Kaua’i Folk Fest 2019 | Day 1

Article Contributed by Mahana Mari | Published on Thursday, October 3, 2019

Last weekend, on the mystical Garden Island of Kaua’i, something very special happened: the community was brought together through the power of Folk Music.

From Hawaiians to Hippies, traditional old-timey Appalachian Bluegrass to legendary Blues Singers, everyone was stomping their bare feet at the best festival venue we have ever had on our island: the historical plantation of Grove Farm.

The sweet, soulful sounds of Molly & Sally (Old Barn)

Flawlessly executed by Kaua’i resident Matt Morlock and team, the event was more fun than a barrel of moonshine.

Kaua’i Folk Fest began its festivities promptly at 10am, and we all were in awe from the moment we arrived. The festival, with attendance of about 1,500 on Saturday, was all smiles & the community warmly gave their sincere gratitude to locals & our musical guests from around the globe.

Matt Opihi with Pancho Gram

Hawaiian musicians Matt Opihi with Pancho Gram opened the festival with “Na Apu’a” and graciously welcomed our Tennessee brothers with a song about Pinetrees and with warm Aloha.

With 5 different stages and music playing at all times, this article catalogues a literal 24 hours of non stop magic over the weekend (10am-10pm Saturday and Sunday)

So many amazing vendors including a personal favorite: Ono Pops made locally with Aloha!

Ono Pops

Our friends from Hanalei Strings had a great time time pickin’ & playin’

Hanalei Strings & friends

More amazing local vendors like Kaua’i Juice made the festival fabulous with their delicious fresh pressed juice and so much fun!


Don’t forget the meat! 

How a mother and daughter enjoy their Po’okela homemade sausage: with a side of huge smiles!

Soulgood Family

Dear friends and a local favorite, the Soulgood Family lit up the stage with a heartfelt glow and lyrical honey. 

“No one owns the sun... no one owns the moon... the mother of us all”.

When I grow up, I want to be as happy as these two. They both looked so in love, like a moment in time in their matching Mumu & Hawaiian shirt.  

happy in love

Standing in the middle of festival, I was listening to 2 musicians playing at once, including the incredible Norman Decosta from Molokai with Rob Arita playing a local favorite “Kipahulu”

And across the festival was Ian Moore playing “Sweet Magnolia.... New Orleans style!” 

Dancing on the Kaua'i grass

So much fun barefoot dancing on the sweet Kaua’i grass! 

Don’t forget the Mescal! A huge hit (but of course)

Peter Rowan is another person favorite, for his music plus his storytelling is legendary. Peter warmed everyone’s heart by saying “It’s a Doc Watson kind of day!” and played “Midnight on a stormy evening” and “Aloha in the early dawn”.

Peter Rowan and his band in Hawaii

Peter’s spoken word... “walls of time” hypnotized the audience with the blue grass boys and Kylon Reece on mandolin, and made a person tribute to bluegrass’s Hawaiian roots of Genoa Keave and Bill Monroe in 1945. 

The Hawaiian inspired songs such as “Pualele” and world famous “The Kentucky Waltz” all have Hawaiian roots 

Much to the delight of the audience. Peter laughed and continued on about his time buying weed back in the day... Panama Red. “It was life changing!” Peter said and wrote the song: “Panama Red”.

Peter Rowan

Continuing with “Angeline the Baker” Peter ended with favorite on Kaua’i: “Moonlight, Midnight” with everyone dancing and grinning ear to ear!

“If every day was like this... but wait every day IS like this” - Grateful Guy

Max Lemarie

Birthday girl Patrice could be happier listening to Vic & the Victims Kauai’s only blues band playing “Chain of fool”.

Artist Max Lemaire created THE coolest badges using laser and wood. 

Island Grass

Island Grass! Kaua’i favorite resident Blue Grass band have played with amazing musicians from around the world. These bluegrass boys grew up together and have been playing music together since they were kids.

More long-time musical friends from Maui blessed us with “Down in the easy chair”, “Feeling Good” by Leon Helmes and Sweetbeers originals “Tumbleweed”and “Ride On”

Sweetbeats & Yumyum

“Do your best, stress less... & to yourself be true!”

The Giving Tree gets a Group Tree Hug! 

Tree Hugs are good for you

This magical tree was over 100 years old and literally hugged us back. There were so many of of hugging this tree. 

Our extended ‘ohana (Family) is like this tree: one giant family of roots and branches: bringing the past into the present.

Kaua'i Folk Fest

Overheard someone saying: “This is THE coolest event happening on Kaua’i!” (That says a lot because Steel Pulse was playing that very night sine the road.

As the sun began to set on the first day, a big shout out could be heard the festival’s Sponsors: Maui brewing, Mike Fliess, Grove farm museum, and many more.

Taj Mahal

Yet another personal favorite from, “Professor” Taj Mahal & his Hula Blues Band sang with gusto “Good morning Miss Brown”, a local favorite “Going fishing”, “Queen Bee” love me to my soul, and “New Hula Blues”, written about Kaua’i.

Taj spoke about how “Blues is a global resource” and everyone felt so blessed and honored to have these legends grace our small island with their lyrical genius and smooth and soulful blues.

As “Uncle Taj” continues to delight the packed audience, it truly felt like an old school revival.

Taj Mahal

Saturday evening ended with one of the most fun & creative things we have done in a long time: move over Silent Rave... introducing “Silent Square-dance!”

Words don’t even justify how much fun this was. With a band playing on stage, the audience donned wireless head sets and the music and square dance caller could only be heard through the headphones.

Silent Square-dancing on Kaua'i

“Swing your partner round & round!” was heard by all who had headsets on.

But once you took off the headsets... all you saw was a psychedelic coordinated dance of circles within circles, red lights swirling amongst the roaring laughter as all participants spun round and round. 

It truly looked like the aliens landed, and we were them!  Even the cops were laughing at how much fun everyone was having, dancing wildly to music only we could hear!