“This unified force of island roots, rock, reggae and blues has been spreading the melodic love across the isles for over a decade, delivering a captivating blend of grooves and energy music lovers can’t resist.” – Maui Weekly
“When the guys are flying high, it’s easy to imagine Kanekoa as a Grateful Dead-inspired jam band with eclectic roots and a sound that embraces flavors of reggae, blues, funk, and island music.” – Ukulele Magazine
Kanekoa describes its music as ukulele powered Hawai’ian reggae folk rock.
Kanekoa has been playing together since 1999, melding elements of Hawaiian, Rock, Folk, Blues, Reggae and improvisation into a truly unique sound. In Hawaiian the word KANEKOA (kah-ney-koh-ah) has its roots in the words kane (man) and koa (a sacred tree indigenous to Hawai’i), and translates into English as “a strong man or warrior.”
Kanekoa includes Kaulana Kanekoa (rhythm ukulele/lead vocals), Vince Esquire (lead ukulele/backing vocals), Travis Rice (cajon/congas, backing vocals) and Don Lopez on bass.
Bill Kreutzman, drummer for the Grateful Dead and the 7 Walkers, called Kanekoa “The Hawaiian Grateful Dead.” Kanekoa was invited to play Bill’s wedding on Kaua’i. Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac) said of Kanekoa: “The band is amazing, and Vince is amazing,” says Fleetwood, who also plays uke and travels with one when he’s on tour. “I saw him playing electric guitar years ago on Maui, and it was pretty stunning. He’s now uniquely applying all his influences, stepping out of the traditional ukulele approach. He’s great.”
James “Hutch” Hutchinson, bassist for Bonnie Raitt, says of Kanekoa: “Kanekoa takes the ukulele and uke-related music to another place.” “Vince has a much different and funkier pocket than any other uke player I’ve heard or have played with.”
Kanekoa has shared the stage with Jake Shimabukuro, 7 Walkers, Los Lobos, Marshal Tucker Band, Makana, Steve Kimock, Willie Nelson, John Cruz, Eric McFadden, Ekolu, Willie K, Anuhea, Paula Fuga/Mike Love/Sam Ites, Brudda Waltah, Trombone Shorty, Fruition, Ian Neville’s Dumpstafunk, George Porter, DJ Logic, David Nelson, Afromassive, Popppa Grows Funk, Jerry Joseph and the Jack Mormons, among others. Kanekoa has toured and played festivals in Hawai’I, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, and Colorado. Kanekoa appeared in the winter 2015 edition of Ukulele Magazine. Kanekoa appeared in the Farelly Brothers feature film “Heartbreak Kid” with Ben Stiller and two of their songs were used in the movie. In 2014 Kanekoa was invited to play the JamBase Live video series. The band’s 2007 CD “Under the Coconut Sky” is distributed worldwide courtesy of Fontana/Universal. Kanekoa is set to release its new album Hawai’iana Americana in late 2015.
Kanekoa as a band translates into one of Hawaii’s premier live music experiences. Because their sound is based on the yet untapped potential of the electrified Hawaiian ukulele, inspired by the range of musical tastes of its players, and shaped by the land and culture of Hawai’i, Kanekoa has discovered a land of limitless musical possibility.