A chat with Ron Artis II

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Courtesy Stefanie Riedel – Absolutely Loved Photography

By Kate Greennagel
Special to Nonstop

Ron Artis II and I first crossed paths at the Ryan’s Light 3rd Annual Music Night Fundraiser this past December as he was getting ready to play. He immediately smiled and introduced himself, emanating a warm positivity.

While he is onstage, Ron looks like he is breathing his music, whether the song’s genre falls into blues, classical or soul. For those who attended last year’s Hallowbaloo, you might remember him opening for iconic soul musician Booker T at the Hawaii State Art Museum. The young singer/songwriter, whose father was a legend in the local art and music communities, is also known for spontaneously creating new songs during his live performances – a feat which audiences might just get to see this Wednesday at the Doris Duke Theater, where Ron will be performing a set of original songs. We’ve got word there may also be a surprise special guest performer or two. Ron took the time to answer a few of Frolic’s questions about his upcoming show.

Your concert theme is “Freedom.” Why is this an important message for you?
­I believe to truly be free, it starts inside. We can travel anywhere to escape our reality, but we carry our problems with us. I believe you can begin to remove all the weight off of your shoulders with the simply complicated task of being honest.

You’re known for blending a wide range of genres, including rock, classical, blues, jazz rap, R&B, flamenco and soul. What genres would you say will be most present in this show?
For this show, everyone should expect a lot of soul. I’m really trying not to spoil anything, but soul music has been quite present in the new year for me.

Can you give us any hints as to the “secret” surprise project you’ll be revealing at the concert?
All I can say is that it’s a project I’ve been working on for the past six months. It also involves various artists. I’m excited about it and I know everyone will enjoy it.

Any new projects or events in the works for you?
Yes. We have quite a bit of traveling scheduled this year. The first tour will be in March. We’re headed to New York and other parts of the East Coast, then on to Germany for the rest of the month. Also, we have a special concert on Maui in April.

Ron’s album, “What Music Means To Me” is available for purchase on his website, RonArtisii.com . Tickets for the Honolulu Museum’s Music of Hawaii: Ron Artis II at the Doris Duke Theater this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. are still available for sale on the museum’s website.

Photo by Tracy Chan

Ron Artis II and his brother Thunderstorm on stage with Booker T (at the piano) at the 2015 Hallowbaloo Music & Arts Festival.

Local musician and creative writer Kate Greenagel, aka Kater, is well acquainted with Honolulu’s music scene as both the keyboardist for Honolulu band Mano Kane and a lover of live music. With a keen eye and a down-to-earth personality, she is dedicated to finding the art behind a wide array of topics including music, food, culture, history and travel. Follow her on Tumblr at Musical Musings.