From an idyllic, sun-drenched afternoon at Pohoiki to a breezy, moonlit evening at the Kalapana Night Market; from talk-story in the welcoming environs of Kalani’s EMAX, to the final Kanikapila that filled the streets of Pāhoa with revelers, the 2014 Puna Music Festival had something for everyone.
With a multitude of genres including traditional Hawaiian, Hawaiian soul, hula, pop, rock, reggae, and folk, this year’s jubilant celebration brought locals, visitors, and artists of all ages and backgrounds together to share in the spirit of aloha, ʻohana, and, most of all, community.
Here are a few high notes from a memorable week in Hawaii’s picturesque Puna District -
Pohoiki Open Concert
The day began with Ehulani Stephany’s melodic opening chant and hula dancers, followed by a warm welcome by the day’s energetic, wonderful hosts, Kaʻea and DJ Paris Decambra from KAPA FM.
Local keiki (school children) sang and danced, enchanting early arrivers lounging in the grass on what would turn out to be a flawless oceanside day. The always-entertaining Awa Band presented a repertoire of Hawaiian songs, after which Hawane Rios shared both her vocal talents and message of love for the earth. Jaz Kaiwikoʻo performed some recent hits, bringing festival-goers to their feet.
Headliners Paula Fuga, Mike Love, and John Cruz lit up the afternoon stage to what locals called the biggest crowd Pohoiki has ever seen.
#PunaMusicFest @ Kalapana Night Market
Kuana Torres Kahele captivated the lively night market crowd as festival-goers sampled local food, perused jewelry stalls, and chatted with neighbors and friends.
Always a hit on the dance floor, Uncle Robert’s Awa Band played their signature songs as locals danced into the night and explored the moonlit lava field at Coconut Beach.
An Intimate Evening with Kaumakaiwa Kanakaʻole
Volunteers, guests, and community members gathered in Kalani EMAX for an unforgettable night of talk-story and song. The stage was decorated with stunning Hawaiian flowers and foliage. Dim lighting and cozy ambiance allowed Kaumakaiwa, one of the voices of the new generation in Hawaii, to be especially interactive with the audience living up to the concert’s promise of intimacy.
The Kanakaole ʻohana have longstanding roots with the land in this ahupuaʻa along with the heiau and halau at Kalani. Honoring her mother in celebration of Mother’s Day, Kaumakaiwa spoke about how her mother’s strength and dignity shone through most when she sang. Seeing her mother sharing her gifts encouraged Kaumakaiwa to pursue music as a way to preserve her family’s heritage. Kaumakaiwa enjoyed interacting with the crowd, making it clear that sharing her gift of music is truly her heartfelt passion.
Kanikapila in Pāhoa
Ordinarily quiet and serene, Pāhoa Village metamorphosed into a vibrant, lively scene – teeming with revelers pouring out of every storefront, enjoying music and performances along the way.
Festival-goers were entertained by live singing, playing, and dancing on stages, balconies and inside restaurants. People of all ages moved to DJ’s spinning hypnotizing beats in the Akebono Theater, while others dined in Pāhoa’s eclectic selection of restaurants and eateries or meandered around to discover what surprises awaited around each corner.
Mahalo to everyone who joined us for the 2014 Puna Music Festival, made possible by generous support from the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, the County of Hawaii, Suisan, KAPA FM, and Kalani. We are immensely grateful for each individual who turned out, performed, volunteered, and showed love and support for this extraordinary event. Here’s to PMF 2015!