Kona Kai reignites its summer concert series
by Bart Mendoza
Jul 26, 2013 | 4143 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There are plenty of locations to hear great music in San Diego, but not much compares to the Kona Kai Resort.

One can catch great local acts in the lounge, but what’s really set the newly refurbished resort apart is its Summer Beach Party Concert series, set right on the resort’s private beach, complete with an adjacent bar and food stand.

Best of all, the concert series is free and open to all ages for an option of family fun. Meanwhile, there is also entertainment in the lounge, though that is for those over 21.

Entertainment director Shauna Aguirre has put together a solid lineup, with upcoming beach shows set to include saxophonist Elan Troutman on July 26, blues singer Whitney Shay on July 28, soul and funk favorites Detroit Underground on Aug. 3 and classic rock veterans Rockola on Aug. 4 and 10.

Meanwhile, the lounge will feature the likes of jazz singer Debi Galan and Silk on July 26, blues from Nathan James on July 31 and the Backwater Blues Band on Aug. 7, as well as guitarist Hank Easton on Aug. 9.

Monday nights will be an industry night with hip-hop and a rhythym and blues disc jockey, while Wednesdays will feature blues.

Aguirre said Kona Kai’s owners, Noble House Hotels & Resorts, has recently put more than $20 million dollars into renovating the resort. The resort was built in 1953.

“They’re bringing it back to the legendary place it used to be,” she said.

As for the music side of the resort, she said she considers the resort to be a unique location

“There is really nothing like it in Southern California,” she said. “Because it’s privately owned, we can have a bar and a barbeque there. It’s the only place where you can take your shoes off and be dancing in the sand. The owners are re-establishing it as a community, luxury hotel.”

Aguirre notes how important entertainment is to any given location.

“I really think music can change the whole vibe of a place,” she said. “The company that I work for believes that, too, and wants their hotels to be known for having quality live music and fun events.”

As much as audience members enjoy themselves at these shows, musicians are also having a great time performing at the Kona Kai.

“It’s a great place to play,” said blues singer Whitney Shay. “There is really wonderful management and staff, a laid-back, fun environment. And it’s a great local place to bring your whole family.”

Rockola guitarist Mark DeCerbo agrees.

“A show at the Kona Kai is is a unique experience,” he said. “Two things make it basically unbeatable. There is no cover charge. And it’s right on the beach. People stake out their chaise lounges and beach chairs and settle in for a fun beach rock happening.”

Shay said there are differences between regular indoor club gigs and outdoor venues.

“Outdoor concerts and festivals are my favorite to play, but sometimes the sound can be a challenge,” she said. “However, as long as you make the sound person your best friend and are very specific with what you want, it’s not normally an issue.”

Beyond staging situations, she said she also considers audiences at these types of events to be different.

“I think because people are specifically going to hear music at a concert or festival versus playing at a bar or restaurant, where some people just happen to be there , the energy level is heightened and the band can really feed off of that.”

 DeCerbo said the unique setting comes with a few unique hazards.

“There is, of course, sand and water to be careful of with the equipment, but there also beach balls to watch out for,“ he joked. “Always keep an eye out for incoming projectiles.”

• Music at the Kona Kai Resort, 1551 Shelter Island Drive, www.resortkonakai.com
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