KAILUA-KONA — Even in times of great distress, music can still have a way of helping people heal.
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love one form of music or the other,” Lloyd “Bread” McDonald said. “Everybody I know loves music. It soothes the soul, it makes you feel good and it puts you in a certain place or time, and those things bring memories back.”
McDonald is a founding member of the Jamaican reggae band the Wailing Souls, who will be performing at Honokaa People’s Theatre on Saturday. The concert has been scheduled for many months, but the past week’s events in Pahoa has turned the concert into a way to help as well.
A portion of the net proceeds from the concert will be donated to Pu’uhonua o Puna, a volunteer effort organized in Pahoa to help those displaced by the ongoing Kilauea eruption by providing food, water and other necessities.
Concert promoter Les Hershhorn, who organized the show, said that a minimum of 10 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Pu’uhonua o Puna, and that number will increase depending on the number of tickets sold. An auction featuring signed instruments from the Wailing Souls will also take place alongside the concert, and 100 percent of those proceeds will be donated directly to the organization.
Hershhorn said he tries to be involved in any way he can when a local community is in need, and that the concert itself will hopefully be a needed distraction.
“People are just so distraught about what’s going on there, that they’re looking forward to the show and looking for just a way to have fun for at least one night,” Hershhorn said.
McDonald said that the group also hopes the night of music is a welcome change of pace for those on the island. The Wailing Souls started their long career in music not chasing money or fame, but as a way to spread their love of reggae and performing.
“We were so young and didn’t have any responsibility, but it didn’t really matter to us because money didn’t play that big of a part of our lives at the time,” McDonald said. “Music is what we wanted to do. We still have the same love for it, and we still get the same enjoyment from it, especially when we are performing for people. Sometimes I think we even enjoy it more than the people.”
The Wailing Souls have been playing music together since 1964, when they originally formed as the Renegades, and have been nominated for three Grammy Awards in their long history together. The group has also recorded music with reggae legends such as Toots Hibbert and Ziggy Marley. On tour in Hawaii is McDonald and fellow founding member Winston “Pipe” Matthews, as well as their seven backup musicians and vocalists.
“It’s a great love that we have for music,” McDonald said of his and Matthews’ career. “Music is a tool for teaching, and our sounds carry a message of peace and love and unity. For us, it’s also a spiritual thing. We grew up loving music because music is like nothing else on earth.”
The Wailing Souls will also be playing a show on Friday on Kauai, where a portion of the proceeds will benefit the relief efforts from the floods the island experienced last month. The group has toured Hawaii many times throughout the years, and the islands hold a special place in their hearts.
“It’s easy for us, Hawaii reminds us of home, reminds of us Jamaica,” McDonald said. “Everything that’s in Hawaii we have at home — lots of beaches, lots of mountains and lots of rivers. And the people in Hawaii are very, very nice. We’ve always enjoyed playing in Hawaii, and we always get a good response and good vibes from people, just like in our country.”
General admission tickets to the Wailing Souls’ concert at Honokaa People’s Theatre are $45 and can be purchased online at bluesbearhawaii.com or by calling 896-4845. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the concert begins 7 p.m.