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EKK 2005—It’s a wrap!

Each week throughout the captivating 2005 E Kanikapila Kakou Program—it’s the Hawaiian music taproot program unique to Kaua`i that stuns in its quality—the question was, how do you top this? And each week brought another almost embarrassment of riches with the opportunity to learn at the feet of great musicians while being variously entertained, amused and blown away by the performances of same.

Keola Alalem and his tutu Isabella Iida, a 22 year EKK veteran

E Kanikapila Kakou—loosely translated, it means let’s play music—ran for 12 Monday nights, February through April, in its 22nd season. It’s a backyard jam—but under a roof, specifically, under the Island School auditorium roof. The theme this season, which will continue in 2006, is “Musical `Ohana.” Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, hanai and blood ‘ohana, nieces and nephews with uncles and aunties, grandchildren with their grandparents—every kind of combination you might think of—blessed EKK with their music.

Hula dancer from Wallis Punua’s Rohotu dance troupe

E Kanikapila Kakou 2005 is made possible through a grant from the Hawai`i Tourism Authority through the County of Kaua`i Office of Economic Development and with the support of Island School.
Mahalo to all supporters for the varied ways in which you keep the program alive: attendees, musicians/composers, dancers, ‘ohana, volunteer videographers, lei makers, cookie monsters and more. And hey—it’s a wrap! Unless otherwise noted, all EKK photos are by Anne E. O’Malley.

Ke Kula Ni`ihau O Kekaha share their hymns, chants, hula and Hawaiian language
Aunty Arlene Kon can never resist a hula
For lyrics and hula information see HUAPALA
Hawaiian Music and Hula Archives
EKK 2005 Schedule

E Kanikapila Kakou Presents 12 Musical Monday Nights with “Musical `Ohana” as the Theme for Its 22nd Year!

Feb 07 Punua Family members
Feb 14 Dennis and David Kamakahi
Feb 21 Makana
Feb 28 Kawika Hanakeawe and Maluhia musical group
Mar 07 Brother Noland Conjugacion and his hanai nephews Vergel Jepas of "Chant" and Jack Ofoia
Mar 14 Raiatea and Zachary Helm
Mar 21 Mama Ane Kanahele, Hokuau Ka'ohelauli'i, and the students of Ke Kula Ni'ihau O Kekaha
Mar 28 Larry, Ilima, Leilani and Lurline Rivera
Apr 04 Hui O Kalamaola (Nathan Kalama's Hula Ohana)
(It will be a Bling-Bling Night so everyone asked to come dressed in their Bling-Bling finery)
Apr 11 Kevin, Ikaika and Kaena Brown (Maui's Musical Ohana)
Apr 18 Aunty Nani Higa and Ohana with Halua Hula O' Nani (A night of hula and song)
Apr 25 Palani, Hiwa and Kilipaki Vaughan (Our final night)

(Note: if the date is underlined click on it for a review of the event for that night.)

E Kanikapila Kakou—Kaua`i's Little Treasure
Song, Hula and Chant—the sky’s the limit

E Kanikapila Kakou—it means let’s play music—opens its twenty second season on Kaua`i, this year for the first time featuring “Musical `Ohana”—fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, aunties and nephews, uncles and nieces—you get the idea. It’s Hawaiian music with a twist—composers teach the audience how to play and sing their compositions.

It’s a grass roots program—free, fun and friendly--that over the years has featured almost every star in the galaxy of Hawaiian music, and this year is no different. Founded by the nonprof

it Garden Island Arts Council, the program’s goal is to extend the gift of Hawaiian culture through music to current and new enthusiasts locally, regionally and globally.

It works. E-mails filter in from all over the globe from visitors who’ve attended and residents who’ve moved away but enjoy hearing a wrap-up on each special evening as they sit in front of their fireplaces, warding off the chill from three-foot snowdrifts.

Kekai Chock. Photo by Anne E. O'Malley
This year, E Kanikapila Kakou (EKK) consists of 12 musical Monday evenings running from February 7 through April 25. It’s held at the Island School auditorium in Puhi, on the edge of the Kaua`i Community College campus.

E Kanikapila Kakou is a backyard jam--but under a roof. It gets down—and takes you up.

You don’t have to know music, play an instrument, or be able to carry a tune. You just have to be--and suddenly, drums appear, and hula dancers.

There’s talk story, chanting and more. Each night is a precious cameo, a celebration of culture that takes it to the limit and leaves attendees in high spirits.

Presenters love an invitation to come to E Kanikapila Kakou. Musically, they’ve paid their dues over the years and delight in passing along the culture in this grassroots program.

Past presenter Frank Kawaikapuokalani K. Hewett says the mole, or the taproot, of Hawaiian music is here on Kaua`i, at E Kanikapila Kakou.

Throughout the series, each evening is a pleasant surprise, with audience members arriving from as far away as Italy and Germany. Many visitors arrange their return vacations each year to incorporate attendance at EKK.

The price is right. A calabash at the door invites an offering to offset the cost of copying the music for the evening.

The ambience is laid back. Sometimes audience members stand and join in the hula.

Often, presenters have ‘ohana—or old friends--on Kaua`i and they may show up to jam.

So many stars in the Hawaiian music galaxy. So little time.

But for 12 special nights on Kaua`i this year, there’s a chance to reach for the heavens.

Garden Island Arts Council activities are supported, in part, with a grant from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. EKK 2005 is funded by the County of Kauai with Hawai`i Tourism Authority funds. Island School supports with the use of their Main Hall.

For information, contact giac@hawaiilink.net or 245-2733. [back to schedule]


Ku`ulei and Victor Punua. Photo by Anne E. O'Malley
E KANIKAPILA KAKOU 2005 launched its 22nd Season on Monday, February 7 with Kaua’i’s first family of music and dance – the Victor and Ku’uleialoha Punua Ohana. It was like enjoying a musical artichoke with layer after layer unfolding before your eyes until you got to the “heart” of Hawaiian music and dance at its very best.

Wallis Punua started off the evening with the early bird instrumental group in a circle at the back learning to play their guitars and ukuleles, and as they were singing “Hanohana Hanalei”, in dances the lovely matriarch of the clan – Mary Ann Ku’uleialoha – loaded down with about fifty strands of Ni’ihau shell leis over a pink holoku.  She’s closely followed by Victor, the patriarch of the family.  They are as handsome a couple today as when they first arrived on Kau’ai fifty-one years ago.  

Ku’ulei, who learned the hula from Iolani Luahine and Ho’akalei Kama’u, used to dance in Waikiki with the legendary Alfred Apaka and the “Hula Nani’s” until their move to the Garden Island to start their family – Victor in Insurance and Ku’ulei starting up her hula school.  They have been entertaining residents and visitors ever since with their rapidly growing family.

Younger brother Edward shows up shortly and sets up his steel guitar, an instrument that he learned to play from the well-known steel guitar master Barney Isaacs while he was attending the University of Hawai’i.  In twelve years Edward has become a very accomplished steel guitar player.

Over 175 filled the Island School Main Hall by the time the program started with many of the EKK regulars joined by our faithful “SnowBirds” from the mainland, about fifty first timers who heard from their friends about this wonderful gem called “EKK”, as well as visitors from Japan, Denmark, Germany, Canada, and England.  Many were thrilled being lei’ed with the wonderful flower creations by Fran Nestel.

It was a rare opportunity to have Vic perform as he rarely does since his retirement.  With Vic on the ukulele, Edward on the steel guitar and Wallis on the guitar, all singing wonderful songs, Mary Ann Ku’ulei danced the hula and was soon
Generations 2 and 3 of Punuas. Photo by Anne E. O'Malley
joined by their daughter Penny Ku’uleialoha who was their young star hula dancer when they used to entertain many years ago on the cruise ships Lurline and the Mariposa.

As they launch into a medley of well-known Hawaiian songs, nine hula dancers with the traditional tee leaf skirts and every hula implement appear on the floor and dazzled everyone with dances using the gourd, the bamboo implements and the uli’uli.  Four of them are from the Keiki hula troupe and five of them just returned from the Rose Parade in Pasadena where they performed on a chilly New Year’s Day with the all-Kaua’I contingent under Larry MacIntosh.  (They must have been a big hit as they are now invited to be in the Macy’s Parade in New York!  Way to go!)

The intermission was like a huge reunion with old friends catching up on news and greeting new-comers to the program.  EKK has over the years become one huge ohana of folks who appreciate Hawaiian music, dance and all the wonderful sharing of stories.

During the break the younger Punua generation showed up after soccer and hockey with their Moms to help convert the stage from Hawaiian to Tahitian. A whole array of  drums were set up and out came the hula dancers dressed up in Tahitian hula attire and doing their rapid-fire bumps and grinds to the drumming of the younger elementary age set – Marcus and Micah who are the younger sons of Wallis and Lilikalani, Iki and Kalae who are the sons of Edward.  Wallis’s oldest son Matt, who was one of the top drummers in the State of Hawaii under the direction of Larry MacIntosh as well as the troupe Samoan Fire Dancer is now studying to be a pilot in an aeronautical school so he was not here.

Vanessa, Edward’s beautiful wife who teaches hula, did two spellbinding hula numbers to Edward’s steel guitar renditions of “Blue Hawaiian Moonlight” and “He U’I” in which he sang falsetto.  What a team they make with their three young drummer sons and a little daughter Leimomi who is sure to join the hula dancers.  It turns out most of the hula dancers there were cousins or nieces in the Punua Family.

Wallis’s lovely wife Shana, looking elegant in a holoku with a long train, did two hapa haole hula numbers – “Hawaiian Hula Eyes” and “Hapa Haole Hula Girl”.  Shana and Wallis together keep the Punua tradition of entertainment going for the whole clan since Victor and Ku’ulei have retired.  They have a Tahitian hula troupe called “Rohotu” started in 1992, winning the drumming award that year and the Best Tahitian group award in 1993.  They perform 3 days a week at the luaus at the Radisson and the Aloha Hotel.

I sure did not have to ask anyone if they had a great time as I watched their smiling faces, mesmerized by the unfolding of this whole Punua “luau show”; all that was missing was the laulau and the poi.

Next week Monday night is the legendary Kamakahi father and son team – Dennis and David.  Be there or be square!  6:00 to 9:00 pm at Island School.

Mahalo to Hawaii Tourism Authority and to Island School for their support.

Carol Kouchi Yotsuda Executive Director of the Garden Island Arts Council [back to schedule]

EKK Valentine's Day, February 14, 2005

E Kanikapila Kakou has been blessed with the participation of David and Dennis Kamakahi for several seasons. This past Monday, on Valentine’s Day, this father and son team was awesome as both were in top musical form.  Everyone I have seen since Monday has had to tell me that it was an exceptional presentation.

The instrumentalists gathered very early with a large group strumming ukuleles with David; it’s amazing how much better the group sounds now over a couple of years ago when we first started the instrumental hour. In fact, it was David’s first presentation at EKK where those with ukuleles sat on the floor right up in front of David that provided the stimulus for the early instrumental hour.

Dennis & David Kamakahi. Photo by Anne E. O'Malley
And who better to learn about slack key than the master himself?   It is always an inspiration and a wonderful opportunity to have as mentor someone who is a master at slack key.  Dennis worked with the guitar-toting musicians and as always was so open in sharing his expertise and knowledge.

The choice of songs that they presented was great in that the songs were challenging to the 22-year veterans of EKK and still easy enough to sing for the nearly 100 first-timers who were present.  

Dennis always has great personal stories to accompany each song and talked about Aunty Alice Ku’uleialohapoina’ole Namakelua, who is not only his mentor but his relative as well, when he taught us "Hanohano No ‘O Hawai’i."  He followed up with "Kananaka", a traditional song, which was really a tongue twister.  A scholar of the Hawaiian language and a composer of many of Hawai’i’s favorite songs, Dennis always makes sure that the songs are sung with proper pronunciation of Hawaiian words and that we understand what we are singing about.

David’s selection of three songs – “He Punahele No ‘Oe”, “Ka Ua Loku”, and “Lei Nani” – were varied, challenging and lovely to sing.  

“He Punahele“, an enchanting love song written by Abert Nahale’a for his child was also perfect for Valentine’s Day as it sang of a pure and profound love.  Dennis shared that in years past many groups participated in choral group competitions held on each island.  This song was performed at one such competition.

“Ka Ua Loku”, one of the first songs that David learned, is a jazzy composition about Hanalei written by Alfred ‘Alohikea, a prolific composer and debonair ladies’ man who won the Kaua’i political races with his musical performances. ‘Alohikea is a favorite composer among musicians, including Dennis and David.

“Lei Nani” is a beautiful song that is credited to Charles Namahoe who first recorded this song in 1929; it is based on “Lei Lani” by Joseph Solomon Kuni.  During our review when we all sounded pretty awesome, Keola Alalem got up and danced the hula.  A surprise hula is always a thrill for the audience.

As always, they shared some special songs that we rarely hear.  Having just come from a family weekend in Na’alehu, where they went fishing in freshwater ponds, Dennis was reminded of “Ka Nani A’o Ka’u” by Uncle George Naope.  He talked about how I’olani Luahine would just stop her car in the middle of the street, get out and dance a hula because she was “so moved”, got back in her car and drove off.  In his younger days he recorded “Mai Kai Kaua’I”  in a chant form with the Sons of Hawai’i on National Geographic’s Music of Hawaii …. What a powerful song!

Of course the audience would not let them quit without their favorite “Koke’e” and nobody sings it quite the way the Kamakahi’s sing it.  “Honolulu Baby” was the hana hou number that sent everyone home feeling really upbeat.  

What an awesome evening!

Carol Kouchi Yotsuda
Executive Director of the Garden Island Arts Council [back to schedule]

Monday, February 21, 2005
Makana Soars at EKK; Kekai Chock had the ukuleles strumming

Kekai Chock, one of the coolest musicians on Kaua'i who can play just about any song, had a huge group of about sixty ukulele and guitar players srumming and playing their music from 6:00 to 7:00 so everyone was hot to go by the time Makana showed up.

Makana once again swept his audience away into a musical realm that was thrilling because of his masterful innovation with the slack key guitar, informative and interesting because of his explanations of what kiho'alu is, and funny because he has such a refreshing sense of humor.

He started out asking, "How many of you have seen me perform before?" and half of the 250 present put up their hands.  "Okay, then, how many of you are seeing me perform for the first time?"  The other 125 raised their hands.  So....he decided he needed to address kiho'alu for the first-timers, but it is never boring with Makana even for those who have seen him perform many times.

Jodi wrote this when she sent a copy of the pic of her and Makana to her daughter, Tian:
This is myself and makana on Monday feb 21st when he played a concert in puhi. He told me he loved my new hair colour. He was either:
a) startled at the ferocity
b) thought it was orange cotton candy and maybe he'd take a bite
c) shouting for his manager to get the fire extinguisher
d) wondering why lucille ball would reincarnate at this point in time or...
e) praising madame pele with a rockin' new song Photo by Anne E. O'Malley

I saw him perform at Kilauea Theater the night before with Jason Mraz; it was a completely different concert with contemporary music that held everyone spellbound.  Young women were clutching the edge of the stage... if they got any closer, they would have been sitting on their guitars.  Makana and Jason are indeed "brothers" -- young, good looking, innovative musicians, charismatic performers, and very "real" down-to-earth people.

At E Kanikapila Kakou, Makana began with what I like to call the "deconstruction" of kiho-alu to show what all goes into this type of music.  He demonstrated the bass rhythm; then he demonstrated the melody which is "picking" on the strings; then he put it all together and it sounded like several different musicians playing all together.  He said he often closes his eyes when playing because there is so much going on at the same time in kiho'alu that closing his eyes helps him to be one with the music.  And indeed he appears to be music in motion as he does his dancing side-steps, knee bends and arm flourishes while strumming and picking the guitar.  "An artist is a channel" he said as demonstrated that as he played, "Pu'uanahulu", "The Poi Song", and many other favorites.

He shared hilarious stories and even imitations of his mentors and how they impacted his musical journey.  It was a historical journey of how slack key evolved as the talked about Sonny Chillingworth, his main influence, Leonard Kwan, David Alapai, Gabby Pahinui, Raymond Kane, Led Kaapana, Jimmy Page and many others and how each musician influenced another.  He shared songs that evolved out of his experience with each artist's musical style.  "Slack key is a living art form that is constantly changing" was his message.

Especially funny was his story of how one of his teachers Uncle Raymond Kane, who plays the soothing "nahe nahe" style,  yanked both his ears as he got off the stage at one of his early Kiho'alu Festivals for vearing off into such a new direction with his slack key, reminding Makana that slack key was played softly by the cowboys to help the cows sleep; his message to Makana was direct, "Don't Wake the Cows!"  

Well, whatever Makana is doing with his music must be working as we had folks sitting on the floor, standing in the back and looking in through the jalousies from the porch because it was just too packed at Island School.  Everyone was very accomodating, pushing their chairs closer and closer together and making room for more.  Even with such a large crowd, you could hear a whisper in the room as everyone was hanging on to every note and story.

He shared stories about King Kalakaua, the "Merry Monarch" who could outdrink anyone by eating 17 -18 bowls of poi early in the day, pretend to pass out at the parties, listened to his constituents talk "business" and knew what was going on around him.  He sang "E Ni'i Kahele" (tread softly and travel with care) written for Queen Kapiolani upon her trip to Europe to visit Queen Victoria.  The King's message to his wife was, "You can look, sistah, but no touch."

"Ku'ulei Awapuhi", dedicated to Aunty Angeline Locey and Malia, left everyone breathless.  For his hana hou song, he sang the "Shooting Star Song" and left the message to everyone that love is inside of us; you don't need to go to India to find it and a quote from a 12th century poet: "The Sun does not say to the Earth, 'You Owe Me' "

Carol Kouchi Yotsuda
Garden Island Arts Council [back to schedule]

Monday, February 28, 2005

At the end of each Monday night, folks rush up to me and exclaim, "This is the best one yet...how are you going to top this?" Like fruits in a basket, each presentation is deliciously different and sends the EKK folks home with a memorable evening of Hawaiian music for yet another week. No can beat!

The air was bristling with energy. Seats were already arranged in a circle for the ukulele group. Participants get there earlier and earlier to save a good seat in Island School's main hall, so it's getting harder and harder to prep -- set up the banners, song sheets, signup sheets, leis, tees, refreshments, chairs, sound system, videocam, etc. This is the weekly E Kanikapila kakou where local folks and visitors gather each Monday night to learn to sing and play Hawaiian songs.

Kawika Hanakeawe, tall and gangly with his snowy white hair, shows up with two members of his Maluhia group -- Darrin "Zabbie" Zablan and Randy Rego. They jump right into the first instrumental hour with "Zabbie" leading the ukulele group and Kawika and Randy working with the smaller circle of guitarists.

Forty ukuleles strumming in unison with voices raised in song can really stir up a lot of energy and by the time the singers are assembled, the room is rockin' and rollin' like a party at Tahiti Nui. Kawika entertains every Friday night at Tahiti Nui and his fans turned out in full force.

Four songs selected by Kawika are learned in no time and the singing is rich and full. Kawika says, "I just love to play and sing" and that he does very well. He's been doing this since he was a child growing up in Molokai next door to Sonny Chillingworth where music was just a way of life. He later spent twelve years playing music for the Haleamau Halau on the west coast (Gary Haleamau's Mom).

"My Uncle Gabby (Pahinui) recorded this next song on a small 78 record. It was green in color...my mother still has her copy of it." reminisces Kawika as he launches into the song. It was a song about the birds and if you closed your eyes, it was like Gabby sitting there and singing the song in that very unique style. You could hear the chirping sounds that Kawika slipped in between the words...how does he do that?

Kawika invited Keola Alalem up to sing a song. Keola apologizes that he's nearly lost his voice, but he manages a mean falsetto anyway, singing his original composition about the beach on Ni'ihau where all the kahelelani shells are found. Kawika recalls last season when he walked in late toting his guitar and presenter Pekelo Cosma's face lit up, "You know all my songs!" Pekelo invited Kawika on stage because his own voice was nearly a whisper after three days of non-stop singing on Maui. Hazards of the profession.

Chanel Flores (granddaughter of well known Kaua'i musician Kalani Flores) then sang "Limu Kohu" with Keola dancing the hula. Jerry Kaneholani, one of 13 brothers, got up on stage and surprised everyone with a solo. The music was so contagious that song after song requested by the audience was sung and the hula dancers kept popping up out of the audience -- Vern Kauanui, Keola Alalem, Chanel, and many others.  Kehau Fernandez created quite a stir with her signature hula, "E Huli Makou", a very flirtatious hip bumping number. By the last song, the little patch of floor was full of hula dancers.

Visitors were not sure what was happening when everyone stood up to sing "Hawaii Aloha" but by the end of the song they were all in sync with the spirit of the song although they had to just hum along. What a wonderful way to end and evening of spontaneous song and dance.

Kawika's performance was very contagious, so on Friday we headed North to Tahiti Nui! When we peeked in, we found that nearly everyone there were EKK regulars and one cluster of local ladies were there to celebrate Alice Fix's birthday. Place was packed so we sat outside and watched the performance through the open window...it was like having our own giant TV set. [back to schedule]

Monday, March 7, 2005
Brother Noland's guitar-toting Ohana

Brother Noland is well known for his versatility and exuberance in all his performances, and tonight was no exception. Whether singing traditional Hawaiian, Jawaiian, Sach-mo style, or contemporary songs, this consummate performer leaves everyone feeling so uplifted. Packed with his own brand of humorous anecdotes, Brother Noland's stories and music leads you on a wonderful journey through his musical life.

None of his biological siblings could be at EKK. His oldest brother was in Seattle, his sister was in New York, and his younger brother was perhaps in Japan. But he was not without Ohana as his musical influence reaches out and touches the lives of many young musicians, some of whom are his "hanai" family.

" 'Hanai' is not the same as 'adopted'" he says. " 'Hanai' means come into this bosom of my arms and I will take care of you." Three such musicians who shared the stage with him were Vergel Jepas, the leader of a group called 'Chant', Jack Ofoia, and Kaua'i's Kaui Low. He wanted to demonstrate the way in which they jam together, signaling each other with a nod or a look, each person took his turn in improvising on the spot. Back and forth the mike was shared ... and wonderful music kept flowing out. Jack's unusual style of playing with his instrument upright on his knee when he really got into the flow was fun to watch.

"Our family gatherings are like this with my own kids, my 'hanai' family, and all this music."

Noland's own musical upbringing was nurtured through his own experience of bouncing around from one family to another, each leaving indelible impressions on his musical development. He admired his oldest brother who now lives in Seattle and did everything he could to be like him. His message to Noland was "Don't be a boring musician; create a kaleidoscope of styles" and indeed he did. Every step of his life could be explained with a song so the four of them took us sailing on the Hokule'a, fishing, surfing, milking cows, catching lobsters, learning to swim, to paniola country, to visit Gabby and Hawaiian royalty. Sprinkled with humorous stories that kept everyone in stitches, the musical journey was swift, varied and definitely "not boring."

Kaui Low, "Boy-san" Vergel Jepas, and Jack Ofoia each had a chance to share their unique style of slack key; it's amazing that a guitar can sound so different in the hands of different musicians.

All too soon the evening ended but not without everyone trying to "yell out" the right words at the right time with his famous "Coconut Girl" ... one day we'll get it right. [back to schedule]

Monday, March 14, 2005
Raiatea and Zachary Helm are Amazing

Raiatea is a Tahitian name meaning "far away heaven". It came as a dream to her mom who hails from Hanapepe. She is the youngest of the Holi/Kali family and married Zachary Helm of Maui. One of seven siblings to his Pop from Puunene and his Mom from Hana, Zachary comes from a musical family (brother George Helm and sister who is the Mother of Jerome and John in the Makaha Sons Trio."

Young Raiatea Helm, 20 years of age, and her musical mentor and partner in song, Zachary Helm were new to the EKK experience. "We perform a lot to very large groups but we've never done this before." They started out with "Pauoa iko ke Lehua" and then shared the story of how Raiatea got started in music. A tomboy who loved sports, Raiatea first got involved with hula in high school. When she heard the Leo Ki'e Ki'e (highpitched yodel) music of Genoa Keawe, she wanted to sing like that. She fell in love with with the singing of Nina K... and asked her Dad if she could have an ukulele. Her Dad bought her an ukulele taught her to play a few chords. After that she pretty much locked herself in her room for a year and a half (much to the irritation of her family) and listened to the music of her favorite female vocalists and taught herself to sing.

When she saw the 1998 Kamehameha School Song contest, she was truly inspired by Hawaiian music; it was a significant influence in her life.

At a family reunion at the Sheraton, her Mom asked Raiatea if she would sing a song for her and everyone said, "Oh, how cute...Raiatea is going to sing." No one quite expected what happened next. Raiatea got up and sang and by the time she finished her song, everyone was in tears. It was a complete surprise to her family as no one knew she could sing...not the way she did.

She went on to win first place in a Molokai song contest and from then on she's been traveling and on stage from Atlantic City, to Brown Bags, to television debut, to Na Hoku Hanohano where she was the youngest to walk off with the most promising talent award, and has since performed in Shanghai, Tahiti, Japan, and the mainland. All of this she's managing while studying to get a degree in business at the Maui Community College; not only can she sing, she's got a sensible head on her shoulders.

"Kauoha Mai" (a payback song to an unfaithful boy friend), "Waikaloa" (a place along the long road to Hana), Genoa Keawe's signature song " 'Alika" by Charles Ka'apa, and "Kalamaula" by Emma Kala Dudoit (about their home town on Molokai) were the four songs that they taught us. We really tried hard to sing...but, oh well... (think we need to all lock ourselves in the bedroom)

Song after song, she and Zachary wowed the audience with beautiful songs written by Helen Desha Beamer, Lena Machado and many other favorites. Among them were "Halau Ika Wekiu", "God Bless my Daddy", "Moloka'i Nui A Hina", "Pua Mae'oli", "Hi'ilawe", "Hanalei Moon", "Tubarose" (the first song she learned), "Hale'iwa", "Koke'e", "Akaka Falls", and "Beautiful Kauai". Zack even sang the song requested by Alice from NY -- "Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai" by Alex Anderson. Amazingly, Zachary sometimes sings higher than Raiatea, but they often harmonize or have a friendly competition to see who can hit the ceiling.

Hula dancers Po'ai, Keola Alalem, Vern Kauanui and Fran Nestel got up to dance. Raiatea who danced for three years at the Merry Monarch Competition obliged the requests with "Sophisticated Hula".

Hana Hou! Hana Hou! Everyone stood up shouting for more. They ended the evening with a beautiful rendition of "I Kona". Everyone walked out of there breathless for having the chance to hear the unique story of a young rising star and her Dad and musical mentor.

Carol Kouchi Yotsuda [back to schedule]

Monday, March 21, 2005
Ke Kula Ni'ihau at EKK

"I never heard the spoken Hawaiian language before", said one of the participants at Monday night's E Kanikapila Kakou presentation by the students and music teacher of Ke Kula Ni'ihau O Kekaha.

Indeed, the evening was an eye-opener for many as a very well planned program by the Charter School Ohana presented a new experience in Hawaiian music and language. This is the only school with 100% children from Ni'ihau families.

Hoku'au Ka'ohelauli'i, the young music teacher and Grandson of Mama Ane Kanahele, worked with the ukulele instrumental group on strumming, tempo, chords and vamp during the first hour. Even with his "wela wela" (butterflies), his awesome singing soon had everyone strumming and singing along on the songs.

Mama Ane, the kupuna who has been the primary resource in Hawaiian Chants and Mele for the Ni'ihau school, was unfortunately unable to attend at the last minute, but Hokuau carried on. The seventeen students ranging in ages from five to sixteen began with an "oli". Their voices rang our loud and clear. Faces in the audience reflected the awe that many experienced to hear the children chanting.

Hoku'au, who had "micro-phobia" (afraid of the microphone) because it "shock the lips" was nevertheless in his element on stage as he humorously took us through the songs - "Kaulana O Lihue", "Aloha Kaeo" and "Ke Kula Ni'ihau O Kekaha" (school alma mater). Clearly, if he ever loses his job, he might consider stand-up comic as he was very funny.

"Kaulana O Lihue", composed by Hoku'au, speaks of the weekly trip that everyone has to take to Lihue to shop, to pay bills and to holo holo. "Aloha Kaeo", composed by Mama Ane, speaks of reaching tall to that "mountain in the sky". The school alma mater was also composed by Mama Ane. The students sang the song with their full rich harmonies so that we could follow and learn the song.

Each child then came up to the microphone to introduce themselves in their native Hawaiian tongue. The Hawaiian they spoke was decidedly different from what is usually heard, and as their teacher Hokulani Cleeland later explained, they speak the Ni'ihau dialect which is distinctively different from the regular Hawaiian language. Many of the children can switch from the Ni'ihau dialect to the standard Hawaiian language, often within one sentence. Two children speaking to each other in Ni'ihau dialect may not necessarily be understood by Hawaiian speaking individuals.

Following the intermission, Ka'ehu, one of the students, showed her power point I-Movie that she created following their trek to Alaka'i Swamp. The chant that she composed "Ke Alahele o Alaka'i", which was the sound track for the I-Movie which showed the many awesome sights on the trail to and from Alaka'i with the words of the chant superimposed upon the images. It spoke of the famous Kalalau valley, the cool winds, the fluttering 'olapa trees, the tears dripping off the tips of the ferns, the lehua blossoms, and the 'apapane birds just as it was seen by Queen Emmalani on her annual trek to Alaka'i. Hokuau led the chant with his full rich chanting voice (quite different from his singing voice) while drumming on his Ipu. Members of the audience were invited to drum along on a dozen ipu that he brought along for this chant.

So many questions were raised by the audience, so a brief Q&A session between audience and Principal Haunani Seward and teacher Hokulani Cleeland helped the participants to better understand the mission and role of the Ni'ihau Charter School. Some interesting points were that the students can learn better the subject matter when taught in their native tongue; many of the families now live on Kaua'i but some of them intermittently commute back and forth to Ni'ihau; many of the children function better within this school environment as they are considered LED (limited English) in the regular public schools; and the Robinson Family who own Ni'ihau island are not directly involved with the operation of the school.

The evening culminated with a concert of song and hula as the students sang the songs that were taught; the audience followed along. The youngest performed "E Huli", which means to turn; the boys performed "Holo holo Ka'a" which means to go riding in the car; Kaehu did a graceful hula to "Pupu o Ni'ihau" about the shells of Ni'ihau' and the girls danced to "Kaulana O Lihu'e" about their weekly visit to Lihu'e. They did one hana hou number, but the Akita Bus which brought all the children and their families to participate in E Kanikapila was ready to head back to Kekaha, so all too soon a magical evening came to a close.

Carol Kouchi Yotsuda [back to schedule]

Monday, March 28, 2005
Fast-paced Kaleidoscope of Rivera-style songs, dances, stories

What happens when you have one of Kaua'i's musical icons, three very talented daughters and grandchildren who can hula while still in diapers, halau hula dancers, a neighborly backup, and the President of the Steel Guitar Association? You have one helluva party at E Kanikapila Kakou.

Larry Rivera, long associated with the famous Coco Palms Resort where Blue Hawaii weddings are still in vogue, headed the Musical Ohana with his life-long repertoire of songs, unusual quips and sense of humor. He introduces his family of 27 (six children, 17 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren) in one long breathless rap including each child's name and surname. If they keep multiplying, he will have to come up for air.

Good friend Richard Beach backed Larry up with his guitar, and new friend and admirer who showed up with his steel guitar was none other than Kamaka Tom, President of the Steel Guitar Association. He had been following EKK through the e-mail wrap-ups that go out after every (well, almost every) Monday's performance and showed up with his wife and daughter to share the stage with the Rivera Clan. He put in a plug for the biennial Steel Guitar Convention coming up in Honolulu at the end of April. What an awesome sound came out of his steel guitar...takes one back to Coco Palms in the '60's when a lot more steel guitar players were around.

Larry threw in many Coco Palms stories as he sang his songs, talking about Grace Guslander and how she called everyone young and old, workers and tourists "Come, Children..." and when she asked for something, you did it. Thus, when she asked Larry for a favor to write a song about the frogs in the lagoon, he struggled with it and came out with the now famous "Kamalani" about the legendary frog that has a birthmark on his forehead, the same as the one that Larry has on his own forehead. He shared the story about his cherished visit to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole who wanted to meet the composer of "Kamalani" and generously paid his entire trip over to Honolulu. Larry says with his typical candor, "Anyway, they play the version by Iz on the radio, not mine!" Then he sang a song he wrote about Israel.

"You don't necessarily have to be under moonlight and coconut trees to compose a song; I wrote this song for my wife Gloria while washing dishes at Coco Palms - 'I Search for Love'. Elvis (Presley) liked this song." recalls Larry. He remembers Elvis as the most polite gentleman and when he went to Memphis to visit Elvis, he was blown away by how polite everyone was.

Three busy daughters showed up on stage one at a one, like the unfolding of a family album. Lurline, his youngest daughter, accompanied herself on the keyboard and shared many songs, among them her Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning religious song "Through Your Eyes" which "almost did not get written" because she almost did not go to a party where she met Kalani Flores. He translated her words into Hawaiian and did such a beautiful job that she went on and composed the melody, recorded her album and won the award. She also danced a beautiful hula...a vision of song in motion.

Ilima, well known for her musical compositions and her excellence as a performer sang one of her favorite songs about flower leis, not written by her, but "I love the depth of the song." She also danced the hula to Lurline's "Wind Beneath my Wings"; she dances as beautifully as she sings. Richard heralded a medly of songs by blowing a conch shell with Ilima chanting and playing the drum. Her three daughters Victoria, Selina, and Sophia, all dressed in matching pink mu'umu'u, danced with sticks and then in tahitian attire with coconuts; changed into maori attire and danced with the poi balls. Larry said when the Trapp Family came to Coco Palms, they taught him to swing the poi balls and he taught his daughters who in turn taught their children. The little five-year-old was amazing with the poi balls - never missed a beat even lying down. Victor Ascuena and Ed Newman of St Paul Minnesota got on stage and tried it but when Victoria stepped up the tempo and the swinging balls were nearly invisible, the two gentlemen finally gave up. Larry applauded their efforts with a gift of audio tapes.

Eldest daughter Leilani rushes in from work with three statuesque hula dancers in flowing red holoku's. The gorgeous dancers swayed beautifully to "Kalalau". Three more dancers joined them for Leilani's "Na Hana Kealoha" about the different kinds of love. It was a song inspired by a song she heard in Japan called "Koi" which she could not translate into Hawaiian, so she decided to do her own version of it. Pohaku Nishimitsu wrote Leilani's whole life of loves into one song and she put the melody to it at 1:00 in the morning. She said she heeded Bill Kaiwa's suggestion that the first melody to come out is the right one. She acknowledged her two sisters several times as awesome composers, but she certainly is holding her own in writing beautiful songs. Keep it up, Leilani!

Larry said and Leilani confirmed that she and he fought all day about who was going to sing "Kamalani" tonight, and because Larry misses her Hoike every year to go to Las Vegas, she said she wanted to show her Dad what she and her dancers did with "Kamalani". It was truly very special. Absentee Larry sent Leilani a huge bouquet of red roses and a note that made her cry.

There was so much more going on all night; it was almost a dizzying experience keeping up with the Rivera's. They all jammed together; everyone sang "Hawai'i Aloha", and another party night at E Kanikapila Kakou came to a close.

Carol Kouchi Yotsuda [back to schedule]

Monday, April 4, 2005
"Bling Bling" with Hui O Kalamaoloa

As I am writing my wrap-up for the April 4 EKK with Hui O' Kalamaoloa, I get a phone call from someone who attended last night's program. He said he did not pick up the song sheets because without his glasses, he could not read the words. However, about 2:00 am he got up from his sleep haunted by the melody of the song "Na Pe'a O Hokule'a", a song written by Keli'i Tau'a and Roland Cazimero about the experience of sailing the Hokule'a. Yes! I know exactly what this gentleman meant because that melody has been weaving in and out of my head since last night. He asked for a copy of the song.

Maka, stage name "Boom Shaka Laka Maka", and Doric Yaris taught the ukulele group this song and so the harmonies of this haunting song were ringing out loud and clear by the time the rest of the group showed up.

Hui O'Kalamaoloa, comprised of four related Kumu - Nathan Kalama, Puna Kalama Dawson, Maka Herrod and Doric Yaris - banded together while Puna's mom was alive and she was enthralled that this Ohana decided to work together because of their love for hula. Each kumu is so busy with their own work and hula programs, it was indeed a rare occasion to get them all together under one roof, and the result was well worth experiencing. Aunty Puna, who was a bit tardy, chanted from the doorway. The three others responded with a chant and she joined the group on the stage.

They opened the program with a beautiful hymn "Ho'omana" which is their way of honoring and remembering Doric's late wife Momi Yaris. The impact of their exquisitely harmonized voices could be seen on the faces of everyone there.

Doric taught the song honoring the original "Hokule'a" navigators which he has earlier taught to the ukulele group. Everyone was quite impressed to hear how good they sounded with many voices harmonizing.

Nathan shared his recent experience of traveling to Samoa. He did not like American Samoa but when he went to West Samoa, he had a chance to experience real Samoan hospitality in a place called Apia. It's so dreadfully hot that no one stays indoors; everyone is outside walking around and socializing in a communal setting. He particularly enjoyed listening to five Samoan musician's singing "Oh, Holy Night" in five parts and watching Samoans dance "Boy from Laupaho'eho'e". Inspired by the hospitality of the people of Apia, he came back to Room 306 in Hotel Kotani and wrote a song called "Aloha Apia". This is the first song he taught us.

Nathan's next song was the inspiration for tonight's EKK theme where folks were invited to come dressed up in their sparkly stuff or Hawaiian treasures like Jade, Kukui Nut Necklaces, Hawaiian Gold Bracelets, Ni'ihau Shell Leis. "Bling Bling Hula" is about how ladies just can't resist the temptations of shopping for blings. The chorus has nothing to do with the rest of the song except that it gives the hula dancers a chance to show off their blings.

Rushing around as usual trying to get to EKK on time, I had no time to go pick up my fineries in my bank vault, so I grabbed a basket of Mardi Gras bead necklaces hanging on my window...better to be a cheap bling than to not bling at all. Once I got there, someone placed a paper crown on my head and I felt quite regal. But no one looked as regal as Sabra Kauka in her paper crown and full red feather boa...how stunning! Carol Carpenter Ayala, my volunteer cookie monster, was right in there with her rhinestone studded jeans jacket covered with every sparkly thing in her possession. One lady had this remarkable hat with huge yellow flowers blinging out all over.

Kamakaokalani Herrod, the nephew in the Hui, shared a song that he wrote after he experienced the early morning sun rising through the coconut grove near Coconut Plantation in Waipouli, a site famous for its many coconut trees. Waipouli, a blossom of Kapa'a. Harmonizing is something that Maka loves and he shares that with the participants. How amazing we sounded.

Aunty Puna, well known for her "key of all right", taught "Ka Liko Pua Kukui" (the budding Kukui flower) in auwana style although it was originally performed as Kahiko. Review of all the songs had the added fun of watching the songs in dance. Doric's kane hula class performed a powerful male hula to "Na Pe'a O Hokule'a" and had to dance it twice because the applause was so huge.

Four of Nathan's halau - Leimomi Hee, Marlys Matheus, Barbara Say and Tita Jean Yim - danced to both "Aloha Akia" and "Bling Bling Hula". It was fun to see that everyone sitting in their seats were also doing the bling bling hand motions; it was catching.

A sensuous hula by Maka to "Aloha Ku'u Ipo" sung by Doric had everyone standing and screaming for a hana hou, but Maka graciously passed the hana hou on to his Aunty. Puna danced a graceful hula to "Ka Liko Pua Kukui" with everyone singing. The playful banter between the four kumus added so much fun and laughter along with the singing.

Nathan's "E Ku'u Lei Hulu Manu Ula Ula" which he wrote when Paulette Kekuewa presented him with a beautiful red feather lei was sung by the Hui. Of course, "Hawai'i Aloha" brought everyone together in song and fellowship and another wonderful EKK evening came to a close.

Carol Kouchi Yotsuda [back to schedule]

Monday, April 11
Maui Brown's Delight EKK Participants

Kevin and Ikaika Brown of Maui once again came to share their stories and the songs that they love. This time sister Kaena came along to make her singing debut before they took off on their westcoast tour to Santa Cruz and San Diego. Kekai Chock, buddies with Kevin since humbug school days, showed up with his guitar, much to Kevin's delight. They had been playing music together since they were nine years old and seriously since 12 years old. They hadn't seen each other for years so it was a musical catch up time for both. All three Browns were so impressed with Kekai's slack key virtuosity. Kevin says, "His fingers are smokin'!"

Kevin shared "La 'Elima", a haunting melody about the Big Island fishing village called Miloli'i, the only one left of its kind. Every five years the villagers hold a vigil to commemorate the tidal wave in the 1800's which swept across the village and dragged all the unsuspecting children out to sea...only to find that not one child was lost because the kiawe trees along the beach plucked the children out of the receding waves.

"Lihu'e" by Annie Koulukou, a beautiful song that we never learned before describes the paulili rains and the murmuring Niumalu sea. Kevin says, "Certain songs don't lock into slack key but 'Lihu'e' does". It should also be a very beautiful hula song.

Kevin weaves his stories in with his songs..."No Keano Ahi Ahi"; "Colomona" written by Ned Ka'apana for Solomon Aikau as a gesture of appreciation; "Manini", the slack key song that nine-year-old Ikaika learned in two hours thereby convincing Dad that he was really serious about learning to play slack key.

Kaena's introduction to the family music scene when she was a sophomore was equally interesting. Kevin and Ikaika were practicing in the garage as they often do. Kevin shouted to his eldest son Cory to turn off the CD. They continued practicing, but they could still hear the music, so he called again to Cory to turn off the CD. Cory's answer was, "I already turned it off when you first told me; that is Kaena singing." They could not believe their ears so they went inside and sure enough Kaena was belting out songs.

Kaena joined Kevin, Ikaika and Kekai on stage and Kevin jokes, "This is Kaena's debut and if she don't sing good, she can't go on the westcoast tour." Kaena looks at her Dad and comes back with, "Pops! Uncle Kekai is really good! Only three can tour so watch out...we may need a roadie!"(and she wasn't suggesting Kekai as the roadie) "Oops...when Kaena calls me Pops, I need to watch out." When Kekai took off with his smokin' fingers, Kevin stood up, set his guitar on the floor and feigned walking off the stage, looking back at Kekai, "Why did you come?". Lots of laughs mixed in with the music.

Judging from audience applause, Kaena is definitely going on the tour...everyone loved her and asked for hana hou.

She sang a song she learned in an hour and a half rehearsal before recording on the Brown Family "3 Generations" CD because she was going to leave home for school - "Give it All to Jesus". A member of the Force, Kaena brings a strong feminine balance to the family trio. They will definitely make a hit on their westcoast tour. Check out www.slackkey.net for tour info. [back to schedule]

Monday, April 18
"Showing Their Stuff"

Last week Monday was our Show Your Stuff Pa'ina night where participants could go up and share their talents. Folks were walking in with huge trays of food, each enough to feed 10 people, so there was an overflowing spread at the table for all to enjoy. The dessert table was serious business.

In addition to lots of Fran's leis for our first-time participants, greeters Marlys and Laurence Matheus were recognized on their 55th wedding anniversary and everyone sang Happy Birthday to Sabra Kauka.

The evening of music was quite a treat with a whole line-up of favorites and surprises - Fran Nestel, who has won many Kaua'i Composers awards, shared three original compositions. Newcomer Alan Souza shared "Kuhio Bay" and "Going to an Island"; and Vigil Alkana and Nikki Vezendi did a beautiful rendition of "Ka Leo Hano". Alan Goodman surprised everyone with Mary Kawena Pukui's song about her pet donkey and a song by Sonny Chillingworth.

Sabra Kauka, Kaiopua Fyfe and Leilani Kaleiohi taught "Wahine Ilikea" composed by Dennis Kamakahi; what a wonderful song.
Jerry Hirata did an oli and danced a hula to "Waialeale"; this was a wonderful surprise for everyone.

Keola Alalem, originally from Wainiha, accompanies his great-grandmother Isabella Iida each week to EKK, and says he's very happy to be part of EKK. He sang a song about the waterfall in Hanapepe - "Mano Waiopuna" ("Koula") - and Arlene Kon danced the hula. Keola sang a song he wrote when he visited his relatives on Ni'ihau. The song is about "Waiplo" where the most beautiful Kahelelani shells are found. Last week, Kevin Brown could not stop remarking about Keola's gracefulness as a hula dancer.

Kawika Hanakeawe, one of 11 brothers and sisters growing up next door to Sonny Chillingworth in Molokai, learned to play slack key on a six-string guitar with four strings. He's come a long way since then and and his wonderful mastery of songs prompted hula dancers to get up and dance. His cousin Cookie Kaopuiki, originally from Kapa'a and now living in Molokai, came up and sang the "Chuku Chuku" song with him.

"Show Your Stuff" Night this year was a fun-filled backyard jam for all.

Carol Kouchi Yotsuda [back to schedule]

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