With a childhood steeped in the guitar stylings of Mexican folk and Flamenco, Don Lopez’s love of the bass was born while sitting in on a rehearsal with his Uncle Digo’s band at the age of 16, wowing them with his immediate grasp on “Black Magic Woman.” An experience he likens to a “team of six wild horses with the reins in my hands,” it was Don’s first formative experience as a bassist. He has never looked back since!
Don’s 30+ year career as a gigging and touring bassist has made him a true Maui legend. In addition to playing the bass for Willie K. in and around Maui for 28 years, and Willie Nelson and the Planetary Bandits for 5 years, Don has shared the stage with the likes of Prince, Steven Stills, Box Scaggs, Billy Preston, Lucas Nelson, and many more. His ceaseless exploration of a wide variety of genres, from prog and fusion to reggae and funk, made him a perfect fit for the Maui-based band Kanekoa, which he joined upon an invitation from his friend and one of the group’s founding members, Vince Esquier. Don has been the group’s bassist for the last 8 years.
Beyond his talent with the bass, Don served as a radio DJ for the Maui-based Mana’o Radio for over 15 years, and produces, mixes, and masters music through the recording studio he co-owns with Vince: Rawksolid Studios. The studio is responsible for three Na Hoku Hano Hano nominee albums and one Hoku winner of Reggae Album of the year: Kanekoa’s 2016 LP ‘Tales of the Fruit Stand Mystic.’
Don’s one-of-a-kind play style has found an incredibly fitting home on the Fretless U•Bass. Along with the use of Kala ukuleles by the band, in Don’s words: “Kala is the sound of Kanekoa.”