LIHU‘E — “I dream of getting on KQNG radio and meeting Ron Wiley,” said Hendricks Brown, a member of the Kings and Queens band from the Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i Public Charter School. “He’s famous!”
Brown, who plays bass for the musical ensemble, said that’s what motivated him to stay with the group that eventually took top honors at the Battle of the Bands 2021 hosted by Bandwagon with help from the Aloha Angels at the Southside Sports Center at the Kaua‘i Christian Fellowship in Po‘ipu.
“We loved it,” said Jim Brown, Hendricks’ father, who watched the group set up for a recording session at the Bandwagon facility at Kukui Grove Center. “We loved all the bands. This is a great opportunity for the kids to play after school. It helps us as parents, too, because we get to pick up the kids later at school.”
The Kings and Queens are one of 11 school bands that were able to play through the Aloha Angels Adopt A Band program supported by the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, the Kaua‘i North Shore Community Foundation and a lot of individual donors, said Ron Margolis, Aloha Angels secretary.
“The Battle of the Bands 2021 on May 15 was the culmination and graduation of the Aloha Angels Adopt-a-Band program, an extension of the Aloha Angels Adopt-an-After School Club model,” Margolis said.
“This semester, through the help of Bandwagon and their dedicated band coaches, there were 11 schools, including the Elsie Wilcox Elementary School, Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i with two groups, the Kalaheo Elementary School, Kapa‘a Middle School, Kanuikapono School with two groups, the Kilauea Elementary School, the Waimea Canyon Middle School and the Hanalei Elementary School with two groups,” he said.
Jeremy Hartshorn of Bandwagon said there were 10 active bands before the COVID-19 lockdown.
“That was a bummer,” Hartshorn said. “You could see it in the kids’ faces when we called off the 2020 event. But we came back into the mix, and to keep with the social distancing, we partnered with local churches. Without the help of the churches who let us use their space, sound systems and even audio professionals, we could not do this.”
Hartshorn said the 2021 Battle of the Bands was a challenge in itself, trying to keep the numbers in control, maintaining social distancing and other situations controlled by the pandemic regulations.
“Aloha Angels was fully involved with the 2021 Battle of the Bands,” Hartshorn said. “There were 45 kids competing from schools ranging from Hanalei Elementary through the Waimea Canyon Middle School. These winning kids were provided with 26 music instructions, a recording session, and they got to keep the instruments they played.”
Kyle Laborte of the runnerup ensemble Kahto from Kapa‘a Middle School watched as the Kings and Queens moved through their routine.
“We have four members in the group,” Laborte said. “I learned piano, guitar, bass and even drums from my dad Lourn Hess, who is a musician. I’m a bit happy about being the runnerup. Second place isn’t that bad.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.