Uma’s Ultimate Kona Konnection is a column covering the music scene of Kailua Kona. This week’s focus is on Sage Sounds Musician’s Lounge Music Industry Mixer, which meets every third Monday from 6-8 p.m. in Kainaliu above Kiernan’s Music Store.
Recently I had the opportunity to meet with about 26 other local musicians as we were invited to gather and talk story at the new Sage Sounds Musicians Lounge. Gary Hicks invited me, and Scott Reagan invited my musician husband, so we went. Gary hails from Orange County originally. His musical background began at 8 years old when he learned to play drums. Gary played until he was 21. At 25 he put music on the back burner; he jumped back in at 35, played for five years until he got into music promotion in 2012. His music promo website helped musicians in Laguna Beach, where he still books a lively music venue 7 nights a week. Gary managed a recording studio there for two years, before arriving on the Big Island two years ago. He has also reviewed concerts for Big Island Music Magazine.
Gary’s goal in converting the space above Kiernan’s music store is to let it evolve as it may, whether that be with small intimate concerts, youth recitals, band rehearsals, music lessons, music recording and what have you. He is open to helping Kona in whatever way that may organically unfold. His hope & goal is to help musicians get the music out there and have fun doing it. Gary wants to bring back the Kona music boom like in the ‘70s, where pay made musicians happy and venues helped audiences enjoy themselves even more.
The space is quite lovely, with 1500 square feet including a room for recording, two rehearsal rooms, and a 900 square foot performance room for small functions. The space could host a house concert vibe for cd release parties and visiting or local singer/songwriters. Gary is actively seeking music teachers who can commit, stay and teach adults and children. Currently, there are two teachers on staff, including Robin Hillyard, who teaches ukulele, guitar & woodwinds & Bolo, who teaches ukulele and slack key guitar. He is actively seeking more teachers, especially for voice.
So many talented musicians were in attendance last month. One important topic came up: setting a standard for musicians pay. For a solo three-hour gig, we’re looking to get at least $100 and quite often and preferably, much more! David Lawrence, of Green Machine, stated: “We have to ask for what we want.” He also said, “If you wanna get paid, don’t play for free.” That’s tricky when young musicians trying to get their name out there could arrive and play for free plus food and tips. It makes it tough for the pros who’ve been doing it a long time or forever and rely on getting paid a decent living wage. I debated asking for $100 from a place that doesn’t always come close to that. Many musicians agreed that a venue is not paying just for the three hours of live music, they are also playing for the 10,000 hours it took for that musician to get as good as they are, plus the drive, equipment and set up time.
Another hot topic was promotion. Many shared what works and how some of the venues promote, while others do nothing. Some venues expect musicians to pack the house and used to give bands a bonus if the bar reached a certain peak monetary number goal. That’s not happening lately, however. One guy recommended joining ‘West Kona Music Fans’ on Facebook, even though it only has a small number of members, it could help get the word out, as do many groups like Kona Happenings and Big Island Musicians Fraternity and the like. I heard feedback that my method of getting the word out on Facebook and Instagram, may be working, as I am like a pit bull with a bone, never relenting.
Scott Reagan, of the band Bottle of Blue, had a lot to share; he stated & inquired, “Let’s raise the bar, and push promo and quality. How can we build a strong relationship with venues and still do what we love to keep audiences coming?” Another musician said, “You gotta keep it fresh.” David Lawrence suggested, “Sit in with bands, join in, help each other out and keep it interesting.”
Another recommendation was made to create a large bulletin board at Sage Sounds for musicians to find each other and a large master calendar to find out who’s playing where. Pro photographer, Gerald Besson, who was in attendance, offered his services for headshots, band promo and another attendee even offered musicians assistance with getting videos made.
The Sage Sounds Music Industry Mixer meets every third Monday, so add it to your calendar, if you’re a musician, manager, promoter, or anyone involved with a band. Gary has a “Songwriter Showcase” scheduled for March 23 from 6-8. The night is set to have musicians come together and share their music. Bolo teaches Group ukulele Lessons on March 12,19, and 26 from 10 a.m. to noon for a $10 donation. The next music Industry mixer is March 16.
Love Guru Uma sings and performs solo acoustic ukulele at least six times every week on the free NEXT music app (check on Facebook for when) and at weddings on the beach with the Kona Wedding Officiant. She also performs many Sundays in March: at Unity of Kona at 10 a.m. on 3/15 & 3/29, @New Thought Center in Kealakekua March 8 at 9:45 a.m. & at the Blue Dragon Thursday, Feb. 12 with her husband on bass & guitar at Blue Dragon from 6-9 p.m. Uma enjoys staying busy as a substitute teacher, Uber driver, Tour guide and self-published author. She’s working on #3 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: Gerald Besson. Website: https://ishootmusichawaii.com