Born and raised on a coffee farm in South Kona, local entertainer PonchoMan Kuanoni has been drawn to the arts since high school.
For 26 years, he has been entertaining audiences on Hawaii Island with his mix of Hawaiian and eclectic popular music.
“As a kid I wanted to run away from the coffee farm, but now I miss it,” said Kuanoni. “Captain Cook was the bomb, but in my 20s, I just wanted to go to the city. Kona town was like Waikiki to us at that time.”
Kuanoni, who now plays several venues in Kona, began his artistic endeavors as a teen with painting, drawing and writing poetry.
“I was a dork for a Hawaiian guy,” he said. “I couldn’t play sports so I wanted to join theater and take drama class. I was like, ‘Man, there’s hot chicks in drama class.’ But none of my friends wanted to join it with me so I never did it.”
In his 20s, Kuanoni joined the Aloha Performing Arts Company and began taking acting classes. He wanted to learn how actors were able to remember lines, monologues and scripts.
“The next thing I knew, I was performing in shows and touring the islands,” he said. “Sometimes we would get bored on the tour bus, so my friend and I would grab the ukulele and guitar and teach ourselves how to play. This is where my musical journey started.”
By the time he was 24 years old, Kuanoni had formed a band called the Hawaiian Homeboys. Within a year, they were playing three to four times a week.
Now in his 40s, he continues to spread joy through his music with a versatile line up of songs. From Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash, to Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tupac, Kuanoni has something on his song list to please everyone.
“I’ve been pretty lucky and blessed,” he said. “I still play a lot of bar and restaurant venues, as well as weddings and hotel conventions. I also play with a duo called Small Kind Action and a three-piece band called Yellow Eye Kole.”
An entrepreneur, Kuanoni also has his own booking agency called Ho Brah Entertainment. In addition to booking musicians, he also DJs, emcees, does sound and lighting for stage, as well as graphic art services.
PonchoMan Kuanoni performs on Tuesdays at the Sunset Terrace at Kona Coast Resort, and Thursday evenings at Foster’s Kitchen.
Info: Visit www.ponchomanmusic.com and on Facebook at PonchoMan Kuanoni.