Bands Serenade Their Longtime Kaimuki Music Supporter

As a unique patron of the arts, Kaimuki resident Jackie Ward was honored Dec. 28 at a special fundraiser by dozens of musicians who have benefited from her support over nearly a half century.

Ward, 94, has opened her “Ward’s Rafters” home to thousands of performers and fans in a singular mission to help local artists gain exposure – despite some difficulties with city zoning restrictions. According to Kutmaster Spaz, an East Oahu resident and host of the Back 2 Back Music Extravaganza, Ward is a “beautiful soul.”

“She has opened her home to musicians … given them a free venue to jam, (while being) open to the community at no cost,” he said. “She has taken on the cost of maintaining against the wear and tear of her home, as well as providing amenities for the musicians and guests because she saw the struggles of local musicians and wanted to give them and their followers a comfortable place where they could come together and celebrate music, all kinds of music.”

The event was held in two parts, 4 to 8 p.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight at Hawaiian Brian’s, with tickets ranging from $26 to $472. (Results were not available at press time.)

Paul Sato of the Saloon Pilots, a frequent treat at Ward’s Rafters, said that Ward has dedicated about $80,000 to operating her venue over the past 20 years. This was his band’s opportunity to say mahalo to her.

Ward herself has been a musician and producer in her own right, enjoying time on stage with a Balkan and Middle East dance group. She also created the nonprofit Hawaii Chamber Orchestra and was a founder of Hawaii Public Radio.