G. Love is letting the mainland in on Hawaii’s secret.
Consider a tropical blend of Jimi Hendrix, Sam Cooke and Raul Midon and you get Ron Artis II & The Truth, which is on a United States tour and appeared at the Crystal Bay Casino on March 29.
“We did a gig with G. Love back home and he basically screamed at us, ‘You’re not allowed to hide out here in Hawaii no more. I am taking you on tour with me the whole month of March.’ We thought he was joking.”
Ron Artis II & The Truth’s album, “Soul Street,” which will be released April 6, is no joke. It’s reminiscent of Gary Clark Jr.’s breakout album in 2012, “Blak and Blu,” which featured diverse styles. No matter which a listener preferred, the musicianship is undeniable.
So who is 31-year-old Ron Artis II? Like the name says, he is the son of Ron Artis, an artist from California who took a job in Hawaii and never left. Ron II is the eldest son of 11 siblings, each of whom is a musician or artist.
“My dad was pretty very strict about music,” Artis said. “He said, ‘Let me break it down to you like this. You have fun with this or if you want to be the best you can be, let me know.’ And I was a cocky little guy. I was like, ‘I want to be the best.’ He said, ‘There’s no such thing as the best in music. There’s only the best you can be. …
“He’d always be really honest with me. If it sounded good, he jumped up and kissed me on forehead. But if I played like crap, he’d tell me. As I began to develop as an artist, it was always keep your ears open and always listen to the others because everybody’s saying something. There’s no such thing as just notes. So when I grew up, it was a really, really focused learning experience. We were homeschooled. My mother is a singer and my dad played every instrument he put his hands on. He was wildly creative.”
Artis played in his father’s bands and then later in their family band. Artis Sr. died in 2010 and the family band stayed together for a few years before a jam session, a “Kanikapila,” led to the formation of Ron Artis II & The Truth, which includes younger brother Stevon on drums and Riley Pa’Akaula on bass. Pa’Akaula is not on this tour. The bassist for the Tahoe show is another brother, Victor Artis.
The shows on the tour have been selling out as Ron Artis II & The Truth are introducing themselves to new audiences.
A 45-minute set will be the second appearance in the Tahoe area for Artis, who played at last year’s Wanderlust Festival. Ron Artis II & The Truth will return to the summertime music and yoga event at Squaw Valley July 19-22, along with Allen Stone and Eric Krasno.
– Tim Parsons