Chart-Topping Brother Returns Home In Hawaii Tour
My big brother is a humble guy. If you listen to his debut solo album, Hopes And Dreams, you’ll hear it in his lyrics. I’ve known him all my life, but was recently reminded of how grounded KBong (I call him Kevin) is after all he’s accomplished.
After graduating high school in 2004, he moved to San Diego to continue music and earn a graphic design degree. In 2009, he became the keyboardist for chart- topping reggae band Stick Figure.
The band first toured in 2012 as direct support to The Green and just completed a 36-show tour with Pacific Dub and HIRIE, taking them cross-country to cities big and small, from Ames, Iowa, to a sold-out finale at The Roxy in Los Angeles. They’ve shared the stage with Steel Pulse, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Rebelution, Third World, Matisyahu, Katchafire … it goes on.
This week, Stick Figure tours Hawaii in support of reggae singer Collie Buddz, with gigs in Lihue, Kailua-Kona, Kahului and at Honolulu’s The Republik.
Despite all of his accomplishments, one thing remains the same: Kevin humbly shares his love of life and music with everyone he encounters. So, I wanted to give him the opportunity to share his experiences here.
Roger Bong: What’s it like to be living your dream?
Kevin Bong: It’s a great feeling to be able to be playing in front of a bunch of people every night, inspiring others and getting inspired by performing.
What kinds of sacrifices do you have to make as a touring musician?
A lot of sacrifices are not about me, but about the fans — giving 110 percent for the fans, making sure they have a great experience.
What have you learned about yourself?
I’ve learned I’m a small fish in a big sea. There are so many opportunities. Living in this country, we can take any path we want.
How does it feel to share aloha with others on tour?
Being able to share that aloha spirit from the Islands, the humbleness that people have, is great. There’s love and aloha everywhere. Omaha, Neb., has aloha. It’s universal. When we share it, people give it back.
How is Hawaii’s reggae scene compared to the rest of the country?
There’s a very rootsy connection to the land, the vibration in Hawaii, to the culture, which other places don’t necessarily have. You can hear it. We have such a musical culture. Growing up in Hawaii, someone was always jamming. That’s made me more comfortable, and I bring that mentality to every performance: I’m not jamming for you; I’m jamming with you.
Did moving to California help you reach your goals as a musician?
It would have been more challenging to do the same while living in Hawaii, but it’s possible. The Steppas, The Green, Maoli, Inna Vision — all these reggae bands are doing it.
What advice can you give to other musicians dreaming to do what you’ve accomplished?
Write songs from the heart — your experiences, the family around you, the love you live on, the things you grew up with — because when you have those songs, you have a foundation, and you can go from there.
Catch Stick Figure and Collie Buddz at The Republik Oct. 22. Show starts at 8 p.m.. Doors to The Safehouse open at 6. For more on the band, visit stickfiguremusic.com.
For more from Roger, check out his blog at alohagotsoul.com.