The “Sweet Songs of Hawaii” will be brought to the stage of the Veteran’s Memorial Building in Grass Valley Friday. The headlining act is Grammy-nominated guitarist Bolo.
Raised in a Puerto-Rican/Hawaiian household, Bolo relates strongly to both the Hawaiian and Latin culture and the influence is evident in his music.
His show will take the audience on a musical journey from a flamenco-esque original composition to a Hawaiian favorite and end with a cover of a classic rock song. He takes pride in improvising during his shows, creating a unique experience for each audience he entertains, according to organizers.
Starting on a ukulele at a young age, he was urged by his mother to take up acoustic guitar. He took up lessons in slack key with a relative, Gabby Gasper. Things grew from there, and Bolo expanded his guitar repertoire to include a 12-string along with the ukulele and classic six-string. In the early 2000s, he created his trademark instrument, the ukeitar, a six-string attached to a ukulele.
His musical career has pulled him in several different directions. While his heart lies in Kona, he ventured to California in the mid-’90s. The opportunity there seemed great, but the music scene wasn’t catering to his passion. A decade later, he returned to Kona to assist in the care of his mom. He remained on the Big Island until this year when he returned once again to the mainland to pursue music and arts.
His musical accomplishments include a Grammy nomination for his collaboration with Daniel Ho and Tia Carrere on the song “Kaiholena.” He was also a participant in “America’s Got Talent” in 2009, making it to top levels of judging.
Most of all, he enjoys the fact that he can spread his message through his music — peace, love, harmony and righteous goodwill to everyone is not just a cliché but the way.
Opening for Bolo Friday is Honolulu Blue, a four-piece band lead by singer/songwriter Koa Young, who plays guitar and writes the original music that artfully blends reggae with a Hawaiian island influence. He is accompanied by Gary Epps on keyboards, vocals and guitar, Steve Allen on bass and vocals and Jim Nugent on drums.
Koa was born in 1976 in Santa Clara and moved to Honolulu when he was 2 years old. In high school he was fascinated with the ukulele and guitar and watched some of his friends play but never started playing until his senior year.
In 2006, Koa and a few friends formed a band called Round and Round and recorded an album called “Our Fire.”
Since moving back to the mainland in 2007, Koa has formed the band Honolulu Blue, developing a following locally as well as in the Santa Cruz area.
Koa’s uplifting lyrics and island beats are reminiscent of island life, capturing the hearts of listeners. Koa calls his music “original music from an island heart.” To hear Honolulu Blue’s songs, visit www.honolulublue.org.