With guitars and ‘ukuleles in hand, nine high school songwriters charmed audience members at Shutter’s Lounge during Saturday evening’s Songwriter Showcase at the Kaua‘i Beach Resort in Lihu‘e.
The teenage musicians were given free range during their performance. They took advantage by debuting folksy love songs, soul-drenched duets, rock ‘n’ roll tunes and even a slow-tempo techno song.
The event was one of eight Saturday evening performances leading up to July’s three-day songwriter conference hosted by the Kaua‘i Music Festival, which is put on by husband-and-wife duo Jerry and Katherin Brocklehurst.
“As an owner of my own music label, I’ve heard a lot of bad stuff,” said Jerry, who is the president of the Kaua‘i Music Festival. “There’s a lot of really good stuff tonight.”
Most of Saturday’s selections were inspired by first loves, broken hearts and unreturned affection.
Sky Flores, a Kapa‘a High School student, kicked off the two-hour concert.
“I’m not used to this kind of thing,” she breathed into the microphone as she adjusted her ‘uke.
Whatever nerves she may have had were quickly brushed off as she launched into “That Connection,” a song that she was inspired to write while sitting in a double-hulled canoe. The upbeat tune implored listeners to not forget where they came from and to appreciate the beauty that surrounds them.
Kapa‘a High School teacher Catherine Paleka, who was the unofficial emcee of the showcase, shared that she chose “That Connection” for a marketing project she is working on for American Savings Bank.
Devin Caspillo, a sophomore at Kapa‘a High School, sang “Wonder Why,” which she described as the “most beautiful run-on sentence you’ll ever hear.” The song was about a boy in her high school class.
Dondi Iannucci of Waimea High School sang an untitled love song.
“It doesn’t have a name because I wrote it yesterday,” she said before launching intoit.
Megan Lake, a Kapa‘a High School student, sang “Permanent Butterflies,”about boy she had a crush on but didn’t know she existed.
Evangeline Cook sang “Moon in my Sky.”
Herbert Semana, who recently graduated, sang “Truly Care,” a techno song he slowed the tempo down and “Just a Dream.”
“I don’t know how to play ‘ukulele well, so it’s just one strum,” Semana said to a laughing crowd.
Sarah Burrow sang “Cry Out,” before teaming up with her brother, Malachai Burrow, who sang “Soul Cry.”
Malachai then got the audience clapping with his solo “Perfect to Me,” which was performed on a keyboard.
Cameron Williamson, a sophomore, rocked out with “What’s Wrong With Us,” which he and his four-member band, Paradox Lockdown, recently released.
Mike Odo, a volunteer at Kapa‘a High School and bassist for the Ne‘ena Jazz Quartet, was on hand to encourage the young musicians.
“It’s been nine years, and it just gets better,” he said. “The first few years were exciting, and the last few years it’s become someting really great.”
The Kaua‘i Music Festival Songwriter Conference is July 13 to 16 at the Kaua‘i Beach Resort.
During the conference, there will be two evening concerts. The Po‘alime Concert on July 15 features Robert Schwarzman of the band Rooney, BC Jean, Makana, Chris Birkett and Jeff Dayton.
The Pau Hana Concert on July 16 features John Cruz, Kepa Kruse, Charles Brotman, Kenneth Makuakane and Aldrine Guerrero. Both concerts begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door or $40 for both concerts when purchased in advance.
Visit www.KauaiMusicFestival.com for ticket locations or for more information about the festival.