On the Scene with Kevan Scott
Kevan Scott has contributed to Hawaii’s arts and entertainment scene as a journalist, a gofer for famed entertainment entrepreneur John F. Leonard, a radio show host and a niche-market concert promoter.
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Kevan Scott was born in Karachi, West Pakistan, to parents of French, Pakistani and British ancestry. He was raised by friends of his parents, then formally adopted by an American civil engineer who’d married into the extended family. He had lived in Bangkok, Houston and Chicago before he arrived in Hawaii in 1969. The U.S. government was giving legal immigrants the opportunity to expedite their citizenship through military service; Scott was on his way to Vietnam when new orders stationed him in Hawaii. He never left.
In the 50 years since that fateful reassignment, Scott, 69, has contributed to Hawaii’s arts and entertainment scene as a journalist, a gofer for famed entertainment entrepreneur John F. Leonard, a radio show host and a niche-market concert promoter.
What got you interested in music?
When I was a student at a Catholic British boarding school in Ahmadabad (Pakistan) we listened to all the British bands — this was before the British Invasion — and my favorite group was the Shadows and their lead guitarist, Hank Marvin. Most Americans have no idea who Hank Marvin is. They should learn.
How did you get involved with the business here?
The military had a program called Project Transition. If you could find someone in the community who would train you (for a civilian job) they’d pay part of the costs. I immediately went to JFL Concerts. (Concert promoter) John Leonard also had Sunbums, the little newspaper, and he took me in and introduced me to Harvey Roessler, the editor of Sunbums, who became one of my dearest friends ever. I became one of John’s gofers, and Harvey’s trainee and right-hand man. I did layouts, I reviewed records, I reviewed shows, I did interviews — Christopher Strawn helped me nurture my writing prowess in that — and I wrote a column.
I remember your column, Scott’s Scam. What was the scam?
The scam was that I was getting a free ride backstage to all the shows.
What are some of the most memorable shows you saw?
One was the Little Feat show at Andrews Amphitheatre when — how, I don’t know — Weather Report’s bassist, Jaco Pastorius, was onstage with them 20 minutes after Weather Report got off stage at the Waikiki Shell. It was one of the best shows Honolulu has ever seen of that genre of music. Then there were the Loggins and Messina dates at Andrews Amphitheatre (in 1973) — Jimmy Messina has said this to me, that those shows were directly responsible for the success of their career. The first time we brought in John Prine at Andrews Amphitheatre, he was an unknown and garnered an audience of, maybe, 80 people. He looked out at the crowd and said, “Why don’t you all come up (onstage)?” and everybody did. It was like being in a living room. And when we presented the Police for the first time in Hawaii — at the UH Campus Center Ballroom! Nobody knew who they were. It was very poorly attended.
When did you start promoting concerts as Mudman Productions?
I started dabbling in concert promotion about a dozen years ago. I’d meet with artists (working on) the club level, and we’d work something out and I’d bring them in. The most prominent I’ve presented is probably (guitarist) Richard Thompson.
What’s your next big project?
I’ve been at KTUH since 1973 — I’m on from 9 till noon Saturday mornings — and the station is celebrating its 50th anniversary later this year. It’s going to be quite a thing.