Three Walls debuts in Kaka’ako
By Elizabeth Kieszkowski / firstname.lastname@example.org
Three Walls Music Festival
Where: CoXist Studio, 331 Keawe St., Kakaako
When: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday. Outdoor, all-ages stage closes at midnight; indoor “Speakeasy” for ages 21+
Cost: $25, $20 students, $10 ages 13 to 17, free for ages 12 and under
Kaka’ako plays host to an vibrant festival of global music from local players this weekend with the Three Walls Music Festival.
More than two dozen musicians, 20-plus dancers, seven DJs and four artists will provide the entertainment at CoXist Studio, joined by eight food vendors, a photo booth and games, and a stage and bar inside and out.
Outside, the evening-long lineup is open to all ages and free for children. Inside, the “Speakeasy” space is only for ages 21 and older.
The hosts are Kealoha, a slam poet who often performs shirtless and has been named Hawaii’s first poet laureate, and TV host Lauren Makk.
CoXist’s Casea Collins-Wright and musician/promoter Enrique Zender are the presenters in a “collaborative effort,” as Zender called it, that intends to broaden the reach each of the hosts has already developed. They have teamed up in the past to help organize and promote elements of Kakaako’s Honolulu Night Market.
“It was an easy decision to get involved,” Zender said, because both were passionate about live music, and had experienced a thriving scene in Austin, Texas (Collins-Wright), and San Diego (Zender).
For Collins-Wright and CoXist, it’s an expansion of ideas she’s already put into place.
“It’s definitely the biggest production we’ve done so far, by quite a bit,” Collins-Wright said. “We’re still considering it a boutique performance, so we’re trying to keep it relatively intimate, but it is a festival.
“The whole purpose of the event is to really appreciate some of these incredible artists who are here in Honolulu, and to bring them together.
“It’s a way for people to find new music, as well.”
MUSICIANS include ukulele prodigy Taimane, Na Hoku Hanohano nominees Sing the Body and Mano Kane, hard-driving blues-rock guitarist Tavana, Brazil-flavored 2do Bem and the exuberant bluegrass/Americana trio Discord & Rye.
With “Discover Kaka’ako” going on simultaneously at Ward Centre, Three Walls could be a new opportunity for those who are curious about Kakaako to spend an evening there and see what creatives can do.
Art will adorn the walkway between CoXist and adjacent buildings, which face Auahi Street, with seating and food served in the reclaimed alley.
It’s all casual — no VIP, no dress code — but with a cosmopolitan atmosphere typified by the event’s “globally inspired cuisine” (including Peruvian dishes) and “craft cocktails” (in addition to Hawaiian beer).
“We wanted to make it so you can bring your family, you can bring your friends, anyone who can enjoy the music,” Collins-Wright said.
ZENDER, a musician himself, brings a background as a Latin percussionist, promoter and artist’s rep to the mix. He has been performing with Taimane for the past three years and has presented several multifaceted events, including an “Epiphany” series at theVenue in Chinatown.
Zender encountered Taimane’s talent at Ong King, where she was jamming with Quadraphonix.
“I sensed that she was an ukulele virtuoso destined for greatness,” he said in an email from Maui, where he was spending the weekend. “Her passion for flamenco combined with her love of rock and insight to classical sets the stage for a tremendous cross-genre performance, which is what Three Walls is all about.
“Similarly, the first night I saw Tavana perform at Kelley O’Neil’s years ago, he blew me and the crowd away with his powerful voice and his relentless mastery of the guitar.
“2do Bem has a special place in my soul because they truly evoke all the sexy energy and emotion of Brazil when they perform, and in front of huge crowds (like Mardi Gras Carnaval and Hallowbaloo Block Parties) they have the ability to transport you straight to South America.”
Zender praised Hoku nominee Sing the Body for its command of the stage and “powerhouse” performances, and the “vintage soul” of Mano Kane, who recently opened for Alabama Shakes in front of a sold-out crowd at The Republik.
Zender is pegging the Speakeasy Lounge Stage inside as “an eclectic soundscape of magnetic singer/songwriters,” including bluesman Boogie, Candy Diaz, Erika Elona and Bernardo Barros, who has a Brazilian contemporary vibe.
“These Three Walls artists all have that innate ability to captivate large audiences with a presence that will last much longer than their musical set,” he said.
The event takes place at CoXist Studio, reclaimed from a long-empty warehouse owned by Kamehameha Schools.
The studio is temporary, Collins-Wright notes — Kamehameha intends to replace it with another development in the not-so-distant future. Until that day, she is making the most of the opportunity to collaborate on creative play.
“Come and discover some great food, people, music,” she said. “There’s an insane amount of creative activity here.”
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