Kanekoa Plays a Marvin Gaye Classic in this Ukulele Magazine Session

Ukulele-powered Hawaiian jam-rock band Kanekoa traveled to the mainland to record a few tunes in our studio. Lead vocalist and rhythm uke player Kaulana Kanekoa, lead uke player Vince Esquire, percussionist Travis Rice on cajon, and “Uncle” Don Lopez on U-bass share the musical mana on their tune “Hypnotized” and Marvin Gaye’s classic “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology).”

The video shoot came right after the group finished a photo shoot for the cover of the Fall 2022 issue of Ukulele magazine. The guys jumped right in and nailed it on the first take for each song. The group played totally acoustic, no amps or PA speakers. Even the U-bass was acoustic. Cajon can easily overpower ukuleles, especially concert-sized ones, but Rice’s feel for the instrument kept everything balanced.


The ukes were all recorded direct and everyone had a vocal mic for themselves. The cajon had a mic at the bass port as well as the front. Video was shot and edited by Joey Lusterman, audio recorded and mixed live by Nick Grizzle.

Read our feature story about Kanekoa, who have been playing together for 25 years, in the Fall 2022 issue.