KILAUEA — Anytime Beorn Chantara found an activity he liked, it seemed out of his reach. More specifically, it was usually on the other side of the island.
Chantara would either have his parents bring him from Kilauea to Lihue or he would ride the Kauai Bus, a solid hour and a half trip.
So when the recent Kauai Community College graduate heard that Bandwagon was opening a new location in Kilauea, he was overjoyed.
“Having something like this on the North Shore, it’s going to give all these kids up here an opportunity that they didn’t have before,” Chantara said. “It’s not easy to drive all the way to Lihue, especially from Hanalei. It’s going to be a dream come true for a lot of kids.”
Chantara has been a full-time employee at Bandwagon for the past six months, after meeting Jeremy Hartshorn, founder of Bandwagon, at a booth during Hawaii Children’s Theater’s production of “School of Rock.”
Jeremy and his wife, Julie, brought Chantara, one of 13 employees, on board to help volunteer before hiring him.
The mission behind Bandwagon, even from its earliest days of riding around in a van teaching music lessons to local children, has been to spread music across Kauai.
The new Bandwagon location recently opened at Kauai Christian Academy. It marks a dream come true for the Hartshorn family.
“We’ve been trying a long time to make this kind of thing happen,” said Jeremy, a worship pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship. “Kilauea is a perfect spot. As far as accessibility, compared to Kapaa for example, the kids can get around here. This is going to be a big win for the community up here.”
Receiving contributions from the North Shore community made it possible for Jeremy and Julie to expand their business.
“There’s a big hole here in Kilauea for things for kids to do after school,” Julie said. “We have the community center where they play sports and stuff, but now there’s another option here that’s local enough for them to walk to.”
Sarah Hill has been working with children for 15 years at Kauai Christian Fellowship, but hasn’t seen such a positive response to a new program like she has with Bandwagon.
“I have a lot of kids who are musically talented but never had an avenue to play,” she said. “We know how music can change kids lives, so I’m excited to see it happen.”
Bandwagon has around 60 kids at the Lihue location but Jeremy expects those numbers to rise exponentially.
“We have some diehards who drive all the way up from Wainiha and everywhere in between, so they’re going to be stoked about this,” he said. “We’re planning on scaling up the more kids we have each day. This represents a lot of work by a lot of people and I’m really grateful. It’s really a dream come true to see this explode in this way.”
Info: 634-4040, bandwagonstudios.com