Local artists jam for World Make Music Day in Kona

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Sitting in the back of a Kona restaurant on World Make Music Day, Pualani Willing and her partner were listening to local artist Hāwane Rios and Kailiwai sing original and traditional Hawaiian songs with soft rain as an accompaniment.

“We need more of this,” said Willing, a native of Waiʻanae. “Back in the day growing up, this was all day, every day. This is what we do as Hawaiian – we dance, we sing, we share.”

Hawaiian artist Hāwane Rios dances during the International Make Music Day at The View Restaurant Bar & Grill, Kona Country Club on June 21, 2023. (Megan Moseley/Big Island Now)

Make Music Hawaiʻi was established in 2020 as part of World Make Music Day, an international celebration of music that occurs every year on June 21 in more than 1,000 cities. The organization invites every kind of musician to share their favorite types of music and songs with anyone they come across on that day.

This was the second year the event occurred at The View Restaurant Bar & Grill at Kona Country Club. It drew a strong local crowd to support Hawaiian musicians.

Make Music Day in Kona on June 21, 2023. (Megan Moseley/Big Island Now).

Playing ‘ukulele and guitar, talented local musicians performed in the open-air restaurant against a backdrop of Keauhou Bay and the golf-course.

Kenny Tagavilla, also known as Kenny T, plays country-flavored compositions about his home, has performed at both Make Music Day events in Kona.

“It’s a local crowd that’s here to enjoy the music,” he said. “This is like home to me. It’s awesome to be able to share.”


Kona-native Tagavilla has become popular locally, performing for 20 years at local bars and restaurants. But now he owns a trucking company and is busy with his family, so he has had to be more selective with his gigs.

Following Kekahi Young & Friends, Tagavilla wrapped up the evening’s events by performing alongside Guy Nagata and singing songs off his new album “Cruisin’.”

Kekahi Young & Friends perform during the International Make Music Day at The View Restaurant Bar & Grill at the Kona Country Club on June 21, 2023. (Megan Moseley/Big Island Now)

Keoni and Kalina Llanes, owners of The View Restaurant Bar & Grill, were happy to see a large turnout that evening. The seats and bar were full at the restaurant that can fit 120 people.


“It’s nice to see the community come out,” Keoni Llanes said. “What we created was a local spot. It’s for tourists, too, but really we like to push the locals because they’re always here for us no matter what.

“They support us 100 percent, during our ups and downs and no matter what. It’s a family vibe and that’s what makes The View what it is today.”

For more information about Make Music Day, click here.

Megan Moseley
Megan Moseley is a full-time journalist for Pacific Media Group. Her experience ranges from long and short-form reporting to print, digital, radio and television news coverage. In Hawaiʻi, she's worked for local media outlets and has covered a wide range of topics including local and state politics, environmental affairs, Native Hawaiian issues, travel, tourism and education. She covers the West for Restaurant Hospitality.

She's a 2010 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Magazine Journalism and specializations in Geology and History. She's currently working on her master's degree from New York University in journalism and is focused on conflict resolution and peace practices in indigenous cultures in the Pacific.

Megan can be reached at [email protected].
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