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“Recapping the 2014 EKK Season — Continuing the Legacy”
The Legacy of Hawaiian Music is definitely alive and well in the hands of the many artists who have graced the E Kanikapila Kakou stage over the past 31 years. We have witnessed so many examples of artistic excellence being nurtured through mentorship, group support, and the passing on of musical styles, dance, stories and cultural traditions and endowment.
The traditional musical styles of artists such as Cyril Pahinui, Kimo Hussey, Jack Wilhelm, Gabby Manintin, George Kahumoku Jr, Bobby Moderow and Maunalua and the Beamer ‘Ohana are crowd favorites because EKK audiences seek out the traditional styles. By joining forces with the younger artists, the traditionalists enhance their music with the new contemporary sounds and musical skills of the younger generation.
Edward Punua, Jeff Au Hoy, Alan Akaka have mastered the skills of the steel guitar, taking us back to the days when the haunting strains of steel was the sound associated with Hawaiian music. The ‘ukulele has gained much prominence in the musical arena with artists who dedicate themselves to making the ‘ukulele an instrument to be reckoned with. Kimo Hussey, Peter Moon Jr, Herb Ohta Jr, Brittni Paiva and Axel Menezes took us to places where few ‘ukulele have gone before, and on this coming Monday night, we get to hear the ‘ukulele styling of veteran ‘ukulele artist Bryan Tolentino.
Slack key guitar is huge in Hawai’i and gaining momentum and audiences worldwide; Jeff Peterson is acknowledged as one of the slack key greats and he will be sharing his music this coming Monday. Representing the growing numbers of slack key artists at EKK were Cyril Pahinui, John Keawe, Kevin Brown, Danny Carvalho, Bobby Moderow, Richard Gideon and Paul Togioka, each artist with their own recognizable style.
Another Hawaiian Music tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation is the art of Leo Ki’e Ki’e or Hawaiian falsetto singing. Raiatea Helm, who erupted onto the music scene at the tender age of 13, has matriculated into one of the finest falsetto singers in Hawai’i and stands today as one of the vanguards of this Hawaiian style of singing; she will return for her second EKK Monday on the final night of EKK 2014. This season we enjoyed the falsetto singing of Gabby Manintin, Uluwehi Guerrero, Bobby Moderow and Kamakakehau Fernandez.
Hula is so much a part of EKK. We got a taste of the Hawai’i Island hula by Hope Keawe and her Aloha Music Camp ‘ohana. We were fortunate to see the return of Maka Herrod, Puna Dawson, Nathan Kalama, Doric Yaris, Beverly Kauanui with their respective halau; their Aloha for each other sets the bar high in the way that halau nurture and support each other. A hula highlight was the concert sharing the hula legacy of Leina’ala Pavao Jardin. Of course, we need to acknowledge all the hula dancers who popped up on the stage and in the aisle, dancing their hearts out to the wonderful live music by all the EKK artists; they add so much color and joy to the Monday night programs.
As we sadly come to the final night of EKK, we thank the growing number of supporters who take their kuleana seriously and make sure their friends and families get to EKK Mondays at least once in their life.
Monday, March 17, 2014
“The Hawaiian Islands in Song”
Opening the evening program with an ‘oli is proper protocol and Kamakakehau is well trained in the proper way that things are done in Hawai’i as he has lived in the islands for most of his life, attending Hawaiian language immersion school and speaking the Hawaiian language all his life. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas and adopted as an infant, he feels blessed to have grown up with parents who dedicated their lives to raising this kolohe boy “in the culture that I know and love.”
Tonight we are “Nakani ‘o Hea” … not o dea (pidgin for ‘over there’) as he introduced his two musicians Kapono Na’ili’ili on guitar and Will Yokoyama on bass.
Kamakakehau shared that he started to sing falsetto in 2003 when he stretched and let out a yelp in the high school courtyard. His classmate told him, “You should sing like that.” He did exactly that. He practiced and practiced and finally entered Uncle Richard Ho’opi’i’s Falsetto Contest on Maui with the Leo Ki’e Ki’e song Kila Kila o Maui. Winning the contest set him off on a journey that led him down a musical path that was unexpected but rewarding for him. He’ui Bandmann got up and danced the hula. He followed this with a jazz version of Haleakala, which is on his new album. A beautiful rendition of Kamakani Ka’ili Alohabrought up hula dancer Elena Gillespie from the audience.
Hele ‘o Nani Oe, which means ‘it’s a beautiful voice’, represents the Elepaio bird whose voice is that of his mother who always called him “po’o pakiki” or hard head but provided him with guidance throughout his young life. Being adopted into the Hawaiian family as an infant has been his biggest blessing in life and he holds his adopted mother dearly for all the opportunities with which he has been blessed.
As an introduction to a special part of the program, Kamakakehau sang Puahonecomposed by the Reverend Dennis Kamakahi as an anniversary gift to his wife Robin. Recent news that Uncle Dennis is in Queen’s Hospital for pneumonia and the diagnosis of lung cancer prompted us to do a special “shout-out” video for Dennis by having the entire audience stand up and sing Dennis’s most famous Kaua’i song Koke’e with the ‘ukulele circle playing the song. How he came to compose this song has been often relayed by Dennis as he has been on the EKK stage for many years. Most recently, as one of the instructors for the GIAC Koke’e Music Camp, Dennis shared the story and sangKoke’e amidst the whirling mist on Kalalau Lookout for the campers.
Honoring the host island, Kamakakehau sang the Kaua’i favorite Nani Kaua’i. The Kamoa ‘ukulele which was to be given away was brought to the stage while the audience oooooo’ed and aaaahh’ed over the beautiful ‘ula’ula instrument. Kamakakehau played and sang a lively falsetto number to much applause.
Hi’ilawe must rate as one of the most popular song among musicians as each artist chooses to give their own version of this song about the secret love affair behind the waterfalls of Hi’ilawe in Waipio Valley on the Big Island. “Because everyone now sings about the affair, it’s not a secret anymore,” jokes Kamakakehau. He’ui, our lovely Kaua’i hula dancer, stepped up to dance the hula in her camouflage print jacket. Maybe that was to keep her presence undetected in the forests of Waipio.
Our next stop was on the island of Maui where Kamakakehau sang Lahainaluna, a song composed by Queen Kapiolani for King Kalakaua. Although he is labeled as a Hawaiian falsetto singer, he likes to sing in other styles. He thanked his musicians for their music; “they bring out the brother in me” as he sang the song with a lot of soul, throwing in riffs here and there.
The island-hopping continued to Kaua’i as March 17 is not only Saint Patrick’s Day, it is also the birthday of Prince Kuhio. Kamakakehau sang Ipo Lei Manu with so much feeling. This he followed with Alika,a falsetto song most closely associated with the legendary Aunty Genoa Keawe. It is definitely one of Kamakakehau’s favorite and he soared in the upper octaves and held the note on and on and on. Huge applause for this number.
During the intermission, as always, eight lucky individuals were rewarded with CD’s by some of our most popular Hawaiian music artists. All they had to do was to sign in and they had a chance to win the CD’s.
Wishing to give his blessing to Akua for this beautiful opportunity to be at EKK, Kamakakehau opened the second half with Majesty, a beautiful gospel song. Shifting gears from the gospel to the rambunctious, Kamakakehau sang the crowd-pleasing ‘A’oia or Rocking Chair Hula and called on Kapono for a pa’ani on his guitar.
Our musical tour took a quick stop on ‘Oahu to one of the best known places worldwide . . . Waikiki. When Kamakakehau was performing for the first time in Waikiki at the Princess Kai’ulani Hotel, he actually forgot the words to the song Waikiki and kept motioning to his family to help him with the lyrics but no one knew the words. “But today I remember the words so I want to sing for you Waikiki.” He get ‘um dis time.
Kamakakehau gave a new twist to his version of Ei Nei, a song not often heard in Jawaiian style, but that is what he did. “I learned Jawaiian from Kapono,” he said. Kamakakehau called on his guitarist Kapono Na’ili’ili to play a song from his new CD ‘Ala’iki, a project inspired by his grandparents who encouraged him to sing. It wasn’t until he got his first $100 tip that he took their encouragement seriously. His rendition of Makalapua is definitely a song that makes me want to hear the rest of his songs on his CD. I have heard that song many time, but Kapono’s version was definitely a winner; he makes the silent spaces between the words count . . . not something that one hears often.
Shouts of hana hou greeted Kapono’s singing. “If you hana hou me, I will make Kamaka gets up and dance,” and so Kamakakehau danced to Papalina Lahi Lahi, the sexy seaweed song by Aunty Edith Kanaka’ole. Standing tall and erect but moving ever so gracefully with his bright smile sparkling out of his dark mahogany skin, he captured the essence of that hula. Boy! can that bruddah move . . . so sensuously suggestive, there was no question about the kaona of the song.
A big part of what makes EKK special is that the audience is often included as part of the show. Not all the 30 dancers in Kamaka’s hula workshop were brave enough to get up on stage, but the dancers who did get up to dance the upcountry favorite Ulupalakua certainly did not look like amateurs; plus he is a wonderful hula teacher. As the ‘ukulele players played, ten hula dancers got up on stage and danced to the lively mele. I had a private show of my own as feisty Walt McConnell who sat next to me in the front row was bucking his stallion and roping his lasso as he danced the hula in his seat with the happiest expression I ever saw on anyone’s face. I kept telling him, “Go up there! Go up there!” but he was happy with his noho hula. Next time, Walt….you won’t be let off the hook so easily. Kapono called up the ‘ukulele circle to play ‘Uhe’uhene and Holo Holo Ka’a, both songs taught them in the ‘ukulele circle.
It was time for the anticipated Kamoa ‘ukulele giveaway. Mizu brought the ‘ukulele to the stage; Kamakakehau drew out one ticket; I tried to read the name but could not figure out the spelling . . . so I read the number . . . no answer. I could figure out the address as “Saskechuan” but the name was a mystery. I read the number over and over and was just about to move on to the next number when a voice in the second row called out, “I got it!” It turns out the guy had to check all thirty of his tickets to find the right number so it took him awhile. When the elated young man came up to claim his ‘ukulele, Mizu was so happy to see that someone who bought so many tickets won the prize that she jumped on him, wrapped her legs around him with a whole body embrace, and everyone cheered for the young man. I still don’t know his bad handwriting name but I know he is originally from Ukraine and now living in Saskechuan. You never saw a happier man.
As the musical tour of the island chain drew to a close, Kamakakehau made it a point to include the friendly isle of Molokai as the group sang He Mele No Hina, a song that we do not hear often. He ended the program with a Bob Marley song, Turn Your Lights Down Low. Hawai’i Alohabrought the the tour of the islands to an end with no extra Hawaiian Miles but a great deal of satisfaction.
Who’s Coming Up for the Final Night of EKK?
Monday, March 24, 2014, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
E Kanikapila Kakou “Continuing the Legacy”
Raiatea Helm; Jeff Peterson; Bryan Tolentino
6:00 – 7:00: Ukulele Circle with Raiatea and Bryan; Guitar Circle with Jeff
7:00 – 9:00: Performance
If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at <firstname.lastname@example.org> for Monday events.
(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 37 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”
E Kanikapila Kakou 2014 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.