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30 11, 2023

E Kanikapila Kakou 2024 Overview

2024-01-05T17:24:20-10:00EKK 2024, GIAC Events, NEWS! Arts & Cultural Events on Kauai|0 Comments

EKK 2024 Overview

E Kanikapila Kakou 2024, celebrating 41 years of music, hula and stories of Hawai’i, will once again present an awesome season of the BEST!

The eight-week EKK series begins on Monday, February 5 through Monday, March 25. All events will be held at the Kaua’i Beach Resort Jasmine Ballroom on Kaua’i Beach Drive, located between the Lihu’e Airport and Wailua Golf Course.

The doors open at 5:00 pm; most nights will have an ‘ukulele/hula hour; the main program begins at 6:00 pm and ends at 8:30 pm.

Tickets for EKK sessions:  ekk2024.eventbrite.com

EKK Mondays — Seats can be reserved on Eventbrite; general admission is $20 and kama’aina is $10; seats will be available at the door for general admission $20 and kama’aina seats $10.

Note: children under the age of 12 are admitted free to the eight Monday EKK sessions.

EKK PATRONS are invited to support the season with their early donations by contributing $250 on this website (hit the Donate Button), notify by email to giac05@icloud.com, or sign up as a Patron at the door. Patrons get priority seating in the ballroom. Checks can be mailed to GIAC, PO Box 827, Lihue HI 96766.

Kauai Beach Resort and Spa is now under new ownership; that has resulted in sizeable increase in our venue expenses.  Your support will be most helpful in this transition.

Go to https://youtu.be/lmQxeZeK6vQ for link to “Celebrating 38 years of EKK” — a recap of E Kanakapila Kakou history of memorable moments. 

For more information: e-mail giac5@icloud.com

E Kanikapila Kakou 2024 Calendar

Venue:  Kauai Beach Resort & Spa, 4331 Kauai Beach Drive

“He Manamana Ka Welo” – Tradition is Diverse.

Theme for EKK 2024 as we share Significant Songs of Hawaii

All Weeks – “Songs of the Hawaiian Royals”

Monday, February 5, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

“Kinolau in Song: A Celebration of Nature in Hawaiian Poetry” 

Makana; Keale & Chris Lau

Monday, February 12, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

“Endearing Love Songs”

Ku’uipo Kumukahi & Friends

Monday, February 19, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

“Favorite Hula Songs” – Community Hula Night

Malie Foundation – Kumu Hula Hinano Lazaro; Puni Wai’ale’ale; La’amea Almeida; Sabra Kauka

Monday, February 26, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

“Timeless Hapa-Haole Classics”

Nick Masagatani, Douglas Tolentino & Ekolu Chang

Monday, March 4, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

“Songs for the Renaissance”

Jerry Santos & Kamuela Kimokeo

Monday, March 11, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

“Iconic Spiritual & Life-Changing Songs”

Kenneth Makuakane & Friends

Monday, March 18, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

“Hawaii Lifestyles”

Kainani Kahaunaele, Kaniaulono Hapai, Emma Coloma

Monday, March 25, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

“Unique Places on Kauai & Hawaiian Islands”

Eric Lee, Moon Kauakahi, Mel Amina

17 11, 2023

Mu’umu’u Contest & Fashion Show Call for Entries

2023-11-30T15:17:43-10:00GIAC Events, NEWS! Arts & Cultural Events on Kauai|0 Comments

Call For Entries Mu’umu’u Contest & Fashion Show

I invite you to be creative, have fun and win cash prizes by designing & sewing a Mu’umu’u in this first-of-its-kind contest!

Contest and Fashion Show will take place at the Mu’umu’u P’ina, a benefit luncheon for the Kauai Historical Society on January 28th at 11am at Smith’s Tropical Paradise. This contest is presented by the Garden Island Arts Council.

Strut your stuff (or bring a model) for our guest judges in 3 Categories of Mu’umu’u design: Formal • Casual  • Avant Garde

How to get started:

1) Read all Contest Rules online

2) Register and submit $40 entry fee (includes access to the event)

3) Pick up FREE fabric, if desired

4) Start designing and sewing

5) Contest entry deadline is January 7th

6) Finish your mu’u!

7) Fashion Show at the Mu’umu’u Pa’ina on January 28th!

To participate, please visit muumuumonth.com to read all the rules and register. Don’t wait too long—participation is limited to 35 first come first served Contest Entrants!

Tickets for the Mu’umu’u Pa’ina luncheon will go on sale to the general public Mid-November at kauaihistoricalsociety.org. This will be a sensational day filled with yummy lunch buffet, live Hawaiian music, exciting silent auction, historical fashion displays, and build your own bouquet pop up with the Pua Bar!

15 11, 2023

Kalikimaka with Kamaha’o December 23, 2023

2023-11-17T17:12:42-10:00GIAC Events, NEWS! Arts & Cultural Events on Kauai|0 Comments

Saturday December 23, 2023

Kalikimaka with Kamaha’o

6:00 – 8:30 pm | Doors open at 5:00

Kauai Beach Resort Ballroom

Special Guests:

Kualono and Friends
Waipu’ilani Flores
Hall Ka Pa Hula O Hinano
Kumu Hula Troy Allan Hinano Lazaro
Na Hui O Kamakaokalni
Kumu Hula Maka Herrod
Hall Ka Lei Mokihand O Leinal’ala
Kumu Hula Leina’ala Pavao Jardin

Christmas Craft Fair and Raffle Prizes

Click Here to Get Your Tickets from Eventbright.com

23 01, 2023

Aloha Supporters of E Kanikapila Kakou 2023

2023-01-24T11:34:08-10:00EKK 2023, NEWS! Arts & Cultural Events on Kauai|0 Comments

I hope you are anticipating a wonderful 40th Anniversary EKK program this year. Sorry I am so late in completing the program; it’s been difficult to put together a program including many individual artists rather than pre-formed professional groups; but I am sure you will appreciate the effort; it’s still a work in progress.

GIAC is especially counting on you this year as the Hawaii Tourism Authority is experiencing its own challenges so no grant support has yet been available to request. Fingers crossed that help will become available.

Because this year we are having 8 Mondays in the schedule, we are proposing a $200 season ticket for patrons which comes down to $25 per night. You will also receive your entry lanyard and early admission before the general audience enters the ballroom. We thank those of you who support the program with extra donation; it really helps us a lot! Share this information with your friends who wish to become a Patron.

Patron support can be done via PayPal below or sending by snail mail to GIAC, PO box 827, Lihue, HI 96766 — or giving your support at the “EKK Patrons Table” at the entrance foyer. Patrons cannot reserve seats via the Eventbrite ticket outlet but others can. It’s $10 Kama’aina and $20 General Admission. Kids 12 years old and younger are free.

The special February 28 Mahalo Concert to support Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leina’ala is a separate ticketed event to help the halau so it is not part of the Patron package.

Become an EKK Patron for 2023:
16 09, 2022

Island Breeze Concert December

2022-09-26T17:23:05-10:00Uncategorized|0 Comments

Three top level artists meld their eclectic musical genres into a riveting performance right here on Kaua‘i.

Shakuhachi Grand Master Riley Lee of Australia joins Taiko Drum Master Kenny Endo and award-winning Slack Key Guitar virtuoso Jeff Peterson of O‘ahu for a dynamic concert of unparalleled excellence.

These world-class musicians will once again come together to create a unique blend of music crossing culture and tradition.

Award-winning Hawaiian slack key guitarist Jeff Peterson and shakuhachi grand master Riley Lee joined forces with taiko master Kenny Endo during a weeklong residency in Honolulu in 2012. Each artist conducted intensive workshops and also sought to skillfully blend their individual styles together to create an inspired sound distinctive to the Hawaiian Islands. The trio put together a program of refreshing music as a result of their collaboration and presented it in concert at the University of Hawai‘i’s Orvis Auditorium. In August of 2014, the trio recorded Island Breeze, which was nominated for Na Hoku Hanohano awards (Hawaii’s version of the Grammys) for “Album of the Year” and for “Instrumental Song of the Year” in 2015.

Riley Lee has been playing the shakuhachi (bamboo flute) for over half a century. In 1975, he became the first non-Japanese to be honored with the rank of Dai Shihan (grand master). He has introduced the shakuhachi to a diverse audience as a soloist, with other performers, and through his teachings. He has BA and MA degrees in music from the University of Hawai’i and a PhD degree from the University of Sydney, Australia. Riley has released more than 70 albums since his first LP (1980). His latest three solo albums are entirely of the music of 12th C mystic, Hildegard von Bingen.

Kenny Endo is at the vanguard of the taiko genre, continuing to explore new possibilities for this ancient Japanese instrument.  A performer, composer, and teacher, Kenny is a consummate artist, blending taiko with original music through collaborations with artists from around the world.  In 2022, Kenny toured across the USA performing concerts, conducting workshops, and lectures.  He recently received the Honpa Hongwanji Living Treasures of Hawaii Award.  In January 2022, Kenny was awarded the United States Artists award.

Jeff Peterson was introduced to the rich heritage of Hawaiian music by his father, a paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) on Haleakala Ranch on the island of Maui. Today, Jeff is at the heart of the Hawaiian music scene and is recognized as one of Hawaii’s most versatile musicians. His passion for the guitar has allowed him to shine as a solo artist and has given him the opportunity to collaborate with a wide variety of artists from Hawaii, across the US, and abroad. His focus on slack key guitar, classical, and jazz music has allowed him to develop a unique and transcendent voice on the guitar while being deeply rooted in the traditions of his Hawaiian heritage.

22 04, 2022

Week #5 EKK APRIL 18 Wrap

2023-02-11T18:06:53-10:00EKK 2022|0 Comments

For Upcoming 2019 Arts & Culture Calendar or email  giac05@icloud.com to get listing in advance


Mahalo to all who enjoy and support Art and Culture on Kaua’i
Donate by
clicking here

Register on AmazonSmile.Org & select Garden island Arts Council to receive .05% of your eligible purchases

“A special video titled “The History of E Kanikapila Kakou” recaps many special moments of the past 38 years of EKK that every fan should watch before coming to EKK on Monday.  It took all of 2021 to organize this video but it’s finally here for you to view on YouTube.
Share with all your EKK friends and others

‘Oiwi Plays the EKK audience

When I asked John Mahi to send me his set list, his reply was, “I so sorry but we don’t have one we usually just go with how the crowd feels. I hope that’s ok.”

It was not only “ok”; it was stellar! ‘Oiwi went with the crowd and had everyone up on their feet dancing hula, dancing kachi-kachi and shaking out those nasty pandemic-infused cobwebs that had stiffened our joints and dulled our brains . . . it’s just what the doctor ordered. It was truly impossible to resist the urge to get up and dance with all the rest of those happy gyrating bodies. Thank you, ‘Oiwi!

‘Oiwi, or Native Sons, was slated for the final night of EKK in 2020 when everything abruptly shut down for an unknown duration. Finally, after nearly two years of everyone lock-down to keep safe, Garden Island Arts Council, with the help of our supporters, brought back a shortened version of EKK to an event-hungry community. Of course, to pick up the threads as best as we could, we invited ‘Oiwi to perform at EKK. Good choice!

John Kepa Mahi begins by acknowledging and thanking all the folks that helped to make this 39-year event possible and expressed his gratitude to be part of this program; he also acknowledged the ‘Oiwi team — the very talented Kawai’ola DJ Yaris, who inherited his musical talents from his parents, Doric and Mori Yaris, and the new kid on the block Bronson Aiwohi. Bronson is an upcoming songwriter who has been nominated for multiple Na Hoku Hanohano awards. Although all three lead separate careers as musicians, they keep the candles burning by playing music at least once a week for their gig at Troy’s. He also acknowledged his wife who is a first responder at KVMH; she and their new daughter are virtually attending on his I-Pad.

Introducing their unique ‘Oiwi sound on the instrumental Pandanus, they moved right into Catching the Wave with the golden-voiced Bronson on the vocals. Continuing with their lively ‘Oiwi sound, they treated us to their version of Koke’e with John as the lead vocal and the other two as harmonizing back-up singers. Great harmony.

If you see John in public, step up and introduce yourself. He likes to tease the kupunas who greet him in Costco, pretending to be someone else, until they walk away apologizing that they thought he was John Mahi. Fun guy.
John’s sprinkled in a lot of amusing anecdotes with his amazing gift of gab with that delightful Portugee flavor on illegal parking Hawaiian-style, Ledward Kaapana’s boots, walking away from a party with “new” slippahs, and the perennial discussion on “aging” and “weight.” A wonderful skill to have on stage; never a dull moment or down time for the audience.

A lively song about the Hawaiian sailing canoe was Na Pea/Hokulea and the Star of Gladness. An early chant by Prince Liholiho, Kamehameha II, Kalena Kai was later turned into a now classic song that John sang in his fabulous leo ki’e ki’e. John acknowledged his team who makes it look easy.

Our volunteers took a moment for a pleasant interruption of lei’ing the musicians. The amazing Polei Palmeira, our resident lei maker, who turns all the blossoms in her garden into a profuse bounty of scented gifts, brought enough lei to deck the artists, the entire team from KVB and our guests Bob Leathers and Cheryl Nickels who spear-headed the many decades of building the fantastic Kamalani playgrounds at Lydgate. Tommy Noyes, the unrelenting champion of the Lydgate parks who oversees that the parks are always kept in tip-top shape by community volunteers for the enjoyment of Kauaians and visitors, was also recognized. Thank you, Polei, for helping us to honor these special folks.

image by Sol Kanoho

Huge applause followed Kawai’ola Yaris’s version of a beautiful Hawaiian classic, Ku’u Hoa, followed by another favorite, Ei Nei, by Bronson in his crooning best.

Earlier in the evening, the group had taught the ‘ukulele circle the hula favorite, Papalina Lahilahi, so John invited the ‘ukulele players to join in the song and invited the hula dancers to come up to the stage. A hula opportunity like this was not to be passed up as ten dancers ran up to the stage to join the action. This song was dedicated to the late legendary kumu hula Johnny Lum Ho. The room came alive with dancers sprouting up all over the room.

Do you remember the days of Gladys Knight and the Pips? Changing his voice into the style of Gladys Knight, John started to sing The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me. With Kawai’ola pumping out the bass, John and Bronson stepping it up with the guitar, and all three harmonizing, they really killed it. Two couples got up to the dance floor and began cutting up the rug with their enthusiastic ballroom dancing.

Lyn McNutt brought the Kamoa ‘ukulele up to show the audience what a great gift was being given away tonight; the group started a traditional chant, No Ke Ano Ahiahi, with rock style instrumentation . . . that was pretty unusual, but unusual seemed to be the order of the night by ‘Oiwi.

After the Intermission, it was time to do the CD give-away to those who had taken the time to fill out their sign-in sheets — Stephanie Jalinda from Germany, Lorraine Acosta from Elkin, Laura Salo from Santa Rosa, Tom Berg from Minnesota, Sharon Gonsalves from Princeville, Vickie Hartley from Kapa’a, Diane Gerard from Lawai. Tonight’s ‘ukulele winner was one very happy lady as she jumped up and down and raced to the stage to pick up her beautiful Kamoa ‘ukulele. Kim from the state of Maine. Lois Kay Cole from Gassaway, WV, was recognized for her very generous support of EKK.

John also recognized Kumu Dennis Chun, who had just stepped into the ballroom, taking a moment from his weekly gig in Shutter’s Lounge. Dennis was one of the three leaders responsible for the building of the Kaua’i voyaging canoe Namahoe; John also pointed out that the Hokulea has just embarked on their new journey to Tahiti.

As his intro to one of the really awesome falsetto songs, John talked about his visit to one of the hottest places in the world, Kona on Hawai’i Island. What a chicken-skin version of I Kona by one of Kauai’s most amazing falsetto singers. Honestly, Led Kaapana should have been here to hear John sing this song.

Calling up his good friend and well-known cultural treasure on Kaua’i – Lady Ipo Kahaunaele-Ferreira, John sent out hau’oli la hanau wishes to the Queen of Hula decked out for her birthday with three full strands of puakenikeni leis. She was elegance in motion as she started to hula to the wonderful song, Aloha Kaua’i. She was joined by Sabra Kauka, Madeleine Guyett, Eleni Gillespie, Aunty Bev Muraoka, Lei Kirkpatrick and 10 other hula dancers. Too much fun!

Once again, John Mahi pulled up his country music voice to celebrate the country music by Lady Judds. The song called Country Lady and Grandpa (Tell Me Bout The Good Old Days) got the dancing couples up to dance to the nostalgic music. They really got the music of the good ol’ days down pat.

Lei Ho’ohena was composed by Lady Ipo’s daughter, Kainani Kahaunaele, the award-winning Na Hoku Hanohano “female vocalist of the year”. Kawai’ola took the lead on the vocals and did a fantastic job of capturing the haunting lyrics of this song by a one-time Anahola resident. Ha’a Hula/ Shall We Dance brought up several hula dancers who you could call “wallflower” dancers as they hung out along the wall.

image by Kathleen Ho

With help from “Uncle Google” and “Aunty Siri” to make sure he gets his lyrics right, John adjusted his I-pad to get ready for the next song which he had not sung for awhile; he must have been saving all his “juju” for tonight. It was an absolute chicken-skin moment when his falsetto rose to the ceiling singing Kalama’ula. His falsetto is breathtaking

Aunty Bev Muraoka slowly trudged up to the stage…. “Is she going to dance to this song”, I wondered? But NO! she tossed a handful of green bills onto the stage. Audience started screaming. I had a handful of bills that had been falling out of my notepad all evening, so I walked up to the stage and tossed the green stuff onto the stage. Right after me, the gorgeous Sue Kanoho stepped up and tossed her greenbacks; that opened the floodgates as, one after the other, audience members started running up to the stage as Kepa’s voice rang out higher and higher and longer and longer. It was “a crescendo moment!”

image by Kathleen Ho

Kepa said, “Can you believe, this song was a request and see what happened.” He turned his I-pad around facing the floor of the stage and talked to his wife on the other end, “Honey! We can go to Vegas!” He thanked GIAC once again for inviting them to be part of this program; EKK features many performers that he has admired over the years.

Kawai’ola then called upon his ‘ohana from the westside to come up and dance the halau hula Ke Kau’oha Kumukahi, a song that was composed by his mom back in the day. It’s so wonderful to see the ‘ohana carrying on the tradition of hula and music that Doric and Momi had set in motion.

In the early days folks used to confuse John with Darren Benitez, another outstanding falsetto singer from west Kaua’i. “I will borrow one of his songs since he still owes me money.” He then launched into the rapid-fire Palo Palito. Suddenly, the entire floor was full of kachi-kachi dancers and the audience was a sea of bodies bouncing in their seats. “More! More! More!” Came the shouts from the audience. Quick to oblige with his tongue rolling and grunts in his throat, he continued with another catchy latino-beat song. The audience was just eating it up!

“Mercy! We have to take this down a notch! We will now feature Bronson with his original Kauai On My Mind.” His song named all the well-known favorite places on the island.

“I’m going to borrow a hit song from country music’s Chris Stapleton.” John’s voice took on a whole different ambiance as he sang his own version of Tennessee Whiskey, complete with his falsetto wailing that made this John Mahi version truly memorable. He once again showed his versatility and command of so many styles of music. What a voice! What a guy!

John credits his accomplishments on his upbringing. When you Portuguese, you get the slap between the shoulder blades that puts you in your place growing up. It’s a Portuguese trick. “For all those with country in their blood, I dedicate this Hawaiian Cowboy yodeling song.” Yodeling is something of a mystery to me. How can singers do that with their vocal chords? I have heard yodelers many times but listening to John is quite an experience . . . he goes on and on and on with his waggling tongue going ninety miles an hour. . . and the crowd just loved it. Screaming and yelling and jumping all around, the crowd was just beside themselves with happy vibes.

The audience loves to end each program holding hands and singing their favorite Hawai’i Aloha, but one could hear the difference when they are so pumped up with adrenalin; the room was so rich with voices it was like being in church singing this beloved hymn.

We have one more Monday with our regular EKK program featuring the Malie Foundation and their selected kumu hula, Maka Herrod, Troy Hinano Lazaro, and Wailana Dasalia to lead the audience in their favorite Community Hula Night. Chanel Flores will be teaching ‘ukulele, and music will be provided by Garrett Santos, Chanel Flores, Anuhea Kaauwai Herrod and Lady Ipo Kahuanaele-Ferreira. All audience members are invited to come early at 5:00 and learn a hula with their favorite kumu hula and perform on stage.

We take a short break and finish the season with a concert on May 30 with Makana as host and many presenters honoring the “Musical Legends” who need to be remembered for the legacy they left with us.

image by Kathleen Ho

A Note from ‘Oiwi: Miss Carol the boys and I would like to send a huge Mahalo to you and everyone at EKK. Our deepest gratitude to you for allowing us to share our music and our humor. Thank you for all that you do and for all the years that you have done it. Thank you very much from the bottom of our hearts.

***Photos courtesy of Kathleen Ho & Mike Teruya***

If you have a disability and need assistance for Monday events, email Garden Island Arts Council at giac05@icloud.com.
Info at www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 44 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”

Funding for E Kanikapila Kakou 2022 Hawaiian Music Program is made possible by Hawai’i Tourism Authority, with support from Kauai Visitors Bureau, Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, National Endowment for the Arts, the Kaua’i Beach Resort, Kamoa ‘Ukulele, Kauai Festivals and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters.

17 04, 2022

Week #4 EKK APRIL 11 Wrap

2023-02-11T18:06:54-10:00EKK 2022|0 Comments

For Upcoming 2019 Arts & Culture Calendar or email  giac05@icloud.com to get listing in advance


Mahalo to all who enjoy and support Art and Culture on Kaua’i
Donate by
clicking here

Register on AmazonSmile.Org & select Garden island Arts Council to receive .05% of your eligible purchases

“A special video titled “The History of E Kanikapila Kakou” recaps many special moments of the past 38 years of EKK that every fan should watch before coming to EKK on Monday.  It took all of 2021 to organize this video but it’s finally here for you to view on YouTube.
Share with all your EKK friends and others

The Best of Kupaoa

Spring is definitely here; the air was fragrant with the overpowering scent of puakenikeni and maile; green jade leis made of every possible stage of the exotic blossoms were worn by audience members. The entire Paik ‘Ohana from the north shore was present to support their musical stars. Happily, visitors from Madrid, Spain and Canada are present, so it looks like traveling is opening up. Walter and Mimi Levison, long-time “snowbird” supporters, were lei’d on their last night of EKK as they bid farewell to their many friends and prepare to live full time on the mainland.

Kupaoa, whose name means “fragrance”, once again came to share their music in tonight’s “The Best of Kupaoa.” What a treat in store for us. Lihau and Kellen were very frank about the impact of Covid on their vocal chords and strumming hands as such a lengthy recess from live concerts, rehearsals and performances made them feel a bit rusty from their usual performing selves. “Let’s dust off the cobwebs and see if we remember how to play and sing. Every song we get through with no mistakes, we bump our knuckles together.” They have not been on stage since the last time they came to EKK when they had their first daughter Jemma. Six months ago they had their second daughter Maizie who is here with them tonight.

Photo Credit: Mike Teruya

They shared their powerful and unique sound of Pili O Ke Ao from their first album in 2008. Their harmonious voices, like the fragrance filling the room, enveloped the audience thirsty for live music. It’s a joy to see Kellen’s exuberant style of singing; it’s still there! This song is from a chant about Goddesses Pele and Hi’iaka and their respective visits to Kaua’i; it’s about the early morning dawning of the new day when one should be deep in slumberland with a beloved and others are just getting off from work. Pele who hails from the Kilauea Caldeira traveled in spirit to Ha’ena where she first set eyes on Lohi’au, the new object of her affections. Hula dancer Pohaikauilani Campbell, Lihau’s God Sister and long-time friend, came out in her attractive dark purple hula dress with aqua floral designs; she moved gracefully through the song Ha’ena, the site of Pele’s legendary encounters. This song is on their Ho’okele album.

Photo Credit: Mike Teruya

They did a few shows in California, ‘Oahu, Hawai’i Island just before the Delta surge, but it soon became apparent that they were not going to be doing any live shows for a while. Although they resisted social media at first, they took to social media to keep in touch with their fans during the pandemic. Facebook Live posed a steep learning curve for them as they had to invest in a lot of new equipment to produce the sounds they needed. They started a program called “Jemma Jam” in the spring followed by a summer series called “KoAloha Live” with support from the KoAloha ‘Ukulele Company. Their new venture into social media turned out amazing as it pushed them to explore new songs requested by their online audience. One of the songs they had always wanted to add to their repertoire was the slack key classic by Jerry Santos of Olomana, Ku’u Home ‘O Kahalu’u; Kellen picking the melody on his guitar certainly has not lost his touch.

One of his explorations during the pandemic was to switch to playing the ‘ukulele, something that he had been wanting to do for a long time, but life on the road makes it hard to realize his dream to make an album with his friend Mark Yamanaka. Everyday Local, a creative outlet for Kellen and Mark with songs that did not fit on either a Kupaoa album or a Mark Yamanaka solo album, was released on New Year’s Eve. Of course, the characteristic family banter between Kellen and Lihau revealed some background on the challenges for Kellen to make an album without Lihau in it. Lihau made it clear that she played a part in it . . . a small but important part. The audience loved Kellen’s first-time-in-public performance on the ‘ukulele. Also premiering tonight was the hula to this super fast-paced Oni A Ka Moku that was choreographed a week ago by Frank Ka’anana Akima with the help of Puakea Nogelmeier. The hula was not only a tongue-twister song, it was also a rapid-fire hip-twister hula perfect for aerobics or Zumba practitioners. Screams of appreciation greeted both the ‘ukulele song and the hula. During the first year of EKK back in 1984, hapa-haole singer Sol Bright described the instrument on ships that measured the rolling of the ships; it was the suggestive shape of the oni a ka moku instrument that was most interesting to him.

Photo Credit: Mike Teruya

Requests on their “Jemma Jams” online program asked for classic country which coaxed Kupaoa to explore songs from the 50’s and ‘60’s; this expanded their repertoire in a new direction. “Whatever happened to this awesome music,” asked Lihau. They wanted to share the song Sad Movies (make me cry). This oldie but goodie by Sue Thompson (The Sad Sisters) was definitely a new sound for them which they added to their repertoire. Those who follow Kupaoa know that there is always something new with this group. Kellen’s new ‘ukulele album features the shoyu bottle motif on Everyday Local. This might have been inspired by the Sunday Manoa with their “Guava Jam” and “Crackseed” album covers. He held up his pineapple-shaped ‘ukulele and wished out loud for his next pineapple- shaped ‘ukulele to look like a shoyu bottle. Lihau pointed out that she designed the shoyu bottle cover.

Kellen sings Stars & Moon Slack Key on their CD; it’s a cross between Hawaiian and Country that was written by Harold Kama, Jr., the brother-in-law of the bassist of the Kaua’i composer Jimmy Kaholokula. It’s a very local style love song that speaks of many things treasured by the locals. Kellen’s pa’ani on the ‘ukulele was as great as shoyu.

Of course, no Kaua’i concert is ever complete without Dennis Kamakahi’s Koke’e. What was very fresh about the song tonight was the emotional hula rendition by the gorgeous hula dancer Matt DelRosario, a friend of Lihau since small kid time. He simply emotes on stage with his fluid hula twists and turns; it brought new meaning to the lyrics . . . lot of cheers from the audience.

Matt stepped on stage and modeled the striking Liko Lehua silk screen shirt, designed by cousin Candace Paik. This is a new item for the Puahina line of local-style wearables owned for the past 25 years by Loui and Fumi Cabeba. Just two months ago, Kellen and Lihau Paik took over the ownership of the company that for many years provided them with their concert attire. A huge part of the Puahina market is their annual participation in the Merrie Monarch Crafts Fair which is right around the corner. The couple is hard at work with on-the-job training producing the attractive and popular local attire in time for the MM Crafts Fair. Two new designs modeled by the artists tonight are called the Kaliko Lehua Kea named after Jemma and Lau Koa named after baby Maizie. The new business venture is a family affair.

A perennial discussion that seems to come up every time Lihau and Kellen step on stage is about Lihau’s 2007 birthday gift to Kellen. They had just spent every penny on their first album; Lihau had no money to buy Kellen a birthday gift, so she instead composed a song for Kellen titled Lei Mokihana which likened him to the scented island berry. She reminded Kellen that she is still waiting for his song for her. Kellen’s weak disclaimer: “I dunno how to describe you in Hawaiian! I’m still learning, and I haven’t gotten there yet. So I bought her a present; she wrote me a song.” It’s been only 15 years.

Lihau said they wanted to sing a special song for a longtime friend Susan who was going to be moving back to the California where they first met. On their Bum-Bye album, Pakalana A Ka Pu’uwai is definitely a very special song composed by Lihau for her maternal grandmother about her favorite flower . . . the pakalana. Lihau’s affection for her grandma was evident in the way she sang it. It’s great how Lihau sings one verse followed by Kellen on the second verse; then the beautiful harmony on the third verse. They really know how to deliver.

Photo Credit: Kathleen Ho

The song that Kellen had taught the ‘ukulele circle at the beginning of the evening was Wa’a Hokule’a, a song composed by Larry Kimura celebrating Hawaii’s voyaging canoe that sailed around the world. It’s on their recent Ka Lei Moana album. The canoe was a cornerstone of the Hawaiian Renaissance. This was also taught to the hula circle so both ‘ukulele players and hula dancers stepped up to the stage to share the mele with Frank, Pohai and Matt leading the hula. Audience participation is one of those very special things about EKK that folks really love; everyone can get into the act and express their appreciation for the songs and hula that are a big part of our culture. Amazing that they can dance so proficiently in a 45-minute lesson.

Just before the intermission, Kellen played the Kamoa ‘ukulele to show how great it sounds while a bevy of “Boro Boro” beauties modeled some of the upcycled garments from our “Boro Boro Boutique”. The minute-long runway fashion show was a sweet interlude before everyone got into intermission mode.

The biggest surprise of all was the winner of the ‘ukulele giveaway whose prime reason for purchasing a donation ticket was to support the cause. Good intentions reap its reward for his name was called for the second week in a row to receive the Kamoa ‘ukulele as his prize. “Onio Punzal! Come on up and get your Kamoa ‘ukulele!”

Photo Credit: Kathleen Ho

To start off the second half of the evening, Kupaoa brought back a Dennis Kamakahi favorite. He was one of the composers that skillfully bridged the folk country and Hawaiian genres with many memorable songs. Lei Kupukupu, on their Ho’okele album, is a gorgeous song, especially when Kupaoa sing it with their special magic on their Ho’okele album.

Their good friend Mark Yamanaka’s wife Leilani is originally from Texas. When she moved to Hawai’i Island, she became a part of the family coffee farms in Laupahoehoe on the Hamakua coast where her grandparents work hard to grow their coffee. Leilani asked Kellen to write a song to describe the present-day farm as it may one day become a historical landmark. Like Dennis, Kellen tried to bridge the country folk and the Hawaiian genre in Waipunalei; it’s on their Everyday Local album. Hopefully, the coffee farms will remain as they are today. If it changes hands and changes in its use, this song will become a landmark song.

The title track on their latest CD, Ka Lei Moana, is a song composed by their mentor Puakea Nogelmeier. Written originally as a chant, the lyrics of this song has a timeless message about the importance of water and of the connectedness of all things using the water cycle as the metaphor. Frank skillfully managed to translate all those words into beautiful hula motions.

Photo Credit: Mike Teruya

Song composers are born storytellers. Their songs have to the ability to share so much in their lyrics. Lihau admires the amazing Dolly Parton for her ability to tell her story in a way that holds you spellbound. One of 12 children in Tennessee, she has risen from rags to riches and really turned it around during her illustrious 70-year career with a reputation that is impeccable. One of her current projects titled “Imagination Library” provides a book every month to children under age 5 living on West Kauai and the North Shore with the help of local businesses such as KIUC, the County, and the State of Hawai’i. As a request from Uncle Donald, they wanted to share Dolly Parton’s story in her song titled Coat of Many Colors; it clearly tells the story of her unmatched rise to stardom. Lihau confessed that she had to fire all cylinders to get all those words into the song. Thank you! It’s a gift! (I was so moved by this song that I came home and sewed a new mu’umu’u of many colors, using up my batik scrap fabric.)

Hula dancer Matt returned to the stage for a premiere hula performance of the charming song Lio Kiwi about the horned horse or unicorn that was based on the poem by Shel Silverstein. The poem was put to music and performed by the Irish Rovers and translated into Hawaiian by Kaua’i composer James Kaholokula. This adorable tongue-twister song explains why we don’t see any unicorns today. Matt was the perfect dancer for this song as he is a storyteller and a comic all in one; the audience loves him. This was also one of Jemma’s favorite songs; having kids is definitely impacting the couple’s choice of songs . . . all good!

Lihau said we’re going to share a song with “no more plenny words” by Kellen and Mark who are not only musicians but big fans of ocean sports. At any time, you can find them fishing, diving, and surfing in the ocean. Kellen wrote We’re Gonna Surf while sitting on Mark’s couch; it’s a song written in the style of Ka’au Crater Boys; it’s definitely a favorite of water babies of every calling. You can hear many of the Kupaoa songs on the television Fishing Channels.

Definitely a love song for the the multi-colored hau blossoms lining Kalihiwai River, Lihau shared one of her favorite stories about her river excursion with Kellen many years ago. It’s all about the destination for Kellen, the three waterfalls at the end of Kalihiwai river. With Lihau, it’s all about the journey paddling leisurely up the river and enjoying the profusion of hau blossoms that she collected onto her paddle board. Hula dancer Pohai, dressed in a beautiful two-piece turquoise outfit with silkscreened floral designs, brings to life the lyrics of the song Pua Hau ‘Ula.

One of their favorite country western singer is Alison Krauss. To share this connection they sang one of her sad songs titled Ghost In This House; Kellen loves the emotional sad songs. Lihau’s voice rings out so pure and clear in this slow ballad and Kellen’s harmony is always spot-on. His expressiveness while singing is one of the highlights of their singing. I’m now a fan of sad songs.

Lihau acknowledged Kilauea Social Club for teaching them Beautiful Sunday, a single recorded by Daniel Boone. It became very famous in Kwajlein Islands where the uncles used to work. While in Japan Kupaoa did not have a hula song which they needed to not lose the crowd, so they had to find a song with a good beat. When they started signing Beautiful Sunday, their entire audience of mostly age 65+ stood up and started to wave their hands around and burst out in song. The song turned out to be a one-hit wonder for a group in Japan who recorded Subarashi Sunday; the song became an instant hit. It’s still a super popular song in Japan so they added it to their Japan repertoire.

“In a ‘Best of Kupaoa’ show, we would be remiss to not include the song Bumbye. Pohai and Frank joined Kupaoa and their daughter Jemma, dancing their hula to this catchy song composed by Puakea Nogelmeier for Ku’uipo Kumukahi’s mother. The message is to not take things for granted and do what you need today because tomorrow may be too late. This song pops up everywhere . . . even on a spear-fishing show where everyone is running around weighing their fish to find the winner.

Photo credit:Kathleen Ho

The audience joined hands to sing along with Kellen and Lihau Paik to bring another memorable concert to a close. Kupaoa, from their first EKK performance to the present, has secured their spot as one of the EKK favorites. Their shows are just what music-starved audiences need right now. Even the sad songs are uplifting.

*** Photos Courtesy of Mike Teruya & Kathleen Ho***

If you have a disability and need assistance for Monday events, email Garden Island Arts Council at giac05@icloud.com

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Info at www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 44 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”

Funding for E Kanikapila Kakou 2022 Hawaiian Music Program is made possible by Hawai’i Tourism Authority, with support from Kauai Visitors Bureau, Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, National Endowment for the Arts, the Kaua’i Beach Resort, Kamoa ‘Ukulele, Kauai Festivals and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters.

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