Kaua‘i Music Festival closes with Pau Hana Concert

The Kaua‘i Music Festival is officially a wrap. The July 16 Pau Hana Concert marked the end of the annual showcase, which featured the likes of John Cruz, Aldrine Guerrero, Kohala, Kenneth Makuakane, Diana Aki and Kepa Kruse.

KMF is spearheaded by Jerry and Kathleen Brocklehurst, who hosted weekly Saturday concerts leading up to the four-day Songwriters Conference, which ran from July 13 to 16.

Throughout the four-day conference, attendees were treated to workshops, one-on-one consultations and group activities to hone their skills in a professional atmosphere.

Film and television music supervisors, songwriters, producers, publishers and other music industry professionals from the mainland were on hand to offer their pearls of wisdom and name one amateur songwriter the winner of the songwriter contest.

Iris Kamilla Downey of Kilauea took home the top honor, while Maelan Abran from the Big Island took second and Fran Kalb of Koloa came in third.

“I was shocked,” Kathleen said when she saw the list of winners. “The top three winners were songwriters from Hawai‘i and repeat Kaua‘i Music Festival attendees.”

Kathleen said nearly 100 people entered the contest from all over the country, and all but 10 songs were weeded out by two judges from Broadcast Music, inc. From there, a panel of six mainland judges chose the three winners.

The three winners opened during Saturday’s Pau Hana concert.

Downey took to the stage with a new guitar she won in tow, to perform an original song titled “Flying.”

“It’s about Kaua‘i in a roundabout way,” the self-taught musician said before her performance. This was the second year Downey attended the KMF Songwriters Conference. She said she will return for a third year, but wants to come back as part of the staff.

Following Downey was Kepa Kruse, a recent Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner. The Kaua‘i native emphasized the importance of the festival.

“Kaua‘i Music Festival is a great opportunity for people to come together,” he said. “This festival is about being inspired.”

As part of his set, Kruse invited fellow KMF attendees to share the stage.

His solo performance of the cover “The Girl from Ipanema” had quite a few members of the audience chuckling.

“The girl from Kalaheo goes walking,” Kruse sang “And when she passes, each one she passes goes … HO!”

Kenneth Makuakane, who has 12 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards to his name, performed with Diana Aki (aka the “Songbird of Miloli‘i).

Two thirds of the Big Island group Kohala performed. During their set, the musicians performed a song they wrote in response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan — a soothing instrumental song featuring guitar.

Nineteen-year-old Aldrine Guerrero stole the show with his ‘ukulele performance. The Kaua‘i High School graduate and founder of the website Ukulele Underground performed with guitarist Aaron Nakamura.

“We want to spread the love of music and ‘ukulele to as many people as possible,” he said.

As a treat, Guerrero brought out John Cruz to perform a rousing rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”

The ever-popular John Cruz closed the show, performing a combination of old and new songs.

While this year’s music festival is officially one for the books, the Brocklehursts are already busy planning next year’s festival. To keep tabs on the KMF visit www.kauaimusicfestival.com.

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