Taj Mahal & Peter Rowan to Headline Hawaii's Debut Kauai Folk Festival

Jay Blakesberg
Taj Mahal

The event's mission is to bring together Hawaiian and North American traditions.

The debut Kauai Folk Festival has announced Taj Mahal and the Hula Blues Band and Peter Rowan as headliners for the two-day event taking place Sept. 28-29 at Hawaiian plantation Grove Farm Museum in Kauai, Hawaii. With over 30 performers, the festival’s mission is to bring together Hawaiian and North American traditions with performances from roots and country artists like Jonny Fritz, Tim O’Brien, Blaine Sprouse and Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms.

The Kauai Folk Festival will also feature traditional Hawaii music such as the Latin/Hawaiian dance music called "kachi kachi" that will be performed by Wally Rita y Los Kauianos.

Hawaiian reggae star Sashamon will be backing up Molokai singer Uncle Isaac Kamaile Jr. on old-school Hawaiian country songs. Hawaiian slack key and steel guitar will be represented by Na’ Opihi with Pancho Graham, Kirby Keough, Norman De Costa and Meles of Molokai with ukulele player and singer Puka Asing also featured on the lineup.

Festival director Matt Morelock explains that 19th century royal Hawaiian courts encouraged musical collaborations across cultures and genres, and he hopes the Kauai Folk Festival will showcase the heavy influence Hawaiian music has had on nearly every genre of popular American music.  

“[Hawaiian King] Kalākaua understood the importance not only of promoting Hawaiian language, culture, and dance abroad, but also the positive influence that global culture could have in Hawaii,” Morelock tells Billboard. “He hosted parties and carnivals with all kinds of musicians and dancers from all over the world. We hope that we’re following in this spirit with the Kauai Folk Festival.”

In addition to musical acts, the festival will include workshops on guitar, fiddle, banjo, ukulele and mandolin, as well as dance instructors teaching hula, square dance, swing and two-step. Jam stations and loaner instruments will be available throughout the weekend and attendees are encouraged to bring instruments.

“Due to its geographical separation and the ever-increasing expense of travel and lodging, Americana music and musicians haven’t gained much foothold in Hawaii,” Morelock continues. “’Traditional’ tour budgeting is confounded by this place. Our crew of festival production professionals, a handful of generous sponsors, a cooperative historical site, and of course, these generous performers have teamed up to allow such an unusual event to take place in this tropical paradise.”

The festival will feature local food and drink from a curated selection of local favorites like Maui Brewing Company, Kauai Juice Co, Ya Quddus Bagels, Po’okela Sausage, Uncle D’s Vegan BBQ and healthy foods, among others. 

Daily, weekend and VIP passes for Kauai Folk Festival are available now.

 

Festivals 2019