“Take Me Back to the Days of Old Hawaii”

March 1, 2012

EKK 2012

on Facebook for March 6 EKK Monday; mahalo to Tashi:
Guess who is coming to EKK?

Statistics and data may sound boring to some, but surely not for those of us who are presenting EKK for our community enjoyment! Thanks to the willingness of our participants to let us know where they are from and how they found out about EKK, we can share some interesting tidbits with you:

Moving to higher places:  Few years ago, our participants divulged the fact that they learned about EKK while in the resort hot tubs. This year our participants found out about EKK while driving by and seeing the roadside banner, while standing in the elevator, while shopping at the Farmers Market, while visiting our local Kaua’i Museum, and best of all….while attending CHURCH!  Yes, folks like to share the wonderful program called E Kanikapila Kakou with our visitors.  EKK is in your face!

Each week when we ask the first timers to stand up about one-fourth of the audience stands up; many of these first timers come back next year or in some future visit looking around for EKK so they might again enjoy the great feeling of Aloha they experienced. By far, the biggest “salespersons” for EKK are family, friends and previous participants who want to make sure their ‘ohana does not miss out on a great thing.

Also wonderful to share is that the largest block of audience is still the folks that live on Kauai — from Ha’ena to Koke’e, they make the weekly trek to Kaua’i Beach Resort to enjoy the best Hawaiian music program in the state.

photo by Anne E. O'Malley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K F C Finger Lickin’ Good Music

Who better to take us back to the music of old Hawai’i than the KFC team of Keith Haugen, Frank Uehara and Carmen U’ilani as they tried to squeeze a hundred songs into their two-hour program and managed to reach about a fourth of their goal.

Performing for decades in Honolulu, Keith and Carmen Haugen together must have sung many thousands of songs in their musical career. Their repertoire of 500 – 600 songs helped them to do 4 – 5 hour gigs. They have teamed up with pakini player Frank Uehara’s whose ingenious black five-gallon plastic barrel has been elevated to a viable percussive instrument as he is able to play actual notes on his drum. In addition to knowing choke songs, Keith also knows in-depth background on just about every song he sings, so you get a lot of background whenever he performs.

He loves to open his program with Koke’e by Dennis Kamakahi, who he regards as one of the all-time top-ranking greats in composing Hawaiian music.  We were so fortunate that we could open the 2012 EKK season with a concert by the prolific Kamakahi and Stephen Inglis.

Ali’i Poe by Reverend William Maka’ehu, taught to the ‘ukulele circle, is about the composer’s love affair in Nawiliwili. Keith points out that the lovers’ trysts in the shelter of calla lily plants meant that they were either very small people or they were meeting in a supine position.  When KFC performed it once in Waikiki, a woman came up to Keith after the show and said, “Thank you for not mentioning my mother’s name.” Whatever the background, the song was beautiful as Carmen spoke the English translation as Keith sang the Hawaiian lyrics translated by Aunty Alice Namakelua, well known authority of Hawaiian language.

Keith at one time researched every single hapa-haole song and tried to find a subject that was not written about and he came up with Brown Skin Woman, one of many songs written about Carmen. When they harmonize, it’s really quite beautiful. Keith often receives songs from friends; one that he especially liked, ‘Ukulele Lady  by Richard Whiting and Gus Kahn, became one of their CD titles with Carmen featured on the cover; there are many ‘ukulele ladies around the state now.

One of his favorite Hawaiian songs He Nani Molokai by Ida Hanakahi is written in the old Hawaiian style where the composer takes you on a musical tour around the island always moving in the same direction. For the island of ‘Oahu he sang a song about the Ko’olau mountains sleeping peacefully now.

Keith took the time to commend KKCR Radio for doing such a wonderful job supporting arts and culture and GIAC and talked about the Monday morning phone interview with Linda Lester. Not being able to leave his sixth graders in Hawaiian language class, he asked them all to be very quiet, which they did, and when Keith got off the phone, everyone asked, “What did she say?”  Every Monday morning at 8:00, Linda interviews the EKK musicians for that evening.  Mahalo!

Hi Lili, Hi Lo, written by Helen Deutsch, from the movie Gigi starring Leslie Caron was translated into Hawaiian in 1952; for many in the audience, it was a very familiar song as many hummed along “…A Song of Love Is A Sad Song, Hi Lili Hi Lili Hi Lo…”  Keith shared his new look, the shaved bald head, with a story. The best of many bald sayings came from his friend Burt who said, “I’m not bald; that’s a solar panel for a sex machine!”


Keith and Carmen have boasting rights for their 17-year longest running gig in the history of the 85-year-old Royal Hawaiian Hotel; it also meant they sang the song “Royal Hawaiian Hotel” soooooooo many times, but they still sang it for us.

Another less known song Ku’u Home Lunalilo that has been recorded only once by the Haugens, was taught to them when they visited the Lunalilo Home for old folks. Joseph “Wiki Bird” Halemanu of Iokepa, Utah who wanted to live out his life in Hawai’i,  sang this song.  Like “Wiki Bird”, Keith was born and raised in Minnesota; he left in 1958 to be stationed in Hawai’i.  When he got off the airplane, he said, “This is really better than Minnesota,” and never left.


Carmen danced two hulas to acknowledge the gorgeous host island of Kaua’i — Hanalei Moon by Bob Nelson and Kipu Kai by composer Maddy Lam and Hawaiian language authority Mary Kawena Pukui on their visit to Jack Waterhouse’s estate. The gorgeous view of Kipu Kai is one of the most stunning shots of Kaua’i in the movie Descendents, a scene rarely ever seen by most folks. While in the hula mode, the EKK dancers got up bravely and danced Auntie Irmgard Aluli’s Puamana.  Can’t believe they just learned it.

O’ahu  is a collaboration between Keith and Carol Miguel of Seattle who wanted a beautiful song written about the place she called home. 
Kaimana Hila, Hawai’i’s famous landmark called Diamond Head, was written by Charles E. King and later revised by falsetto singer Andy Cummings of Kaua’i; it became a world-wide hit because so many Hawaiian musicians performed around the world in those early days.

The second half of the evening was filled with a variety of music in their repertoire. Trying to squeeze as many songs into the short time as they could, KFC launched right into a medley of five well-known favorites.

They shared an unusual song written in Hawaiian about the battleship Missouri. In 1998 the Arizona Memorial was brought back and docked next to the Arizona Memorial; Keith had a chance to sing his composition, Mokukaua, on the deck of the battleship.

Carmen led off with her beautiful voice and Keith came in with harmony in an all time favorites by Alice Everett, a close friend of the Queen, Ua Like No A Like which they sang in a medley with  I’ll Be Thinking of You by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning written to the same melody as Everett’s. I’ll bet someone in the audience was thinking that this exquisite song has to be sung at their wedding or at their renewal of vows.  Hmmmmmm?

A wonderful harmony by Keith and Carmen is the song He Nani Ku Kilakila. Makes you close your eyes and imagine that you are sitting in the Monarch Room of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel watching women waltzing by in their elegant holoku. The song is also called ‘Aina Kaulana o Moloka’i or Moloka’i Waltz…. you can’t help humming along — “…in the shade of the old Banyan tree…”

Truckers Lament by Sheb Wooley and Dick Feller with the chorus “I just don’t look good NAKED any more” was written for the TV show Hee Haw. “Here is a song you must learn to sing!” said the friend who sent it to Keith. Many in the audience could relate to the hilarious lyrics.

Mi Nei by Keith Haugen is about a young maiden who describes herself to her lover; if she was as sensuous as Carmen danced it, you know she got her man. A very catchy upbeat tempo song, Hapa ‘Ilikini, is about a half-Indian boy who lived in Panaewa in the rain forests of East Hawai’i Island. Another song about Hawai’i Island is 
Moku Puni Nui written in 1970. It’s a song that slack key King Ledward Kaapana has recorded three times on three different CD’s.

Keith is one of the few musicians that sings all the verses of Hawai’i Aloha as it were taught to the 60-plus in the ‘ukulele circle so singing was especially full and rich as we closed the evening’s program.

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