EKK:  The Biggest Leap Year Surprise of All

Email Message from Anakala Nathan Kalama the day after:

Aloha mai kakou,

I just wanted to express my deepest appreciation to all of you on behalf of the Malie Foundation for your participation in last night’s E Kanikapila Kakou 33 program.

Whether we shared our ho`okipa, aloha, `oli, hula, mele and musical talents, I am certain that everyone present was touched by your
individual and/or combined attitude, effort, energy, emotion and dedication to our Hawaiian culture. You all went “DO YOUR THING”, REPRESENT AND GAS N GO….FOA DAYZ!!!!

Please extend our mahalo piha to your haumana, family and friends who helped and made it possible for each of us to share the lights, stage and space together. What an honor and indeed a blessing!!! Once Carol Yotsuda and I get the financial part squared away, I will inform all of you as to the amount we helped raise for this Hawaiian music program that is unique to Kaua’i.

E malama ko ‘oukou kino, Ke Akua pu a ke aloha mau.
Anakala Nathan

PS — (Lyrics to the song that Nathan taught us in noho hula)
Ea la ea la eo (2x)
Ouch, ah, sore, auwi (2x)
Eastside, Westside, Northshore, Southshore (2x)

Enthusiastic responses to Nathan from Maile Baird, Puni Patrick, Mauli`ola Cook and Keikialoha Kaohelauli`i.

“How could they have kept such a huge secret from me?”

Each week we had the artists present a Leap Year Surprise as part of the 2016 “Leap into Hawaiian Music” theme, and we’ve had some really cool surprises. None, however, as surprising as the Community Hula Night EKK 33 planned (secretly) and so enthusiastically carried out by the Malie Foundation headed by “menehunes” Nathan Kalama and Maka Herrod. It seems like all the EKK volunteers were in on the surprise … all except their unsuspecting leader.

All season we were working so hard to carry out clever and fun ways to raise funds to be sure we could offer EKK 2017. Our last attempt was to present a fabulously fun fundraiser called “Harajuku – Kauai.” Donations from the audience via the “Mr/Ms Popularity” contest among the 20 models brought in a modest $762 that went into the EKK 2017 fund. Thus far, we had raised one-fourth of one EKK night’s expense, so we have a long way to go.
All EKK volunteers were told that this week we were going to help Malie Foundation raise money for the Punana Leo Scholarship Fund like we did last year, so all efforts were to be put to that end; don’t ask for EKK 2017 money this week.

At the end of the evening, one volunteer sticks a fat rumpled envelope into my hand and says, “This is for EKK 2017 from the Malie Foundation; it’s the money that the audience donated in the baskets tonight.” You could have knocked me over with the tail feather of a wild rooster . . . I was floored!  How could they have kept such a huge secret from me?

Best of all, the way in which they carried out this surprise was so full of aloha that emotions were bouncing off the walls at every turn.

P.S. I discovered the day after why I did not know they were raising money for EKK 2017. Ironically, I was in the lua when Nathan gave the “rules” so I missed that completely and I also missed the CDs and `ukulele giveaway.

Tonight is the night to fill up with Aloha”

The program started out with Nathan quietly sharing the meaning of aloha as giving permission for others to step into your space so you can share something together. “Tonight is the night to fill up with Aloha,” said Nathan. And that is what the whole evening was about. Over 75 hula dancers and musicians from nine halau contributed to a program that was like the Merrie Monarch of sharing hula.

Nathan introduced the Honorable Mayor of Kauai Bernard Patrick Carvalho, Jr. and “Kaua`i Energy Bunny” Carol Kouchi Yotsuda (that’s me) as the guest of honor. Onio called everyone together with the call of the pu. Everyone from far and near were welcomed into this space.

Ready for anything were the talented house musicians — the singing emcee Aunty Bev Muraoka, Kawaiola Yaris, PJ Gampon, and our wonderful Hawaiian piano player who had a solo concert in EKK week #2, John Austin Keikialoha Kaohelauli`i.

Representatives from each halau stepped into the limelight to share their oli aloha to welcome everyone into this space. Aunty Bev Muraoka, “retired” kumu of Healani’s Hula Halau and Music Academy, called on her haumana to share their `oli. Alaka`i Puni Patrick represented The Kupuna Club from the westside. She was followed by Alaka`i Maile Baird of Halau KanikapahuoLohiau. Representing Vicky Holt Takamine’s lineage was Alaka`i Mauli`ola Cook of Papa Laua`e O Makana. She was followed by Kumu Hula Pua Gomes and students of Halau Hula O Ku`upualimaoheaikealoaolaua’eomakana at Kanuikapono Hawaiian Charter School. Representing Halau Hula O Hali`ileo, halau of the late Doric Yaris, was his son Kawaiola Yaris and sister-in-law Ku`ulei Keamoai. Kumu hula Shane Maka Herrod’s Na Hui O Kamakaokalani with 20 dancers were followed by Kumu Hula Nathan Kalama of Na Kupuna O Kalamaolaimalihualani. Wow!  That was a mouthful! Aunty Bev said she had to go to PHD school to be able to pronounce all of that. (PHD stands for Perfect Hula Dancer)

Everyone stood up and took a moment of silence for all who have passed on. An opening pule in Hawaiian and English was followed by The Doxology in Hawaiian sung by everyone. Nathan get ‘um; he really knows how to set the tone.

A special opening kahiko hula was performed by the dancers of Halau KanikapahuoLohiau to honor the memory of long time educator, Kumu Hula active in the Hawaiian community and staunch supporter of the kupuna program, the late Pohaku Nishimitsu.Ten years since his passing, his students still practice the hula. They sent shivers of excitement out to the audience with their mele ma`i or genital chant about Lohi`au, the Ali`i of Ha`ena. The chant and the hula described the shape and movements of his ma`i as Ha`ue`ue, the pencil-thin sea urchin searching for the Leho `Ula that he turns over so he can find and enjoy the treasured prize hidden within. Maile Baird and her three dancers danced the vigorous and explicit hula to a recorded chant titled He Ma`i Noke Ari`i O Ha`ena composed by Pohaku.

Earlier in the evening, six kumu hula taught three hula workshops simultaneously in small groups. Maka Herrod and Uncle Nathan taught a hapa haole hula about Kevin Kasparovitch’s lei-giving business. Nathan pointed out that the hula, titled Kenui Aloha Style, fits the 2016 Mokihana Festival theme “Year of Hospitality.”

In another part of the ballroom, Mauli`ola Cook and Pua Gomes taught a hula kahiko, or ancient-style hula titled Pa`ani Makahiki. Mauli composed the hula, while Pua choreographed it.

Yet another group, led by Kawaiola Yaris and Ku`ulei Keamoai learned a hula auana, or modern hula, titled The Selfie Song, written by Ku’ulei’s sister Joni. The song touched on all the places important to the late Doric and Momi Yaris. This hula won first place in the 2015 Mokihana Festival.

Aunty Bev, who acknowledged the absence of Lady Ipo Kahaunaele who usually has the emcee honors, told all dancers not to be hila hila, or shy when they dance. Each distinctively different in style, the hula numbers were all happy, high energy and portrayed their respective sources of inspiration with great clarity. It was so uplifting to see the expressions of joy on their faces as they told the stories in movement. It took me a whole year to learn Singing Bamboo while I was in high school, so I am amazed to see dancers pick up an entire hula in a half hour lesson. No fair!

Nathan has a habit, a good one, of composing special songs for each occasion; he had everyone in the audience dancing a noho hula titled EKK 33. Catch on? Maka, ever the comedian, used his walking cane and geriatric movements to lead everyone from the stage for verse #2 danced by anyone over 65, who walked in with an assistive device or who was from the continent. Verse #3 was for the local residents. The spirit of the song was picked up instantly by young Keikialoha as his impromptu piano accompaniment added to the playful spirit of the song. Amazing how he can just sit there and accompany a song he never heard before.

An unexpected surprise was a special guest singer from Japan, Kiyoko Hachiya, who was at EKK 10 ten years ago and spends her time traveling and singing in many countries. Playing the piano to accompany herself, she sang a beautiful song that she wrote about Kaua`i. The lyrics were in English so you could really get what she loves about Kaua`i. Kekai Chock, who happened to be in the house, was called on to demonstrate playing the Kamoa `ukulele which was to be given away this evening.

Following a short Hawaiian intermission, six lucky people received a free CD just for filling in their registration forms. Even luckier was the winner of the Kamoa `ukulele, Karen Tribbick of Oliver, B.C., Canada.

Fundraising 101:  Do it with ALOHA

The program quickly got back on track because there was so much planned; the second half was the fundraiser portion of the evening. I thought it was dedicated to raising funds for the Malie Scholarship fund, so I was not surprised to see volunteers walking the aisles to catch donations from the audience. By some strange coincidence, when Nathan was explaining how the fundraiser would work, I happened to be in the lua, so I did not even know that he was trying to raise money for EKK rather than for scholarships for Punana Leo Pre-school. I even missed the `ukulele giveaway.

To start the fundraising, a surprise gift was presented by Puni Patrick and The Kupuna Klub members. Puni said, “Our Kumu Doric Yaris and Carol are both great sharers of aloha.” Thomas Nizo, known as Mr. T., a big-time coordinator of west Kaua`i events, walked on stage with a huge replica of a check, check #033 to be exact, made out to Garden Island Arts Council presenting $1,310 toward the EKK 2017 Fund from the The Kupuna Club. These west-siders! They just do everything in great style and with so much aloha. This was a totally unexpected gift. Just to have so many west-siders at EKK was also a huge gift.

A unique and charming hula, Ka Pua Lehua O Pahoa, written for Aunty Nona Beamer, was performed by the Kupuna Klub under the direction of Puni Patrick using the Hula Ki`i puppets made out of dried coconuts. Mauli`ola Cook had taught this hula to the westside halau.

Surprise after surprise! None other than the enigmatic Willy Pulawa of Hula Halau O Kalau’ala just arrived from Wakinekona (Washington State) to dance Kalena Kai as a solo hula. Willy was Nathan’s second kumu hula. For years I had seen gorgeous images of the elusive Willy Pulawa all over the island but never seen him. So in my mind, he had reached a legendary status. To see him in the flesh, finally, and wowing the audience to scream hana hou! Hana hou! was soooo cool!

Aunty Bev, Kawaiola Yaris, PJ Gampon and Keikialoha Kaohelauli’i, musicians for the evening, played the first Hula Merry-Go-Round medley of three fast hula favorites,Papalina Lahilahi, Ku’u Hoa, and Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai.  Dancers from the floor could run up and dance one or all of the hula that they knew, but the music never stopped, so they had to get on and get off the Merry-Go-Round without missing a beat. Like termites, dancers kept emerging from the crowd to the dance floor. It was so much fun to see how sassy the hula dancers could be as they flaunted their hula moves to three of the sexiest hula favorites! Talk about sexy . . . you need to see Makali`i Thronas, haumana of Maka, shake his hula hips. Oo-la-laaa!  He and Ku`ulei Keamoai led the dances from the stage.

Nathan announced, “Only $570 so far. Come on, gang!”
Maka flung open an `ukulele case on the stage and members of the audience were running up to fling their cash donations in there.

A heartwarming hula was performed by Henri-Rose Kaui from Maka’s halau. Her mother was Aunty Queenie, who taught hula on Kaua`i for half a century. She got up from her wheel chair and danced Lena Wai`ale`ale Machado’s Ho`onanea while standing on her feet. It was totally chicken skin to witness her gracefully dance to the harmonizing a capella singing by the musicians. Maka’s beautiful lead vocals and Keikialoha’s awesome piano playing was a delight. When they stopped the instruments, they sounded like angels harmonizing.

Uncle Nathan had spent a lot of time in Japan. In fact, he confessed he almost got a Japanese citizenship because he loved it so much in Japan, especially Hokkaido. While in the Ishikari Temple parking lot, he watched the moon rising over the rose garden and wrote a medley of two songs — Moon Over Ishikari and My Ishikari Rose. His kupuna ladies, looking lovely and youthful in their colorful dresses, danced these two auana numbers.

At this point, Onio blew the pu and Nathan announced that they had collected $2,029 in the collection bowls and if they hit $5,000 he would shave off his beard … again. “We want your long fingernails and toenails,” shouted Aunty Bev. “I will do that for five grand,” joked Nathan.

Of course, our singing Mayor can’t escape being recruited to the stage so he was asked to join the singers. He graciously obliged. Boom Shaka Laka Maka and his haumana, Makali`i Thronas, looked too sexy, sassy and smooth as they suggestively danced to Noho Paipai, The Rocking Chair Hula. Definitely not about growing old and sitting in a rocking chair. By now, Keikialoha was going wild with his amazing piano playing.

A second Hula Merry-Go-Round of slow music for the AARP crowd with Aunty Bev’s beautiful singing of Aunty Maiki Aiu Lake’s Aloha Kaua`i and Bob Nelson’s Hanalei Moonagain brought dancers up to the stage. Aunty Bev shared that Aunty Maiki  wrote the song when she visited Kaua`i and was shown great hospitality by Sarah Kailikea of the Menehune Gardens in Nawiliwili. There is never too much dancing when it comes to hula.

Beverly also announced that last year her `ohana had donated $855 to the Malie Scholarship fund and, although Jerry Lewis always says to add one dollar more the following year, this year her `ohana had topped their own gift by donating a makana of $2,365 to the EKK fundraiser. Her generosity is topped only by her Earth Mother smile.

All too soon, the time ran out and everyone joined hands to sing Hawai`i Aloha. What a memorable way to spend a Leap Year Day!  EKK 2016 is one for the memory books; every week has been unforgettable and we have only three more Mondays left to Leap Into Hawaiian Music.
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If you have a disability and need assistance for Monday events please email Carol Yotsuda at

Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, — “Celebrating 39 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”
E Kanikapila Kakou 2016 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai`i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua`i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua`i Beach Resort.
Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai`i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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How to buy tickets for the Willie K Concert:
Outlets:  EKK Mondays, Kaua`i Music & Sound, Scotty’s Music, Island Soap & Candleworks; only general admission tickets left.