Every time the Maui-based jam-band Kanekoa takes the stage, their improvisational blend of Hawaiian, rock, folk, blues, reggae, R&B and soul energizes the crowd – fueling the band's flourishing fandom of Koa-heads.
Kaulana Kanekoa (rhythm ukulele, lead vocals, lyrics), Vince Esquire (lead ukulele, backing vocals), Travis Rice (cajon/congas, kit, backing vocals), and Don Lopez (U•BASS, electric bass, backing vocals) have been playing together since the late 1990s. They have created a truly unique sound by embracing the yet-untapped potential of the electrified ukulele – and then taking it higher.
The band opened for Los Lobos on its recent Hawaiian tour, and has shared the stage and/or jammed with many top-notch talents including Willie Nelson, Jake Shimabukuro, Willie K, G Love, John Cruz, John Popper of Blues Traveler, and 7 Walkers, which is Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzman's band. Kreutzman digs the band so much, he hired Kanekoa play his wedding – and dubbed them “The Hawaiian Grateful Dead.”
Inspired by the range of musical tastes of its players – and shaped by the land and culture of Hawai'i – Kanekoa delivers island fresh, innovative sets at every gig. The band's vast influences shine throughout both their original music and their interpretations of popular songs. When asked to describe Kanekoa's music, Uncle Don Lopez says simply: “It is American music steeped in Hawaiian tradition. Kanekoa's music can not be explained; it needs to be experienced.”