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Art & Life with Midnight Kahuna, Rick Canut

Today we’d like to introduce you to Midnight Kahuna, Rick Canut.

Officially, Midnight Kahuna began as an idea in 2007, to bring exotic lounge music to Miami which would incorporate world rhythms and play small clubs. It was the brainchild of Rick Canut, main songwriter, keyboardist, and rhythm guitarist and Chris Castellanos, bass player. Rick and Chris had been playing live music in and around Miami since the early 1990’s in a variety of different cover and original bands. They got together in 1999, and played all over South Florida as the Canute band releasing one album, “Canute, Alive From East Drive”. This album included the small Tropical Rock internet radio gem, “Bearded Wonder From Down Under”. The band would become a staple at the world famous bar and club, Tobacco Road. There they developed a loyal following which would keep turning up time and time again, show after show. Now circa 2002, as the “Canute” band, the boys garnered up the attention of a small label closely associated with Sony Records after an A&R rep heard a couple of new Rock based songs the band was working on but, after some band personnel changes and a gap in live performances, the record label lost interest. The boys lost morale and the Canute band, dissolved. Chris continued to play music in a variety of different bands and Rick walked away from the music scene to start a family.

Fast forward to 2007. It has always been my opinion that you can walk away from any passion for a while but sooner or later, the itch of that passion inside you comes back out and when it does, it is usually stronger than before. Such was the case with Rick. The passion of songwriting never let up and in that period of the five year hiatus, Rick had been writing songs that incorporated styles that borrowed from every music genre. In a chance encounter with Chris, both musicians talked about the urge of getting back together and playing some shows. They both wanted it to be different and not the loud Rock shows they had become accustomed playing prior to their split five years earlier. They wanted something more relaxed with exotic synth based rhythms and conga drums. They wanted a new name and identity, something exotic and mysterious that would go well with the new musical direction they were planning. Something Hawaiian. Midnight Kahuna was born. They would play shows at midnight and they would be like wizards with the music they would play. A kahuna is like a Hawaiian wizard or sorcerer. Instead of beckoning the sounds of Sting, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Jimmy Buffett, or Bob Marley, they would beckon instead the sounds of Martin Denny and Les Baxter. It would be something the likes South florida had never seen before, or so they imagined.

This musical venture lasted for just one show for when they hit the stage at Tobacco Road for their triumphant return, they found their loyal base of fans had also returned, but, they wanted to hear the catchy original songs of the Canute band. They liked the new reggae and world rhythms but they also longed for the Rock that was energetic and fun. Rick and Chris found themselves playing those songs again to an overwhelming success. The idea of the lounge act was thrown out but the name, Midnight Kahuna, should stay. Everyone loved it and it could easily be branded.

Since 2007, Midnight Kahuna has played many venues and music festivals across South Florida as far south as Islamorada in the Florida Keys to as far north as Salt Springs in between Gainesville and Daytona Beach. They have graced beautiful stages the likes of the Hard Rock Cafes and not so beautiful stages the likes of those best not to be mentioned. They have had personnel changes over the years but the main players, Rick Canut (Songwriter, Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, and Keyboardist), Chris Castellanos (Bass Guitar and Backing Vocals), Johnny Hutt (Sax, Flute, Hammond), and Carlos Fernandez (Lead Guitar), have remained constant over the last ten years.

In the ever changing world that is the music industry and in South Florida where DeeJays rule over real live musicians, Midnight Kahuna has been successful in establishing themselves as a band with a brand and a wonderful following of loyal fans which lovingly enough, call themselves Kahunuts. The fans are part of the Midnight Kahuna mystique. They go to all the shows. They act in the Midnight Kahuna music videos. They are living and loving, which is the Midnight Kahuna mantra.

What does the future have in store for Midnight Kahuna? As Jim Morrison once stated, “The future is uncertain and the end is always near.” We don’t know what the future will bring but as of right now, the future seems very bright for Midnight Kahuna. They are more popular than ever with a huge presence on internet radio and music videos on youtube. Their brand is growing with more and more fans joining the ranks and more and more sales at live shows which means more and more orders for inventory. If you include the Canute album of “Alive From East Drive”, they have released four albums and one EP with another new album set to be released in late 2019, called “Rock-N-Rolla”. Music videos are planned to be released for every song that is released as singles to the radio stations and live shows are coming to support those releases. Life is good for Midnight Kahuna right now and there seems to be no reason why that should change anytime soon. They are riding a wave that started back around ten years ago and for the time being, the wave doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Midnight Kahuna album releases:

Canute, Alive From East Drive, 1999
Howl at the Moon, EP, 2010
Threshold, 2012
Brave New World, 2015
My Tribe, 2017
Rock-N-Rolla, to be released in 2019

Midnight Kahuna awards and recognition of note:

Regional finalists in Hard Rock Rising 2012

Gold Record of Recognition presented to Midnight Kahuna in 2013 for their music and their role in
“Imagine there’s no hunger” campaign. 2013

The AG News Prize for “Americana Male Singer of XXI Century 2019” 2019

Midnight Kahuna top requested songs:

Howl at the Moon
Jackie Star
Brave New World
These Dreams
Saving The World One Beer At A Time
Mr. Rock and Roll
Ride The Donkey
Bearded Wonder From Down Under

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
As a songwriter, I create songs that are landscapes for different moods and feelings about life in general. It is my passion and I hope that what I write and perform can touch people in different but always positive ways.

The songs of Midnight Kahuna are about life. Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. They are songs about love and loss. They are songs about politics. They are songs about having children. They are songs about being wild and free. They are songs about being young and they are songs about getting older. They incorporate the tropical sounds that permeate South Florida. The reggae, the calypso, the latin rhythms. The songs also incorporate the nitty gritty of the rock and the heat of the streets of Miami and Hialeah. Sometimes they beckon the sounds of old country Florida. Sometimes they beckon the sounds of jazz infused rock with a world beat. They are eclectic. They are songs that have apparently hit a chord with a great following that the band enjoys seeing show after show. Midnight Kahuna doesn’t play covers anymore like they used to in the early days. They don’t have to. They’re songs get regular airplay on many internet radio stations all over the world. Their fans expect and want to hear their favorite Kahuna songs at the shows. The know them and they sing along.

Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
Any type of art is a passion. The driving force which is your reason to be. This does not always mean that you will see financial gain from it. In fact, many times, you will see quite the opposite. It will cost you more than it produces but for most of us artists, the intrinsic value of being able to produce your art is priceless. My advice to those who are following a dream of being a successful musician or visual artist; produce your art at the highest quality afforded by you but don’t put yourself upside down for it. Don’t go overboard. Your main responsibility in my opinion, is to always be able to take care of your family and put food on the table. Pay your light bill and water. Being an artist doesn’t mean you get to skip out on responsibility. If you can’t be responsible when you don’t have much money, you won’t be responsible if you ever get that big check. Take care of daily life business first and then, use every minute of time left to work on the best product you can and always put your best work out on display whether it be audio or visual. Nobody likes mediocre and though art in any form is subjective, you know when you can do better and you know when you’ve given it all. Put it out there when you’ve given it your all.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Midnight Kahuna has a large internet presence and our music can be found anywhere music is sold digitally as well as streaming services across the globe. The links below are where you can find all our material for certain:

Midnight Kahuna
World Music with a Rock edge

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images are the property of Enrique Manuel Canut.

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