19 03, 2018

The Legacy of the Kamaka ‘Ukulele Family

2020-09-12T11:32:18-10:00EKK 2018|0 Comments

For Upcoming 2018 Arts & Culture Calendar email giac05@icloud.com to get listing in advance

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Who’s Coming Up on Monday March 19?

Program begins at 6:30 pm

Here is the link to EKK on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekanikapilakakou.kauaistyle/

The Legacy of the Kamaka ‘Ukulele Family

hosted by Herb Ohta Jr. & Bryan Tolentino

Meeting the members of the Kamaka ‘Ukulele family was a real treat for the EKK audience. Via a documentary video created three years ago as part of the Craft in America series on PBS, we learned about the four-generation Kamaka Family business which was started by Samuel Kamaka in 1916. In addition to the video, they produced the 100th anniversary two CD album, a compilation of many artists with whom they work, the sales of which goes to support various non-profits.

The double K logo used by the company represents the two brothers Fred Sr. and Sam Jr., ages 92 and 95, both are still very active and popular among visitors conducting the tours of the factory during the weekdays.

Casey is a fulltime captain pilot with Hawaiian Airlines; he does much of the research and custom orders for the company. Christopher Sr., production manager, handles the quality control of each instrument before it goes out the door. Fred Jr. is the business manager. Many members of the fourth generation work at the shop, including Chris Jr. who was present as a guitar player for tonight’s program.

Luthiers Casey and Chris Sr. fielded many questions from the audience following the video.

Kamaka Hawaii, Inc., today makes about 3500 ‘ukulele a year, all made to order and distributed by dealers worldwide with the largest market being in Japan because that population embraces everything Hawaiian. The Pineapple ‘Ukulele designed in the mid-twenties by Sam is the Kamaka signature ‘ukulele to this day.

Ninety percent of their instruments are made from koa wood from Hawai’i island; koa is increasingly harder to get but care is taken to revitalize the forest by fencing and planting more trees. Mahoghony from Central and South America is easily available; Rosewood is also available but shipping internationally is a major problem, especially when the wood has to go back and forth. They gave pointers on the care of the ‘ukulele and shared that they will repair instruments that got damaged. They also make guitars but the demands for the ‘ukulele keep them too busy.

There are 27 full time employees working at Kamaka. Some of the workers were hearing impaired worker suggested for hire by Sam’s wife, an occupational therapist. They were trained to feel the vibrations of the wood. Because their sense of touch was so keen, they were invaluable for this task and some of them had worked for about fifty years at the company. As many of the old timers retired, new and younger workers passionate about their craft have been hired and trained to take over the various steps of producing each instrument.

Each instrument is handled by the various workers whose kuleana is one step of the assembly line process, but the workers are cross-trained to insure that every step of the process is covered in making each instrument. Chris Sr., a member of the musical group Ho’okena, said he gave an application form to another member of the group upon his retirement from Pearl Harbor.

Each instrument, customized to the needs of the artists, takes about 6 to 8 weeks to design and construct. Herb shares, “Bryan and I can’t play our music without the instruments by the Kamaka family.”

Today the shop is located in Kaka’ako at 550 South Street and sticks out like a sore thumb among all the new tall buildings, but they are in the process of relocating their shop.

Following the video and talk story with Casey and Chris, ‘ukulele players with their instruments had a chance to do a short jam session with the four musicians — Herb Ohta Jr. and BryanTolentino (who just flew in from Japan that morning), Chris Kamaka, Sr., third generation luthier with group Ho’okena on upright bass, and Chris Jr. on guitar.

They invited those with ‘ukulele to join in on Noho Paipai with Bryan calling out chords. They then played Ulupalakua w/ Herb as lead vocalist.

Following the final 35 years whee-haw!! welcome of the season with the audience members from Kaua’i, Hawai’i, mainland, Alaska, Canada and worldwide, congratulations went out to the 34 perfect attendance participants who received CD gifts with Carol’s weekly wrap. The Kanikapila portion of the program got underway.

Herb Jr. shared that he learned ‘ukulele at age 3 from Herb Ohta Sr., his father, his teacher, his mentor, his idol, and quit at age 9 on his father’s advice. But he always kept in the loop with the ‘ukulele because Herb taught his dad’s classes while he went on tours. Ledward Kaapana of the group I Kona was another major influence in his life. Herb shared a song about canoes called Holo Wa’apa by Lena Machado. He invited father and son to play together — Christopher Kamaka Sr. and Christopher Kamaka Jr. played Catching A Wave with senior as the vocalist. Junior was encouraged by his Mom to play the timeless Someday, a perfect choice for the EKK audience because it took them back to their youth.

There seems to be a lot of light-hearted bantering between Herb and Bryan. Bryan often tells people to “call him HOJ” (Herb Ohta, Jr.) so folks will actually go up and call him “HOJ”, even in Japan. Herb says, “I see you’ve been talking to Bryan.” Bryan talked about a new project between Herb and himself called ‘Ukulele Friends and ‘Ukulele Friends, The Sequel. They played a song titled Leinani w/ Chris on the upright bass.

Herb used to work at Harry’s Music Store in Kaimuki. At that time Bryan suggested that they come up with a new song for their upcoming CD. They met to work on it and wrote the new song in ten minutes. Both Chris’s came up and joined them for G Minor Fleas, a fast rhythmic instrumental with a hint of Spanish beat; it was very well received by the audience. Bryan played Pu’uanahulu inspired by the late Peter Moon, one of Hawaii’s big inspirations who played with the Cazimero brothers as “Sunday Manoa” and later as the “Peter Moon Band.” He pointed out that this song is on his first CD; one audience member reminded Bryan, “Your only CD.” Bryan jokingly came back with, “I’m not bitter.”

Herb clarified that Bryan is one of the most sought after ‘ukulele players. Bryan said “I’m on 53 of my friends’ CDs as an accompanist. I like playing as an accompanist; it’s like flying under the radar.”

Bryan gave a much overdue intro for Herb, who has recorded seventeen albums to date, pointing out that Herb is one of the cleanest ‘ukulele players who can walk into the studio and is ready to nail everything with no need for warmups. He wanted to showcase Herb’s mastery of the ‘ukulele. This was so important because Herb is overly modest when sharing the stage with others.

Herb first shared a hilarious story that happened to him at Hy’s Steakhouse in Waikiki where he often played music for over three hours a night. One evening, an elderly Hawaiian woman walked up to the stage and tugged on his slacks, requesting a song by Iz.

Herb asked, “Which one?”

She replied, “The popular one.”

Herb came back, “They’re all popular”

She clarified, “The one they play on the radio.”

Herb said, “They play them all on the radio.”

She said, “It’s about a rainbow.”

Herb said, “I can play that song but not like Iz.”

The woman replied, “Oh well, never mind then.”

Then Herb Jr. treated us to what an ‘ukulele can sound like in the hands of a master ‘ukulele player; he played an exquisitely sensitive version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Too bad the woman never heard it.

Bryan comes often to Kaua’i. Recently, he was at E Pili Kakou Hula Conference where he met Lady Ipo Kahaunaele-Ferreira. He called on her to join them on stage; she sangNani Kauai in her sultry voice; Poai Galindo came up to dance the hula. Ipo herself was so jazzed at the way she sang the song with the excellent ‘ukulele accompaniment. She shared another song by Teresa Bright who wrote this when she was stuck at Tahiti Nui with nowhere to go because the Hanalei bridge was closed down. It’s about a voluptuous hula dancer who knew three basic steps — uwehe, ami, slide — so that’s what she did; she got up and danced Uwehe, Ami and Slide. Lady Ipo, the Queen of Hawaiian Jazz, delivered that song the way that only she can. The ‘ukulele players went to town with their pa’ani.

Chris Sr. sang the ever popular hula song Papalina Lahilahi which brought Lady Ipo, Madeleine Guyett, Polei Palmeira and Mahina Baliaris to the stage to dance.

Herb wanted to honor the late Peter Moon with I’ll Remember You, written by the late Kui Lee and sung by Chris Kamaka Sr. Bryan shared many funny stories about “an up and coming young ‘ukulele player and good friend named Jake.” Herb asked Bryan, “Do you think Jake talks about us when he performs?” Bryan shook his head.

Eddie Kamae was very influential in the lives of many — his father Herb Ohta Sr., Herb Jr., Bryan and many others were greatly influenced by the man and his music. Bryan shared his story about his last visit with Uncle Eddie. After Palani Vaughan’s funeral, Bryan and Sonny Lim went to visit him at Palolo Valley Hospice. Eddie was dressed in his red palaka shirt. Myrna was giving him ice chips, but he had been unresponsive for a couple of days. Bryan and Sonny spent some time playing music and when it was time to leave, Bryan leaned over to give Eddie a kiss when he was suddenly startled because Eddie opened his eyes, smiled and gave them a shaka sign; he passed away the next morning. The group played E Ku’u Morning Dew composed by Eddie Kamae and Larry Kimura.

It was a true kanikapila evening with a peek into the history of a remarkable family, great music and stories, impromptu sharing of hula, enjoyed among old and new friends who love and appreciate the Hawaiian culture.

The 35th season will end with a solo concert on Monday, March 19, by the fabulous Makana. Then we bid each other adieu until next January.

* * *

E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, supported by the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, the Kaua’i Beach Resort, and the GIAC/EKK supporters. 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.

19 03, 2018

Kuhio Travis — A One Man Show

2020-09-12T11:32:18-10:00EKK 2018|0 Comments

For Upcoming 2018 Arts & Culture Calendar email giac05@icloud.com to get listing in advance

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Who’s Coming Up on Monday March 12?

Program begins at 6 pm

Here is the link to EKK on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekanikapilakakou.kauaistyle/

The Kamaka Story

Shortly after the turn of the century, Samuel Kaialiilii Kamaka began crafting koa ukuleles from the basement of his Kaimuki, Hawai’i home. He formed his one-man shop, “Kamaka Ukulele and Guitar Works,” and soon established a solid reputation for making only the highest quality ukuleles.

In 1921, Kamaka Ukulele established a shop at 1814 South King Street. In the mid-20s, Sam Kamaka laid out a pattern for a new oval- shaped ukulele body. His friends remarked that it looked like a pineapple, so one of Sam’s artist friends painted the front to duplicate the tropical fruit. A few years later in 1928, Sam Kamaka patented the design. Thus began the original Pineapple Ukulele, which produced a resonant, mellow sound distinct from the traditional figure-eight. The Pineapple Ukulele became an instant success worldwide, and continues to be Kamaka’s signature ukulele to this day.

During the 30s, Sam Sr. introduced his two sons, Samuel Jr. and Frederick, to the craft of ukulele-making, even though the boys were only in elementary school. In 1945, the business was reorganized as “Kamaka and Sons Enterprises.” Sam Jr. and Fred Sr. were then drafted into the Army, and after serving in WWII, both brothers attended college on the GI bill. After graduating from Washington State University, Fred Sr. began a career in the Army, while Sam Jr. earned a masters degree and went on to pursue a doctorate in entomology at Oregon State University.

In 1952, due to illness, Sam Sr. went into semi-retirement and hauled his equipment to his Lualualei Homestead farm in Waianae. When he became seriously ill the following year, Sam Jr. abandoned his studies and moved back to Hawaii to care for his father. Sam Sr. died in December 1953, after hand-crafting koa ukuleles for over 40 years.

Immediately following Sam Sr.’s death, Sam Jr. put aside his personal career aspirations to continue the family business. Building on the knowledge he had picked up from his father, Sam Jr. restored the factory at the previous 1814 S. King Streetlocation. Five years later in 1959, the company expanded to its current location at 550 South Street.

Kamaka and Sons incorporated in 1968 and became “Kamaka Hawaii, Inc.” After retiring from the Army in 1972, Fred Sr. joined the business as its general manager. Along the way, Sam Jr.’s sons, Chris and Casey, also got involved with the company as did Fred Sr.’s son, Fred Jr. The sons now play major roles at Kamaka Hawaii, Inc.: Chris is the production manager, Casey crafts the custom orders, and Fred Jr. is the business manager. Other young family members are also helping with the business, carrying the Kamaka tradition into the fourth generation.

As the Kamaka legacy moves forward, it is important to reflect on what has made the company endure. The guiding philosophy at Kamaka Hawaii has always been the candid, but sensible advice handed down from Sam Sr. to sons: “If you make instruments and use the family name, don’t make junk.”

Kamaka Hawaii, Inc. will have their instruments and other ‘ukulele supplies available for sale at EKK on March 12 with a portion of the sales to benefit EKK.

March 5: The ‘Ukulele Lady Leads the Charge

Lady Ipo Kahaunaele-Ferreira led the ‘ukulele circle workshop at the beginning of the evening and had her class come up for their ho’ike immediately after. They sang and played E Naughty Naughty Mai Nei by Mel Peterson, uncle of Jeff Peterson. They also shared a song that Lady Ipo had written as a gift for Deanna Sanders who started coming to EKK in 2012. She is the boss of the Humboldt ‘Ukulele Group that numbers 50 regular and 50 alumni with over 100+ Facebook members worldwide; they play songs they learned at EKK for nursing homes and fundraisers, sending seeds of Aloha all over the planet. Wow!

March 5: Kuhio Travis — A One Man Show

Kuhio Travis is not yet a recording star with huge name recognition, but he put on a great show at EKK. A self-taught musician, he spent his childhood years growing up in Waimea and Koloa. He spent a lot of time with his grandfather who worked at the garden and kept Kuhio occupied with the AM radio; his favorite thing was to mimic commercials. He always loved to sing but at age 10, while in the 5th grade, he started to learn to play the ‘ukulele because his friend was getting a lot of attention from classmates playing on his ‘ukulele. He taught himself to play on a borrowed ‘ukulele. He later moved to Laupahoehoe on Hawai’i Island where he had a lot of time to perfect his ‘ukulele playing and singing.

Age 21 he returned to Kaua’i and his first job was at Smith’s Boat as an entertainer where he learned a lot on the job from the other Hawaiian musicians. He has been entertaining ever since. Today he lives in Waipahu and performs at Turtle Bay Resort and Kona Brewing in Waikiki. He spends summers in Washington State recording music.

His tiny one-of-a-kind ‘ukulele is a powerhouse instrument, custom built by a civil engineer in Washington who makes experimental instruments as a hobby. It’s a solid body electric ‘ukulele with built-in controls for on-board distortion effects. Kuhio really rips on his ‘ukulele, his instrument of choice.

He has an eclectic repertoire and loves the different era of music more than any single song or artist. It’s difficult to describe how he sings . . . you just need to be there to experience his music; he interprets the song in his own style, often doing the instrumental parts with just the sound of his voice. He’s playful and confident and loves performing.

The one Hawaiian song he chose to sing was Holei about Kalapana on Hawai’i Island, a song that we have heard for the fourth time this season, each time a stellar performance. It was not the usual falsetto version but very powerful in his lower register.

Clearly, Bruddah Iz had a great influence on his choice of Hawaiian music as he sangWhite Sandy Beach, the first song he learned to pick, Hawaiian Superman preceded by some Led Zeppelin-inspired sounds on his tiny ‘ukulele, and Somewhere Over the Rainbow . . . always an audience favorite.

His song choices cut across a wide spectrum of music styles:

Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic was followed by Crazy Without You performed by Pure Heart. The latter song was written by Alvin Loan and Lucas Estrada. Not only does his little ‘ukulele make great sounds, he can do the same thing with his own voice and he introduced the popular song recorded by Phil Phillips, the Honey Drippers and a host of other artists. Sea of Love as sung by Kuhio was lighthearted and humorous, ending the song with bugle taps.

Continuing the journey into the contemporary, he performed Wild World by Cat Stevens from the album Tea for the Tillerman followed by Breathe. His personal favorite song,Englishman in New York from the Very Best of Sting album was quite inspirational.

From the album The Very Best of the Righteous Brothers, he sang Unchained Melody, a 1955 song by Alex North with lyrics by Hy Zaret. It’s one of the most recorded songs in the 20th Century. Elvis and Iz both performed this classic song. Thank you, Kuhio, for bringing nostalgia back to us.

Wishing a happy birthday for his Cousin Noe whose birthday is 3/1/84 and his own birthday is 1/3/84; Kuhio said this makes her birthday easy to remember. He dedicatedStand by Me, a 1961 song by Ben E. King of the Drifters to Noe. Inspired by a spiritual hymn titled Lord Stand by Me, this song was #122 on the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs of All Times. In the year 2000, it was proclaimed the 4th most performed song of the 20th Century with over seven million performances. Wow!

Kuhio does fun stuff with his medleys by putting together songs that you would not expect to hear together – Eddy Grant’s 1988 anti-apartheid song, Gimme Hope Jo’Anna, and Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl from his Blowing Your Mind album was skillfully woven together. It was fun hearing him change the lyrics to fit his sense of humor.

He did a Disney medley that was just wonderful — starting with Lion Sleeps
 in falsetto complete with playful sound effects, to Kiss the Girl from Little Mermaid to the very catchy Hakuna Matata and Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds and back to Lion Sleeps Tonight. Charming and the audience just loved it.

As always, we took some time to show off the Kamoa ‘ukulele that was going to be given away to one lucky winner. Lady Ipo said she would give a one-hour lesson to whoever wins the instrument. She played the Kamoa ‘ukulele, singing Beautiful Kaua’i while Elena Gillespie and Madeleine Guyett went onstage to dance the hula. The lucky winner of the ‘ukulele was Gordon Furze from Kilauea. Double lucky guy to win the ‘ukulele and Lady Ipo’s ‘ukulele lesson.

Continuing with his combining awesome contemporary songs, Kuhio started off withHawaiian Kick Boxer which led up to Carol Douglas’s Kung Fu Fighting on the 1999 The Soul of the Kung Fu Fighter followed by Get Down On It on the album, The Best of Kool and the Gang.

Out of the blue he started singing the Mickey Mouse Song that was a favorite of kids to introduce the next song, Jacob Miller’s All Night Till Daylight and went right into John Denver’s original Take Me Home Country Road, also sang by Bruddah Iz. He had fun altering the lyrics by changing West Virginia to West Kaua’i, his ol’ home town, and slipping in Mount Ka’ala and some other local place names.

Shouts of hana hou rang out as the evening was winding down. Out of the clear blue he started singing Home on the Range which was the prelude to the most incredible yodeling song called SOLD! (The Grundy Country Auction Incident) by John Michael Montgomery. Written in 1995 by Richard Fargas and Robb Royer, this song was the top country song in 1995 and Kuhio Travis WOW’ed the audience with his fast-fast-fast ‘ukulele playing and his tongue-twisting auctioneer’s yodeling. That was the hana hou to end all hana hou . . . can’t believe he was still standing when he was pau.

So another Monday night was history with everyone joining hands and singing Hawai’i Aloha. With just two more EKK Mondays, folks were already beginning to feel sad.

* * *

E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, supported by the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, the Kaua’i Beach Resort, and the GIAC/EKK supporters. 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.

5 03, 2018

EKK Backyard Jam is Where It All Began

2020-09-12T11:32:18-10:00EKK 2018|0 Comments

For Upcoming 2018 Arts & Culture Calendar email giac05@icloud.com to get listing in advance

Mahalo to all who enjoy and support Art and Culture on Kaua’i
Donate by clicking here
Register on AmazonSmile.Org & select Garden island Arts Council to receive .05% of your eligible purchases.


Who’s Coming Up on Monday March 5?

Here is the link to EKK on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekanikapilakakou.kauaistyle/

EKK Backyard Jam is Where It All Began

E Kanikapila Kakou is proudly celebrating 35 years of bringing the best Hawaiian music to our audience on Kaua’i and our 35-year lineup of over 300 musicians is very impressive, but it all started like a little backyard jam where everyone sat around and sang the songs, laughed at the stories, and absorbed Hawaiian culture served on a ti-leaf plate. It was simple but something that grew on you . . . like going to a party every week.

Da Titas Four What? present “What he said?”

This week we turned the clock back to the early days and had ourselves some really good fun, starting with a lesson in ‘Olelo Pa’i’ai or Hawaiian Pidgin English. Three of our four Titas showed up – Aunty Kay Den (Hob Osterlund, Aunty Choppah (Maka’ala Ka’aumoana) and Auntie Coo (Sabra Kauka); Auntie Tita (Sandy Swift) was unfortunately under the weather. Their collective mission was to help our non-Pidgin-speaking audience get acquainted with the basics of our local Creole language. More people speak Hawaiian Pidgin than any other Creole language. Pidgin is not slang. In 2013 it was declared one of the official languages of Hawai’i.

How did this group start? Nurse Hob Osterlund, who initiated and directed the Pain Management Clinic at Queen’s Hospital in downtown Honolulu until her retirement, started a Pidgin class at Queen’s in order to help the new nurses from all over the country and other countries to understand the needs of their patients, many who spoke only in Pidgin. It also helped in the communication among everyone dealing with the important task of providing medical care. Obviously, some nurses weeded themselves out of the local work force because they will never use the word “doo-doo”.

Because the local Pidgin English is a potpourri of idioms and alterations from every ethnic group that came to work in the plantations mixed with some “butchered” Hawaiian words for the sheer necessity of trying to understand each other, a new language evolved. Highly colloquial, depending on which community of which island you are from, the need to understand each other is a survival mechanism in Hawai’i. Some outsiders hear it as condescending or making fun of each other, but that is not the intent of Pidgin. It’s inclusive rather than exclusive; it’s akin to improv comedy where each speaker builds on what the other said.

The Kam School and Punahou grads were not allowed to speak Hawaiian or Pidgin in school; they could speak only English, Latin, French and Spanish. The public school grad actually attended an English Standard high school. One of the spin-offs from these experiences was the attempt of three “experts” to give a class in Pidgin which was more hilarious than educational. They added a fourth Tita, Sabra Kauka, to give legitimacy and credibility to their group.

They covered the commonly used idioms such as “Da Kine” (universal word used for everything); “What? Baddah You…?” (am I bothering you?), “Fo’ real?” (Is that true?); “Po’ t’ing” (you poor thing).

They explained special words such as “Bolohead”, i.e. “The buggah stay ‘a’mos’ all bolohead aw’ready!” (He’s almost bald; or I cut the hedge too short).

“Wea you stay?” (not necessarily a logistical word but it gives presence)
“I stay go . . .”
“I stay sleeping . . .”
“I stay ovah hea . . .”

Tag-on phrases to elucidate intent, such as….
“I like go but …. “
“I like go li’ dat . . . “
“I like go an’ den . . . “
Hard to explain these but used in context, you can catch on . . . easy peazy; it adds a poetic lilt to the phrase.

A word that precedes any other verb such as . . .
“Try wait . . .”
“Try go . . . try come . . .”
“Try eat dis . . . try take the microphone . . “
Doesn’t mean you are trying at all, but jus’ try understand how it’s used.
A smarty-pants will sometimes come back with, “I trying! I trying!”

The difference between “Bla-lah” and “Brud-dah” was a debate that could go on and on; you can mean “tough tita” or “sweet tita” just by the way you pronounce “Ti-ta”. There are many nuances in this language, but you need to pay attention to how it’s pronounced, how it’s used in context, and even who you are talking to or who’s speaking to you.

Ethnic transpositions for a consonant such as the Filipino use of “P” sound for “F” sound and “F” sound for “P” sound can result in some mind-blowing results. When I go to farmers market, I always ask, “Is this sweet potato purple?” I always get, “Yes, mum . . . the Fotato is Furfle.” “Purple?” “
“Yes . . . Furfle.”

When the Tongan tree trimmer chain-sawed my coconut tree, I asked, “How much?” He replied, “Because you old . . . FREE.” I said, “Oh no, I need to pay you something.” He held up his hand with three fingers in front of his face and said, “Because you old . . FREE hundred.” (dollars!!!)

Hob also worked at Wilcox hospital where many of the nurses and staff were of Filipino ethnicity. At the end of each day, the housekeeper would enter her office and ask her, “Pinis’?” She would reply, “No, thank you.” She knew he was asking her if she was finished for the day. While, at times confusing until understood, these “substitutions” are often hilarious.

“As why ha’d!”

At the end of the Pidgin English lesson, Sabra was asked to play on the Kamoa ‘ukulele. She called up Milton Chung so the Titas could serenade the Happy Camper with their Pidgin English Hula by the illustrious composer, teacher, Hawai’i Territorial Legislator Charles E. King, best known as the composer ofKe Kali Nei Au, the Hawaiian standard wedding duet. Scott Gripenstraw from Koloa was the lucky winner for the Kamoa ‘ukulele. (no, he’s not from Harry Potter movie)

Hawai’i Island Sent Us Two Divas and Da Man In the Middle

Female Vocalist of the Year Darlene Ahuna and singing sensation Tani Waipa presented their masculine partner Duane Yamada who is known as the “rose” in Honoka’a. He claimed he is the rose between two thorns. “That’s the most we ever heard him talk; you folks are making him feel real great!” From the minute he got off the plane and landed in Lihu’e, he has been all smiles and full of jokes. Holding his own with Mauna Kea on one side and Mauna Loa on the other, Duane was not the silent bass partner in this trio. He was having a ball bouncing to the left and the right, leaning back on his stool and kicking his heels up with the happiest Hotei-ya-san grin on his face. “As soon as it’s no fun, I quit playing music, but it’s too much fun!”

Although they came together as the group Hoku Pa’a just about eight months ago at the Mango Festival in Waipa, they have collectively accrued over a hundred years of musical experience. They are used to playing in bars over the sound of the blenders and at family lu’au where someone always says unexcitedly, “Oh … them again?!” But for the Kaua’i audience, this very funny backyard jam party-loving trio who laughed a lot, joked a lot, and liked to play with the audience was just what we ordered. Bring it on!

As appropriate, they began with a Kaua’i song “even if Ku’uipo sang it last week . . . she stole all our songs!” Aloha Chant was a great way to start with their robust singing style, definitely well-trained by their years of singing at parties and bars; Vern Kauanui went up and danced with his ipu heke. Tani and Darlene tagged-team the verses in a second Kaua’i song, Nani Wai’ale’ale. Lady Ipo went up to dance the hula. Ipo is a familiar face onMoku-O-Keawe because she flies every chance she gets to visit her grandchildren, children of her extraordinary daughter, composer/singer Kainani Kahaunaele.

It appears the earlier Pidgin English lesson set the tone for the evening because Darlene, like Ku’uipo the week before, was explaining everything in Hawaii Island Pidgin. She asked, “What does TSA stand for?” The answer was a loud “TSA!!!” spat out between her teeth. She wanted to share how her grandparents used to scold them. “TSA! Gun-fun-it . . . Slap yo’ head!” She continued with that expression all evening long, and for the listeners, it’s like that song you can’t get out of your head because I heard several folks saying,“TSA!!!”

Back to singing, Darlene sang an old style Hawaiian mele titled Ke Aloha No O Honolulu which she learned at age 18 from Uncle George Na’ope for the steamship Honolulu which stopped at ports between west Hawai’i and Honolulu. Perfect song for her beautiful voice.

Duane is not a silent bass partner. He sang Ke Ala A Ka Jeep by Eddie Kamae and Auntie Mary Kawena Pukui. The audience was getting in the act with shouts of “Yeehaw!” and “TSA!” “When we record our CD, we will add a jazzercise track by Duane singing this feisty song.” Boosted by the cheers, Duane sang about his three girlfriends – tuberose, ilima and pikake – with another sassy Wai O Ke Aniani.

Ka Huila Wai by Tani honors the building of the first water wheel used to generate power for the sugar plantation in Ka’u; huila means wheel and waimeans water. I think she threw in some lines from the song rollin’, rollin’, rollin’. She spoke the words of the Carburetor Song that talks about loving someone even if their “parts” were falling apart like an old car. This song is from a Jewish genre of music called klezmermusik. Go figure.

So much in the groove, Tani launched into a fast-paced song about the westside of the island called A Kona Hema. Originally written as a chant in honor of chief Ehunuikaimalino and later put to music, the song takes us along ports that Kalakaua might have visited on his frequent trips to the island. There was no stopping her as the fun-loving Tani went to town withBlue Darling, a country western that commonly closes down the evening at backyard parties. This trio has had a lot of practice at this. According to Tani, every 15th and 30th of the month, they have to perform at parties . . . they are “pay day” parties. Reminds me about the Kupaoa party song . . . way to go!

These songs had such great beats that the entire back row of volunteers got up and started to boogie … and this continued the whole night. The trio had found their groove as they saw the happy dancers hopping all over at the back of the ballroom. It should be noted here that at least two of the dancers had just had hip surgery. You could never tell by the way they were bopping around.

Tani continued in her extraordinary crystal clear voice singing Aloha Punalu’u by George Kealoha Iopa which speaks of the beautiful beach area in Ka’u known as Punalu’u. One of the most beautiful songs in their repertoire, she has incredible harmony and pacing. She shared stories about her grandfather who was born in 1900 in Kapa’ahu in the Puna district. The area is now covered by lava but at one time the Waha’ula (Red Mouth) heiau was still in use and the Queen’s Bath is still there. He described the beautiful volcano waterfall that flowed over the cliffs of Holei. They did activities you can do only on Hawai’i island such as cooking on the lava flow and shoveling out the hot lava and dropping a quarter in the hole to watch it melt. Tani’s grandmother was born in Waimea on Kaua’i but moved to Ka’u on the south side of the island where she was hanai’ed as an only child with her new family. Someone shouted Kalapana (Holei). Their voices blended together in the most exquisite harmony. Their pacing was beautiful and you could just taste the deliciousness of the melody when they sang.

Darlene spoke about the late Don Ho and the beautiful songs he sang and recorded by master composer Kui Lee who left an incredible body of work when he passed away much too early. Tani shared that he’s probably the only composer who used words like “Trousseau” and “Aurora Borealis” in his songs. Tani was by this time so cut loose that she was making instrument sounds with her voice . . . she probably got hold of a bottle of champagne somewhere. Ain’t No Big Thing by Kui Lee had the “back row dancers” cutting up the rug.

By Hob’s request, they sang another great song, written and sung by the Beamer Brothers back in the 1960’s called Sweet ‘Okole. Tani pointed out that ex-husbands give a lot of inspiration and she knows because she tried it twice, enough to make up her own new verse to the song which she sang with such sweetness. She even wrote a verse about Duane. When asked if she composes, her reply is, “No, I trash what everybody else wrote.” When I first heard about this trio, I read that they sang the song Sweet ‘Okole, and I mistakenly thought that was the name of their trio, so initially, I booked them for EKK under that name. But the sweetness of their harmony makes that name most appropriate for them.

Darlene then introduced and sang Keyhole Hula or Kauoha Mai by one of her favorite composers, Lena Machado. The juicy story behind the hula is that Lena’s friend was invited to her gentleman friend’s home. She knocked on the door but no one answered so she peeked through the keyhole and what to her surprise, this is what she saw. Definitely, the swing beat is this group’s singing forte.

Another thing they do really well is to modulate their verses from low to high, somewhat like climbing musical steps as they did with Kaulana O Hilo Hanakahi penned by Lena Machado. It’s a tour of Hilo’s landmarks –Wai’anuenue or Rainbow Falls, Kuhio Bay and Moku Ola or Coconut Island. Tani thinks it’s a song that was probably written for a lap steel guitar with the half step movements in the bridge of the song to feature a lap steel pa’ani.

They followed with another traditional mele about King Kalakaua’s royal court dancer Emalia who met a young boy named Henry and sneaks away to meet him by the sandy shoreline of Hilo Bay. Hilo One (pronounced O-ne), another perfect song for the trio’s harmony, refers to this bayshore area. By this time the audience was so loud, so excited, so animated and caught up in the music. Hana hou requests were being shouted out by the audience, so it looked like this party might go on until morning.

Aunty Bev’s very loud and commanding voice shouted ‘Akaka Falls so Darlene sang about this beautiful waterfall about 13 miles outside of Hilo near Honomu. Darlene’s grand aunt, Helen Parker Lindsay, wrote this song originally titled Wailele ‘O ‘Akaka about the star-crossed lovers who met at this private meeting spot. It’s quite appropriate that Darlene would have this as one of her signature songs. Her soaring voice and nuanced modulations made this song so memorable.

Composed by Ellen Wright Prendergast after the illegal overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani, Kaulana Na Pua is often called a protest song, but it’s actually a song that calls people to come together, work together and do what is right and just and pono. In the past it was also known as the stone-eating song referring to the fourth verse which speaks of the people that would rather eat stones than follow a new leadership. The audience stood and held hands as they joined in the song.

A fast-paced song titled Heha Waipi’o by Sam Li’a about the Waipio Valley was harmonized brilliantly by the trio. Yes, we ran over time but the party goers did not stand up to catch any plane. Finally, everyone stood up, held hands, and called it an evening with Hawai’i Aloha. Yes! It is a Monday night, but we have been known to party early in the week and love it always.

* * *

E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, supported by the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, the Kaua’i Beach Resort, and the GIAC/EKK supporters. 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.

28 02, 2018

EKK weekly Wrap 6 – Kuuipo Kumukahi

2020-09-12T11:32:16-10:00EKK 2018|0 Comments

For Upcoming 2018 Arts & Culture Calendar or email giac05@icloud.com to get listing in advance

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Ku’uipo Kumukahi – In a Class All Her Own

Ku’uipo is no stranger to EKK; she has appeared at EKK more than any other artist (except Dennis Kamakahi who performed 15 times); in 1998, 2000, and 2001 at the Saint Michael’s Church; in 2002 and 2004 at Island School, and most recently in 2015 with the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Serenaders. That performance was really significant because they shared the songs of Na Lani Eha in a very professional performance. This year’s performance was over the top. She’s the real deal in Hawaiian Music.

Ku’uipo could tell that this year was really special as she sent an email:

Carol thank you for including me all these years – I’ve always enjoyed EKK
but this year seemed so free, candid and really fun to reflect on my life and share. In the past I was going through life now i can kind of talk about it all – if that makes sense at all. I guess I coming Kupuna.
The audience was super as always.
Congratulations for 35 wonderful years.

I was in my late 30s early 40s when I first played at EKK at the church – I’m going to be 60 this year OMG!! How time flies.

YES! You could tell that there was something special going on with Ku’uipo this year, wondering out loud why she wasn’t invited to appear next week with the Pidgin English Titas (joke! joke!). As a performer in Waikiki, she has to speak standard English to be understood, but Kaua’i was different, so at this point she relaxed and decided she would do her show in her earliest native tongue, Hawai’i Island pidgin English. Local pidgin speakers know that each island has their own brand of pidgin. It’s very colloquial. We recognize the differences but we can still understand each other. She wanted to share the most ancient form of pidgin: “Coo Coooooo . . . Coo Cooooo . . .”

She put on an awesome show . . . so passionate . . . so hilarious . . . so relaxed and yet so powerful. She internalizes her Mom’s advice, “You got to put a lot of love in what you do.” She pours her heart into every song, creating a different mood each time – sometimes grand, sometimes tender, sometimes sassy and animated, sometimes totally out of the box. She’s so versatile and each song is a whole act complete with stories, messages and entertainment. Her songs were interwoven with stories of her Daddy and Mom, Samuel and ‘Ululani Kumukahi, whose influence on her musical development is undeniable and evident in the way she performs.

Our resident henna-colored hair Brit, Jodi Ascuena, originally from Newcastle, England and now from Koloa town, introduced our artist in ‘Olelo Hawai’i, summarizing Ku’uipo as a champion of traditional Hawaiian songs and culture. She is not just a singer or performer; she is a person who sings as if her life depended on it. At least the life of her Hawaiian people. I was expecting GOOD but I got GREAT instead and so did everyone else at EKK.

She sang the Aloha Chant which speaks of the Hawaiian attributes that make up ALOHA and ended as a chant. Ku’uipo was mesmerizing as she took us around Hawai’i Island in a musical tour of places captured in songs. Her selections were skillfully woven together with candid stories about her namesake Daddy and her wise caregiver Mom who attentively nurtured Ku’uipo’s late-starting but long-lasting musical career.

An only child happily growing up in an isolated valley along the Hamakua coast on the northeast side of Hawai’i island, Ku’uipo was introduced to Hawaiian music at the age of nine when her family went to live on O’ahu for a year while her father worked on the H-1 freeway. Exposed to an ‘ohana of aunties playing their ‘ukulele and guitars, she returned to her home with a desire and was gifted with an ‘ukulele by her mother. After she conquered the ‘ukulele, her mom bought her a guitar and told her she needed to learn to sing otherwise she would be like her aunties, just playing instruments. We have her wise mother to thank for the wonderful singing that Ku’uipo shares today. She shared that one day Ledward Kaapana came to her cousin’s home next door to her own and told her, “You see the guitar . . . shaped like a woman. You treat ‘um nice and she make good music.”

She acknowledged her musicians and admitted how nice it was to play music with such great guys. Doc Isaac Akuna on steel, Kauai’s Kekai Chock on guitar and Daniel Kiaha on bass. They not only kept up with her spontaneity and wide spectrum of song choices, each musician is so talented. To acknowledge a rare gift of a maile lei from Auntie Julia Kapahu, the “Sweetheart of Hawaiian Music”, as Kuuipo has been called, sang Aloha Kaua’i. How fitting a name for this extraordinary musician with the voice of an angel.

She can also be quite forceful. “While I am here, we are not going to say ‘Big Island’.” She threw in a lesson about proper island names. Her Mom collected phone books from each island in the days when phone books were an essential item in each household. The phone books said: Island of Oahu, Island of Maui, Island of Kauai …. Big Island. Her Daddy went wild whenever the TV weather reporter talked about the floods and disasters on the Big Island. He would shout, “We have a name like all the other islands; it’s Hawai’i Island!” After investigating the issue, Ku’uipo discovered that the Department of Commerce made a decision to call Hawai’i the Big Island to avoid marketing confusion between Hawai’i the island and Hawai’i the State. “If you can’t say Hawai’i Island, Moku-0-Keawe works.”

Residents of each island are proud of their name, proud of their home town, proud about everything unique about where they live. To show this pride, she launched into a bombastic Hilo – My Home Town by Betty Lou Leilehua Yuen. “Hilo is a sleepy town; the stores open at 9:00 and close by noonbecause we got places to go. There is no more traffic, no more freeways, no more rail … we got a lot of forest to disappear into.” Hilo was home to many, including Queen Kapi’olani. It was also the last residence of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole. Speaking of Royals, she visited the Prince Kuhio Park today and pointed out that Kuhio was the only US Congressman of Royal descent. He was responsible for the Homestead Act to insure that Hawaiians would have a place to live and started the Hawaiian Civic Clubs to insure that Hawaiians had a voice in self-governance.

To honor Prince Kuhio she sang the beautifully melodic Keaukaha by Albert Nahale’a, a Commissioner of Hawaiian Homelands. As she sang the Hawaiian lyrics, she narrated the English translation. Vern Kauanui, our resident hula dancer, stepped up to the stage wearing his many strands of Niihau shell leis and danced an elegant hula that described the lyrics of the song. This song comes from the family of John Mahi.

Continuing the island trek, she pointed out that Tutu Pele made a lot of new land in Puna. Her first bar gig at age 15 was down in Kalapana. “I was a big girl so no one bothered me in the bars.” Whenever Ku’uipo went out to sing on a gig, her Dad drove her to the event, but she could never figure out where he disappeared to while she was singing. Her mother cautioned her, “You watch what your Daddy eats. If he don’t eat it, you don’t eat it.” In those early days it was common to be asked to play for six hours . . . “and we will feed you.” When her Mom asked her where her Dad went, she said she did not know, so she ended up not eating anything. Eventually, they discovered that he would join others who met in the back of the hall, not necessarily guests at the events, where they could freely speak their native tongue without fear of repercussion.

Because of the early missionary influence to squelch the Hawaiian language and keep the Hawaiian people from speaking or teaching their native tongue, even as adults they had to hide to speak Hawaiian. Her Dad, being a manaleo(native Hawaiian speaker), spoke only Hawaiian until he was about nine or ten years old. When he moved to a different town, he was a novelty among his school mates. At home he never spoke Hawaiian to Ku’uipo because of his need to learn to speak English. Later in life he used a hearing aid but it turned out the only thing he could not hear was English. However, whenever Puakea Nogelmeir calls on the phone, they are speaking Hawaiian on the phone for over three hours … like young girls.

According to mythology, Tutu Pele was angered by Chief Kumukahi for not allowing her to play in the royal games, so she chased the Chief out to the ocean with her lava flows. Tutu Pele was cleaning house by sending a lava flow to that area. In the 1960’s the residents built dikes to stop the flow to no avail. The Cape Kumukahi Lighthouse at the southeast of Hilo was in the path of the lava flow. They sent his wife and infant child to safety, but the lighthouse keeper did not want to leave the lighthouse. Miraculously, the lava came to within a few feet of the lighthouse, split into two streams and came back together, sparing the life of the lighthouse keeper Joseph Pestrella. The song by Grace Kenoi McBride and Jenny Ka’au’a was titled Kumukahi. What a rare treat to hear a song we never heard before and sung in her lower register. Isaac Akuna’s pa’ani with the steel guitar added the nostalgic and mournful mood of this event captured in song. Many places are gone, but the memories remain. “As long as we keep singing these songs about the places and the events that took place in Hawai’i, we will not lose the history of our islands because they are all recorded in our songs; songs like this keep these places alive,” said Ku’uipo.

After Puna, we are moving on to the Ka’u desert. When one drives around the island, you cannot help but feel like you are leaning to one side. That is because you keep your right shoulder to the mountains and your left shoulder to the ocean as the main road pretty much follows the shape of the island. Her family often drove to South Point where there was no water and no shade anywhere. She never asked her father where he was going as it is a well understood Hawaiian custom that you never ask a Hawaiian where they are going . . . you just follow. It’s bad luck especially if they are going fishing. Often when she wanted to swim, everyone was called to remove the fish from the nets because that was going to be their dinner. She touched on the sensitive topic of the lua when camping and assured everyone that she could handle that. She is hilarious.

Because her Dad was a ham radio operator they could hear the music of Eddie Kamae even where they lived. One of his signature songs, written with Mary Kawena Pukui, speaks about all the places at South Point. Her Daddy told her to learn Ke Ala A Ka Jeep, so she did. When she used to play with Jerry Santos in Waikiki, Eddie would sometimes show up to watch them perform. This was intimidating for her, but Eddie would sit on the side and in his charming quiet manner call out, “Beep! Beep!”

The island tour left the Ka’u district and moved westward toward Kona. A unique feature of this area is that on the Hilo-side of South Point the ocean is very rough and on the Kona-side of South Point, the ocean is very calm and turns very dark blue. Kona Kai ‘Opua is about the clouds that sit low above the ocean. She started with a rhythmic tempo, then on to a very slow melodious version and then on to a very playful, light-hearted sound and then into a faster swing-like beat. I never heard anyone sing this song quite like that.

Her father was a road inspector working with the traffic division; his last project was the Keahole Road through the 32-mile stretch of dark black lava fields that stretch from the Kona Airport toward the Kawaihae Harbor.
This highway made accessible beautiful beaches that attract surfers, vacation rentals and grand hotels. The song that spoke about this South Kohala area isPaniau. It’s a song by Helen Desha Beamer composed for the beach home of Al and Annabelle Ruddle at Puako.

As she continued moving out of Kona to the north side of the island, watchdog Milton Chung reminded her that she had skipped singingKalapana. For sure! So she went in reverse, passed Pahala and returned to the famous place called Kalapana, an area where Tutu Pele’s wrath wiped out the entire community. We hear often about Kalapana because that was the family home of well-known musician Ledward Kaapana and his Uncle and mentor Fred Punahoa and also the Queen’s Bath. Although the community is no longer there, memory resides in the beautiful songs that speak of the places we wish to keep alive.

Back on the upward journey toward windy Kohala at the northernmost tip of Hawai’i Island, Ku’uipo chose to sing about the strong and constant winds that sweep over the lush green area where Kohala town sits. Maika’i Ka Makani o Kohala captures the spirit of the place as it sounds like a rallying song. Very fitting for a place where time stands still and the community keeps its customs and traditions with fierce determination.

Driving past Kohala is the place that Ku’uipo’s father always stopped. It’s the paniolo district of Waimea or Kamuela where the famed Hawaiian Cowboy Ikua Purdy and his entourage of cowboys from Hawai’i took the World Championship Rodeo in Wyoming. Ku’uipo sings Kilakila Na Rough Rider in a way that only she can. You can’t imagine how she manages to play the guitar, sing the tongue-twister song, heave the lasso, give the cowboy whistle-yeehaw, and dig her stirrups into the horse . . . all at the same time . . . wearing a bright colorful red and yellow mu’umu’u. She never misses a beat and she surely ropes that steer. You need to see her in action; it’s hilarious but at the same time quite amazing!

Her father was not a cowboy but he was a Happy Camper who knew how to survive off the land. He once caught her a baby pig when a sow crossed the highway followed by her piglets. After the pigs crossed the road, he called the piglets back, picked one up and took it home to Hamakua for Ku’uipo to raise. When she asked him how they keep warm out in the night cold, he told her to dig an imu with hot rocks in the fire, covered by a thick blanket of banana stalks and ti leaves, and lie down on the warm green layer surrounded by the dogs. Not sure I want to try it but good to know.

From cowboy country in Waimea, we kept driving right into the Valley of the Kings in the famous Waipi’o Valley where the mystical Hi’ilawe waterfall provides a secret meeting place for lovers to escape from the gossiping neighbors. Ku’uipo’s incredible voice soars while singing Hi’ilawe; the lovely Po’ai Galindo takes the stage and brings the beauty and grandeur of the waterfall to life with her swaying hula and fluttering fingers. Interestingly, Ku’uipo sings this song with the Tahitian T sound instead of the Hawaiian K sound so it sounds different from the same song sung by other musicians.

Water is an inspiration for many composers. Ku’uipo says that her Daddy is not a poet but it did not matter because Hawaiian was his language and he wrote a song about the life-giving waters. It captured the unique beauty of their 25-acre family home of 160 years. It’s a place where the vi, or kupe’e, was once plentiful in the mountain streams. No more. She sang her father’s ‘O Waikulumea in a truly heart-felt “chicken skin” manner.

As we came around full circle back to Hilo, the same loud voice from the audience called out that we can’t pass Hilo without Akaka Falls. Apologizing in advance to Darlene Ahuna of Hawai’i Island who is scheduled to appear next week at EKK, Ku’uipo gave an emotional and powerful version of the song about the famous Hilo waterfall. Vern Kauanui could not resist an elegant hula about the waterfall. Gorgeous!

We took a quick island hop to Kaua’i. She called on Danny Kiaha to sing a song about Hanalei. His sister, who he had not seen for a while, came up to dance a hula about their home. What a treat to see a new Kaua’i dancer at EKK.

When the clock struck 9:00 pm, a number of attendees got up and moved toward the door. Jokingly Ku’uipo called out, “Hey! Wea you going? You gotta watch the 10:00 news? . . . I no pau yet! Sit down! I still get more songs!” And with the shouts of hana hou, she kept on singing. I found out later that a whole entourage of Canadians said they would have to leave at 9:00 or miss their flight home. When I shared this with Ku’uipo, this was her reply: “Bless their hearts for coming and staying as long as they could!! I am humbled!!”

The big surprise of the evening that brought the house down was her unexpected slam-dunk version of Skippy Ioane’s Kuka’ilimoku Village with the words ‘Onipa’a hanapa’a kulike kakou. Wow! She growled the song so passionately, you could not miss her message. Ku’uipo asked that we all speak the truth about Hawai’i. It’s a special place with very limited resources, so we all need to be cautious about what happens to our home; otherwise we will lose what we cherish most about Hawai’i.

As a move to support music by Hawaiian music artists, their group just went live a few days ago with “HulaTunes.com” a download site for music by Hawaiian musicians. In an effort to bring Hawaiian music back to Waikiki, the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame is doing their best to remember the artists of the past in a program called “Waikiki by Moonlight.” Each month they are sharing the music of our legendary musicians: Aunty Irmgard Aluli’sPuamana in March, dances of Hula Master Aunty Maiki Aiu in April, the legendary Alfred Apaka in May. As a tribute to these artists and in recognition of this program she sang Waikiki by Andy Cummings. Vern Kauanui and Auntie Polei Palmeira got up to dance the hula. Ku’uipo’s voice is so rich and so full of love, she should be renamed “Lady of Love.”

As a youngster she went to Zales Jewelry at the mall where she would see many gold Hawaiian bracelets, each one engraved with the word Ku’uipo. She asked her mom why she was given such a common name that everyone else had. Her mother assured her that she was given the name because of the immense love that they had for her. She doesn’t use her English name much because she was named after her Dad, Samuel Kumukahi. “Why was I named after Daddy?” “Because you two are the same.” No, it was not Samuela! At least she got a feminine version — Samie Ku’uipo Kumukahi. Whatever handle she goes by, she is best known for her remarkable versatility and power in her performances. Never have I seen Ku’uipo work the stage as she did tonight. She is truly in a Class All Her Own.

* * *

E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, supported by the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, the Kaua’i Beach Resort, and the GIAC/EKK supporters. 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.

12 02, 2018

E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 Final Night – Makana Concert

2019-08-09T18:10:58-10:00EKK 2018|0 Comments

Celebrate the Last Night of E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 with Makana

On Monday, March 19th, at 6:30 pm join us to celebrate the last night of E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 at Aqua Kauai Beach Resort Jasmine Ballroom, Wailua with Makana!

Tickets available online from Brown Paper Tickets

• $20 – first 100 Early Bird Kama’aina Tickets
• $25 – general admission after first 100 ticket sold out
• $35 – 80 Preferred seating in first four rows center section

And Kauai Ticket Outlets: $25 general admission tickets

• Kauai Music & Sound, 823-8000
• Kamoa Ukulele Company, 652-9999
• Scotty’s Music House, 246-2020
• Da Wine Shop, 742-7305
• Banana Patch Gallery, 335-5944
• Hawaiian Music Hut, 826-0245

12 02, 2018

EKK Weekly Wrap 4 – Aldrine and Kyle

2020-09-12T11:32:14-10:00EKK 2018|0 Comments

For Upcoming 2018 Arts & Culture Calendar email giac05@icloud.com to get listing in advance

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Jumping Fleas Frenzy Wipes Out the Audience

What happens when two musicians whose ‘ukulele are like extensions of their arms meet on stage without a playlist? They share their music in a spontaneous way. This is what happened on Monday.Usually, when ‘ukulele players are on stage, they play all the best songs in their repertoire, and finally, at the very end, they will top it off with Europaby Carlos Santana . . . if they are able to play it. Not these two.

I introduced Kyle and Aldrine, although the plan was for Kyle to do an opening set, Aldrine to follow with his set, and finally the two play together. Put on the spot, they jumped into Europa as their opening number and they began to speak to each other with their ‘ukulele . . . it was like two cowboys facing each other at the OK Corral except that these two petite artists were wielding their ‘ukulele and talking to each other in “uke-talk”, playing off of each other and trying to out-lick the other until the final high “ping” on the last note. What a way to start . . .at the top of the ladder!

So who are these two ‘ukulele friends? Aldrine Guerrero is no stranger to EKK as his very first gig outside of church was at EKK when he was about 13 years old and the president of the Kaua’i high school Hawaiian Club under the advisorship of Fran Nestel. He showed up in the parish hall at Saint Michaels and All Angels church where everyone sitting in their noisy metal folding chairs crowded up to the front to watch Aldrine and his motley crew of very talented middle school musicians put on an unforgettable show. At that age Aldrine was a stand out with his ‘ukulele. Over the years we have asked him back to our stage and watched him grow as an artist who now commands huge audiences all over the world. His biggest claim to fame and connection with ‘ukulele players worldwide is the ‘Ukulele Underground website where he and his partner Aaron Nakamura have created a virtual classroom where anyone who wants to learn to play the ‘ukulele can get a start or advance their skills. He walked in tonight saying, “I don’t even know what day it is,” because he just became a father to his new-born child.

Following the “Music is Our Legacy” theme for this year, he asked his friend and prodigy to share the stage with him. He heard about and met Kyle Furusho who was a student at Kaua’i high school. They became ‘ukulele buddies as they played together over the years. Kyle has been a part of the ‘Ukulele Underground show as an interviewer and musician. He said he wanted to share the stage with another ‘ukulele player rather than his band because he wanted something special for EKK that you would not see at other venues.

Because I never met Kyle before tonight, the first thing he said to me was, “You were my mother’s high school teacher; her name is Lani Taba. Your brother visits my grandma all the time, and my auntie Joanie Taba knows you well.” Joni is my barbeque ‘ohana. Talk about a small world!

Kyle is a multi-talented artist working with photography, film, guitar and other interests. He recently moved back from California to work as the music director at his church in Kailua and focuses on using his interests to develop new creative projects. Recently married, his wife is a music teacher in the public school.

“Tonight I will play some of my favorite songs; I like to take someone else’s song and add my own twist to it,” said Kyle, and his started with Bob Marley’sWaiting in Vain. Kyle is a little taller than Aldrine but he is slight in built, very fair and has that forever youthful baby-face look. But his next song was surprising as he belted out Josh Turner’s Your Man in a very low gravel-voiced western drawl. Well, that was unexpected. He continued the country western with Otis Redding’s Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. He’s a singing ‘ukulele player, more of an exception than the rule. He continued with an animated crowd-pleasing version of Black Water by the Doobie Brothers.

Aldrine took the stage. He says funny things. Earlier when he was being interviewed for a video segment, the videographer asked him, “What is the answer you want to give to the question that is never asked?” Aldrine’s answer was, “. . . the question that I’ve always wanted to answer is how tall I am, and the answer to that is at least five feet, maybe six . . . I don’t know . . . at least five.” When asked, “are you taller on video or on the radio or live,” “I like to tell people that if you just take your two fingers, go like this, and pretend like you’re watching YouTube, it doesn’t matter how tall I am in person; it’ll look just like how you’re looking at me on your computer screen.”

Earlier in his career, he really liked jamming the intricate stuff on his ‘ukulele, but he found out that people just like to sing along and he just wants to enjoy playing the ‘ukulele; he likes to write the lyrics of a song behind his eyelids, close his eyes, and just sing. He asked the audience to join him singing his version of Prince’s Purple Rain. Howls of appreciation! He knows his audience.

Although Aldrine no longer has any more of his sold out CDs to sell, during his earlier visits to EKK, he had been recording a number of CDs; his third CD by the title Bandito Tyler is a real sound track to a fake movie that Aldrine made up in his wild imaginings. One of the songs on this CD is an “ukulele waltz” titled Dance with a Bandit in which the Robin Hood-like character is dancing with the leading lady; he likes to imagine what it looks like for two ‘ukulele to be dancing together. The beautiful light-hearted instrumental was perfect for that image.

His Mother named him after Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, second human to walk on the moon, but she wanted to give it a little Filipino twist so she added the “e” at the end and called him Aldrine. Because of his connection to his name-sake Buzz Aldrin, he wrote a song called Space Suits, another product of his wild personal imaginary world. Putting away his space suit was a metaphor for putting away his aspirations to fly to the moon.

When he was working at a hotel passing out pool towels and raking the sand around the pool, his growing aversion to a nine-to-five job where he had to put away his parent’s aspirations “our son is going to make it to the moon,” and seeing his friends playing music on the stage prompted him to write this song about putting on his Buzz Aldrin space suits. Seems it has worked for him as he has been buzzing all over the planet in his ‘ukulele-inspired space suit.

On a different note, he switched to a classic Beatle’s song released in 1969.Something is one of his favorite songs to play. He played it with such sensitivity. Along the same vein he moved right along into another Beatle’s favorite, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. He acknowledged his mentor and teacher Jake Shimabukuro with whom he spent time in coffee shops, polishing his ‘ukulele repertoire while he was attending school in Honolulu. He then played Bandito Tyler from his CD of the same name.

When asked to sample the Kamoa ‘ukulele that was going to be given away after the intermission, Aldrine showed off the tight, close to the ground style of playing he is known for by getting the audience yelling out “FASTER!”, “FASTER!”, “FASTER!” with his Crazy G instrumental. He showed off his comedic slant by doing his Qi Gong breathing, cross his heart and exercise routine before his final attempt. He out-raced himself.

Mark Perkins of Wainwright, Alberta, Canada won the Kamoa ‘ukulele. Well deserved! For several Mondays, he had been making a lot of donations for tickets to win the Kamoa ‘ukulele. So what did this generous winner do with the ‘ukulele after posing for a photo? He turned around and gave it to a most deserving teacher from Kapa’a Middle School, Mary Lardizabal, who every year takes an army of students from her music classes along with an army of parent chaperones to perform at the World Strides Heritage Music Festival at Disneyland on March 15-22. Don’t you just love it when you see a genuine show of Aloha extended to someone else?

Mary writes to us, “We loved EKK! The winner of the ‘ukulele gifted it to our program and we will be finding a creative way to give it to a student who will be very appreciative! I met Mark last year when he brought his daughter-in-law who played the fiddle. He plays piano. It was awesome. He came back with a friend of the family this year. Take care and bless you for the many years of your incredible love for the arts!”

After the intermission excitement, Aldrine and Kyle took the stage together. Maroon 5 – Sunday Morning is one of the songs they taught the ‘ukulele circle and is also one of Aldrine’s tour favorites; it gives him a chance to sing while playing the ‘ukulele.

The crowd went wild when they played Body Surfing, ‘ukulele master Ohta-san’s classic. It’s a favorite “rite of passage” song for ‘ukulele players to master with its lightning-fast tricky fingering which would be daunting for most but a real challenge to any ‘ukulele player who wants that song in his repertoire. Even Jake Shimabukuro played this song when he was part of the Pure Heart group with Jon Yamasato and Lopaka Colon.

By this time, Kyle and Aldrine were really cutting loose and having a great time. They did a face off, going back and forth with bluesy riffs, challenging each other to see who could come out on top. They both did. They played Don Miguel, one of Aldrine’s original composition on his CD about his world of imaginary super Heros. This was followed by Aldrine’s version of Dancing In the Moonlight which won him a Na Hoku Hanohano Award.

Time was up but the audience was not done; they called for a hana hou, so Aldrine asked, “What do you want?’’ Someone shouted, Europa! “We did that at the beginning!” Someone else shouted Wipe Out! “I’m a crowd pleaser . . . let’s play Wipe Out!, came back Aldrine. Not only were their hands a blur with their lightning-fast finger action but the two of them were hopping and jumping all over the stage like two frisky fleas. It wasn’t just their fingers; they were the “jumping fleas”!

What a night! Everyone calmed down with Hawai’i Aloha, and left the hotel premises just a little bit younger, just a lot more light-hearted, and just a great deal more appreciative of our up-and-coming young talents.

* * *

E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, supported by the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, the Kaua’i Beach Resort, and the GIAC/EKK supporters. 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.

11 02, 2018

EKK Weekly Wrap 3 – Ledward and Hula Combined

2020-09-12T11:32:14-10:00EKK 2018, NEWS! Arts & Cultural Events on Kauai|0 Comments

For Upcoming 2018 Arts & Culture Calendar or email giac05@icloud.com to get listing in advance

Mahalo to all who enjoy and support Art and Culture on Kaua’i

Donate to GIAC here

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

Who’s Coming Up on Monday February 5?

Here is the link to EKK on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekanikapilakakou.kauaistyle/

Double Whammy for Ledheads and Hula Dancers

Ledward Back at EKK after 14 Years . . . Way Too long!

Ledward delivers an awesome experience for his audience — two hours packed with over twenty-two songs, twice as many as is normally sung by other artists, all the while standing in his sassy signature red boots, playing sometimes on his two guitars and sometimes on his ‘ukulele. He was accompanied on the bass by young Jesse Gregorio who kept up with whatever Led was moved to play. They spoke volumes to each other with just the nod of the head, a smile or a look.

By way of introduction, he said that I forgot to mention that in his hometown Kalapana on the south side of Hawai’i island, everyone is related. One day when he came home from school with his girlfriend. His father said, “She can’t be your girlfriend; she’s your cousin!” “So I moved to Honolulu.” With no electricity, everyone worked hard all week to live off the land, but come Friday, Saturday and Sunday, everyone played music. With six brothers and five sisters, it was a challenge for this family of 13 to live in a one bedroom, one kitchen, one porch house. The boys had to sleep outside in the yard. The little transistor radio they had caught static all day, so only at night could they hear Kumu radio. One day, his brother told Ledward to climb up the coconut tree with a little copper wire and then they were able to catch Kumu during the day. The one family ‘ukulele had to be shared by all the siblings, but Led said he got it most of the time. By the end of the evening, we clearly got it. Led loves to sing and play music.

His magical fingers flying across his guitar or ‘ukulele, his soaring falsetto as clear as a bell, his sly giggles when he knew he thrilled the audience . . . all of this delivered with that special Ledward magic. He set the tone for the evening by opening with a beautiful hula melody embellished with complicated fingering, Ka Wai Lehua ‘A’ala Ka Honua.

He follows no playlist and keeps his stage chatter to a minimum but moves rhythmically from one song to another with great ease as the moment inspires him. He likes to tease and play with the audience, often thrilling them with what seemed like the catchy ending of a song only to dive back into the song and bringing it into a second brilliant ending, and responding to the audience applause by swinging back into a third movement with a third exceptional ending. The appreciative audience acknowledges Led’s gifting them with more of what they like . . . he kept serving it up like a second and third helping of a delicious dessert that you can’t get enough of.

He dedicated a request song to “Tweety” Cook of Massachusetts who is one of 250 Ledheads in a small town in Massachusets, population 250, whose favorite song was an instrumental in the true Ledward style —Radio Hula. This gem is one of his old recordings with his early groupHui ‘Ohana formed back in the 1970’s with his twin brother Nedward and his cousin Dennis Pavao. Their songs with awesome falsettos, which he attributes to his Mama Tina, had a major impact on the world of Hawaiian music and artists then and ever since.

Ledward is known worldwide for his slack key music, but when you see him playing an ‘ukulele, it’s mesmerizing. When he switched to the ‘ukulele, he said he received this instrument when he went to the Big Island. A gentleman named Chuck Moore told him that he would make him an ‘ukulele, no strings attached. (Huge laugh) He then proceeded to play and sing Eddie Kamae’s E Ku’u Morning Dew. He makes the ‘ukulele sing. It looks like he must have another set of invisible fingers making sounds that you can hear but not see. Every ending is a special ending because he can really PLAY on that little instrument.

Whenever he played his signature songs in the way that only Led can, shouts of appreciation rang out from the audience. Some of these songs included a chicken skin falsetto version of Lei Nani and his favorite‘Opihi Moemoe, which he learned from Leonard Kwan. He loves to embellish it with several endings.

The rapid-action fingering in Whee Ha Swing, an ‘ukulele instrumental made popular by Sonny Chillingworth, is just amazing to watch, and Ledward knew it as he really showed off on this number. His ‘ukulele licks are truly incredible. Killing Me Softly is another ‘ukulele instrumental with amazing lightning-speed fingering, the kind of Ledward song that many are inspired to emulate because it has the feeling of water tumbling over river rocks and cascading down waterfalls.

One of Ledward’s unique and delightful specialties is titled Chicken in the Straw. Audiences everywhere thrill to this song that takes a familiar tune and spits it out as unexpected ‘ukulele number with an irresistible boogie beat. You could see the bodies bouncing around in the ballroom.

When asked to play the Kamoa ‘ukulele so the audience can see how good the instrument is that is being given away, he played an unexpectedLately and threw in a trick tickle that he played at the top of the frets. Let’s see if the winner of the ‘ukulele, David Stillwell of Koloa, can manage that ending.

He also played all-time favorites, some of which he recorded and some that are not on any of his recordings. Dennis Kamakahi’s well knownKoke’e can be found on six of his CDs. Hi’ilawe, about the gorgeous waterfalls in Waipio Valley on Hawai’i island, is probably one of the most recorded songs with over 150 versions by many artists. He called up his hula dancer Shaelyn Freitas to do the honors for that song and Hula O Makee.

On an old talk story recording, Kindy Sproat tells his story of a brown-skinned Hawaiian with solid white hair in his audience who smiled and wept when he sang Hula O Makee. He told Kindy that the song was written by his sailor moku Uncle working on the “Malulani”, one of the boats that carried freight to the other islands. One day the “Makee” set sail from Honolulu to Kaua’i but never did reach Kaua’i.

Other favorites he shared included Pua Tuberose, E Ku’u Sweet Lei Poina’oleWai UluHanalei Moon and Na Ka PueoSong of the Islands, recorded by many artists, captures the sensual melodic beat so typical of the early music of Hawai’i Calls. It’s the haunting sound that visitors take back to their homes, help them recall the good times in the islands, and bring them back once again to relive their island experiences.

He played a few request songs including Slack Key Lullabye for “Tweety” Cook as a request on his bucket list. Battling stage four cancer, “Tweety” was fortunate to meet Led and have two of his requests fulfilled on this trip to Kaua’i. Another audience request was for one of his signature songs in his incomparable falsetto, I Kona, very popular with many other artists who love to hit the rafters. A Ledward concert without I Kona is just not complete and Shaelyn’s hula made it even more memorable.

Ledward’s repertoire is extensive and varied as he included songs likeLove is Blue and Killing Me Softly which he called Killing Me Slowly . . . he definitely was killing us all slowly as he kept going and going and going. As he reached the end of the concert, shouts of hana hou encouraged him to give just one more song. He asked everyone to stand and join him in Hawai’i Aloha. Everyone joined hands singing happily at the top of their voices, only to sit back down and clap some more… no one seemed ready to exit.

He generously topped off a great evening with a beautiful falsetto. Pauoa Liko Ka Lehua, not on any of his recordings but one of the most popular songs recorded by many other artists, was the perfect ending to a memorable evening with Led. By the end of the concerts there were many more “Ledheads” in the audience.

Note: Most of the songs Led sang were recorded on Force of Nature, Jus Press Volume 2Led Live – SoloBlack SandWaltz of the Wind, From Kalapana to WaikikiJus’ Cruzin’Lima Wela, and Kiho’alu Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. Other CDs with Ledward’s songs are Hui ‘Ohana – Ke KoluThe Best of Hui ‘Ohana, and DVDs titled Ledward Kaapana & Bob Brozman and The Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar of Ledward Kaapana.

Malie Scores Big with Community Hula Night

It’s truly one of the most joyful EKK events, filled with aloha, laughter, friendship, spontaneity and happy confusion. As Lady Ipo said, “tonight is a chance to show our aloha, share our aloha, and be aloha” and it was. The minute you stepped into the ballroom you could sense the vibe . . . the air was electric and vibrating with happiness in anticipation of an evening of hula as over 125 dancers swayed to three different corners of the ballroom to learn a new hula from the three designated hula teachers – Maria Silva, Anna Velasco, and Maka Herrod; a fourth group made up of ‘ukulele players sat on the stage with the talented Lady Ipo Kahauna’ele-Ferreira, where they learned the songs that the hula circles were going to dance.

Each circle had about 25 – 35 students made up of attendees at the Ho’ola Lahui hula exercise classes under the direction of Maria and Anna, resident hula dancers who show up every week at EKK, first time dancers visiting from elsewhere and lucky enough to be at EKK tonight, and even EKK volunteers who help to run the program. Under the direction of each kumu, by the end of the first hour, each group was moving in synchronized unison. It was beautiful to watch this happening.

After the workshop portion of the evening, the formal part of the program unfolded beautifully with the symbolic Hawaiian protocol presented to insure an evening rich with cultural practices. Lady Ipo opened with a pule, and the many voices merged in beautiful harmony singing the Doxology. Uncle Nathan Kalama chanted and translated into English the meaning of his sensual words. “Tonight is the night to fill up with Aloha!” From the back of the room rang out the response of Aunty Beverly Muraoka with her chant. Nathan Kalama, founder of the Mokihana Festival and the Malie Foundation, followed with words of welcome. He recognized the 35th birthday of EKK, everyone sang Hau’oli La Hanau in the Key of F, and Maka presented me with a gorgeous lei.

Special recognition leis were presented to “anyone who is here from the first year of EKK” and that turned out to be Shirley Lee Smith of California; another recipient was anyone celebrating their birthday. There were four people in the audience, but the most “kupuna-ish” turned out to be 78-year-old Momi Thacker who flies in every year for EKK.

Emcee Onio Punzal acknowledged the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, the Kaua’i County OED, the Kaua’i Beach Resort and the many generous EKK supporters for their part in making sure that EKK continues. He encouraged the audience to purchase the GIAC tees, the beautiful leis made by Firipi and Blaine, enjoy Bo Kamala’s step massage with donations going to support the Malie Foundation scholarship program, enjoy the selection of food and drinks offered by the hotel and, most of all, try for the Kamoa ‘ukulele giveaway.

The excellent Hawaiian band comprised of Lady Ipo, the singing dancing emcee, head emcee Maka Herrod just off the plane from Tokyo with his new coif, John Kepa Mahi with that remarkable falsetto voice, Haunani Poopi Kaui with her trusty and versatile guitar, and Anuhea Herrod brandishing her upright bass. They were accompanied by the extemporaneous ‘ukulele band taught by Lady Ipo. There is nothing like great music to get the hula hips swinging and get everyone into the party mood.

The festive ho’ike portion of the evening followed with dancers from each of the three workshops taught by the three kumu going up to the stage to perform. First to share was the halau taught by Anna Velasco, cousin to Lady Ipo, who has been with Hui Ho’ola Maika’i for years. Her hula wasNawiliwili, composed by George Huddy and choreographed by George Holokai. The song was especially meaningful for her as her parents met in Nawiliwili at Club Jetty. Her dad came with the Coast Guard and never left. 25 dancers danced about Mount Ha’upu, the lighthouse and the many unique features of the beautiful harbor district of Lihu’e. 15 ‘ukulele players joined the Hawaiian band and provided wonderful accompaniment for the dancers.

Kumu Maka Herrod followed with his halau swaying to the sensuousHawaiian Hula Eyes sang by the legendary Cazimero Brothers and danced by Leina’ala Heine, one of the greatest hula dancers that graced the stage in Waikiki. 12 ‘ukulele players joined the Hawaiian band to make music for the over 35 dancers in this group.

Kumu Marla Silva, a director with Ho’ola Lahui Hula Fitness for years, brought her halau of 35 dancers up to dance to Kainani Kahauna’ele’s original composition Lei Ho’oheno. Lady Ipo translated the lyrics and said that when her daughter composed the song, she had no idea that the song would be performed everywhere – at parties, at weddings, by halau at the Merrie Monarch, by singers, etc. Lady Ipo sang the song for the halau. It was amazing to see octogenarian Peter Sterne gracefully holding his own when just last week he was recognized as the person with the most bionic body parts – six in all.

Maka shared with the audience the unique choice of kumu for this evening. Malie Foundation partners with other groups, among them, Ho’ola Lahui Hawai’i with health and wellness sessions all over Kaua’i. Included as part of the fitness programs are hula lessons for the clients. Many of their healthy students showed up tonight to take part in the Community Hula Night. John Mahi sang Lei Nani in his awesome falsetto as Maka called for a kumu challenge by the three hula instructors.

Before the intermission, we ask the artist to play the Kamoa ‘ukulele to show the audience the wonderful sounds of the instrument. No one expected the spontaneous and hilarious fashion show put on by Maka Herrod. It takes so little to start him off; he is like a “Roman Candle” . . . just light a match and he’s off. All it took was the sound “shhhhh” followed by the “Sh-Boom, Sh-Boom, Sh-Boom” song, and Lady Ipo started to sing Rock Around the Clock Tonight and the inimitable Maka Herrod strutted, danced, twirled, and marched around the stage sporting the little Kamoa ‘ukulele, strumming like Elvis, strumming like a person who was “taught by Ohta-san Sr, Ohta-san Jr., and Ohta-san-Still-to-Come…” (these were the exact words that came out of Lady Ipo’s mouth). Everyone was rolling in their seats at this unexpected show.

After the intermission, the ‘ukulele was won by Jan Helder of Kansas City, Missouri. Here’s hoping that the “juju” placed on the ‘ukulele is a sign of things to come for Jan and his future ‘ukulele performances.

The final portion of the evening was the spontaneous party style ho’olaule’a as the wonderful Hawaiian band played the best hula favorites and whoever was moved to get up and show their hula stylings could do so. My Baby has Rosy Cheeks, a sassy hula favorite, had brave dancers stepping up to the stage. When the popular Nani Kaua’i was started by Lady Ipo and taken over by Aunty Bev Muraoka, over 35 dancers popped up all around the room to join the seven kumu hula on the stage. Bev continued with another naughty hula number as she started singing Edith Kanaka’ole’s Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai. Once again, dancers were swaying like seaweeds all around the room. Dancers were everywhere, sometimes on stage with each dancer doing their own choreography and sometimes in unison and sometimes dancers circled the ballroom like a lei of flowers.

Aunty Bev turned over the mic to Lady ipo but she continued off the stage with her own hula side show to the music of Henehene Kou ‘Aka. Apparently, she was teaching a gentleman how to Henehene or whatever.

Uncle Nathan went center stage and taught the whole audience his alphabet song so everyone in the hall was dancing a noho hula in their seats.

Another unexpected surprise was when Lady Ipo called her kumu hula buddy on stage because they share the same birthday and year of birth. None other than Willy Pulawa, Nathan Kalama’s very first kumu hula who now lives far away but seems to find his way back to EKK at just the right time. John Mahi sang Kalena Kai as Willy, Phyllis, Lady Ipo and Fumi Cabebe danced on stage. Unable to resist the party atmosphere, several others jumped on stage with them and performed a happy dance-a-thon while they had the chance to star.

John Mahi bursts out singing a kachi kachi number and suddenly the whole audience was shaking and moving all over with the irresistible Spanish rhythms. Another spontaneous combustion as the music moved Maka Herrod and Po’ai Galindo to do the most unique “borinki ballroom hula” as they twirled and ame and kahea their way into each others arms. The party had taken on a life of its own.

Bringing the party back to some semblance of decorum, Lady Ipo switched back to some lovely hula numbers, singing Waikiki, Lovely Hula Girl, andKealoha. Kehaulani Kekua, Beverly Muraoka, Polei Palmeira, Wailana Dasalia, Beverly Kauanui, Phyllis, and any number of other lovely dancers went up to the stage to dance the final hula numbers.

When it was time to sing Hawai’i Aloha, it appeared that everyone has stocked up on a lot of Aloha. They sang with happy voices and danced out of the ballroom to the hoi music of Magic Is the Moonlight. It was indeed a special night on the heel of the Red Moon/Full Moon/ Eclipse of the Moon. No wonder everyone was acting moon-struck tonight.

* * *

E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, supported by the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, the Kaua’i Beach Resort, and the GIAC/EKK supporters. 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.

27 01, 2018

EKK weekly Wrap – A Double Whammy Week Coming Up!

2019-08-09T18:10:58-10:00EKK 2018, GIAC Events, NEWS! Arts & Cultural Events on Kauai|0 Comments

For Upcoming 2018 Arts & Culture Calendar email giac05@icloud.com to get listing in advance.

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

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A Double Whammy Week Coming Up!
Who’s Coming Up on Sunday, January 28?

In May 2004, Led Kaapana, artist extraordinaire, performed in GIAC-sponsored “Bluegrass Beat Meets Hawaiian Heat” along with two award-winning steel guitarists from Nashville, Tim Stafford and Rob Ickes.

I was blown away by Ledward. Since then, I’ve seen Ledward as a guest artist in many concerts, playing one or two songs. That is never enough for this Grammy-winning recipient of the 2011 National Heritage Fellowship Award. In celebration of EKK’s 35th anniversary, we asked Led to do a solo performance for the EKK audience. He graciously said “Yes!” so here he is. (see poster at the end of this article)

Who’s Coming Up on Monday, January 29?

Here is the link to EKK on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekanikapilakakou.kauaistyle/

EKK Week #2 – Jeff Peterson is a Musical Phenom

You could not miss Jeff Peterson, walking slowly out of baggage claim, precariously balancing two huge guitar cases, an ‘ukulele case, a rolling cart full of CDs and another rolling cart which supported the weight of the heavy instruments. I rushed to help him, grabbing the old wooden guitar case which turned out to be so heavy. Is this how a musician travels? Not a simple task. Jeff handles it all with grace and ease.

Jeff first came to EKK in 2006 with his Dad, Bard Peterson, who as a kid would follow Sonny Chillingworth and Gabby Pahinui around because he loved playing music, but when he was about to go on stage at EKK, he told Jeff he was super nervous. Jeff also recalls fondly the time he came to EKK with a string quintet from New York on the same night that the late Anthony Natividad, nose flute artist, taught some Tibetan monks and the whole audience how to blow the nose flute; we have had some really memorable EKK Mondays!

Having performed many times at EKK, Jeff knew that this was not the usual noisy bar crowd, nursing their umbrella-topped “maitai” and trying to talk over the sound of bar blenders. He knew that he was going to play for a captive audience, well-steeped in Hawaiian music and culture. From his first strum until the last song, the audience held on to his every word as he elegantly shared the stories and songs that exemplified all the musical mentors with whom he had been fortunate enough to share the stage over his not-so-long career. Yes! He’s young!

One of the most articulate story-telling musicians, he explained the, at times, complicated constructs of the music that he was playing, sharing the anatomy of slack key guitar music and comparing them with examples of the sounds of music influenced by other cultures and genres — Spanish tunings of the Mexican vaquero, Portuguese folk songs, missionary songs, swing, jazz – and finally the traditional Hawaiian nahenahe style which is so smooth and soothing. To show us the mariachi influence in his version, he played Wai’alae from his Pure Slack Key CD.

With just changing a few strings, one can arrive at many variations of tunings. Thus, came the Open G or “taro patch” tuning of the cowboys of Hawai’i island. Tunings often carry the name of the musician who made it up, such as the Gabby C or Mauna Loa tuning, the Sonny Drop C tuning, the Keola C tuning or the Jerry Santos C tuning. The evolution of the instrument from cat gut strings to nylon strings to steel strings, too, affected the sounds of the guitar. He talked about an instrument used back in the 1890’s in which “the bigger your belly, the better you could play” because the guitar was supported in just the right place. The packed ballroom was hushed, hanging on to his every word, thrilling at the sounds that emitted from his guitar, and bursting into applause at the end of every song.

His performance is always quietly elegant but as he shared the stories of traipsing all over the rugged mountains and valleys of Maui with his ranch-boss cowboy father, Bard Peterson, his excitement over the sights and sounds that inspired his music would have him bursting out in exclamation points. Bard knew the name of every valley in Maui so they spent a lot of time camping and fishing with kayaks off the coast of Makena where giant whales silently swam by under the kayak. He described verdant Kipahulu with its waterfalls and lush forests right around the corner of the island from dry, windy Kaupo, a place locked in time with the Hawai’i Aloha Church still standing there. He wanted us to see in our mind’s eyes what he saw that brought this music out in him. As he started his playing, eyes closed to envision the countryside as he remembered it, the audience could follow along and listen to the sights he had just described. In his younger days Jeff would go by zodiac to Kaho’olawe to fish with his Dad and his friends. These were the days when the military was using the deserted island as target practice so there was plenty of fish and no other fishermen.

He built a slack key number right before our eyes starting with the bass line or heartbeat of the song, adding the melody, the bells, the chimes, the slides, the Spanish strums … and mixed them altogether into a whole song. It was wonderful!

Many of the songs and stories shared were based on his relationship with his mentors whose music greatly influenced his own style of playing. In the 1960’s Ray Kane and Leonard Kwan were two brilliant slack key musicians. His grandfather, who was friends with Leonard Kwan, gave him old albums from Kwan which Jeff listened to over and over so he could teach himself to play slack key. Although there were many guitar-playing cowboys on the ranch, they just liked to play music but not teach or share their knowledge. Wahine Holo Lio on Jeff’s Maui on My Mind & Slack Key Jazz CD captures the unmistakable paniolo sound. This is based on an old song played in minor tuning just by slacking one string.

With the Hawaiian Renaissance Revival of Hawaiian music and culture, artists who led the charge included Peter Moon, the Beamer Brothers, Olomana, Cazimero Brothers, Gabby Pahinui, Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai’i.

During this time, Jerry Santos of the Olomana group, who had just learned a tuning from his sister, came up with the now famous song Ku’u Home o Kahalu’u which describes the laid back side of the island that Jeff now calls home. Jeff said we should visit and see for ourselves the island setting from Kailua to Waimanalo to help us visualize the place that the song describes. Because it is such a well-known vocal, it’s rare to hear this song as an instrumental, but when you close your eyes and listen to the music, you are there. This is on his O’ahu CD.

Before moving to Waimanalo and Kailua side, Jeff lived in Manoa valley, a place where his Great Grandmother, Caroline “Wabi” Peterson, had a taro patch. She used to bring tropicals from her garden and create massive floral arrangements at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, now called the Honolulu Museum of Art. To this day, her style of floral arrangement is still displayed at the entrance. The Japanese Tea House at the Academy is dedicated to his Great Grandmother.

He talked about Fred Punahoa of Kalapana, one of the most influential slack key artists of all time, whose music style has influenced Ledward Kaapana, Sonny Lim and many of the Hawaiian musicians we know so well today. Fred played for the love of playing so there are no recordings of his music except for the one of him playing Mauna Loa Slack Key and the Punahoa Special, his name song, at the 1964 Waimea Festival. Jeff plays this song on his Pure Slack Key CD and we got to hear it. Uihaaaa!

Punahoa used to play with a bag over his hand so you could not steal his licks and a blue crown royal bag over his keys to hide his tunings. Ledward, also of the Kalapana ohana, has an amazing memory and remembered every note that Fred played, thus the Punahoa legacy lives on. Jeff says, “Ledward is my favorite musician in any genre.” “Ledheads” the world over and many others share that sentiment. We have the great fortune of having Led give a solo concert this coming Sunday at EKK.

2018 is the Centennial of the passing of Queen Liliu’okalani as well as the 125th year of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy so events commemorating these dates are being staged all year in Hawai’i.

In the days of the Monarchy, Jeff’s great great great grandfather was the postmaster at the old Honolulu Post Office which is directly across the I’olani Palace. One of the woodworkers in Jeff’s ohana was responsible for building the grand old koa staircase inside the I’olani Palace, largest koa structure in the world. With these connections, Jeff was thrilled and honored to play the songs of Na Lani Eha with Dennis Kamakahi as part of the televised Na Mele program. He said they had to wear blue booties over their shoes to protect the carpet inside the living room. To hear Jeff describe how he felt to be playing in that series made me more appreciative of that program which I have seen several times on Hawai’i Public Televison.

On his Haleakala CD is one of the Queen Liliu’okalani’s most exquisite compositions, Sanoe, in which she discreetly and metaphorically alludes to a secret romance in her royal court. Ku’u Pua I Paoakalani, talks about the bouquet of flowers from her garden brought to her each morning by the young boy who wrapped the flowers in daily newspapers; the papers helped the Queen to secretly keep informed on what was happening outside the palace where she was imprisoned.

Jeff recently played music sitting on top of a haystack in a float parade in Makawao, close to his childhood home. He talked about upcountry Makawao which was paniolo country where one will find names such as Freitas Place and Moniz Avenue. This is where visitors will stop at Komoda Store very early before the baked goods were sold out. On his Maui On My Mind CD, he plays Chamarita which reflects the portuguese influence in Makawao.

When I first announced that Jeff would be in our 2018 EKK line up, one of our most devoted EKK supporters asked if Jeff might be playing his Concerto for Slack Key which he had composed to play with the Symphony Orchestra. Jeff was happy to include that in his EKK performance. He had worked so hard on that composition, he wanted to play it as much as possible. As part of the move to protect the National Parks of this country, including volcanos like Haleakala on Maui, Kilauea and Maunaloa on Hawai’i Island, Jeff wrote a concerto to play with the full orchestra. He took out his vintage guitar to play one movement about Haleakala. OMG! Unbelievable the sounds that came out of that guitar. It was indescribable and can only be experienced. I would love to one day hear him play that backed up by a whole orchestra. It was fantastic! He included it on his Wahi Pana CD.

When watching Jeff during the ‘ukulele hour teaching the class and singing Ulupalakua, Walter Levison asked me, “Why doesn’t Jeff sing? He sings great!” I told him, “When someone is good in everything, they generally try to share what they are best in, so I guess that is why Jeff plays his guitar,” but he decided to sing along with the ‘ukulele this time; a whole different side of Jeff surfaces while singing as he moves his body to the music almost like a noho hula (sit-down hula).

Each week Kamoa ‘ukulele donates an instrument to EKK. To demonstrate the ‘ukulele that was to be given away, Jeff played and sang a song titled Anapu’u Pipa Alanui. The song is about riding along with his Uncle Edwin W. Rawlings, a retired four-star general, who suffered from narcolepsy and therefore sometimes fell asleep as he careened along the funky dirt roads of the back country. He later became the President and Board Chairman of General Mills.

Who was the lucky winner of that ‘ukulele? Ann Kaplan of Mill Valley, California, who was jumping up and down in the front row when her name was called.

During intermission, old and new fans flocked to his CD table so they could take with them a piece of music to remember this unforgettable evening of music with one of Hawaii’s outstanding artists.

After intermission, to continue sharing the different styles of slack key, Jeff played the Hawaiian version of swing music to Andy Cumming’s Waikiki; it’s on his O’ahu CD. Uncle Mel Peterson, a beach boy at Waikiki and composer of the hula song E Naughty Naughty Mai Nei, used to play with Andy Cummings. The song is very laid back and dreamy and everyone who has ever strolled along Waikiki beach would have been transported back to an early time when life was easy going, the pace was relaxed and you could actually see the sandy beach at Waikiki. Today it’s covered with sun-tanners from water’s edge to the hotel fences.

The Slack Key Travels CD is filled with songs that were influenced by his time on the road with Keola Beamer, one of Hawaii’s greatest slack key artist and Hawaiian songwriter, who Jeff regards as a mentor and second father. Song for Keola is a prayer . . . so appropriate as Keola exudes spirituality in the way he lives his life. Jeff looks forward to working on a duo album with Keola.

Keola created a series for the US State Department called American Music Abroad which gave an entourage of musicians from many countries the chance to perform their music in places like Zimbabwe, which might be the farthest away from Hawai’i so that if you kept going, you were on your way back to Hawai’i. Jeff recalls with great excitement the thrill of kayaking down the crocodile and hippo inhabited river with Keola. He remembers fondly playing Hi’ilawe on the Great Wall of China with the late Chino Montero.

A very different kind of song on his Slack Key Travels CD was about Hotel Street in Chinatown Honolulu. He brings out the dark side in his music embellished with light bright sounds that capture the little sparkly things that one can experience while on Hotel Street. To do this he has two different keys going on at the same time. This song was in a tuning just a few strings away from Gabby’s C Mauna Loa tuning which Gabby, a fantastic steel guitar player, adapted from the 11-string steel guitar. He described the Wahine tunings which sound elegant compared to the other tunings because of something called the Major 7. In this tuning he played Pu’uanahulu.

The times he spent with the late Dennis Kamakahi are among his favorite experiences. While on tour, after a long day when the musicians would kick back and relax, Dennis would walk in with his guitar and play two hours of an amazing repertoire of music by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan in his very personal and unique Kamakahi style; unfortunately none of this was ever recorded. Jeff shared a lesser known song of Dennis titled Hilo Rag, which was adapted from Gabby’s Mauna Loa tuning. It’s on his Pua’ena CD by Dancing Cat Records. I wore out two copies of Pua’ena, definitely my favorite CD ever.

Jeff brought this fascinating musical journey to a close with two songs written by the Queen as she rode her carriage daily from her home in Pao’akalani to Maunawili, Aloha ‘Oe and Aloha O Kahaku. All week long as I am out and about Lihu’e town, folks are flashing their thumbs up at me and I know they are referring to Jeff’s performance. So wonderful that he asked to be invited back to EKK. For sure!

E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, supported by the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, the Kaua’i Beach Resort, and the GIAC/EKK supporters. 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.

25 01, 2018

Your EKK 2018 Line-up!

2019-08-09T18:10:55-10:00E Kanikapila Kakou, EKK 2018, Kauai Beach Resort EKK Special 2011, NEWS! Arts & Cultural Events on Kauai|0 Comments

Garden Island Arts Council invites you to
E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 – “35th Anniversary Year”
January 15 – March 19, Every Monday Night, 6:00-9:00 pm
Plus Ledward Kaapana in Concert
Sunday, January 28, 7:00 pm, ticketed concert
www.brownpapertickets.com + Kauai Outlets
Aqua Kauai Beach Resort, Wailua
Info:  giac05@icloud.com    

Here is the Lineup for EKK (E Kanikapila Kakou 2018)

•Monday, January 15, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
George Kahumoku Jr., Wainani Kealoha, Sterling Seaton,
Max Angel, Nancy Kahumoku

•Monday, January 22, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Jeff Peterson, Slack Key Virtuoso

•Sunday, January 28, 7:00 – 9:00
Led Kaapana w/ Jesse Gregorio (Ticketed Concert)

•Monday, January 29, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Malie Foundation — Community Hula Night

•Monday, February 5, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Aldrine Guerrero with Kyle Furusho

•Monday, February 12, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Mark Yamanaka with Bert Naihe & Edward Atkins

•Monday, February 19, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Ku’uipo Kumukahi w/ Band

•Monday, February 26
6:00 – 7:00 “Da Aunties Four What?” – Makaala Kaaumoana,
Hob Osterlund, Sandy Wann Swift, Sabra Kauka; “What he said? Understanding Hawaii’s Pidgin English” (comedy sketch)

7:00 – 9:00 Darlene Ahuna, Tani Waipa, Duane Yamada

•Monday, March 5
6:00 – 7:00 ‘Ukulele Circle w/ Lady Ipo
7:00 – 9:00 Kuhio Travis

•Monday, March 12, 6:00 – 9:00 pm Herb Ohta, Jr. & Bryan Tolentino present
“The Kamaka ‘Ukulele Family Story” — Chris LKW Kamaka, Christopher Kamaka, Jr., Casey Kamaka

Kamaka ‘ukulele will be available for purchase

•Monday, March 19, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Makana in Concert (Ticketed Event)

25 01, 2018

EKK Weekly Wrap & Who’s Coming Up on Monday, January 22?

2019-08-09T18:10:56-10:00EKK 2018, NEWS! Arts & Cultural Events on Kauai|0 Comments

For Upcoming 2018 Arts & Culture Calendar email giac05@icloud.com to get listing in advance

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

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

Who’s Coming Up on Monday, January 22?

Here is the link to EKK on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekanikapilakakou.kauaistyle/

EKK Mondays off to a running start with Uncle George?

In spite of the flu season reaching a record high, the mumps epidemic, natural disasters such as flooding, record cold weather and fires impacting the travel plans of our mainland neighbors, many “fortunates” found their way to the first night of EKK, an uplifting haven where they experienced an evening of Hawaiian music and stories, hula and ‘ukulele lessons, fellowship, food and fun with old and new friends. They were not disappointed at the first night of EKK.

On the eve of his three-month tour, beginning on January 15 and ending on March 18, the exact same dates as EKK 2018, Uncle George Kahumoku, Jr. shared his musical legacy by introducing a few of his protégés in not only music but the art of living a life full of aloha. His mainland tour with Jeff Peterson and Ledward Kaapana, our next two EKK presenters, will share their fabulous artistry with audiences across the continent, but Kaua’i experiences it first at EKK’s 35th anniversary year.

Uncle Dennis Kamakahi always said two things to me: “I like to start my tour on Kaua’i because it sets the tone for how the tour will go” and because of EKK’s un-paralleled audience, he felt that Kaua’i was his tour barometer. The second thing he always said, “I like to follow Uncle George in the line-up because he knows how to set the tone and make the audience mellow.”

Besides his musical attributes, Uncle George, a life-long farmer raising every farm animal and every local crop, he adopts and fosters young talents and shows them how to play music, cook for large numbers, and farm on a huge scale through his week-long institute learning about Hawaiian culture and music with the finest instructors. He has been doing this for 21 years. He also taught art for many years at Lahainaluna High School and after retirement started the “Institute of Hawaiian Music” at the Maui Community College. He is a force of nature when it comes to archiving Hawaiian music and musicians with the series of Hawaiian Music Legends DVD’s and promoting Hawaii’s finest artists in regular performances at the resorts in Lahaina and tours around the US Mainland.

Appearing on the EKK stage for many years, George recalls that 20 years ago, the audience was so small that he had everyone sitting in a circle to play music together. Over the years, the EKK audience grew and has now exploded into a major event. “Music is our legacy” is this year’s theme so I asked him to share his legacy by introducing some of his protégés to us. Joining him on stage were Sterling Seaton, Max Angel Becerra, Wainani Kealoha and Charlie Naihe.

So many bodies in the ballroom raised the temperature and wreaked havoc on the tuning of the instruments, but being the veteran performer, he tells stories while tuning, attributing his deafness to raising so many pigs for so many years. He said, “Hendricks says we tune because we care; Ledward says we tune because we are flat.” He thanked the sound team for making them sound good on stage. The gift of gab while tuning one’s instruments is something that is gained by years of experience on the stage.

He had everyone join him on his chant by his mentor Aunty Edith Kanaka’ole; he followed this with a love song by Princess Likelike, Kuu’ipo I Ka He’e Pu’e One. Most of the songs and stories he shared were from his recent CD called Tutu’s Favorite Songs. When his grandpa died at an early age, his grandmother took over making the charcoal, so whenever she went up to the mountain, she had to have a “still” to make her ‘okolehao from ti leaves, hence, Tutu had her favorite drinking song, Koni Au I Ka Wai by King David Kalakaua.

I remember this song well because the UH football players used to sing it all the time….koni au koni au….such catchy lyrics! The next song was the first Hawaiian song I learned while in college because my Wakaba Kai sorority sisters sang all the time. George shared that while living on Hawai’i Island, about 200 people sitting from the front porch all the way to the coffee fields would sing Makalapua. I can imagine how spiritual that must have felt. Wainani danced the hula to this wonderful old-time favorite.

He finished his set singing my favorite Hawaiian song Hosana, one of Hawaii’s most revered spiritual song composed in 1877 by the Reverend Moses Keale of Waimea and Niihau. In his inimitable story-telling style where fact and fiction are embellished and intertwined for the sake of telling an unforgettable story, George recants the story of Moses Keale’s eventful climb to the pinnacles of Kalalau to hunt a goat. Struck by lightning, Moses was toppling 3,000 feet from the top of Kalalau to the Waimea river below and remembered the preacher’s sermon from the week before, “If you believe, you will be saved” and thus he was saved to compose the song Hosana, fathered a huge family of kids, all named Moses Keale, and built the Hawaiian churches in Waimea and Niihau. Uncle G’s story, full of embellishments, is always a riot but always great to hear.

He then invited his first guest who attended one of his week-long music seminars on Maui. Formerly from Waimanalo and now living in Koloa, Charlie Naihe is the Hawaiian version of “John Wayne”, a strapping tall Hawaiian man who tips his hat in true cowboy fashion. He worked at the prison his whole adult life and grew up in Waimanalo where everyone who was anyone was playing music with the legendary Gabby Pahinui and other musical greats.

Charlie sang about a bird catcher named Keoki and about the red and yellow birds that flew from branch to branch in the uplands of Koke’e. He sang it in an old style where the words just blended from one to another. When you watch him sing you feel transported back to the days when musicians from far and near sat in a circle in Gabby’s back yard… his style, his smile, the way his body swayed to the lyrics. Uncle George Kaleiohi’s song titled Anahola was sung in a very old style falsetto that is very rare to see these days; he seemed transported into another realm just by his own singing. We don’t see this old style of singing much anymore.

To introduce his next guest, Uncle talked about his 20 years teaching at Lahainaluna high school. A student would have had to rack up over seven F’s and missed almost all his class attendance in order to qualify for admission into Uncle’s classes. To work with these students, Uncle George held a lot of jam sessions as part of his curriculum. Under these strict admission policies, Sterling Seaton did not qualify for the class, but he and his guitar used to hang around outside Uncle George’s class and took care of setting up the sound system for the jam sessions. In those days, he used to play classic rock but after he took George’s music seminar, he fell in love with slack key tuning, but confessed that he learned more about cooking and farming from Uncle instead of slack key because Uncle G is a farmer above all else. Turning 30 years old in two and a half weeks, Sterling has been with Uncle George for over 15 years.

A gifted instrumentalist who likes making up riffs, Sterling played Ekahi, the first song he ever composed in slack key tuning. He never learned a whole song but likes to make up riffs; he then shared what he calls “The Pre-Show Show,” a collection of Hawaiian riffs which he strung together to use for sound checks.

Sterling once made up a song during sound check that Bobby Ingano heard. Next time they met, Bobby Ingano, one of Hawaii’s top steel guitar artist, asked him for the song title. Sterling replied, “I don’t know; I just made it up.” Bobby asked Sterling to play that song with the “mynah” chord. So, whenever Bobby comes to Maui, they together play “The song with the Mynah Chord”, which is now the title of the song.

Max Angel Becerra, turned 20 years old the day before when they were teaching the music workshop. At age 9 in fifth grade he entered the ‘ukulele contest at “Hula Girls” on Maui which was organized by Uncle George’s son, Keoki Kahumoku. He did not win that year. Finally, he won the contest when he was a freshman in high school and has ever since been a student and protégé of Uncle George, now attending the Institute of Hawaiian Music at the Maui college campus of the University of Hawai’i.

Max has wonderful stage presence, knows how to play with his audience and is an awesome ‘ukulele player. He is gifted with a pure beautiful voice which he showed off by singing Olomana’s E Ku’u Home ‘O Kahalu’u medlied with White Sandy Beach made famous by Bruddah Iz. He called hula dancer Wainani Kealoha up to dance to Frank Kawaikapu’okalani Hewett’s Ka Wai Lehua A’ala Ka Honua.

He sang an original song which he wrote while in drivers ed called the Drivers Ed Blues. To show the audience that the ‘ukulele works fine for the Kamoa ‘ukulele giveaway right after intermission, he played and sang a song that resonates with people the world over because of the person who made it famous; Max gave a fabulous rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow in the style of Bruddah Iz.

After the intermission, many folks were lucky winners of CD’s by many of our favorite musicians; all they had to do was to fill out their registration form as participant of EKK and six lucky winners won their CD’s. One of the CD winners was also the extra lucky winner of the Kamoa ‘Ukulele; her name is Kris Murray from Canada (what in the world did she eat for breakfast?). Nancy Kahumoku also gave away CD’s and Uncle George’s wonderful book of his best stories titled A Hawaiian Life.

George shared that initially he was planning to bring his famous music seminar for a weekend at the CCC Camp on Koke’e. From all reports of the weather at Koke’e this weekend, none of the participants could have played their instruments with frozen fingers. Not the best time of the year. Instead, we opted for a shorter intense version of the workshop at the Kauai Beach Resort on Sunday. All who attended had great comments about how wonderful the workshop was. However, music enthusiasts should add Uncle George’s Maui Slack Key Guitar and Ukulele Workshop, a week-long seminar from June 17 – 24, to their bucket list.

The last set of the evening featured all four on stage –Uncle George, Max, Sterling, Charlie — plus the hula by Wainani.

E Pakika, a song discovered by Eddie Kamae on Kaua’i about the O’opu that swim downstream in the rivers to spawn and lay their eggs and swim back up the river was a real treat for the ‘ukulele circle. Just finding the lyrics to that song put us through hoops for days, even contacting Myrna Kamae who was busy at the Sony Open 18th hole. Luckily, George brought his copy of the song. What a treat for serious musicians to be able to learn this song; Uncle taught it to the ‘ukulele circle during the first hour of EKK.

The song is so timely on Kaua’i where the west-side community is trying to figure out a way for the O’opu to be able to make it down to the ocean because the silt build-up in Waimea River close to the swinging bridge has introduced a major challenge for this cycle of life to continue for the O’opu who inhabit the Waimea River.

Sterling, who loves messing around with riffs during sound checks, came up with a song that ended up on one of their Grammy winning CD’s; the lesson for Sterling was: Lesson #1 always listen to Uncle G; Lesson #2 always mess around during sound checks.

Wainani taught Uncle Dennis’s Koke’e to the hula circle during the first hour; she was called up on stage to dance the hula sung by Charlie Naihe. Always a crowd pleaser no matter where it’s sung, Koke’e is a song that everyone can sing along. To hana hou Wainani’s hula, Max Angel sang another one of Frank Kawaikapu’okalani Hewett’s hula numbers titled La’ieikawai.

It was a full plate evening with masterful Uncle George and his talented young protégés and a rare old style singing by Charles Naihe and the beautiful hula by Wainani.

Uncle George sent out birthday wishes to some audience members — Julia, Jack and Sam — visitors celebrating their birthdays on Kaua’i. Of course, also to the very talented 20-year-old Max Angel. There is nothing quite as uplifting as the voices raised in song to Hawaii Aloha as everyone clasped hands in friendship and the sharing of a wonderful evening of Aloha.

E Kanikapila Kakou 2018 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, supported by the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, the Kaua’i Beach Resort, and the GIAC/EKK supporters. 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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