Riff On This: How Hawaiian culture inspired this ukulele-strumming Ormond Beach musician

Hawaii brought a new sound, love to Brad Yates’ own ‘seaside soul’ genre

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – Brad Yates was 8 years old when he was gifted a piano that began his love for music and he was a teen when the Beatles took the music world by storm.

Beatlemania was a turning point for the young, aspiring musician.

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Brad Yates as a young boy

“The Beatles came on the Sullivan Show and the next day, every boy in America bought a guitar,” said Yates, smiling ear-to-ear.

From the guitar, he graduated to the trumpet in junior high, and then, inspired by the rock band The Doors, Yates started playing keyboards. His professional music career kicking off at the age of 14.

Yates spent several years on the road all over the country. In 1980, he joined a band called Sons of the Beach that took him to paradise.

Yates, his wife Tamara, and friends on the Kalapaki Kai in Kauai, Hawaii during his time on the island in the early 1980's (WKMG)

“I went to Hawaii for a gig that was supposed to be a month long and turned into six months,” Yates recalled. “While I was there, my girlfriend came out and we ended up getting married and staying for 5 years.”

When asked what genre Yates specializes in, the musician, who now lives in Ormond Beach, had a different kind of answer.

“I call what I play seaside soul. It encompasses everything from rock ‘n’ roll to reggae with a jazzy, blues, funky, soul feeling to it,” Yates said. “The name just seems to cover the whole gamut.”

While in Hawaii, Yates learned yet another instrument to add to his talented repertoire—the ukulele.

Brad Yates playing piano early in his career (wkmg)

Yates fell in love with the Hawaiian culture, saying his favorite part about the music is the love the locals have for family.

“They were hugely focused on family. Nobody was excluded from parties,” Yates said. “Everyone from grandmas to little babies would be there and I was really appreciative of that strong family value.”

Brad Yates (WKMG)

Of course, there’s a lot more to Yates’ music story.

You can hear more of his story, as well as a special song he wrote years ago for his now late wife Tamara, on the latest episode of Riff On This. Trust me, this is one episode you won’t want to miss.

Watch the full interview in the media player above.

Check out every episode of Riff On This in the media player below:


About the Author:

Emmy Award Winning Meteorologist Samara Cokinos joined the News 6 team in September 2017. In her free time, she loves running and being outside.