Artists have new venue for performing in Kailua-Kona

  • Open mic night at Umekes' Pa'ina room is on Wednesdays from 5-8 p.m. (Courtesy photo)

KAILUA-KONA — Umekes Fishmarket Bar and Grill has started to transform into more than just a place for food on weekday nights.

On Wednesday, Umekes turns into a performance venue for local artists as it hosts an open mic night in the restaurant’s Pa’ina room.

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The open mic night is sponsored by local blues/rap duo Nowelo. Nowelo, known separately as Pana and Truth, said they wanted to help create a place for artists to share their talents.

“I think the main thing is we just kind of wanted to reach out on an aloha level to our fellow musicians on the island that have a voice that they can share here, and allow them to show their music and share their art,” Pana said. “And at the same time it allows us to share our art as well.”

Along with open mic night on Wednesdays, which begin at 5 p.m., the Pa’ina room is also hosting events on Tuesday and Thursday as well.

“We’ve decided to start doing three premiere nights, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with Tuesday being our open band night,” Duane Pabre said.

“Thursday is also a band night, and every week we’re going to highlight an up and coming band from the community. We’re going to be bringing them in slowly as this project of ours progresses.”

Pabre is in charge of events and marketing at Umekes, and the open mic night has become a passion project for him.

“I’ve been in food and beverage for a little over 20 years. I like the fact that we’re building a new venue,” Pabre said. “When you do something for so long, everything starts to become the same. No matter which avenue you try to grow or reeducate yourself in, there still becomes a point where it becomes a little stagnant. So doing these venues, it’s just a new adventure. It’s my passion, and it keeps me going in this industry.”

Pabre said that he hopes to eventually fill the venue with artists and musicians.

“I want to think of it, and feel, like it’s a diamond in the rough,” Pabre said. “Sooner or later, everyone’s going to find out what this is about. And I think with the team we have here at Umekes, we’re going to make it a diamond.”

Tina Fear, who does public relations at Umekes, also shares Pabre’s vision for open mic night turning into a staple event in Kailua-Kona.

“The world is so big, and Kona is so small, but it’s things like this that make it big and make it special,” Fear said.

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The open mic night is not just for musicians and singers; all types of artists are welcome to perform.

“Art can wash the dust off our souls and allow us to experience something new and look beyond what our normal perspective would be,” Truth said. “The open mic, it’s not just musicians, it’s comedians, it’s spoken word and it’s dance. It’s just an opportunity to showcase anyone’s talent, and just create a scene and an outlet for people to come and be creative. And we hope it’s something that is going to grow over time.”