect a fun, energizing show with new and classic, danceable, Pop, Rock, Funk and Top 40 hits. The venue is partially outdoors, and the views are always amazing, especially at sunset.
Years before I had my own bands here in Hawaii, when I mostly sat in with my husband’s band, Ryan Sabate invited me to join his group as a featured vocalist whilst they played upstairs at Humpy’s. That was great fun; Ryan even caught some super videos of us. We didn’t need practice as the band knew their songs front and back. Fast forward to last year, when Ryan again needed a female front person for Laverne’s. I was more than happy to join them every month for about five months. The hits continued and the fun expanded. Ryan loves to get out with the audience and really interact more than I’ve ever seen another musician do. I was happy to ask Ryan to share his insights into the Kona music scene.
Do you find any challenges and/or joys of playing music here on the Big Island?
The only challenges for me are logistical, as everyone in my band has regular jobs, so I have to juggle schedules and work around that and keep lines of communication open with the members, venues and or clients. Thankfully, my bandmates are super flexible. Being a bandleader is a real 24/7 labor of love. The Joys? I don’t have to play; I GET to play! It’s never been about money, rather a lifestyle for me. People don’t realize that this gift can be gone tomorrow, so I don’t take it for granted. I’m blessed with bandmates who sync with my vision. Watching our audience forget about everything and have a great time for the short time we are on stage is priceless.
What got you started playing music?
I come from a pretty musical family, so everyone played or did something musical. I am first cousins with Pauline Wilson of 70s jazz fusion band “Seawind;” she’s a huge influence on me. I started band [class]in 6th grade playing trumpet until 11th grade; then I chose sports: football, baseball, and wrestling. I used to listen to old school hip-hop (Grand Master Flash, Curtis Blow, & 70s funk) In 1984, I saw an Ozzy Osbourne concert on MTV which changed my life forever. The guitar player Jake E Lee convinced me that playing guitar in a rock band was what I was born to do. I was in the Air Force from ‘86-‘90 and I don’t drink, so while all my friends were partying, I stayed in my room and played guitar. My first real band was called Tantrum, in Kunsan AFB in Korea, then I cut my teeth in Salt Lake, City Utah in the 80s club scene for a few years. That’s where I got my education on how to run a band, create setlists, stage etiquette. I still seek advice from old bandmates, band leaders & mentors.
About how many days in a month do you usually play?
We play regularly all over the big isle at least 3 times a month, every third Saturday at Laverne’s with other venues and functions sprinkled in. I live in Hilo, so we like to play close to home.
Your biggest dream music-wise is?
I’m doing it now…I get to play with the same great guys every month and on a regular basis. I don’t have to play…I’m getting many opportunities to play. And I have been since high school. I have had the chance to record, engineer and finance an album with the previous band. I told myself ‘once I’m on a CD or album my dream was fulfilled.’
What inspires your music most?
If you’ve seen our live shows, we are very interactive, high energy and engaging. The energy we feed our audience reciprocates back to us and that makes for a great show. To me, being able to make people dance, sing along, make memories from watching &/or meeting us is very inspiring, and something we don’t take lightly in Average Joes. It inspires us so much we can’t wait for the next show.
Your proudest moment in music was…
Hmmm, there are so many, but I think when total random strangers at your shows say we made their evening, dig what we do, dance like no one is in the room, connect with us, and if we build friendships with our audience – that makes me proud too. We pride also ourselves on being one of the few bands that are very crowd-friendly before, during and after shows. I’m proud that our “friend base” not fan base has grown very quickly in the short time we’ve been around.
Any suggestions for aspiring musicians?
First and foremost HAVE FUN!!! If you aren’t having fun your audience will pick up on that quickly and you’ll lose them. So, work hard on and OFF stage, BE DIFFERENT BY DESIGN, believe in your brand and band. Expand your reach, don’t be complacent or comfortable because that will kill your band. Make sure your heart, head and why you’re doing music are all aligned properly.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? I already do…me & my bandmates’ superpowers are helping our audiences have a great time!
Ryan has so many mahalos, there’s just not enough space here; mostly his wife and family, current and former bandmates, the fans, venues, rehearsal space owner, his JoeCast and the list goes on!!
Love Guru Uma performs solo acoustic ukulele, sings in a duo with her husband and in the 4-piece Uma Zuma Band, which performs Nov. 23 at Korner Pocket in Kealakeku. Uma’s also 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 umaojeda.weebly.com
Photos: Kevin Sabate