13 12, 2015

EKK 2015 Week 10 – EKK Final Night Off the Charts

2015-12-13T12:26:44-10:00EKK 2015|0 Comments


Monday, March 23, 2015

EKK Final Night Off the Charts

75 perfect Attendees

Each Monday night the participants are given a big welcome to acknowledge where they come from. The locals cheer loudly as their home district is called with the largest, noisiest groups from the sunny south shore and the Kapa’a district followed by a close second from the north shore. We still need to work on the Lihu’e area and the west side of Kaua’i to show up at EKK. Of course there was a huge group of EKK virgins…each week about 50 – 85 new people show up at EKK. The “snowbirds” were there in full force as always, but the biggest surprise was the perfect attendance people that reached the incredible number of 75 loyal participants. Few years ago, we had ten perfect attendees, but it grew in leaps and bounds over the last five years because many do not want to miss a single Monday night. Each was awarded a Lena Machado Songbook compliments of the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame, a Na Lani Eha CD or an EKK tee shirt. Lucky folks!

Featuring our Community of Hula Dancers

Over a hundred hula dancers from around the island showed up to be part of our Community Hula Night.  We started the evening by inviting everyone to step up to the stage to dance Beautiful Kaua’i followed by the three hula circles with their fab hula teachers. Aunty Bev Kauanui and Lady Ipo joined Haunani Kaui, Anuhea Herrod and Rose Kurita as the musicians.

A rare treat was having young Devon Kamealoha Forrest all the way from Hanalei teaching a hula favorite Nani Wai’ale’ale by Dan Polipala, Sr. in his large circle of nearly 40 dancers. It’s so great to have Kamealoha take time off from his studies to share his wonderful spirit and expertise at EKK. “If I can memorize 500-word chants, I can remember everyone in my circle so don’t be shy and come up to dance!” he called out to his dancers.

Lady Ipo Kahaunaele-Ferreira, a singer-musician-emcee-hula dancer all rolled into one, taught her circle of dancers the favorite hula Ka Ua Loku composed by Alfred Alohikea; they sang the first line followed by their beautiful hula. The stunning Sherri “Puni” Patrick from the westside, hula instructor for the Daughters of Hawai’i and the Kaua’i Museum, taught In a Little Hula Heaven composed by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger in 1936 and recorded by Bing Crosby in the Paramount film Waikiki Wedding. So much history! She was joined by her fellow haumana of the late kumu hula Doric Kaleonui Yaris; such wonderfully expressive dancers! Melvin Kauahi and Maha Leoiki from the Kalaheo ‘Ukulele group joined the musicians for this number.

Kumu Wailana Dasalia, Piikea Matias and Tia Keawe of Tamatea Nui O Kauai presented a mini ho’ike of their young dancers who had been outstanding at the latest Kaua’i Mokihana Festival hula competition. Dressed in charming costumes, dancers of different ages shared a  variety of styles of hula; the audience appreciated their many dances using the kala’au sticks, ‘ili’ili river rocks, pu’ili bamboo sticks and gourds. “Thank you to all the sweet girls from the halau and their kumu for a dazzling display of hula.”

Hula favorites such as Noho Paipai gave the male dancers a chance to visit grandma in her rocking chair. Bruddah Iz’s Henehene Kou ‘Aka and the ever popular Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai brought up hula dancers to show off their hula choreography. We definitely need to do a hula hana hou next year because it’s obvious that our hula dancers really love sharing their gift of hula.

“Malie Scholarship Hula Challenge” One Big Blast

I get so many parting comments at the end of each night, “I thought last week was the best but each week gets better and better!” Actually, each week is different from every other and each week is brilliant so it feels like it gets better and better. With the 2015 theme of “Music Into the Community,” many artists made a real effort to reach out with their music and they succeeded. The final night really brought the community together to support a great cause and being part of the action rather than being just a passive observer.

Early the morning after, the Facebook Queen Puni Patrick posts: “Blessed beyond what was asked for….Uncle Nathan Kalama and Lady Ipo Kahaunaele-Ferreira’s challenge raised over $5,200 for The M?lie Foundation tonight at EKK! Students will get the financial help they need and Uncle Nathan’s face gets to see the light of day again! LOL”

With Uncle Nathan’s long white mustache and beard which he had been nurturing for many years as the “bait”, Lady Ipo and Uncle Nathan had an on-stage faceoff to see if they could raise $3,000 for the Malie Scholarship Fund during their 45 minutes stage-time. “Basket Left” was for Lady Ipo and “Basket Right” was for Uncle Nathan, but put it all together at the end of the evening and they scored a major coup for the children to attend the Punana Leo Hawaiian Language School, a project of the Malie Foundation for many years. Raising that much money in 45 minutes was a record accomplishment for the Dynamic Duo, and Garden Island Arts Council/E Kanikapila Kakou was thrilled to be the vehicle to make that happen.

Every time the accountants counted $1,o00 in the baskets, “Onio” sounded the pu signaling that the goal was reached and Makali’i Thronas could use his razor to shave off yet another part of Uncle’s facial hair – first went the left mustache at the sound of the first $1,000 pu, second was the right half of his mustache after the second $1,000 pu, third was chopping off the length of his long beard at the sound of the third $1,000 pu, and finally the fourth $1,000 pu shaved off the rest of his prize beard.  For each hairy sacrifice that Nathan suffered, Lady Ipo and Maka Herrod had to eat breakfast at Wailua Family Restaurant, lunch at De Fries lunch wagon, and dinner at Bull Shed; BUT they had to dine ALONE at each meal.

A young man giving “stepping” massages out in the foyer added his $100 donation basket to the pool, Aunty Beverly Muraoka and her ‘ohana contributed $800 to the baskets, and several other online donations brought the grand total up to $5,200. Uiha!

So who were the victims? The two challengers presented their surprise guests to help raise the money for the scholarships. Folks were racing up fast and furious to drop their donations into the two baskets as the colorful Maka Herrod danced the hula. Uncle Nathan’s kupuna dancers dressed in elegant sheath gowns came out to acknowledge one of their own, 96-year-old Alice Fix who was seated in the front row, celebrating her momentous ninety-sixth birthday at EKK with her three girlfriends. She was presented with a huge haupia birthday cake from GIAC with the words “Happy 96th! Alice Fix!”  She was really happy! The kupuna halau danced a hula for their “retired” girlfriend. After only two numbers, the first pu was sounded.

Lady Ipo called up Doric Yaris’s haumana – Puni, Loren, Nohili, and Natasha — who danced to Ha’a Hula by Loyal Garner; many dancers went up to join them. The second pu sounded so quickly signaling $2,000 in the baskets. She then called on the gorgeous Polei Palmeira to dance Papalina Lahilahi, another hula irresistible to many dancers.

Lady Ipo, a fantastic Hawaiian music singer as well as a wonderful jazz singer, took the opportunity to serenade her handsome but shy husband with It’s Just the Nearness of You! Rose Kurita, who accompanied Ipo on the piano was the absolute bomb. The unpredictable Maka jumped on stage to dance the last refrains of the song with Ipo’s husband who was moved to pull out his wallet and dump his bills into Ipo’s basket.

Probably the biggest surprise of the evening because it was totally unexpected to everyone was introduced by Maka Herrod as he taught the audience the hui to Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett’s Aerobicize Hula – ‘Ekahi, ‘Elua, ‘Ekolu, ‘Eha, Lima I Lalo, Holo Wawae! “All the way from Las Vegas is our surprise guest!” Maka shouts and out from behind the curtain springs the “pleasantly plump” aerobicize queen. Tossing the curtain as Maka sang the first verse was none other than “your normally shy, conservative wau” dressed in fitted exercise tights, a short hula skirt put together with colorful cable ties, orchid leis and a chic sweat band. Trying fruitlessly to do the exercises while waving a fancy wand, strumming a teeny ‘ukulele, chatting on the IPhone, and dragging two heavy metal dumbells, I frolicked through the no-rehearsal spa exercise hula; everyone was laughing their hearts out. In hindsight, I think it was not really an act but a real-life documentary of how I am always trying to squeeze everything into a too-short window of time.

Dr. Larry Magnussen called me “an orthopedic miracle”….considering I did it with my two knee surgeries. Jodi Ascuena writes:  “I too cannot imagine what made you do that! You must have become instantaneously possessed by the spirit of the great comic hula dancer, Hilo Hattie! Kinda like spontaneous combustion in a ti-leaf skirt. Put that fire OUT, baybay! Jodi”

Pu #3 sounded out loud and clear. Yay!  $3,000! And Lady Ipo chopped off the long beard. On a roll, Lady Ipo could not resist making up an impromptu Hawaiian rap about Nathan’s beard ordeal…. “Only Nathan Can…” Nathan called on the marvelous Aunty Beverly Healani Muraoka with E Ku’u Healani that he composed for the Kaua’i Living Treasure. Nathan’s kupuna halau joined Aunty Bev for the hula. She then presented $800 donation from her ‘ohana to the cause, and Pu #4 rang out loud and clear. Hana Hou! Hana Hou!  The musicians sang Lei Nani danced by Aunty Beverly, Lady Ipo, Vern Kauanui and many other dancers. So much fun to see the many styles of hula at once.

Lady Ipo introduced their second guest from Las Vegas who entered from the back of the ballroom and gyrated his way to the stage, dressed in a long bright green bling-bling gown tossing his massive ehu-colored frizzy mane from side to side (just like one Ms Ross does it on her TV ads for her upcoming appearance at Neal Blaisdell Arena).  Diana Ross has nothing over Maka Herrod as he brought down the house with his razz-a-ma-tazz performance on stage followed by ‘Uwehe, ’Ami and Slide. Kamealoha and Puni were joined by other dancers for the final hula to Pua ‘Ahihi, with Uncle Nathan playing the exciting Hawaiian-style piano accompaniment. It was a night for celebrating the hula!

Hawai’i Aloha, the song with which we always end the EKK evening, brought everyone to their feet with smiles on their faces and tears rolling down their cheeks. The ballroom swelled with so many voices singing their favorite song to end the final evening of the 32nd year of E Kanikapila Kakou 2015.

Kudos to the EKK volunteers – Highlights of Aloha

All the work of putting together EKK is a 24-7 job for the boss but it cannot be done without the dedicated kokua and aloha spirit of the forty-plus volunteers who come each Monday night to make EKK an enjoyable and unforgettable event. In past years, they were gifted with a gathering at some nice place such as KCC Culinary, Casablanca, or Kaua’i Beach Resort Naupaka breakfast buffet, but since the numbers have swelled to 40, that has become difficult. This year they were the guests at a Breakfast Soiree at the ArtPod Studio/Home of their Fearless Leader who made the whole breakfast buffet herself.

The EKK volunteers feel like they belong to an enviable “exclusive club.” Bonds of friendships have formed between volunteers as they chuckle and deal with big and little issues that crop up each night. Until becoming a volunteer and seeing how much had to be done by everyone to make each Monday happen, Carole Kahn never thought about volunteers before or how much she missed EKK when she was away.

We also have some non-volunteers who look after the volunteers and acknowledge their hard work. Dave, every few Mondays, brings huge plates of chocolate chip cookies for the volunteers, the sound/lights team, and the KBR food concession workers. Polei Palmeira, who just started coming to EKK this season, bears armloads of puakenikeni and blue jade leis for the artists.  My weekly highlight is when my brother Masami and sister-in-law Jill walk in with a doggy bag dinner for me because they know I had been racing around all day with nothing to eat just to get to the hotel before the crowds descend.

At the breakfast soiree, each volunteer shared his or her “highlight” of the season. One patron wrote in: You knocked it out of the park again for 2015 with your “comedy performance” the last night an absolute smash hit. A friend said to me that alone was worth the price of admission !! What a good sport you are.

Marty says, “Carol’s astonishing capacity for comedy blows your mind!”  One volunteer dubbed the Aerobicize Hula as “Unique Tinkerbell Geisha Leprechan Hula” — an unexpected surprise and highlight for all. The volunteers recalled many other special moments of aloha.

“Life is chaos until we come to EKK and then everything is all right,” and “I’m not here for the music; I’m here for the aloha!” are shared sentiments. When hotel guests stop by to see what is going on, Ed Blanchet shares what EKK is about; the guests are so surprised that it’s not just another money-making event but a true gift for the community to enjoy for just a minimal donation; along with free leis from Aunty Fran for the visitors (which for Fran has become an obsession). Another highlight is that magic moment after sound check when Peter, the door guard, opens the “flood gates” and the long line waiting patiently in the foyer rush in to find their seats. The excitement is electric. Each week one gentleman was buying a lot of tickets at the ‘ukulele table and it wasn’t until the ninth week when his granddaughter Alison was called up to win the electric ‘ukulele.  Grandpa had been each week buying all those tickets and writing her name on them; what a wonderful show of aloha!

Programmatically, the artists’ passion and love of music that pulled you in were the highlights that the volunteers remembered best. Seeing Taimane Gardner, the ‘ukulele virtuouso on stage 28 sessions ago was the “hook,” and the Cunninghams have never missed a single EKK Monday since. It was wonderful to be able to witness the passing on of the love of language and musical collaboration between teacher/mentor Puakea Nogelmeier with protégés Lihau and Kellen Paik as Kupaoa with their entire ‘ohana from Kilauea showing up. Seeing David Kamakahi at EKK over the years first as a young novice musician, many times with his father Dennis, and most recently as an amazing accomplished ‘ukulele virtuoso coming into his own and sharing his version of Ledward’s Jus’ Press was special.

The performance by the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Serenaders was powerful on many levels and a huge highlight for many. Kumu Hula Frank Akima’s Mele Koki (Coqui Frog) hula was a definite show stopper. Young Sean Robbin’s plaintive haunting voice brought on a moment of peaceful transformation. Having a Hawaiian music treasure like Noelani Mahoe at EKK was a gift. Mark Yamanaka’s gracious and very professional manner of acknowledging the hard work of the sound system “roadies” was truly appreciated by the behind-the-scenes gang. Watching our own Ed Blanchet playing his steel guitar on stage with the ‘ukulele groups was great. His favorite moment was to be able to watch all those Aloha Music Camp top-notch artists spontaneously improvising on the stage. EKK is not limited to the Jasmine Ballroom as volunteers are recognized by other EKK participants in stores and other community venues. Moving from KCC to the St. Michael’s church hall to JC Penney’s to Island School and finally to Kaua’i Beach Resort, EKK has never lost the Aloha Spirit which you can cut with a knife. EKK is not perfect, but we do try our very best to make it a great experience for everyone who shows up.

Many volunteers agreed that Eric Lazar and the inspiration of Eric epitomizes the whole EKK concept of aloha as he raced around in his wheel chair with his big smile, giving and receiving warm hugs with his new-found family. When he was playing music with the ‘ukulele groups, his wheelchair went off the ramp and he fell face first on the floor. Everyone froze and his mother said, “Oh! He does that all the time!” Eric added, “That happens all the time and will happen many more times. No big deal.” On the last night he asked one volunteer, “Who do I have to ask to become an EKK volunteer?” There is no one who exudes aloha like Eric does. He also asked his brother from another mother, Dave Cunningham, “Now what are we going to do on Monday nights?” Not to worry, Eric; they hosted a west side kanikapila at their home on the eleventh Monday night . . . just for Eric.  Private kanikapila sessions have been springing up all over the island; I would say that we have succeeded in this year’s theme of “Music Into the Community!”

 If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at <giac05@icloud.com> for Monday events.

(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 38 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”

E Kanikapila Kakou 2015 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua’i Beach Resort.

Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

13 12, 2015

EKK 2015 Week 9 – Turning Back the Pages on the History of Hawaiian Music

2019-11-06T18:50:26-10:00EKK 2015|0 Comments


Monday, March 16, 2015

Turning Back the Pages

on the History of Hawaiian Music

Noelani – Pioneer in Hawaiiana

A rare introduction was delivered in Hawaiian by our local henna-colored hair Brit Jodi Ascuena who followed her fluent Hawaiian language delivery with an English translation for those of us who don’t speak Hawaiian.

“This is an amazing woman who?s going to be coming up next.

She?s a pioneer in the art of Women?s Lua and a member of Pa Ku?i A Lua. Since the late 1950’s she has been teaching ?ukulele, hula, Hawaiian language and culture as part of the City & County of Honolulu program.

She formed the musical quartet Leo Nahenahe Singers in 1963. In 2002 they performed at the Hawai’i Theatre as part of Garrison Kiellor’s Prairie Home Companion show for PBS. In 1964 she and Ka?upena Wong (the famous chanter) were the very first Hawaiians to perform at the Newport Folk Festival.

In 1971 she joined the Hawaiian Music Foundation and coordinated the first Hawaiian Music Conference and the Slack Key Falsetto and Steel Guitar concerts held on all Islands. Additionally, she was instrumental in starting the Na Mele Program that is aired on Hawaii Public Television where, as co-producer, she helped to develop six half-hour shows still being aired today.

Together with Lokomaikai Snakenberg and Mehealani Pescaia, she developed the “Kupuna” program in all of Hawaii?s public schools in 1980. This program is still going strong with kupuna sharing their knowledge of Hawaiiana with the children of Hawai’i. She was also part of the 1999 Hawaiian Music hall of Fame Education Committee that developed the E Mele Kakou program for the elementary school curriculum.

Having spent a lifetime working on the advancement of Hawaiian Music and Culture, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hawai?i Academy of Recording Arts in 2002. How deserving of that award is she.

Noelani is a storehouse of forgotten songs of old Lana’i; she had been learning and documenting the old songs, or mele ‘aina, since the 1950’s. In 2010 a Maui group documented Noelani’s sharing and passing on the music of old Lana’i to the people of Lana’i at Ko’ele.

http://vimeo.com/14246253 She has been learning and preserving old songs from other communities.

Together with Samuel Elbert, she is co-compiler of the 101 Hawaiian Songs in the book  “Na Mele O Hawai’i Nei”, a small treasure that came out in 1970 long before the blue Na Mele Songbook. She is currently working on a new book of 26 Hawaiian songs with background on the composer, lyrics, translation, and a CD of the music.

She?s famous throughout the entire Hawaiian island chain.

Oh, the sheer beauty of her sweet voice! She?s accompanied here today by her grandson, Ka’iola Farin. Let?s put our hands together for Noelani Kanoho Mahoe.”

I believe that Aunty Noelani is a force of nature and moves to right any wrongs or start something that is lacking or needs attention. That is how she managed to start the Kupuna program which is now a part of the public school system in Hawai’i and the Na Mele program, a great way to enjoy Hawaiian Music while sitting at home in front of your TV. She even wrote to the Kaua’i County Council and “letters to the editor” at The Garden Island about the importance of taking care of the Alekoko “Menehune” Fishpond which has become overgrown with mangrove and in a few years will be no more if no action is taken.

It’s hard to get through a conversation with her without being corrected for my sloppy pronunciation of Hawaiian words. She is a stickler for correct pronunciation. She even made sure that our audience knew how to pronounce ‘ukulele, NOT “yuke” or “yukalele”.  What is “uku” she asks.  “Fleas!” came the answer.  What is “lele”?  “Jumping!” came the answer. “Yes!  ‘ukulele is ‘Jumping Fleas’!” Another correction that came to her mind was that many songs refer to the Mokihana berry as “pua” or “flower” but it is supposed to be “hua” because it is a berry and not a flower. She is really old school; she reminds me of my Mom.

I had a hard time arranging for her to be at EKK because she does not do email and each time I called her she was away at hula conferences in Mexico, in Australia and in New Zealand.  She really gets around a lot for an octogenarian. “I might as well travel while I still can!” Smart woman.

Guest Artist Sean “Olanui” Robbins

Sean Robbins of Kona, born and raised in Puna on Hawai’i Island, shared his original compositions on his first and newly released CD entitled “Olanui”. His first visit to Kaua’i was in 2011 when he attended the Garden Island Arts Council’s Koke’e Haku Mele Camp at the tender age of 16 as a guest of several Kaua’i “aunties”. His second trip to Kaua’i was to attend the Kaua’i Music Festival. His debut at EKK is his third visit to the Garden Island. “I think I’m moving here!” he joked.

Just 21 years old, he has been seriously composing his own haku mele (Hawaiian poetry) compositions and playing at gigs on his own island, on Maui and on ‘Oahu. This is his first gig on Kaua’i and he hopes to share more of his music with the Kaua’i audience in the near future. He was taken under the wings of the famous musical ‘ohana, the Keli’iho’omalu’s in Kaimu, Kalapana. Sean loves the “old style” of Hawaiian music taught by kupuna. He had been trying to put out his first CD for years but he kept changing songs, changing arrangements, changing this, changing that until slack key master Cyril Pahinui took him under his wing and got him into the recording studio and told him “We’re going to do it in one take; if we don’t get it right by the second time it’s not all right.” Sean managed to complete his first CD in several intense sessions. He appreciates his mentor Cyril for his old school approach to performing Hawaiian music. Sean’s unique style of progressive slack key is a harmonious blend of all his influences delivered nahenahe style in his melodious crystal clear voice.

With a minimum of wala’au, Sean packed eight songs into his half hour on stage. He sang the popular classic Aloha Ka Manini and Pu’uanahulu about a place in Kona where only a few houses and an old Hawaiian church still stands. He sang one of his favorite songs, Pau’oa Liko Ka Lehua, for Ka’iola Farin who lives in Pau’oa. Kaua is his original falsetto composition in his album played with a tuning he learned from the Kaimu family called C-something. Simple and beautiful. Ka Lehua was his first song written several years ago at the Kaua’i Music Festival right here at the beach of the Kaua’i Beach Resort; it speaks of the lehua blossoms and the hala groves in Puna. He stepped up the pace with the lively He U’i and Hi’ilawe, two well-known classics. Kuahine is a new song that he completed just that morning while sitting high on the balcony of my painting studio in Niumalu overlooking the banana grove; the lyrics are about the famous rain in Manoa but because  Kuahine can also mean sister, the song actually is about the love of his sister

Kanikapila style sharing

Noelani shared an evening of music with a lot of audience interaction, with stories and lessons thrown in as it popped in her mind, and tossed them out the window as she encountered “senior moments” and could not recall what she was planning to share.

Aloha, a greeting in song, was taught to the audience by Noelani with her grandson Ka’iola on the upright bass.

Simple words for the audience – Aloha, Aloha Ai, AaaaLoooHaaaaaaaa – while she sang a catchy song about Aloha that was very likely taught to all the students in the schools.

She invited the audience to sing Maika’i Kaua’i  by Henry Waiau, a very popular song with the female part and the male part. The female part was loud and strong, but the male part was a bit under represented. Put it all together and it sounded okay. That was probably the first Hawaiian song I learned while in college.

Ka’ililauokekoa composed by Henry Waiau was a song directly connected to her family. When her father passed away, she came across a program with this song on it. She discovered that her father had put on a play based on a legend which was read by the Judge Lyle Dickey at the Lihu’e Hawaiian Congregational Church on Saturday, June 18 1932, at 8:30 am. The choir director Henry Waiau had composed the song in response to the play. This was the song taught to the ‘ukulele circle so she asked the students to come up to the stage to play along while the audience sang the song.

Noelani was born in Kipu where the row of tall pine trees end. Her grandfather took his 8 mules daily to Kipu Kai; he often asked Noelani to go with him but she was not interested. Bill Kaiwa who grew up in Kipu Kai asked her to visit him so he could teach her his songs, but she procrastinated and never made the trip. On both counts she called herself “Lolo”, meaning stupid.

As a child she spent a lot of time in Koke’e because her Dad was working at the CCC Camp. Noelani loved the song Koke’e by Dennis Kamakahi. She said that whenever he saw her, he would play Koke’e so that she could get up and dance. Of course, always the teacher, she made sure that everyone knew the correct pronunciation of the first word in the song, “upu a’e” which everyone seems to pronounce “ku upu a’e” which is wrong. Of course, whenever Koke’e is sung, hula dancers come up to the stage, so the appreciative audience called the hula dancers for a hana hou. Noelani obliged with Beautiful Kaua’i when many hula dancers went up to the stage to dance with several different choreography. A request that Po’ai Galindo dance to Wailele o Nu’uanu brought her up to the stage for the graceful hula.

Ulupalakua, a great song about the ranch on the slopes of Haleakala was sung by Ka’iola Farin; what a great voice! His friend Ata Damasco taught him an extra verse about the beef with and without horns raised on Kaho’olawe, which is part of Ulupalakua. Yumi Teraguchi Locey and Mahina Baliaris treated us to their hula.

Po La’ila’i was composed by Mary Kawena Pukui and put to music by Maddy Lam. It was a song written for the May Day Pageant at the University of Hawai’i in 1952. Noelani had the privilege of dancing this hula at the pageant. Many hula dancers graced the stage with this popular hula.

Experiencing another senior moment, Noelani said,“I can’t think of the title but I will sing it anyway,” launching into the tricky lyrics of Pili Me ‘Oe written by Noelani’s favorite composer Lena Machado, the Songbird of Hawai’i. It means “Cling to me.” She also sang Ei Nei. Her Hawaiian speaking grandmother used to call her uncles “Hui! Ei Nei! Ala Mai!”

“Ei Nei” is a nice way of calling someone. She was invited by Lena Machado to learn her songs. . . something for which she is truly grateful.

On a trip to Lana’i, she saw an ancient fishpond from the air and wanted to visit that place, so she went to visit the last two living cowboys on Lana’i, Daddy Kawena Ai’oli and Kimo who took her there. Kimo was the most Japanese looking man you ever saw but when he opened his mouth, pure Hawaiian came pouring out. The story goes that he was left on the pier in Lana’i and was taken in by the Kaopu’iki family who raised him from infancy as a Hawaiian. Whenever they were having a party on Lana’i, they called her so she would jump on a plane and fly there to sing. She saw mangrove growing by the fishpond so she told them to get rid of it; nothing was done, so the fishpond is no more.

At the marae in New Zealand, the groups sing back and forth. She was invited to such a gathering where a roomful of Maori sang to her Kaualana Na Pua, Maori version of Terina. They asked Noelani to sing Terina back to them. Terina is a maori folksong by Tommy Taurima about a little girl Terina Pomare. She learned the song from an 8 year old child while she was in New Zealand; today that youngster is a college professor in Hastings. She ends every performance with the song Terina no matter where she is.

Hawai’i Aloha is the song with which we always end the EKK evening.  Noelani said that she was responsible for starting the practice of ending the programs with this song at all the concerts she used to coordinate, but now she wanted to change that practice and end the programs with another song.  However, she could not remember the other song, so the audience happily went ahead and started singing their favorite song to end the evening – Hawai’i Aloha.

 If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at <giac05@icloud.com> for Monday events.

(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 38 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”

E Kanikapila Kakou 2015 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua’i Beach Resort.

Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

13 12, 2015

EKK 2015 Week 8 – Surprises Popping Up All Night at EKK

2015-12-13T12:13:11-10:00EKK 2015|0 Comments


Monday, March 9, 2015

Surprises Popping Up All Night at EKK

Acknowledging Uncle Dennis

EKK 2015 season was dedicated to Uncle Dennis Kamakahi who left us right after the 2014 season. With his son David as part of the Waipuna trio, stories and songs about one of Hawaii’s most prolific composer of many of our exceptional Hawaiian songs kept surfacing all evening.

I started it with my story of Dennis at our fourth and final Koke’e Haku Mele Camp in 2012 where he, along with Keao Nesmith and Kiope Raymond, spent a whole weekend with aspiring songwriters at the Hui ‘o Laka CCC Camp at Koke’e State Park.

We launched the camp with a sunset picnic at the Kalalau Lookout where Dennis, silhouetted against the white swirling mist that often shrouds the view of the valley, gave his long unabridged version of how he came to write the song Koke’e and then sang the song as he composed it. He had actually spent many hours over a period of two days at the lookout to observe the magical mist of the mountain. It was an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to be present. His generous presence at the camp, where he sat and strummed or sang songs all weekend between helping the writers, was topped off the final morning when he showed up from his “special time when the creative juices flow” in front of the cabin fireplace with a new song called Nani Koke’e which he sang and played for the haku mele group. Awesome!

Waipuna opened the evening with the “Tribute to Uncle Dennis” which was presented at the 2014 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards – it included three of his best loved songs — Wahine ‘Ilikea composed when he visited Halawa Valley on Moloka’i, then Pua Hone which was his marriage proposal to Robin, and Koke’e as a jazzed-up Waipuna arrangement. The trio was definitely surprised but pleased as the whole audience joined in to sing their favorite songs. Hula dancers Elena Gillespie, Po’ai Galindo, Yumi Teraguchi Locey, and Donna Stewart popped up to add their graceful hula to the songs.

We Are Waipuna

Waipuna is a young trio who are multiple Na Hoku Hanohano Award winners.  They are Kale Hannahs, Matthew Sproat and David Kamakahi. Kale is the big brother of Lihau who was recently on the EKK stage as Kupaoa. Matt is related to David Sproat of Kilauea and to the world famous Kindy Sproat from Hawai’i Island. Kindy was an EKK presenter in 1995 at St. Michael’s church to an audience of 77 people. How EKK has grown!

David Kamakahi’s first solo performance was at EKK in 2001 when we were still at St. Michael’s church parish hall in Lihu’e. I still have photos of the ‘ukulele players sitting on the floor with their feet outstretched to get close to the action. In those days, 100 in attendance was considered “crowded.” Actually, his father Dennis tagged along and joined David at the end for a duet they composed together staying up all night while on tour in California. David and Dennis have been a big part of EKK during the last 13 years. Once Dennis got hooked on EKK, he wanted to come every year. We stirred the pot so he came with different artists over the years – with Eddie Kamae, Uncle George Kahumoku Jr, Richard Ho’opi’i, Nathan Aweau, Ledward Kaapana, Stephen Inglis and often with David. David played an instrumental number he composed with Herb Ohta Jr. that won “Instrumental Song of the Year” at the Hoku’s.

Matt gave the background about their next song Ali’ipoe composed by the Reverend William Maha’ehu, and translated by Kimo Alama Ke’aulana. The seeds that make the rattling sound in the ‘uli’uli hula implement come from the ali’ipoe plant. The story goes that in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, a priest fell in love with a local woman, taboo at that time because had dedicated his life to God. He hid their relationship from the public. He finally decided that he needed to stop meeting her in secret, but he wrote this song and gave it to her before he broke off the relationship. As Hawaiian poetry goes, nothing is said directly but often just suggests in a roundabout way. The song talks about meeting her under the shade of the ali’ipoe tree. The tree stood only about waist high, so it goes without saying that they were having fun in a horizontal position. Kale suggests, “Maybe they were looking for Ni’ihau shells.” Waipuna’s music really attracts the hula dancers as Kainani Viado and four of Maka Herrod’s dancers – Barbara, Mel, Billy and Kim – were moved to get up and made the song come to life visually.

Audience really loved the hula surprises.

Papa Sia by Charles Ka’apa is a fun song on their first Mana’o Pili CD about a couple from Ni’ihau who went to the big city of Honolulu where they could do the things they never get to do. However, they had different interests so the song speaks about the “heated discussion” or beef between the wife who wanted to shop, shop, shop and the husband who wanted to eat and go to places that open until 4:00 in the morning where he could buy drinks for everyone.

Waipuna had some big surprises up their sleeves and thrilled the audience when they invited Jayna Shaffer, Leina’ala Pavao Jardin’s representative to the Merrie Monarch Festival Miss Aloha Hula competition with Waipuna as their musicians. Stunning in a royal blue draped full-length dress with a striking golden lei and two giant golden hibiscus in her hair. She danced to Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett’s tribute to the Snow Goddess Poli’ahu. Kale did the lead vocals on E ‘Ike I Ka Nani A’o Poli’ahu which is on their second CD E Ho’i Mai.

What an amazingly beautiful and gracious hula dancer!

Jayna captivated the audience with the fluidity and expressiveness of her enchanting hula. Hana hou! Hana hou! The audience wanted more!  She danced to Mana’o Pili, which is the title tract to Waipuna’s first album recorded in 2009. Kale reminded everyone to watch the Merrie Monarch Festival on television on April 9 to see the Miss Aloha Hula Competition where Jayna will be performing.

Waipuna was recording Diana Aki’s song called Mana’o Pili which speaks of the Miloli’i on Kaua’i and the Miloli’i on Hawai’i Island and how they are intertwined. Kale and Matt felt that their own thoughts were intertwined and that these words best described how they worked together. Thus it became the title of their first CD.

Another surprise — a stunning ‘ukulele number by David Kamakahi left everyone speechless with awe and admiration. Kale said that the theme of their last CD was Love – all kinds of love. One song was about David’s love for music; he asked David to tell the story. At age 15 David was secretly teaching himself to play the ‘ukulele but put it away each time his Dad came home until one day his Mom ratted him out . . . and the rest is history.

According to David, this song was a long time coming as it took him 15 years to be able to finally play this song. It was difficult because every time his mentor Ledward Kaapana played it, it was different. He attended every performance by Ledward and sat right in the front seat to watch him and taught himself to play it. He recently went to Kona Brewing Company to give Ledward three cowboy boots that his father Dennis wanted to pass on to him. Led told him, “Hey! Jus’ Press! (Ledward’s mantra), so David finally got up the courage and had a chance to play for the master. He shared that Ledward gave him his very first nickname — “Damn Keed!”  As David was winding down on the song Jus’ Press! (12th Street Rag and Sweet Georgia Brown), Kale calls out, “Damn Keed!”

Without missing a beat, they went right into the next song, Lepe ‘Ula’ula. Kaua’i is definitely the chicken capitol of the state, so it makes sense for Waipuna to share their rooster song while on the Garden Island. Kale said, “When we think of Kaua’i, we think of the beautiful rain, the mountains and the roosters.”

One more surprise that thrilled the audience was a call for Lady Ipo Kahaunaele to show us how the electric ‘ukulele from Kamoa sounded. She got it zinging with her version of Suzie Ana E. It’s always a treat to see this “’Ukulele Lady” show her stuff.  She and Nathan Kalama, along with Haunani Poopi Kaui and the musicians of Tamatea Nui ‘O Kaua’i, will be some of the presenters for the final night of EKK, dubbed “Community Hula Night.” That is definitely not a night to miss.

After the intermission, CD’s were given away to eight lucky folks who had taken the time to fill out the attendance sheet. The Kamoa ‘Ukulele was then given away to a lucky and very enthusiastic Sherry Jakubik from Oxford, Michigan.

The second set was just as full of surprises. They sent the next song out to the ‘ukulele circle. They sang Willie Kahai’ali’i’s song, Malama Mau Hawai’i, about perpetuating things Hawaiian. Surprise! Surprise! Who should come up to dance?  None other than the inimitable Maka Herrod, always a breath of fresh air. Maka just returned from Japan today, went to his hula class, and then showed up at EKK. Kale said, “He is still on Japan time which is one day ahead and five hours back, so it’s 3:30 in the afternoon for him so he’s good for another hula.” Audience called for a hana hou so he requested Lepe ‘Ula’ula, the song about the preening cocky rooster. Waipuna once again sang that song and this time we really got what the song was about. Maka has definitely been watching roosters every chance he had because he really got the right moves.

Waipuna’s latest CD was to perpetuate songs by Dennis Kamakahi. David shared his recollection about the early days when Dad never had enough money to buy gifts for his wife and was always away traveling on gigs; he would write her new songs as a gift. As an anniversary present, he presented Robin, who had infant John in her arms, with Kou Aloha Mau A Mau about a love that goes on forever. It made its debut in 1980 at the Volcano House on the Big Island. David said that Dad would also write a song to apologize to his wife whenever they had a little fight. So it was fight, new song, cool down, fight again, another song, cool down. When she was really mad, she would curtly say, “Oh, that’s nice; keep writing.” Kale chimes in, “Wow! He wrote 7 00 songs!” (pun intended)

In spite of their ups and downs, their love lasted 37 long years before his Dad passed away. His Mom was always supportive and made sure that Dennis always had a wonderful home to come home to after his many tours and trips around the country. David appreciated that he was always surrounded with every kind of music – big band, heavy metal, Cuban, Mariachi, Portuguese, country, and on and on; he said he always knew when his father came to pick him up after school because he would be blasting Metallica on his car radio.

On the CD titled Amy and the Slack Key Masters, which had a theme of Love, Dennis recorded a E Mau Ke Aloha about how love continues and endures. Chino Montero did the guitar solo for this. Written as another anniversary gift, E Mau Ke Aloha is definitely a catchy song that has a lasting appeal. It’s one of my favorite Dennis songs and was shared with the whole audience as a sing-along. Waipuna chose that as the title song for their CD which was dedicated to the memory of Reverend Dennis Kamakahi and David “Chino” Montero who died within the same week.

‘Ainahau by Princess Miriam Likelike, won for Waipuna the Na Hoku Hanohano “Single of the Year” Award in 2012, the same year they won the coveted “Group of the Year” Award.  E Ho’i Mai was awarded the “Island Music Album of the Year.” They sent this song out to the Paik ‘Ohana all the way from Kilauea. Their entourage with so many aunties and uncles had came to support Kellan and Lihau Paik, Mark Yamanaka, the Keale Cousins, and Waipuna at EKK and had blessed the trio with Kaua’i hospitality and a home away from home. So they wanted to share this song about the home of this royal family.

Their hana hou song was about a boy growing up in Kaka’ako who went to the harbor by the Aloha Tower and stumbles into a fish auction. He decided that when he grew up he wanted to be an auctioneer at the fish market. This is one of the few places in the world where an active fish auction is held. The Tsukiji fish market in Yokohama is world famous, and the fish auction as sung by Matthew Sproat sounds like a very lively place to be. They started slow but ended up singing the tongue-twisting call of the fish auctioneer at top speed. The song had a moral to it; if you follow your dreams, you will end up doing what you really want to do. It seems like these musicians are following their dreams and doing what they really want to do.  It was an evening of full of surprises and great enjoyment for everyone there.

 If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at <giac05@icloud.com> for Monday events.

(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 38 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”

E Kanikapila Kakou 2015 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua’i Beach Resort.

Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

13 12, 2015

EKK 2015 Week 7 – WOW’ed by the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Serenaders

2015-12-13T12:08:38-10:00EKK 2015|0 Comments


Monday, March 2, 2015

WOW’ed by the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Serenaders

Email message from Nathan Kalama:  Mahalo Carol for the wonderful EKK program that Kuuipo Kumukahi and the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Serenaders presented last night.  It was excellent, professional, top notch! Her voice took us through a range of dynamics, bold, subtle, light and definitely brought some to tears at the end. All the stories told about the different Na Lani ‘Eha alone was worth it!! Maika’i loa!!”

Introducing the Players:

The Serenaders were definitely top notch and professional – they showed up early for the sound check, breezed through it efficiently, all four were fully involved with the 55 ‘ukulele players in the circle, they all stood and performed throughout the entire program shifting their musical stance to feature each musician as he or she took the lead, they all ended together and they delivered a power-packed performance that was like education on a silver spoon – so easy to take and so fulfilling.

All four are part of the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Serenaders, a 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit organized to  “promote, preserve and perpetuate” Hawaiian music and hula through music education programs such as Na Mele Kakou, exhibits and live performances. Commissioned in 2007 to record an album of the music of the Royal Four – Queen Lili’uokalani, King David Kalakaua, Princess Miriam Likelike, and Prince William Pitt Leleiohoku II – these musicians continued beyond the recording of the album to insure that the music composed by the monarchs, acknowledged as patrons of HMHOF, are perpetuated for future generations. The album was awarded the coveted Album of the Year at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 2007; it is the only album produced by a non-profit that ever won this award.

Ku’uipo’s story of the award event was hilarious. They received the first award of the evening for the CD liner notes, but as the evening wore on and Hoku Zuttermeister was doing a clean sweep of the awards, members of their group started saying “bolo head,” a phrase that to fishermen meant “no fish are biting today.” They looked at each other and motioned “bolo head.” Kimo Stone began packing up everything and was heading toward the exit when the big award of the evening was announced – Na Lani Eha was the Album of the Year!  Everyone was yelling at Kimo, “Bruddah, get the award!” and signaling for the confused and stunned Kimo to get up on stage. No “bolo head” that night!

At first glance an unlikely combination of musicians but all of them passionate about their roles in the group, this Fantastic Four can really deliver. Isaac “Doc” Akuna is a dentist by day and an outstanding steel guitar player on stage; whether by dental drills or by steel strings, he likes making unforgettable sounds. Joseph Winchester on ‘ukulele has the enviable position of being a retired bank manager formerly with the Makiki Branch of First Hawaiian Bank; like all retired persons, he keeps super busy with all his commitments but definitely makes time to sing with this awesome group. “Kimo” Stone is an attorney with Coldwell Banker for his day job but his passion job is serving as the President of the HMHOF organization.  The artistic leader of the gang is Ku’uipo Kumukahi who has heavy demands on her time as Outreach Coordinator for ARC Hawai’i. With a voice like hers this “Sweetheart of Hawaiian Music” and winner of nine Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, including “Most Promising Artist” and “Female Vocalist of the Year,” definitely needs to be spending more time on stage performing and sharing the stories and music of not only Na Lani Eha but her own music as well. For the EKK performance they invited Kauai’s own Kekai Chock, a fantastic guitarist who Ku’uipo met through the late O’Brian Eselu.

Ku’uipo shared her family background. We vicariously met her parents, Samuel and ‘Ululani Kumukahi, several weeks ago in stories by Puakea Nogelmeier. His Hawaiian language mentor who loved the Hawaiian language, Sam was a manaleo (native Hawaiian speaker) who enjoyed conversing with Puakea. Her mother, ‘Ululani, the nurse for whom the song Bumbye was composed by her hanai son Puakea, is credited by Ku’uipo for her pursuing Hawaiian music. When the family moved to Honolulu for her father’s job working on H-1 and H-2 highways, Ku’uipo was introduced to her huge extended family who played music all the time. She used her Auntie’s ‘ukulele, but when they moved back to Hilo, her mother took her to buy her own ‘ukulele. Starting with her first ‘ukulele, each time Ku’uipo mastered her instrument, her mother would buy her a new instrument with the mantra, “Do the right thing! Listen! Pay attention! You need to sing, too!” Eight ‘ukulele, 13 guitars and several basses later, Ku’uipo had become quite an accomplished self-taught musician. Her father Samuel, her namesake, had a powerful influence on Ku’uipo. He accompanied her on all her early gigs as a teenager and always told her, “Be sure you sing the lyrics correctly because you never who is listening.” She is also a fantastic guitar player. Kimo said, “She plays like a man!” Ku’uipo laughs, “I come from Hilo; I can handle that!”

Music of the Royal Four:

Ku’uipo, the lead vocalist and leader of the band, was like a little “general”.  When she asked everyone to stand, the audience stood up en masse with no questions. They dove right into the National Anthem of the Hawaiian Kingdom which is now the Hawai’i State Anthem, Hawai’i Pono’i composed by King Kalakaua. Ku’uipo’s voice resonates; it made you feel like you were standing in a stadium about to watch a football game begin.

Prince Leleiohoku, as the hanai son of Princess Ruth Ke’elikolani, brought great joy to the Monarch; she got the Prince a horse and carriage to ride around Honolulu any time he pleased. Princess Ruth left her extensive land holdings to Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop which today comprise the Kamehameha School Estates. As a monarch, each royal needed to be a leader and administrator but was also expected to compose songs because poetry was regarded as one of the highest benchmark of accomplishments possessed by a leader; it was a way to preserve the history of the last dynasty. Leleiohoku’s songs are happy and joyful; Moani Ke ‘Ala put everyone into a happy mood. 

Ku’uipo asked why a person from Hilo, a quiet place that has one road in and one road out, would be living in Waikiki, a place that has one way in and no way out?  It is important for her to understand what the ali’i saw in Waikiki that they would make that their favorite place of residence. Princess Pauahi lived where the Royal Hawaiian Center now stands. Another significant place in Waikiki, formerly known as Ainahau and the home of Princess Likelike, husband Archibald Cleghorn and daughter Princess Kai’ulani, is where the Princess Kai’ulani Hotel stands. Ainahau translates to “land of hau trees” or “the cool land”. Ainahau, one of the most beautiful songs by Princess Likelike, captures the sound of the era –romantic, elegant, and poignant. Ku’uipo’s rich voice, accompanied by the sound of the steel, the strong harmony of the group and outstanding pa’ani by Kekai, brought chicken skin and tears to many. Although Princess Likelike did not write as many songs as the others, she supported every Hawaiian music performance in Hawai’i.

Queen Lili’uokalani left the largest legacy of Hawaiian music. Working with Henry Berger who put her poetry to music, she left the largest collection of published Hawaiian music as her legacy. She experienced the brunt of political changes of the time and was expected to right the kingdom against enormous odds. Realizing that she could not win against the military, she abdicated her throne to prevent bloodshed and to protect the people in her kingdom. She found solace in her songs which  reflect her experiences — many are tender, bittersweet and political. One of her songs, He Ala Nei E Mapu Mai Nei (Ahe Lau Makani) speaks of the gentle breeze of Waikiki; it reflects the popularity of the waltz at that time.

Kimo shared that the songs could be as simple as waking up in the morning or as big as a war of thousands. Hula interpreted the poetry but for a period of time was taboo. Hula was not the Christian ideal; missionaries regarded the hula as a “lascivious dance” at best. They banned the hula, and although several monarchs tried to restore it, it was not allowed until the beloved and larger-than-life King Kalakaua invited all the Hula Masters to dance on the grounds of the ‘Iolani Palace for his coronation. Today the Merrie Monarch Festival continues as the legacy of King Kalakaua’s love for the hula. One of his best known songs was written for his Queen Kapi’olani on the occasion of her trip to England, together with Queen Lili’uokalani, for the Queen’s Jubilee. In the song E Nihi Ka Hele he tells her to go and see but be careful and don’t touch anything because we do not know these people; you must keep in mind that you are the crown jewel and center of our island kingdom.

Until recently men were the only hula dancers….especially men with hair. Ku’uipo loves to play with the audience and injects some of her humor as she called for floor lights and asked everyone in the audience with same hairdo as Kimo, meaning bald, to stand up. “You can all go home tonight with a Hawaiian name.  You don’t even have to pay for the name! Your name is “No Hea” (which means handsome).

Our Ali’i had to be one with the people and everything must be in harmony to function properly. Princes Likelike composed the song Ku’u Ipo I Ka He’e Pu’e One, a song of love. Everyone was in love, not necessarily with their husband or wife, but in love.

The ali’i were much loved by their people so chants were written about them. One such chant, probably composed by a court chanter and later put to music by J. Kalahiki, is a very loud and zesty song about Kalakaua’s favorite fishing spot. Ku’uipo called on her oldstyle Hawaiian singing voice, much like Gabby’s, to sing He’eia.

Many songs were about people, places and events, but one very important song was the mele ma’i or song about the sexuality or sexual prowess of the monarchs as it was important for the Ali’i to be happy, prosperous and productive. Probably composed by a court chanter, ‘Anapau  is a mele ma’i for Queen Lili’uokalani. It describes the motions of the horse – “Left! Right! Up! Down!  and the horse has silk underwear!” Ku’uipo throws in a couple of heavy “sighs of satisfaction” at the end of the song.

To give the audience a sample of how the give-away Kamoa ‘ukulele sounds, they shared a couple of songs that were composed by other favorite Hawaiian composers. The very talented “Doc” Akuna sang Hanalei Bay by Alfred Alohikea in his very, very low voice.  That was definitely an unexpected treat. He can play steel, play ‘ukulele and sing a mean tune. What a talent!

Introducing other composers:

After the intermission, guess who won the Kamoa ‘ukulele? None other than our own resident from Lawai, Dr. Larry Magnussen who swore publicly that he would now take ‘ukulele lessons. That will change his life, for sure!

Ku’uipo took this visit to Kaua’i to refresh, driving to Polihale in the dark and then crossing the island all the way to Ha’ena. She sums up the Kaua’i experience, “Kaua’i has great mana. When you are on Kaua’i, nothing else matters.”  Yes, we know! She also recapped on her past EKK experiences.  She came right after she released her first solo album; at that time EKK was at Saint Michael’s parish hall. She was surprised by her grade school teachers, Franciscan nuns then based on Kaua’i, who came to hear her sing.  The next time she came to Island School; I remember she shared a whole spread sheet of Hawaiian songs about the different winds in different places.

Lena Machado, inductee into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame, composed Kaulana O Hilo Hanakahi, a song that modulates step-by-step up the ladder and when you reach the top, you take a graceful dive down. You can tell that Ku’uipo loves Hilo as she calls out the many challenges that Hilo has survived – two hurricanes, a major tidal wave, it rains every day and now the lava is coming down. Sounds like the song. They then launched into a medley:  Hilo, My Home Town, prelude by Joe Kalima, together with Hilo Hula. I always felt that Hilo was a bit sleepy but not the way these four sang the song with each person taking a pa’ani to show off how good they were with their instruments.

During the first ‘ukulele hour, they taught two songs to the circle. Ku’uipo called up the students to play because they sounded very hot in the circle. Not all of the 55 ‘ukulele players came up but they sounded good anyway. Wahine Hele La (‘O Kaiona) written for Princess Pauahi Bishop by Prince Leleiohoku is today known as the Kamehameha School Founder’s Day Song. It’s about guiding the lost ones to a brighter future.  The second song, Manu Kapalulu by Queen Lili’uokalani is so beautiful that it is hard to believe that in the song the Queen is actually criticizing another person who had no clue that she was the subject of the criticism. Vern Kauanui’s hula resembled that of a flighty bird flapping around her wings.

Kilakila  Na RoughRiders, a traditional Hawaiian melody honoring the award winning cowboys from the Parker Ranch on Hawai’i Island who swept the World Championship Rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming was so brilliantly sung. Like a lot of cowboy songs they squeeze a lot of words into a small space. Ku’uipo tops that by not only singing fast but throwing in a lot of whistles, cowboy “yeehaws” and “giddyups”. As Ku’uipo whistles and yelps, you could feel the dust kicked up as they rope the cattle to the ground. Kimo asked Ku’uipo. “Where did you learn to whistle like that?” She confessed that small kid time, when her father wanted her to get home from the neighbor’s house, she got the whistle and that unmistakable hand motion that says a whole lot more than any amount of words. She demonstrated and we all knew exactly what that meant.

“Doc” shared the history of the steel guitar instrument. In 1885 Joseph Kekuku, a student at the then all boys Kamehameha school, was trying to make sounds like his cousin’s violin on his guitar when the happy accident at the railroad tracks helped him create this new sound.  In the evening all 37 poor Hawaiian boys gathered together to sing and Joseph Kekuku’s new sound lit the fuse that has since traveled worldwide and became the signature sound of the Hawaiian Islands. Quite by coincidence, relatives of the Kekuku family were in the audience, John and Sandra Eng. Kekai Chock, also a relative of Joseph Kekuku shared a bit about how the family is making efforts to keep his Hawaiian name alive with the new generation. Doc played Sand, the Steel Guitar classic song by Andy Iona which was composed in the 1930’s.

Ku’uipo also recognized Jerry Kaiola, an EKK regular, who at one time worked on the movie set of South Pacific when he was living on the mainland. She dedicated the song Happy Talk to Jerry. Kealoha, a hula favorite by Lei Collins and Maddy Lam, brought the dancers to the stage. Yumi Teraguchi Locey, Mahina Baliaris and Vern Kauanui each danced their own hula choreography to this beautiful song.

Ku’uipo pointed out that the top windows of the ‘Iolani Palace are blacked out; this is where the Queen was held for nine months as a prisoner in her own home. She abdicated the throne with the thought “Lead not our people to bloodshed.” She traveled to the continent to ask President Cleveland to restore her throne. When she returned, she was found guilty of treason and placed under house arrest.

Paoakalani by Queen Lili’uokalani is about the young boy who brought her flowers from her garden in Waikiki, wrapped up in the daily newspaper so that she could be kept apprised of what was going on outside of the walls of the Palace. The young boy was Johnny Wilson who later became the Mayor of Honolulu and for whom the Wilson Tunnel was named. The County has a Royal Hawaiian Band largely due to the actions of Johnny Wilson. The delivery of this song was stellar, beginning with a quiet solo by Ku’uipo, joined by the others and filling the ballroom with a powerful message in song. They ended with one of the most significant songs in the repertoire. Aloha ‘Oe by Queen Lili’uokalani is the most popular Hawaiian song ever written and ever recorded.

As everyone joined hands to sing Hawai’i Aloha, the audience showed appreciation for the moving experience. The evening was a history lesson in song; it was a legacy passed on to the greater audience that there be a better understanding and appreciation of the messages in the songs of the Royal Four.

 If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at <giac05@icloud.com> for Monday events.

(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 38 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”

E Kanikapila Kakou 2015 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua’i Beach Resort.

Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

13 12, 2015

EKK 2015 Week 6 – “The Keale Magic is Alive and Well”

2021-10-12T18:03:44-10:00EKK 2015|0 Comments

Mahalo to Anne O’Malley for putting great photos up for our Facebook Friends https://www.facebook.com/ekanikapilakakou.kauaistyle

Monday, February 23, 2015

“The Keale Magic is Alive and Well”

A Comedy of Errors:

Here is the backstory which I did not find out about until after the performance hanging with the artists in Shutters Lounge; it reads like a Shakespearean comedy of errors  . . . more hilarious because the players did not realize what all was going on until it was all played out in the final act. We all figured it out and our individual parts in the plot and had a good laugh and a stiff drink (Walt did) about the whole thing.

The week before, Kellen and Lihau Hannahs Paik came to support and enjoy Mark Yamanaka’s music and ended up on the stage singing in their grungies. In all the closing down commotion, Kellen asked me if Chris Lau was backing up Walt on the upright bass, BUT I heard it as, “ Does Walt need a backup bass? Anyway, I coming next week.” So in all the usual commotion, I heard wrong (but I did not know that then).

I sent email to Walt, “Hi Walt. Try calling Kellen Paik. He came last week to EKK to hear Mark Yamanaka. He said something about backing you with bass. He lives in Kilauea on Kaua’i.”

To which the always busy Walt sent Mike Keale a very brief message, “Kellen! Upright!” Mike thought that Walt was asking him if Kellen was an UPRIGHT person, so he called me to inquire about Kellen. Not knowing what Walt had said to Mike and rushed as usual, I interrupted Mike and said that Kellen is coming and offered to play upright bass. At which point, the soft-spoken very gracious Mike calls up Kellen and thanks him profusely for offering to back them up on the bass, and Kellen replied, “I am?” but being the nice guy that Kellen is, he chuckled and said “Okay.”

So after their 8:00 am KKCR interview, they descended on the Paik residence. Kellen thought they dropped in for coffee, but the two cousins stopped in for a rehearsal.  The Paiks went along and together they planned the playlist for the performance. Both Keale cousins, not being good with lists, asked Kellen to write a list on paper for the evening. He almost forgot it when leaving for EKK, but Lihau reminded him and he ran back into the house to get it. On stage he held up the paper and said, “But I wasn’t going to bring it because the Keale’s would never follow the list anyway.”

And they did not; it turned out to be a fabulous, heart-warming, spontaneous evening of music, fun, hula, stories and remembrances of Uncle Moe, and audience members that were beside themselves with appreciation.

Very early Tuesday morning Walt sends email: “Thank you Auntie Carol for a wonderful time last night! It was hard to fall asleep with the adrenaline.” I, too, could not fall asleep with so much excitement from the program; I had to stay up and write this story before I could fall asleep. Mike emails: Hi Carol, just wanted to thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of E Kanikapila Kakou.  Seeing the joy in peoples faces and hearing the comments of joy and happiness makes it so special.

Uncle Moe was a very special Hawaiian man.

Uncle Moe Keale definitely left his imprint on his two nephews because the evening was rich with the same warmth that he exuded in his lifetime of sharing music. This was revealed as the Keale cousins shared their music and stories about their famous Uncle – musician, beach boy, fisherman, deejay, electrician and actor. Amazingly, my records show that Moe Keale was the guest artist at EKK on April 10, 1995 to 70 participants and on April 8, 1996 to 143 participants; EKK was held then in Saint Michael’s parish hall. He would be very surprised to see the 2015 audience of over 400 people who experienced “Tribute to Uncle Moe” at Kaua’i Beach Resort.

Moe was born Wilfred Nalani Keale, nicknamed “Animal” in his Beach Boy days, and later known as Moe. He was the youngest of seven surviving Keale siblings and Walt’s Mom Momi was just above Moe. All his hapa-haole nieces and nephews could call him Uncle Wilfred (pronounced Wooferd for some unknown reason) but none of the local nieces and nephews dared to call him that.

Walt Keale, a veteran performer on the EKK stage, opened the program with a set of songs that were close to his heart. He was backed up by none other than Kellen Paik, the very upright “resident upright bass player.” As the Keale’s hail originally from the Island of Ni’ihau, Walt sang in his haunting tones ‘Ua Nani Ni’ihau. A tall statuesque blond hula dancer originally from California, Ina Legins, took to the stage as Walt’s magical voice filled the room.

Walt sang the title tract of Uncle Moe’s first solo album South Sea Island Magic. It was a song reminiscent of the Hawaiian songs of that era with romantic lyrics and that special sound so popular in those days. Walt said that Uncle Moe sang Hawaiian songs in his public performances, songs for his non-public audience which you don’t want to sing here tonight, but his na’au music was actually country, jazz and blues . . . these were the songs that he sang at 1:00 in the morning while sitting on his couch at home. He sang the ballad Kern River written by Merle Haggard, Uncle’s favorite country musician. Fern Merle Jones stepped into the spotlight and danced the hula; the surprised and delighted Walt joked, “Just like we rehearsed it, guys.”

Walt’s own background was that he transplanted at an early age to the mainland so he could live with his grandparents. Except for summers in Hawai’i with the extended ‘ohana, he was pretty much raised by Mexican wolves in the San Joaquin Valley. He recalls that Uncle Moe had in his home a much-treasured five-string Cuatro, the Venezuelan cousin of the ‘ukulele. When he was checking out the internet for Cuatro tuning, he came across a photo of Moe Keale playing a Cuatro style ‘ukulele. With this intro, he sang a Hawaiian classic Hi’ilawe with a Mexican tuning and instrumentation. It definitely changed the character of the song; I could not picture hula dancers dancing Hi’ilawe with Mexican shake ’n bake rhythms.

Mike Keale joined Walt and Kellen on stage and asked audience to give Walt the Hawaiian Monk Seal applause with loud “woofs” and seal flipper claps.  Mike said, “I used to show up with 4 – 5 folders with all my songs and a music stand, but now I have everything in this IPad…oops, it’s upside down.” I thought, “This is going to be a fun evening!”

Remembering Moe Keale, Mike also referred to his South Sea Island Magic CD and sang Scotch and Soda in his wonderfully mellow voice; Mike is definitely the Hawaiian Crooner a la Frank Sinatra. His singing makes you want to dance with a partner. Those who want more of Mike can go to Tahiti Nui any Monday evening or to Hukilau Lanai lounge area every Tuesday evening from 6 – 9.

Between the two Keale nephews, one begins to get a sense of who this giant of a musician was. Mike and Walt actually never met until they attended the funeral for their cousin Israel Kamakawiwo’ole in the late 1990’s.  It was a huge Celebration of Life party in Waianae for Bruddah Iz. It’s a well-known “understanding” that nobody leaves his/her car unattended in Waianae because it may not be there when you are ready to leave.  The main “security” boss of the ‘ohana named Buffalo Keaulana carries a lot of weight in that community; he had the word out that NOBODY TOUCH THE CARS as a warning to those who tend to “borrow the cars and not give it back.” Uncle Moe’s pride and joy was his favorite ’67 Volkswagen Bug called “Bruno” which he drove to the funeral. After the party, he could not find “Bruno” anywhere so Uncle Moe was advised to catch a ride home with one of the Pahinui’s.  Early the next morning Uncle Moe woke up to find his favorite “Bruno” in the garage.  On the VW bug was a note that read, “Dear Uncle, Sorry we did not know it was Bruno.” It’s a good thing because he was very attached to that little car.

Whenever Uncle Moe wanted to get away from the crowd, he went up to Mount Ka’ala on his horse. The sun was setting, it began to drizzle, a rainbow filled the sky and he was feeling very happy. He did what any cowboy does when he is happy; he began to yodel to the song Uluwehi O Ka’ala. Even while yodeling Mike does not lose that crooner touch so he sang a very gentle smooth and not-so-fast yodel in this song.

Uncle Moe always tried to introduce the kids in the family to all his friends so they could enjoy the same friends and happiness that he experienced. He especially wanted Mike to meet Kihei de Silva, a wonderful composer and the husband of Kumu Hula Mapuana de Silva. Before he passed away, Moe told Mike to visit them in Lanikai, originally known as Ka’ohao. “Look for the red van in the garage.”  Unfortunately, Uncle died before Mike had a chance to visit the de Silva’s. One day he woke up and decided to go and visit them. Sure enough the red van was in the garage, but not being sure what to expect, he knocked on the door, and was greeted by Kihei, “Keale! Keale, eh? We’ve been waiting for you.” They asked Mike to play something on the ‘ukulele, so he sat down. “That is where your Uncle used to sit and play music for the halau.” Mike sang Kihei de Silva’s Hanohano Wailea, a song that is significant because it gives the correct names of the places in that area; it is sung by the children at Lanikai Elementary. (Read Kihei de Silva’s notes about the composing of this song at Kalaimamani Literary Archive.) Mike looked around and shouted, “Come play ‘ukulele, cuzzin!” Walt joined Mike on stage and jumped right in without missing a beat on his ‘ukulele.

When Walt was asked to play the give-away Kamoa ‘ukulele, Mike said we’ll play several love songs. He introduced Makee Ailana with a story about how Kapiolani Park was a swamp at one time with many small islands in the swamp. One of these islands belonged to Captain Makee. According to legends about this song, it was a place that lovers like to frequent. Po’ai Galindo and Mahina danced a beautiful hula as the cousins sang. They followed this with a very mellow version of E Ku’u Morning Dew composed by Eddie Kamae with lyrics by Larry Kimura. Mike blanked out on the words to the next song, so he looked into the audience and asked, “Where’s My Honey? Linda, can you come up to help me?” Mike’s wife, Linda Lester Keale, had earlier in the evening taught a group of dancers the hula Nani Kaua’i. All the hula dancers came up and filled the dance floor and stage with the lovely hula about the many special places on the island.

After a short American break, CD’s of our favorite artists were given away to six lucky folks who filled out attendance forms. The lucky winner of the Kamoa ‘ukulele drawing was L. Steve Cameron of Seattle, Washington. We acknowledged Lyn McNutt for her efforts in getting the ten ‘ukulele donated by Kamoa ‘Ukulele and also Fran Nestel who each week makes about fifty leis to be given to our first time visitors. So many hard working and dedicated volunteers at EKK.

Walt started the second half with the song In My Dreams for his mother Momi. The day before he had for the first time visited Polihale to scatter his Mom’s ashes. Polihale is the closest place on Kaua’i to the island of Ni’ihau.

As they did the week before for Mark Yamanaka, special guests Lihau and Kellen Paik came up and shared their songs and stories about Uncle Moe. In 1908 the World Championship Rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming was attended by several contestants from Hawai’i. The Purdy Brothers, Ikua and Archie Ka’aua entered and, although given the worst horses and gear, pulled off the remarkable win at the rodeo. Ikua won the championship, Ka’aua took third place, and “Rawhide Ben” Low took sixth place. In those days, telegraph was the fast communication available so a telegraph was sent to Hawai’i that the Hawaii contingent had won the Championship. Uncle Moe wrote the songs Waiomina to commemorate this ground-breaking event. Of course, audience screams, “Hana hou! Hana hou!”

When Kellen first moved to Honolulu to attend school, the first CD he bought was at Borders titled Uncle Moe Live in Waikiki which had 17 songs on it. He was thrilled at his find because it’s rare to find live performances on recordings.  They sang Aia I Ka Maui, a song about a steamer ship that transported people and stuff back and forth from island to island. How special it was for Kupaoa to share their singing once again.

Hale’iwa Hula by Jennie Hanaiali’i Wood and John Noble was taught to the ‘ukulele circle. Walt asked everyone to join in playing the song from wherever they were. Vern Kauanui went on stage to play his ‘ukulele but ended up dancing to this mele. The next song composed by Albert Nahale’e and sung by Uncle Moe on the Sons of Hawaii Album was about a father who witnessed the birth of his child. He was so happy to watch this child grow up. The waltz tempo song He Punahele No ‘Oe (You’re My Favorite ) was sung by Mike with backup vocals by Walt.  Beautiful!

At this point Walt asked, “Maybe should we sing one of the songs that we actually practiced.”  Walt said that there are some songs that you just don’t touch because they are perfect as they are, and he encouraged Mike to share the story of this song.  They bantered back and forth as to who would tell the story, but Mike finally took the lead. I have heard many versions of this story from simple to elaborate, but Mike’s version is definitely the winner . . .  even tops that of Uncle George Kahumoku which in itself is a pretty big feat. Of course, Mike embellished it with a touch of fantasmagoria, but since the story has reached the status of “legendary”, a bit of magic is allowable.

Moses Keale of Ni’ihau, their great-great-grandfather (he was not sure how many greats) lived in Kalalau Valley in the early to mid 1980’s. One day his wife asked him to go catch dinner so he took his gun and went up the mountain to scout for a goat.  He saw an unusual pure white goat – white horns, eyes, hoofs, everything white – so he followed it. The goat kept stopping to see if Moses was following until finally they got to a place where the goat could go neither up nor down so he stopped and looked at Moses. He got ready to shoot when suddenly the goat disappeared. Guess who’s stuck now?  Moses could go neither up nor down, so he looked up and spoke to Akua, “I’m going to jump off this cliff; if you are really out there, it’s up to you. If I live, I will dedicate my life to you.” And he jumped. He lived because the pandanus leaves broke his fall on the way down. He woke up with his hunting dogs licking his face. He lived to build a church in Ni’ihau which still stands today and the Hawaiian Church in Waimea across from the Fire Station where the Ni’ihau ‘ohana swell the church walls with their wonderful singing every Sunday morning. Walt gave us chicken skin as he sang Ua Mau – Hosana, one of the most beautiful Ni’ihau hymns written by the Reverend Moses W. Ka’aneikawaha’ale Keale.

My high school classmate was Moses Keale, his older brother was also Moses Keale and worked for OHA, and I believe they had another five siblings each named Moses Keale. That’s efficiency when calling everyone to dinner. Not sure how they are related to the Reverend Moses Keale, but I bet my bottom dollar that they are.  That is one way to make sure a name lives on.

One of the most heart-warming songs written by Danny Lopez for Uncle Moe was called A Part of Me, A Part of You or The Hospital Song which Uncle Moe used to sing for the terminally ill patients at Queen’s Hospital every day before he went to work at Sheraton Waikiki.  This song won Uncle Moe the Na Hoku Hanohano Award in 1987. The richness of Mike’s crooner voice was perfect for this song.

Walt said, “When Papa used to go and throw net by the reef, he used to sing a simple song by Aunty Pilahi Paki,” often called the “keeper of Hawaii’s secrets” and one of the most significant proponents of the word Aloha and composer of the Aloha Chant; http://lifeintheseislands.com/the-aloha-spirit-the-aloha-chant/

Walt closed the evening with Uncle Moe, a song written by Del Beazley about this great Hawaiian man. The audience joined in on the singing. That unmistakable yearning in Walt’s voice comes from deep within and was perfect for this special song honoring a special man.

By the time everyone held hands and raised their voices in song for Hawai’i Aloha, many were wiping tears from their eyes and still yelling hana hou. Such a perfect evening with just the right amount of singing, stories, hula, and a tubful of good humor.

If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at giacoo5@icloud.com for Monday events.

(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 38 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”
E Kanikapila Kakou 2015 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua’i Beach Resort.
Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

13 12, 2015

EKK 2015 Week 5 – “Mark Yamanaka and Friends – Abundance of Music and Aloha”

2015-12-13T11:51:08-10:00EKK 2015|0 Comments

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mark Yamanaka and Friends – Abundance of Music and Aloha

“It’s on the yellow CD!”

“It’s on the green CD!”

Yellow or green, both CDs by Mark Yamanaka are power-packed with the songs that he shared with the EKK audience on Monday, February 16. The yellow CD, titled Lei Pua Kenikeni won him four Na Hoku Hanohano awards in 2011 and made music lovers everywhere take notice of this young man with the soaring falsetto voice. But he was not a flash in the pan, because he came back stronger than ever in 2014 and walked off with five Na Hoku Hanohano awards for his green Lei Maile CD.

Life has not been the same for him ever since, as he is very much in demand as a performer. Bert Naihe, with his own unique vocals, backs him with the guitar and the silent partner on the bass is Eddie Atkins, who comes from a long line of Ka`apana family musicians.

Both Mark and Bert had the 70-plus `ukulele players galloping for nearly an hour at the start of the evening as they taught the group several ways to do the galloping strum, so-called because it sounds like a horse galloping. This strum was used a lot by Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai`i and Johnny Lum Ho. It can be played tight or loose. Mark and Bert both sang the fast-paced songs — Rain Li’i Li’i, Kekaha Jeep, Kehaulani, Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai — that were perfect for this style of strumming, and all members of the `uke group, both new and veteran, were keeping up with the slow, medium and fast paces as if they had been playing for years. Amazing how fast everyone learns with good teachers. Mark warned them not to tighten up with worry about the chords or the tempo . . .just relax! I wondered if the folks know just how lucky they are to get these wiki `ukulele lessons each week.

Complete with a topknot hairdo and full round oriental face, one would think Mark was a visiting sumo wrestler, but he is of Japanese/Chinese origin on his grandmother’s side and his grandad is pure Filipino. Stir the pot with an abundance of Hawaiian music growing up with his grandparents and extended family in Hilo, and this Honolulu-born young man found out early that his dream to be the first Japanese NBA player was not going to happen.

He learned to play the `ukulele at age 13, which was not so exciting — until he hooked up with some boys at Keokaha who sang a lot of Hawaiian songs. This influenced his love for the `ukulele and singing. After “the change” at age 16, his voice got higher rather than lower and he discovered that he could belt out the high octaves. Also, being taken under the wings of Hula Master Johnny Lum Ho while still in high school, Mark found the path to Hawaiian music was the one that beckoned and encouraged. Once he decided it was okay for this non-Hawaiian to embrace Hawaiian music, he began to soar. His first trip to Kaua`i in 1999 was to accompany Johnnie Lum Ho with his guitar at EKK; he’s come a long way since.

Wanting to share their favorite songs, they opened with the beautiful Kalapana which brings to mind the hot beds of Hawai`i Island, where residents are currently having issues with Mother Nature in that they are losing their homes to the onslaught of hot lava flows that destroy anything in its path. He asked that everyone keep the residents of that area in their thoughts and prayers. The audience was audibly gasping with surprise and thrill as this group’s voices soared.

Bert and Mark harmonized with Maui Under Moonlight, a song with English lyrics about Maui that’s on the green CD. Bert, easy going with a quick smile and a very animated way of playing his guitar, shared his own special version of Noho Pai Pai, or Rocking Chair Hulawhich he recorded on his own CD. When you watch him sing, you wish you could throw a backyard party just to have him come and sing. Acknowledging their friends from KKCR Radio, huge supporters of Hawaiian music, they sang Lei Pua Kenikeni with a special call out to Aunty Maria who just returned from her world travels.

Mark wrote a song for his daughter when she was four years old; Kaleo o Nalani translates to Voice of the Heaven and the lyrics clearly showed his pride of being her proud Papa. Now she is nine years old.  Mark remarks “Boy! Has my feelings changed about her. Now I have Part II coming up – dark and angry – as he dramatically strummed chords that illustrate the dark side of his little darling.

Kehaulani, a very animated song about the beautiful secret flower gardens in Manoa where Queen Liliu`okalani grew her flowers, gave them a chance to demonstrate the loose gallop style of strumming, which in this case, Mark described as, “the horse ran loose.” This song is on Bert’s You’re The One CD.

“I want to dedicate the next song to Aunty Carol; it’s a very hard song to sing.” He asked for the audience to give their best rooster crows; you can tell that everyone in the audience had done their research because the room rocked with crows of every style. And yes, it was hard to sing because of the very high octave chicken-like sounds that punctuated the lively melody and lyrics. Composed by Johnny Lum Ho, Ka Leo O Ka Moa reflects Johnny’s nightly life style of playing music, partying, watching the moon rise, partying, playing music, and watching the sun rise until the chickens crow and tell him it’s time to go home to sleep. Anyone with a lifestyle like that would very well keep time by the crowing of the chicken between midnight and dawn. Jokingly, he said in a very high-pitched voice, “Thank you very much! I really appreciate it!”

When he was asked to perform at a memorial service for the late Daniel Inouye, the two songs requested by his wife Irene were Kaimana Hila and Danny Boy.  He knew the first but not the second, but not wanting to pass up the opportunity to sing at such an auspicious occasion, he said he could sing both songs and he did. He sang Danny Boy for us, a great song for his voice in the lower register; it’s recorded on his green CD.

Bert Naihe shifted gears and sang the lead falsetto on the classic song Sweet Memory/Makalapua; Mark sang the Makalapua translation by Johnny Lum Ho . It was a mellow and riveting performance by the two; hard to believe those exquisite sounds were coming out of them. Another one of the most beautiful renditions of the evening wasPohakuloa. Mark was inspired by one of the sweetest voices in Las Vegas, Gary Haleamau, formerly from Hawai’i.

To show the audience how great the give-away Kamoa ‘ukulele sounded, the group played and sang a tongue-twister song that was far away the fastest song of the evening.  Surprising that even the ‘ukulele could keep up with the song whatever it was called . . . but it ran away from me.

After the intermission, six CD’s were given away to those who signed in with the attendance forms. The big prize of the evening was, of course, the Kamoa `ukulele.  John Cranston of Lihu`e was the lucky and happy winner. That’s a plus one for the EKK ‘ukulele circle and the ‘Ukulele Class at Lihu’e Neighborhood center.

Kanaka Wai Wai by Johnny Almeida slowed the pace again to mellow which was good because it gave the audience a chance to catch their breath between the tongue-twisters which seem to be very much the style of this group. They rendered yet another extraordinarily fast song Ka Mea Hana ‘Apiki in a very high falsetto.  This song about the humorus antics of a mongoose was written by Kuana Torres Kahele for his godson Jorden, Mark’s son.

Mark joked that folks ask him how he manages to sing so high.  They often joke that he has to tighten his belt or wear tight underwear.  Whatever he does, it works for him because he can really hit the rafters. The great thing is that his falsetto is rich and rounded and not tight and squeaky. In addition to Hawaiian music, Mark loves mainstream music and sings it every chance he gets. He sang Love Will Keep Us Alive, a song by the Eagles.

A hula number was requested so they obliged with E Ku`u Sweet Lei Polina’ole attributed to Emma DeFries. At the E Pili Kakou hula gathering at Kaua`i Beach Resort this past weekend, Frank Kawaikapu`okalani Hewett taught a new hula mele that he had composed and said that it was inspired by E Ku`u Sweet Lei Polina`ole and that he was sitting right there with Emma DeFries as she was composing the mele. Kainani Viado took to the stage and gave her graceful hula version of this song. Mark said, “The beauty of music and hula is that it doesn’t have to be rehearsed when it comes from the heart.”

By this time Mark was very relaxed and having a lot of fun with the audience, throwing out some spontaneous humor here and there. He acknowledged the great help he has received from his friends Kupaoa and how much he loves their music, listening to their CD while driving along the Saddle Road. It seems to be a mutual admiration society because Lihau said they love to listen to Mark’s CD as they drive along the Kaua`i Highway to Koke`e. On this trip, Mark is planning to get into the studio with Lihau and Kellen to do some recording so can’t wait to hear what is in store for us next. Big Cheers!

The audience was thrilled when Mark called up Kellen and Lihau Paik to sing with him. They picked a song that Mark knew which was Bumbye, the title track song for one of their CDs. They knew that Mark knew that song because of a family video on Mark’s Facebook page; Kellen told everyone to watch the family video on the Bumbye song. It’s like a Muppets version of the song with real-life muppets.  (Hey Mark, your daughter is pretty cool in there! Give her a break!) What exquisite harmony. The crowd was screaming for a hana hou.

Mark joked, “We really appreciate the hana hou because we don’t get that at our Japanese and Filipino parties.” They obliged with the song Sweet Apapane or Hawaiian Honey Creeper which sings around Mark’s home in  Pi`ihonua overlooking Hilo. The soaring voices of all three in this song sounded like a trio of songbirds. Exquisite!

The title tract of the green CD, Lei Maile, is about the special moments and people in their lives. This hakumele was composed by Lihau for Mark. This song won the 2014 Single of the Year on his Album of the Year and Hawaiian Album of the Year for this Male Vocalist of the Year which tied with Kamaka Kukona.

Packing it all into the too-short time on stage, Mark was cutting loose and singing and yodeling faster and faster while Bert sang in his animated Western twang and Eddie was ripping on his bass; they had the audience bouncing all over the place with their super fast tongue-twisting version of Hawaiian Cowboy. Screams and whistles from a most appreciative audience as they were skipping and clapping out the door.

Another great night of such abundance . . . so much music and so much aloha.

– – – – – – – –

If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at for Monday events.

(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 38 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”
E Kanikapila Kakou 2015 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai`i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua`i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua`i Beach Resort.
Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

13 12, 2015

EKK 2015 Week 4 – “Experiencing the Magic of Aloha – Beamer Style”

2015-12-13T11:44:40-10:00EKK 2015|0 Comments

On the morning after last week’s EKK wrap was sent, I got a 6:30 a.m. email response from Uncle George Kahumoku of Maui  . . . don’t people ever sleep? But it’s great to see that people are reading and appreciating the story for each Monday’s EKK. Here we go . . .

Last year at EKK, Alan Akaka ended the program with, “Please invite us back again!” and here they are again sharing their awesome line-up of kumu at the AMC “Community Aloha Night.”

It was another wonderful evening at EKK with the magical Beamer aloha dust sprinkled all over the audience. Kaliko Beamer-Trapp led the ‘ukulele hour in his inimitable style. I managed to catch a quick story he was telling the group about Grandma Beamer who told the kids to go down to the beach and find 2 shells that were identical and then come home. Of course, finding 2 identical shells is near impossible but it kept the kids outside for a good length of time. When they came home they played with the shells and fell promptly asleep. This story led to the group playing Grandma’s song Pupu Hinuhinu (Shiny Shell Lullabye).

Moanalani welcomed everyone with an ‘oli.

You could hear a Kukui nut drop in the hush as everyone in the Jasmine ballroom held their breath in silent anticipation of Keola’s words of Aloha . . . words that are backed up with a life lived full of love which he has been sharing with the world through the popular Aloha Music Camp — second time held on Kaua’i. As artistic director of AMC he makes sure that they recruit top-notch instructors to fulfill the mission inspired by Aunty Nona Beamer’s daily message to the family – Malama Kou Aloha – Keep your Aloha. This Hawaiian philosophical practice “was a way of being” that helps one to keep that light so you can see the aloha in others. Of course, enticing campers to Kaua’i, a slice of Heaven on Earth, has been a smart move. Learning to live aloha in a place that breathes aloha is a move in the right direction.

So simple … so profound. And in every way, they practice this in their daily lives.

Keola shared his slack key expertise playing Makee Ailana – a song about the island in the pond by Waikiki Zoo where lovers used to hang out; today the Zoo parking covers the pond that was once there. Progress!

Keola spoke about the place where he grew up on the slopes of Mauna Kea on a Hawaiian Homelands ranch owned by his Uncle. Mauna Kea was as much a part of his family as the ‘ohana. Out of this experience came the song The Beauty of Mauna Kea introduced with the haunting sounds of the nose flute, a chant, his nahenahe style of singing to the gentle strumming of his slack key guitar, and the majestic hula by Moanalani.

Moanalani is a stoic woman who appears like a Hawaiian Amazon but her actions are laced with love and compassion as she moves about greeting, hugging, and just acknowledging the presence of people around her. One of my volunteers pointed out that she and all the artists took time to thank those in the background who helped to make the evening go smoothly . . .  so much appreciation to be appreciated.

When Moanalani gets up to dance, her elegance of movement reminds us that our physical self can be an expression of great magnificence. Her every motion exudes emotion as she reaches up to the heavens, bows low to the ‘aina, and sways her womanly physique to visually speak the lyrics for our eyes and our hearts to understand. Half a century late, I finally get what my kumu hula, Helen Kekua, meant when she was trying to get me to show some feeling in my hula movements. (Sigh . . .)

Keola loves his beautiful home in Maui which is so close to the beach; he likes to go there with his beach guitar to practice, especially when there is yard work or anything to be done around the house. There is that ever-present quiet humor which slips out from time to time when Keola tells a story, this time about the ‘ulili bird or “wandering tattler” that he was watching on the shoreline. Plucking sounds on his guitar to echo the bird’s mating call perked the two-legged ‘ulili to attention, and Keola thinks to himself, “This is one lonely bird.” He said that the bird who was quizzically sizing up Keola was probably thinking to himself, “What kind of egg did you come out from?” Keola called on Jeff Peterson to join him with his guitar while Moanalani played the ipu heke and sang the bird’s call-back trills in the chorus.

Keola’s nahenahe style of singing was a great way to bring everyone into focus and to settle in for an evening of sharing by their eight illustrious AMC kumu. He introduced Alan Akaka, a skillful teacher and an illuminating influence whose heart and soul keeps steel guitar alive and well in Hawai’i. Alan, in turn, brought to the stage each artist asking them to give a teaser sample of their musical specialty; it was like a wine tasting of musical talents.

Konabob Stoeffer, a key player in the coordinating of AMC, demonstrated his innovative invention – a very thin and tall 3-string koa stick slack key bass which could make significant sounds in the lower register. Herb Ohta Jr. who follows in the giant footsteps of his Ohta-san Dad, charms everyone with his light and delightful lullabye melody. Maui Boy Kevin Brown shares the rich sounds of a traditional slack key standard.

Kaliko Beamer-Trapp rattled off in ‘olelo Hawai’i, punctuating his brief oratory with intermittent strums on his ‘ukulele. His story is well known — he came from the Isle of Wight off the shores of England and in 1996 became the hanai son of Aunty Nona Beamer and younger brother of Keola. He is responsible for much of the translations of the English lyrics into Hawaiian poetry. As language teacher at UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula o Ke’elikolani Hawaiian Language College, he plays a major role in spreading the Hawaiian language to all who wish to learn to speak the language. You can even go to oleloonline.com to learn to speak Hawaiian from Kaliko.

Jeff Peterson and Alan Akaka are neighbors in Kailua; both just returned from Calcutta, India where they attended the International Steel Guitar Festival. Tau Moe of Laie first introduced the instrument to India in 1919 and spent time traveling to India in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Jeff said it was amazing to watch Alan play the Hawaiian steel guitar in India; it’s been a long time coming for the Hawaiian Steel to revisit India. Jeff pointed out that in India the musicians play it with an accent.

Uluwehi Guerrero, the songbird of Maui, teased the audience with his heavenly voice to the song Kipahulu for a too-short moment but a chicken skin moment none-the-less. He was responsible for the musical arrangements for Keali’i Reichel for many years but now spends much time in Japan working with the halau ladies known as Uluwehi’s “butterflies”, extraordinary hula dancers.

Liko Puha who traveled all the way from California was a former student of Kalena Silva. He imparted words of wisdom to the audience, “You need to try the AMC; put it on your bucket list.”

In addition to their outstanding musical talents, each kumu delivers their unique brand of humor. Alan, when he retires from music, can do the comedy club circuit with his spontaneous antics.  He says that Uluwehi’s surprising one-liners just ooze out of him.  Uluwehi also tells great small kid time stories, embellished with pidgin English that reminds all of us local folks about our humble barefoot  “hanabata” days.  Herb, also delivers one-liners with a deadpan expression; he doesn’t say much, but what he says stays with you.  Liko Puha with his loud chanting and equally loud giggle has humor written all over his expressive face.  Soft spoken Kevin as a wealth of hilarious stories from his long musical life.  Kaliko spits it all out in rapid-fire Hawaiian but those who get it are full of chuckles. Konabob at one end and Jeff Peterson as the other end, are the pillars that hold it all together for the group.

The kumu joined together in a group song with each artist taking a turn playing pa’ani or musical interludes. With a nod of the head or calling out a name, the musical ball was passed from one artist to another, and each gave his special twist to the song. Kaliko led off the individual performances with the zesty Holoholo Ka’a backed up by the other seven artists.

Liko, who admits to being an administrator at a Junior College in California for his day job, sang a song composed by Lot Kauwe and made famous by Bruddah Iz. Lot wrote a lot of love type songs, so Aloha Ka Manini is about fish. “But really! . . . is it about fish?” he questions with a twinkle in his voice and rolling eyes on his jovial face.

Herb was asked to demonstrate the great sound of the Kamoa ‘ukulele which this week was an electric acoustic instrument. Herb obliged with the lively Sophisticated Hula and everyone joined in making that the longest debut for any Kamoa ‘ukulele that was given away at EKK.

Calvin Hoe, the AMC kumu whose task is to show campers how to make their own Hawaiian instruments the traditional way, shared Mary Kawena Pukui’s song Ke Ao Nani, known as Baby Hula, which he learned from his kumu hula Auntie Nona Beamer. Moanalani, clicking river rocks in her hands, and Mauli’ola Cook, keeping the beat with the bamboo pu’ili, danced this favorite song for children. A teacher at the Hakipu’u Learning Center, a Hawai’i Public Charter School at Windward Community College, Calvin teaches students how to plant taro, play music and dance the hula. “I feel so fortunate to live in a place like this and I am even more lucky because I know I am lucky.”

Jeff shared an instrumental song with Indian tunings and sounds inspired by his recent visit to the Classic Steel Guitar competition in Calcutta. It sounded amazingly like it was being played on an Indian instrument instead of a slack key guitar. Since Tau Moe first introduced the instrument to India nearly a century ago, the musicians in India have altered and embellished the instrument so much that some steel guitars have as many as 40 strings that deliver a richness of sounds. The Kika Kila (geetah-steel-ha), meaning steel guitar, has evolved into many variations in India.

Herb Ohta, Jr. shared a song he learned from the legendary Ledward Kaapana.  It’s on Led’s Life Solo CD and is actually a Russian Folk Song that is also known as Turkey In the Straw; slack key artists call it Glass Ball Slack Key.

Kevin Brown wanted to share Dennis Kamakahi’s most famous song because Kaua’i is where Dennis played his last concert before he passed on. At each concert on Kaua’i, Dennis always said, “I like to start my tour on Kaua’i because it’s my barometer on how the tour will go.”  If he could not start it here, he always tried to end it here. As soon as Kevin began to sing, the entire audience joined in and raised their voices in unison to Kauai’s favoriteKoke’e.  It was definitely chicken skin and Kevin wraps it up with, “Dennis would be so proud!” Kevin and the Brown family ranked high as Dennis’s close friends.

Uluwehi Guerrero has an expression of calmness that belies the twinkle with which he tells stories. Invited to perform at the President’s Black Tie Affair at the Tournament of Roses for the Rose Bowl parade, he was faced with an audience of 450 of the most conservative, wealthy and influential people.
Having learned from the promoter that the previous year, Jersey Boys did not go over big with this crowd, he decided against a Hawaiian program which they would not understand anyway. He chose instead to sing a song from the Hapa-Haole Music era which the Chamber of Commerce commissioned Silverwood to write in 1919 to encourage people to come to Hawai’i.  Honolulu, I’m Coming Back Again! captured and held their attention; the promoter told him, “This is the first time the people did not leave for the final act.”

It was a most appropriate song for the EKK group as many of the visitors who were taking it all in very likely had 1/16th of their brain trying to figure out how they would be coming back to Kaua’i again. During the course of the evening, several folks shared with me that they were definitely coming back or asking how can they be part of Aloha Music Camp. Screams of hana hou! hana hou! showed that this audience, too, appreciated the song, but was unfortunately cut short by lack of time. “Uluwehi, you will owe us that hana hou next year!”

One thing we discovered is that the evening was not long enough to hear the kumu share their collective talents. As the evening was coming to a close and folks were making sounds like they hadn’t had enough and wanted a hana hou, I requested Honolulu City Lights, a song that holds for me many memories overlooking the millions of twinkling lights against the black velvet night sky of Honolulu. It was a spontaneous request, not preplanned, and Alan called Keola Beamer up to sing his famous song.  Keola obliged and sat down next to Alan, who comically did something that was funny at the moment but at the same time profound.  He said, “Wow! I never played next to Keola before! May I touch you?” He seized the moment, took out his cell phone and started to take a selfie of himself next to Keola.  LOL. That was a light moment that the audience loved.  Keola responded, “I’ve just been facebooked!” Backed by all the kumu, he sang Honolulu City Lights with the deep emotions that prompted the composing of this very nostalgic song. Moanalani got up in the second verse and enhanced the magic of the moment as she moved effortlessly and gracefully across the stage.  What a precious and unforgettable moment in time.

This light-hearted encounter illustrates the profound effect that this power couple has on the people around them.  Besides putting out some of the most memorable music that are woven into the Hawaiian musical repertoire, they continue to spread their aloha through concerts, tours, videos, books and the Aloha Music Camp. Both are multi-dimensional, and though on stage we see their performance persona, those who are privileged to be part of the AMC, get to see the other parts of their personality reserved for more intimate settings. I, for one, had the honor and privilege of attending a couple of their evening performances . . . something I will treasure forever.

For the second year in a row, a gentleman from the Aloha Music Camp, was the lucky winner of the Kamoa ‘Ukulele which was given away to one lucky person. It is definitely appropriate that someone who is so immersed in learning the Hawaiian culture should be the one to win the ‘ukulele. Alan Akaka kept waving around his own blue tickets and reading off his numbers into the ether, to no avail, the ‘ukulele found its rightful recipient.  Thank you once again Kamoa ‘Ukulele donors!

If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at for Monday events.

(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 38 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”
E Kanikapila Kakou 2015 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua’i Beach Resort.
Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

– – – – – – – – –

A bit of history:
Steel player Tau Moe was the greatest traveller of all. He left Hawai’i in 1927 with his wife Rose. With their two children Lani and Dorion, they spent 60 years touring the world, living in each country for many years. Some of the countries where they lived and performed in are: the Philippines, all of Asia including Japan and China, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, over forty years in Germany, then Belgium, France, England, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Israel, Greece, Egypt, Tonga, Australia, and New Zealand.

They spent the WWII years in India, and returned to Hawai’i in the late 1980’s where Tau, Lani and Dorian live to this day. Rose has passed on. Tau related in his story that almost everywhere they went the voice of the steel guitar had already been heard on the recordings of virtuoso Sol Ho’opi’i who must have had the greatest agent of all time. Another much travelled steel player of the early days was Sam Ku West. Many Hawaiians toured in show groups attached to Vaudeville shows, Circus shows, or the Chautauqua. They performed in World Fairs and Expositions, on radio and in movies.

From the History of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar by Lorene Ruymar of Canada.

13 12, 2015

EKK 2015 Week 3 – An Evening of Song after Song

2020-09-12T11:26:55-10:00EKK 2015|0 Comments

EKK – An Evening of Song after Song

Flashback on the Man of the Hour:

Ken Makuakane was caught off guard when he was asked to play on the Kamoa ‘ukulele and teach the audience to sing Hau’oli La Hanau, the birthday song in Hawaiian, and one of the hotel staff walked up to him with a Red Velvet Cupcake with hot fudge center topped with thick creamy icing and a single birthday candle.

“What do I do now?” asked the for-once-speechless Kenneth.

“Up to you, you the artist,” I replied.

“But you the pushy boss!” was his typically sassy remark.

At this point, Garden Island Arts Council President Katherine Brocklehurst came up and shared with the audience some of Kenneth’s many accolades and acknowledged that on February 7 he will be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists (HARA) for his many contributions to the world of music in Hawai’i.  She summed it up for all of us who hang around Ken and watch him whip out songs so effortlessly. “When you are around someone that is so good at what they do, they make it look so easy.” This multi-instrumental player and gifted songwriter and music producer for Na Leo, Amy Hanaiali’i, Loyal Garner, Raiatea Helm, O’Brian Eselu, Pandanus Club, among many others, has had over 150 nominations and has won 12 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards to date…and still going.

When his older son was 16 years old, Kenneth wanted his son to experience the Hawaiian Islands Tour on the Cruise Ship. It was then that he met two EKK Snowbirds in Tom Kats Grill in Koloa. Coincidentally he was invited that year to present at EKK. That serendipitous meeting with Marty and Phyllis Albert was the beginning of his love affair with Kaua’i. On April 9, 2007, when EKK was being held at the Island School cafeteria, Ken did his first solo stint but it turned out not to be solo as he brought up on stage Marty Albert to play his ‘ukulele and sing a song that he had been practicing religiously for his daughter’s wedding on the East Coast. Kekai Chock and the late Rocky Pau also shared the stage with him. Kekai, easily is one of the few guys I know who can listen in on a new song once and then join in with unbelievable riffs and pa’ina. Kekai totally blew Kenneth away with his impressive musicality.

Kenneth wrote to me:  “thanks carol. Last night was fun and SOOOOO successful this has become.wowowowow on you girl! Who is this phenomena kekai chock?? He’s soooo highly skilled he’d be an act by himself,no? does he live here? Thanks for all you do.”

In 2011 when Kenneth came again with O’Brian Eselu’s encore EKK performance, O’Brian asked if I could have Kekai Chock join him on stage because he knew him from an earlier life. Interesting that Kenneth has been O’Brian’s musical muse for over 30 years and did not meet Kekai until 2007 at EKK.

Ken came to EKK the second time in 2009 when O’Brian Eselu made his EKK debut at the Island School cafeteria.  O’Brian wanted Kenneth, his long time friend and musical arranger, to be there with him. Taking the back seat to assist O’Brian as the star in the performance was easy for Kenneth as, for many years, he was the silent partner behind many of Hawaii’s top performers.

I wrote this in 2007 when he first came to EKK for his solo show:
“For nearly thirty years Kenneth has been producing CD’s for many musicians who have built fine reputations for themselves. One day he sat himself down, thought about it, and realized that being a record producer felt like watching everyone else fly off into the sky and he’s left behind on the ground smelling the jet exhaust.  Even with 11 Na Hoku Awards tucked in his belt and even with being inducted into the prestigious Kamehameha Schools Alumni Gallery Hall of Fame, Kenneth wanted to fly, so he recently produced his own solo CD entitled ‘Makuakane’.”

Once upon a time, Kaua’i was not Kenneth’s favorite island, or so he revealed to the EKK audience. Since his first EKK gig in 2007, he has returned in 2009, 2011 and this year. He also shared his musical expertise at the Koke’e Haku Mele Camps in 2009, 2010 and 2011, teaching songwriters how to collaborate and write their leo. He blew us away when he strolled with his guitar among the hard-working groups writing their lyrics, and when they got up to share their lyrics, he strummed and sang each original leo that went with each song. Over the years we have learned to tap into his “musical genius” by inviting him to the Haku Mele Camp where his musical acumen was very much appreciated. Through his active role in the Kaua’i Music Festivals, Kenneth has been spending more quality time on Kaua’i, sharing his expertise on the technical aspects of recording music and getting a grip on the business aspects of the music industry.

Don’t let his deadpan expression fool you. Composer of thousands of songs, producer of over a hundred albums, winner of twelve Na Hoku Hanohano awards, Kenneth’s brilliant command of Hawaiian music and generous spirit of sharing and teaching others has endeared him to many, from the young aspiring songwriters to highly accomplished performers. He figured out early on that there are only 104 weekend days in a year to perform so he had to do some other work to survive.  He made good use of the other 261 days of the year publishing hundreds of songs over a 30-year period.

Musical Genius in Action:

We had a chance to see this musical genius in action as he introduced to the ‘ukulele circle a new way to compose their own rock and blues music. Sixty-plus players were totally engaged in this first-hour activity.

Kenneth opened the program with a solo set:  He wrote a song for Kaua’i in which he managed to squeeze in every little plantation town on island. People living on Kaua’i like to pinpoint where they live by specifying the exact section of the town. Understandable since, for the longest time, very few Kaua’i residents used street addresses; instead they gave directions to their homes by describing the right turns, the left turns, the mango tree, the coconut grove, the bridges over the river, the number of telephone poles or mailboxes, etc as the way to find their home. A person in Kapa’a will specify if they live in Wailua Houselots, Wailua Homesteads, Kapahi, Keapana, Waipouli or downtown Kapa’a. With the advent of GPS on everyone’s cell phone, learning one’s own street address has become a necessity. Kenneth’s song written for King Kaumu’alii, Na Pua O Kaumuali’i, reflects the way that folks on Kaua’i really identify with the town they call home.

Ken was asked to play music for a halau from Maui who entered a competition just so the girls could get the experience, something that less skilled hula dancers rarely have a chance to do. They came to practice on Kaua’i, but it disturbed him that most of the girls kept making mistakes. To his chagrin, the kumu admitted that the dancers were new and the least skilled dancers in the halau; he was miffed because he worked so hard on his songs. “You brought the A-Team to play for the F-Troop?” He admonished the kumu for giving him rank beginners for his song. The girls worked very hard, and their performance at the competition was nothing short of magnificent, winning them the top award in the competition. Ken admitted that rubber slippers are hard to chew. Crying for joy at their accomplishment while feeling so shabby about his earlier attitude, Ken was inspired to write a song for these halau members; Dance Another Hula for Me was an uplifting song celebrating the efforts of the halau members and holding an important lesson for Kenneth.

EKK 2015 is dedicated to the late Uncle Dennis Kamakahi, a long time and close friend of Kenneth’s. He tried to put all of Dennis’s songs into one; that is a tall order even for someone as gifted as Kenneth. His first attempt to sing Ke Kumu Mele was aborted as he became overcome with emotion; he sang a different song and then came back to share what he called a song for a composer’s composer. It was beautiful.

When his Dad tried to teach him that the man is the “boss in the house”, Kenneth found out otherwise, so he went to his Dad to let him know that the theory did not work for him, upon which his Dad told him the last words are always “Yes Dear!” Out of this life lesson came the song Hush My Darling.

“People can be crazy, idiotic and that’s me.” Loves his day job but doesn’t love it so much that he does not have time for his passion. During the month of December, he recorded six albums including a whole bunch of songs that maybe you don’t want to hear.  He sang a couple of the songs to show us what he composes just for the fun of it.

In 1976 the Hokulea sailing canoe set sail on its maiden voyage using the stars, waves and wind as navigational tools; Kenneth wrote Ka Napoleona O Ka Pakipika (Napoleon of the Pacific) to commemorate that important event.

When putting together a new album, he wanted to write a song about water. He looks on water as the bridge that connects us to each other – by touching the ocean, persons on different shores are connected to each other. Thus the song Ho’okahi No Wai came to be.

When he was young, dumb and living in Kane’ohe, his rusty old van with the bald tires went out of control on the rain-drenched highway as he exited the Pali Tunnel; he wrote a song for that dangerous but thrilling experience of sliding out of control down the Pali Highway; he described his van like a hula dancer that swayed to the left and to the right. Sway it Hula Girl was the result of that lucky-to-be alive adventure!

Kenneth is tenacious and bounces back easily.  He has a way of turning lemons into lemonade, which is part of why he has so many accomplishments to his name. He went to a hula competition in Las Vegas and was asked by a hula parent to write a song for her daughter. He forgot about it, so when the parent called him to the ballroom to practice the song before the competition; he completely stressed out and tried to stall but managed to scribble some words onto a piece of paper in ten minutes and rushed down to the ballroom to play for the dancer. The result was a beautiful song called I Miss You My Hawaii, which won a Na Hoku Hanohano award in 2000 and was recorded by Na Leo.

After the intermission, six lucky folks who filled in attendance forms, won CD’s by Raiatea Helm, Jeff Peterson, Gordon Mark, Hi’ikua, Bryan Tolentino, George Kahumoku Jr.  What a perk for spending two minutes filling out a form. This happens every week.

The second half of the program was full on music and hula as the two other members of the Pandanus Club  — Rodney Lopez Jr. and Alden Kaiaokamalie – joined Kenneth on stage.  Thrilling the audience with powerful male hula action were two members of the late O’Brian Eselu’s halau, Ke Kai o Kahiki.

In 2011 this is what I wrote when these same young men first appeared on the EKK stage: “O’Brian introduced his two male hula dancers for the kahiko hula. In his candid style, O’Brian tells the audience that Carol’s group (EKK) could afford only two dancers.  Any more and the stage would have been too small . . . the two twenty-one year old dancers more than filled the bill. Such shy and respectful young men in their Clark Kent disguises, I could barely get their names from them as they were helping me bring all my EKK ‘ukana from my studio to the hotel. But when they exploded into action on stage, one gets an indelible visual image of the words Hawaiian Superman. Dressed only in their poofy kahiko outfits, lei alilea and body tattoos on their muscular physique, Keali’i and Sonny of Ke Kai o Kahiki needed no words . . . action speaks louder than words.”

And this is how they began the second set with these same two young men, a few years older but just as awesome for the eyes, burst out on the stage, muscles rippling as their precision moves to the chant sent waves of chicken skin over the audience. Kenneth said, “Everyone brings their cute hula girls but . . . nah . . . we want to cater to the women. Huge female screams went up around the room.

For the later songs, the quick-change artists shifted gears to the ‘auana mode wearing casual aloha shirts and white pants; they looked just as good with their shirts on and so easy on the eyes –- clean cut , masculine, fast moving energetic hula movements. Such a treat to be able to watch two of the most outstanding male hula dancers in the state on the EKK stage. They love Kaua’i and would return any time.

The Pandanus Club Emerges:

When Kenneth moved from Maui to O’ahu, he spent three months playing gigs in small dives. One evening a group of them got together and recorded an album with $1200 they scraped together. A record producer took the recording and made 10,000 copies, and 7,000 cassettes were sold in two weeks. A total of 60,000 cassettes were sold. Thus the Pandanus Club was on the charts and E Wai’anae, with lyrics by Randy Ngum and music by Kenneth, became their first hit. Kenneth said this was a major lesson for him about marketing.

The verses in that song held a lesson in Hawaiian salutation which Kenneth shared with us. ‘Ano‘ai is a polite salutation for someone new or a stranger; Welina is used to greet a friend; Aloha e is reserved for one who has become a part of your ‘ohana or is close to you. Learning the meaning of the words from the composer himself is a good thing.

E Wai’anae is a fast dance that speaks of the place where the halau gather every Saturday to learn the hula. The audience went wild with hana hou screams so the dancers stayed on stage and danced to a hula about paddling a canoe . . . they made paddling look sensuous.

Experiences of people he knows are often captured in his songs. Pili Mau Me ‘Oe, came about when his cousin, wanting a song for his wife, gave him some English words written on a napkin about the scent of the pikake lei on his first date with his wife. The part that is not in the songs is that the bees got attracted to the scent of his pikake lei and gave him over 50 stings on his face. Manu Boyd translated the English words into poetic Hawaiian lyrics. Kenneth, seeing that it needed a chorus, added a chorus in English. When his cousin saw the words to the chorus he got pissed to see the English words tacked on to the beautiful haku mele. Kenneth told him “but we recorded it already!” His cousin was non-communicative for months. The song became a hit for 8 months; when his cousin next saw him he was elated over the success of “our song.”

The evening continued with the reunited Pandanus Club sharing their special harmonies, singing in parts, to traditional Hawaiian music.

Kenneth met Alden when the senior class performed Kenneth’s song for the Kamehameha School Song Contest. They became friends, formed the Pandanus Club, and today Alden is a singer/songwriter and producer. Alden’s song Ku’u Pua Gardenia became a hit song on the radio. He hails from Maui. The first time he heard Maui On My Mind, it brought back good memories of family and became his favorite song of all time. Alden was the lead vocalist on Ku’u Lei o Nahenahe. With words like “Hold me darling never let me go,” it’s a great lead into upcoming Valentine’s Day.

Rodney Lopez, besides being very funny with his colorful jokes, is a definite asset to the group with his robust falsetto and passionate style of singing. Huge applause every time. Pulelehua about a cocoon transforming into a butterfly is Rodney’s favorite song. He sang it like he owns the song. He sings every song with that same powerful delivery. Mokihana Lullabye, composed by the late Loyal Garner, was beautifully rendered in harmony. Honokahua Nani E, resonating with emotion, was their final number.

A gentleman from Portland, Maine was the lucky person whose name was drawn out from the ‘ukulele bottle. Boy! Was he ever happy . . . he was about to give a long acceptance speech but everyone joined hands in singing Hawai’i Aloha. Everyone walked out of the ballroom elated – sharing music, dance and a magical experience full of aloha does it every time.

If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at giac05@icloud.com for Monday events.

(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 38 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”

E Kanikapila Kakou 2015 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua’i Beach Resort.

Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

3 11, 2015

EKK 2015 Week 2 – Backstage in the Minds of the Composers

2020-09-12T11:26:55-10:00EKK 2015|0 Comments

Monday, January 26

EKK – Backstage in the Minds of the Composers

Monday, January 26, was a unique opportunity for the EKK audience. Whenever an audience views a show, the magic of the stage action is what the viewer takes away. Rarely does one get to see behind the scenes into the creative thought processes of the artists, in this case, the composers and the musicians.

Kellen and Lihau Hannahs Paik, better known as Kupaoa, were joined by their friend, mentor, and instructor of Hawaiian Language, the illustrious Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier with his deep and resonant voice. Together they peeled away the layers of the onion as they revealed the stories or mo’olelo of the songs that they had collaborated on, revealing the deeper metaphorical meanings and the secrets hidden in the words of the song. Bringing the music and lyrics to us visually was the hula of Frank Akima and Eleena Helenihi of the Kananiokeakua School of Hula. There was definitely a magical ambiance as they shared their stories, music and dance. Puakea describes: “ . . . it makes the room vibrate with happy, engaged hearts and minds.”

EKK Audience Da Best!
As Lihau shared in her email:
“We had such a wonderful time last night with our gang. I can’t tell you how much Kellen and I truly enjoy playing at EKK. We can’t express our appreciation for all that you do and sacrifice to keep an event like this going. It’s truly one of a kind and we are so grateful to be given the opportunity to play for the community of Kaua’i in an EKK-type setting. In Hawai`i, it’s rare that we get the chance to share so much of the mana`o behind all of our mele. As I said in the show, we are usually the background to some joyous celebration or the ambiance for an evening meal. EKK has provided us with the opportunity to do the kind of show that we normally do on tour in the mainland for a local audience. We got so many encouraging and kind comments last night about the performance and most were so appreciative to hear the mo`olelo so mahalo for giving us the opportunity to share that! “

Sharing Through Workshops:
The sharing started at 6:00 pm with Kellen and Lihau teaching the ‘ukulele gang, 40 strong, the strumming and words to Bumbye while the two kumu hula worked with 20 aspiring dancers, to learn the hula for Bumbye. We set up seven chairs in a tight semi-circle for a Hui Kukakuka (discussion group) for Hawaiian language aficionados to have a chance to hear Puakea, but the Kaua’i coconut wireless worked overtime and Puakea’s fan club showed up so the tight circle expanded to over 25 people hanging on to his every word. It’s the same voice that tells everyone on TheBus in Honolulu when they are approaching their destination bus stop.

Puakea loved the sharing as he wrote:
“I had a great time with the “language” group – we talked more about language than talking the language, but it was very worthwhile. Then the evening went along like a night in my living room, just with a few hundred extra folk on hand. As comfortable and fun as a gathering of friends. Thank you for including me, and for making another wonderful memory in my own Lei Hali`a.”

Dennis Kamakahi Dedication:
Lihau and Kellen opened the performance with one of their favorite Dennis Kamakahi songs as a fitting way to honor the memory of Uncle Dennis. They shared the story of Sweet By and By which Dennis wrote for a friend who wanted to woo his girlfriend. On a dark night they did the grand romantic gesture by standing outside the love interest’s home and serenaded her with the words of a love-struck suitor. The lights came on, the window opened, and the girl’s dad stuck his head out and said, “You guys! It’s beautiful but her room is on the other side!” Dennis told them that it worked because they are still married and Sweet By and By is their anniversary song.

As always, Kuapao’s family “banter,” which is a big part of their performance, together with the harmonic blend of their voices, held us captive. Kellen sings so joyfully with his uplifting smile on a cherubic Buddha-like face while Lihau’s serene expression and mellow voice reflects the emotion of each song.

“Predictive Magic”
Keali’i Reichel’s song composed by Puakea is the title track on his award-winning second CD Lei Hali’a; it’s Kupaoa’s favorite. Puakea’s mana’o behind the song is that we all wear a lei of remembrance and whenever something is sad or gloomy, there is always an upside to balance it – like when his neighbor cut down his favorite 5-story Tamarind tree making his whole day gloomy, he was able to see the beautiful Ko’olau mountains that were earlier blocked by the tree. In the song Lei Hali’a, when the winds change, the clouds back up in Nu’uanu Valley making the valley feel gloomy but the forest is very happy with the humidity. He shared a secret in the last line – that when the winds shift and sweep up against the strong tall peak and lifts the gloomy mist, the majestic pali cliffs shine through and the intoxicating Hinano scent from the Ko’olau side of the valley rise up to the mountain peaks. It’s called “predictive magic.” Such titillating kaona.

Awaiaulu – Paying it Forward:
Another Keali’i Reichel-related story was about one of the first original compositions by Puakea. Although Kupaoa had sung it at various events, they never recorded the song, so when Keali’i sang it at an event he put a kapu on it and Puakea promised him the song. Because Keali’i never recorded it, they negotiated with him and finally in 2014 recorded the song on their I Know You By Heart CD.

The song He Aloha Awaiaulu, is about the home of his very close friend, Dwayne Nakila Steele, who was first his student, then his friend, and then his partner-in-crime and major funder for the much lauded Hawaiian language newspaper translation project which took them 20 years to transcribe. Dwayne’s words of wisdom to Puakea was that the “newspapers project” is not only about the Hawaiian language but about the knowledge that needs to be made accessible. He entrusted Puakea to train the much-needed translators through what is called the “Awaiaulu Foundation” so the translation could be continued and accomplished. Puakea wrote the song as a Christmas present during the last year of Dwayne’s life. The word Awaiaulu is the name of their home and translate to “when two things are bound together as one.”

Lihau shared their story about their long-time family friends, the Steele’s.  Marti and Puakea ganged up against Lihau’s adamant mandate that Kellen finish his Masters degree before recording in the studio. They both felt that Kupaoa needed to get their music out there, and believing in them, Marti funded their first CD project. Lihau agreed on the condition that they be able to pay her back for her financial support. It took them two years to save the money from the sale of the CD’s but when she tried to write her a check to return the favor, Marti told her to “pay it forward!” Such is the kind of friendship that is captured in the message of the song — as the highlands are garlanded by the mist, so are we wearing the garland of aloha.

Talking about “paying it forward”, Na Mele Aloha, a Hawaiian Songbook (a must for any ‘ukulele player) for which Puakea is one of the volunteer collaborators along with Carol Wilcox, Kimo Hussey and Vicky Hollinger, is now in its 9th printing and has raised over a quarter million dollars for the Lunalilo Homes.

Ka Waiwai, another song with plenty of words about the riches in our lives was written by Puakea for the Hawaiian language students in Kahuku. Whether he is aware of it or not, it seems to embody his own life’s journey. Posed as a question to the students, he asked them if they wanted to be Rich or Smart? and “How many of you will give away half of what you have to others?”  His answer to the rhetorical question was that the Rich will not give away half of what they have to others, but that the Smart can and will give away half or all of what they have to others because what they have is knowledge. Just ask them and they will give.

Back to My Roots:
Kaulana Kilauea (famous is Kilauea) on their Bumbye CD was composed by Kellen to honor his beloved home town – the Kilauea plantation with its history of hardships which brought all these wonderful people of different ethnicities together into one close-knit community, the people of Kilauea who all helped to raise the kids together, the Lighthouse that guides the ships represents the guiding of the children, the school where he grew up as a child, and together they all comprised the garland that he will wear forever. Frank Akima danced the hula to Kaulana Kilauea.

Halele’a encompasses the land from Kalihiwai to Ke’e at the end of Ha’ena. Kellen, as part of his Master’s degree, had to re-write a four-page story into a 20-page story in Hawaiian. He took the late Bruce Wichman’s story in Kauai Tales about Maniniholo, the menehune who lived in the Dry Cave in Haena, and tried to expand the story but ended with only 15 pages of text. Lihau, who claims she should have an honorary Masters Degree in Hawaiian language for her part in helping Kellen to earn his degree, composed the 2-page haku mele Halele’a to be interspersed into the text of Kellen’s story because incorporating songs into the stories was commonly seen in Hawaiian writing. For this number, Kellen sang and Lihau danced the hula.

See You Bumbye:
Bumbye is a song composed by Puakea for his foster mother ‘Ululani, a 4 -foot 11-inches tall Hawaiian Goddess who was married to a handsome 6-foot 4-inches tall Hawaiian man named Kamuela Kumukahi. Kamuela spoke only Hawaiian until age 8 and married ‘Ululani at age 17; he was a lover of the language and shared his love of the Hawaiian words with Puakea. ‘Ululani had a heart attack in her old age and ended up hospitalized, but being a nurse all her life, she was not the ideal patient. She did accept native Hawaiian healing for thrush which involved gathering 50 kukui nuts off the tops of trees and taking the one drop of liquid or pilali from each nut and swabbing the affected areas in her mouth, but she refused to drink any water, saying she could not swallow and that she would drink water bumbye (laters).

Fearing for her life, Puakea went home heavy-hearted and came back the next morning with the song Bumbye which he sang for her in the morning. Laughing over the lyrics which called her the Queen of Bumbye, she reached for water and took a sip. She was released the next day. When she died later that year, they passed out the words to everyone at the funeral, saying this was not meant to be a sad song. Kupaoa recorded the song with ‘Ululani’s daughter, Ku’uipo Kumukahi, singing the 3rd verse which makes fun of her Mom – “your pretty little head is like basalt.” ‘Ukulele players joined in the playing, hula dancers brave enough to face the crowd went up to dance led by Frank and Eleena, while Kupaoa and Puakea sang the tongue-twister song.

Amphibians Elevated in Song:
Lihau pointed out that they seem to like Puakea’s songs with the most complicated words, one of them being The Toad Song which Puakea penned in a matter of minutes. But the “research” for it involved years of close observation on toad behavior at his home in Wai’anae. Moving to urban Honolulu, he did not encounter any toads until one rainy night when he heard a Toad’s croaking in the puddle where the giant Tamarind tree once grew. Next morning there were eggs in the pond. The moral of the story is that if a toad sings its own song, no matter how ugly he is, he will always find a mate.

Although the Hawaiian version took a few minutes to write, the English version, which is a hilarious rhyming tongue-twister, took him over five hours to complete. Keali’i Reichel, when he heard it, said it definitely was his style of song; and Puakea got his recording debut to sing two very, very low notes in the chorus because only his voice could go that low. Chinky Mahoe and his halau danced it at the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival and won first place for the incredible choreography. When Puakea’s mother was lying in bed with cancer, she had all her visitors watch the video of The Toad Song hula and she happily watched it ten times a day. In the years since The Toad Song came out, Puakea has been gifted with over 400 toad/frog sculptures and figurines, including that tall well-known sculpture of two butt-naked frogs hugging. This summer I was sitting in a dress shop at an outdoor food market in Taiwan when I heard Puakea’s sonorous voice croaking through the racks of designer dresses….what a ribbeting surprise! Hard to believe that the homely humble toad has made its way around the world . . . in song.

Mele Koki about the invading Coqui frogs on Hawai’i Island is another of Puakea’s concoctions which is actually criticizing a system that allows pests from Puerto Rico to invade and take over the fragile eco-system in Hawai’i. One frog sounds like a high zippy whistle but a thousand-million Coqui frogs sounds like an unrelenting car alarm that never quits. “They sing till dawn but madness may come first!” The delightful surprise of the evening was Frank’s super athletic signature hula of this four-legged tongue-zapping hopper. Dressed in the perfect black-green-white athletic attire, he danced and pranced like a frog with attitude . . . no wonder the kids love it! In fact, everyone at EKK loved it, too.

Songs of  Love and Hope:
One of the most beautiful songs was Na Pua Mohala or Hana Wa Saku (the flowers will bloom) which was composed as a song of hope for the survivors of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami that the vast farmlands devastated by the oceans would bloom once again. Together with their musical counterparts in Japan, a group called Kaulana, Kupaoa recorded a CD with this as the title track. Kellen revealed how difficult it was for them to take the Japanese message and translate it literally into Hawaiian; it just did not feel or sound right. So they took their attempts to Puakea who helped them to translate the ideas or sentiments rather than the words. The melody definitely has a Japanese sound to it and the lyrics in both Hawaiian and Japanese shares the message of hope that the flowers will continue to bloom. Eleena’s hula was as poignant and uplifting as the mele.

Lihau wrote a song about her beloved Chinese grandmother whose passing caused her much physical pain; Kellen urged her to work through her grief by writing about her in song. Interestingly, Popo did not like “that boy” because he was not Chinese, but he eventually won her over by bringing her fish that he speared. It took Lihau over five years before she could actually record the song, Pakalana A Ka Pu’uwai, Pakalana of My Heart. Eleena danced the hula to this song.

The final number is the title track from their I Know You By Heart CD; it shares the message to cherish the moments that you spend together. At EKK we definitely all take that message to heart!

Kamoa ‘Ukulele Winner:
None other than our faithful attendee and patron Noreen Chun of Kapa’a was the lucky winner of the Kamoa ‘Ukulele this week!

PS – The Newspaper Project:
After I got home and unloaded my van, it was already 11:00 pm, but I was so curious about the “newspaper project” which I had vaguely known about since it started a quarter century ago, so I went online and read about it until 2:00 in the morning. I was struck by the value of recording what goes on today as valuable touchstones for the future.
Here are some links for those who wish to lose sleep over it.  Fascinating!  www.awaiaulu.org; www.youtube.com/watch?v=qx44JMlkxyk; www.the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Apr/21/bz/FP604210344.html; www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/client-services/donor-stories-dwayne-nakila-steele;

What a compliment to receive this email from Puakea drawing a parallel between his work on the newspaper project to my work with EKK:
My work is a bit like yours – we do it knowing that it makes a ripple far beyond ourselves. You work nonstop to make learning fun, and it elevates both the content of what’s learned as well as those who develop whole new fields of appreciation. Your continual pebbles-in-the-pond have far-reaching ripples – and they often wash over me – I came back from EKK feeling fully uplifted, and it was a two-way thing – I have new things to appreciate.  Mahalo ia `oe.
me ke aloha,

If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at giac05@icloud.com for Monday events.

(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 38 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”

E Kanikapila Kakou 2015 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua’i Beach Resort.

Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

3 11, 2015

EKK 2015 Opening Night Celebrates ‘Ukulele in Great Style

2020-09-12T11:26:54-10:00EKK 2015|0 Comments

Monday, January 19, 2015

EKK 2015 Opening Night Celebrates ‘Ukulele in Great Style


Four ‘ukulele groups from the island, numbering 107 players and hula dancers, present an evening of inspiration and great musical entertainment, setting the pace for this year’s theme:  “Music Into the Community”

The Morning After:  Message from Marilyn of Lihu’e ‘Ukulele Class
As i sit here, i am thinking how fortunate are we to have you at EKK. Thank you very much for giving us the experience to sing for the wonderful audience. I am still thinking of the wonderful and memorable experience…yes, i know, that if it were not for our student, Charles Tomlinson, last night would not have been possible. Your arrangement of the program was excellent . . . well organized . . . the timing was perfect and to have given each group a time to teach so there was a break there! Oh, yes, thank you, too, for the most generous ‘honorarium’ gift…we are so blessed with so many things. thanx to you, carol.
Have a wonderful day.

My response to Marilyn of Lihu’e ‘Ukulele Class:
Aloha and Good morning Marilyn
I, too, am so happy at the great turnout and the wonderful and uniquely different performances put on by each group, so much greater than my expectations.  The buzz was definitely there and everyone was caught up in the excitement of the evening; makes me want to join the classes even if I can’t carry a tune and have poor rhythm.  I formerly lived about five doors away from the Lihu’e Neighborhood center; did not know all that was going on right next door to me.
Charlie and Maria Tomlinson were definitely very happy with the outcome of their generosity. I am sure that more folks will be showing up at the ‘ukulele classes.  What an inspiration you all are!
Carol Yotsuda

‘Ukulele players, schlepping their music stands and instruments, which included wash-tub bass pakini, steel guitar, bass guitar, 10-string tiple, guitars, plus soooo many ‘ukulele, started showing up at the Kaua’i Beach Resort at 4:00 pm, dressed up in matching attire – Lihu’e in red and white aloha print, Kalaheo in smart-looking all white outfits, Kilauea in purple and green aloha wear, and Hanalei in their casual purple club tees and white halau tees. They sat in their own sections so that the guests could sit up front and close to all the stage action.

Onio Punzal, blowing on his conch shell or pu, welcomed everyone from four directions of the Earth to come together; great way to open the program.

Lihu’e Senior Center ‘Ukulele II class, under the direction of Uncle Herman Paleka, set the pace with their zesty all-in-unison playing and power singing of so many great songs, each person so animated and joyful. Sharp and snappy, they started together and ended together. It reminded me of my own ‘ukulele lessons with Uncle Charlie Kaneyama of Kekaha who taught everyone on the west side of Kaua’i. I was probably his worst student but I had fun anyway. I was thinking that I should join this group since they meet so close to my home, but I am not sure that I could keep up with their spot-on playing.

Their song choices took us on a musical journey of the islands beginning with Ahe Nani Kaua’i, calling out each destination so no one got lost, Nani Wale Ia’u O Waimea, and a medley of Island Style and Molokai-My Sweet Home. Latitu, a rousing melody showed that Uncle Herman is a stickler for enunciation; you could hear every syllable they sang. The surprises were two Japanese songs with Marilyn playing the harmonica to one of my favorites, Hamabe-No-Uta, in Japanese and English, and a lively bon dance favorite called Tokyo Ondo. Haunani Apoliona’s Alu Like was the perfect number for their lively style of playing. For the community-sing portion of their program, Uncle Herman taught the audience two hymns – ‘Ekolu Mea Nui and Iesu No Ke Kahuhipa.

24 members of the Kilauea Senior Center Outreach and ‘Ukulele Band, led by David Sproat and Joyce Nagata, taught the audience Pua Mae‘ole, a very beautiful song written by John “Squeeze” Kamanu in 1954; it was the prize song for the Kamehameha School Song Contest in 1955. David shared that the song was actually in the composer’s mind since 1927 but was not actually composed until 1954.

A Tahiti Nui performer since the 1960’s, David gave the background on each of the traditional songs selected from He Mele Aloha, A Hawaiian Songbook. Hailing from the north shore, the group started with Alfred Alohikea’s Medley – Ka wai O Namolokama, Ka Ua Loku and Hanohano Hanalei. Spiking up their instrumentation was the addition of a pakini (big tub bass) played by Charlie Tomlinson, steel guitar by Ed Blanchet, and one guitar.

The beautiful love song Ku’u Hoa was enhanced by the romantic strains of the steel guitar; it also added much to their many hula numbers. Their favorite hula dancers, Sandy Margler and Margaret Thompson, danced to Aloha Week Hula, sometimes called the 50th State Hula, to Aunty Edith Kanaka’ole’s Uluwehi O Ke Kai, Haole Hula and Mary Kawena Pukui and Maddy Lam’s Po La’ila. Audience hana hou applause encouraged the group to sing the fun hula E Naughty, Naughty Mai Nei.

During intermission the 31-member Kalaheo Senior ‘Ohana set up on the stage so we could keep to the tight timetable for the evening.  As always, six CD from our favorite artists were given out to the lucky names drawn out of the sign-in sheets.

The Kalaheo Seniors performed like a church choir, all standing in white attire and singing in parts in beautiful and complicated harmonies. They likely had a few professionals mixed in with their group because that kind of music was definitely a cut above.  They opened with a lively song for the audience to sing – Ka Leo O Nanakuli composed by Richard Iliwa’alani – which was written and taught to the children of Nanakuli.

Their song choices were perfect for their style of singing. The rousing Ka Na’i Aupuni honors all the great chiefs of Hawai’i whose unanimous sentiment was captured in the Hawaii State Motto adopted by Kamehameha III on July 21,1842.  He Hawai’i Au, performed by Peter Moon and the Cazimero Brothers, carried the message “I am truly Hawaiian.”  Ua Nani Na Pua O Hawai’i Nei  by Eric Lee is about the flowers/people of Hawai’i, and Beautiful Kahana speaks about the beautiful Valley on ‘Oahu.

They spiced up their performance with some hula dancing – Cheryl Shintani and the Hanalei Halau dancers danced to Aloha Kaua’i composed by Maiki Aiu Lake, Betsy Ludington danced to Lei Nani, and Donald Quon added some very funny comic relief in his Japanese-costumed outfit to the Kalaheo version of Henehene Kou ‘Aka, made famous by Bruddah Iz.

They closed with a backyard party song, ‘Uwehe ‘Ami and Slide, with three dancers in white mu’umu’u emerging out of the lineup – group leader Marieann Ferreira, Betsy Ludington and Mary Neudorffer. You would never guess that Mary just had two hip surgeries; she was so graceful. Their final number was Sway with Glenda and Roy Tamashiro, elegantly ballroom dancing around the floor, looking like they had just come from “Dancing with the Stars.” Very impressive!

Sharon Leoiki was asked to play the ‘ukulele that was donated by Kamoa ‘ukulele so everyone could see how good it sounded. She played Noho Paipai joined in by the rest of the group, a hana hou bonus for everyone to enjoy.

The donated ‘ukulele was won by one very, very happy young lady who bounced all over the place like a jumping bean.  All the way from Oregon, she was thrilled beyond description. Her dad said she just started taking hula lessons and now she has to start taking ‘ukulele lessons.

The Hanalei ‘ukulele group, Na ‘Ukulele Haumana O Namolokama, and the dancers, Hui Hula O Kehaulani, presented some very fancy ‘ukulele strumming and advanced instrumental numbers. Led by Aunty Bev Kauanui, the combined group is apparently no stranger to public performances because they whipped through a rich selection of hula melodies that showed off their dancers and had everyone tapping their slippers and doing the noho hula in their seats . . . including me.

Starting with Kaula’ili, the first song learned by the group, played in key of C and then modulated to D – F – G – A), they showed off their instrumentation with Grace Hodgson on upright bass, Ed Blanchet on steel guitar, David Helder on 10-string tiple, Pat Kauanui on guitar and eleven ’ukulele players singing along with Aunty Bev’s beautiful voice. The audience was asked to join in on playing and singing the song Kekaha. It’s amazing to hear so many voices raised in unison; you could not tell they were learning a new song.

The eleven-member halau danced beautifully to Nani Hanalei / Manawaiopuna (Ko’ula), Kaua’i Hemolele and a wonderful hula medley of familiar old favorites — Song of Old Hawai’i / Blue Hawai’i / Sands of Waikiki / Yellow Ginger Lei / Lehuanani. Their hana hou special was to rope Steve Landis into singing Hawaiian Superman, one of Bruddah Iz’s favorites. They also led the entire audience in singing Hawai’i Aloha to close the program.

After such an inspiring show of talent by these youthful “seniors”, it is very likely that some folks will be going to check out the ‘ukulele at the shops and showing up at the various neighborhood centers to join one of these fabulous groups in their weekly ‘ukulele “parties.”  As if the weekly lessons are not enough, a little birdie shared with me that several of the groups meet every other Sunday from 4:00 to 6:00 pm to kanikapila down at the Poipu Beach pavilion. It’s one big ‘ukulele jam with locals, snowbirds, visitors, ‘ukulele players and friends.

That is what keeps them so young and energetic!

If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at giac05@icloud.com for Monday events.

(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 38 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”

E Kanikapila Kakou 2015 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua’i Beach Resort.

Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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