January 28, 2013
“The Queen of Chalangalang at Kaua’i Pardee Central”
Last year, I asked Auntie Bev Muraoka if she would present at EKK in March 2012. In a typically Auntie Bev manner, she quips, “So….you finally reached the bottom of the barrell, eh?” My quick come back to her was, “Quite the contrary, I need you to show our audiences what a real Hawaiian-style party is so I am booking you as the ‘Queen of Chalangalang’ “
Even Auntie Bev could not resist that enticing title, so she agreed to come to EKK Monday. However, an act of God forced us to cancel that Monday night (the first time in 29 years) because the storm flooded the entire parking lot at Kaua’i Beach Resort and forced all the hotel guests to relocate to another hotel. Even under those conditions, some pardee-hardee EKK folks told me later they braved the storm and tried to drive through the fish-flopping flooded parking lot to get to EKK.
Today’s rain should not and will not keep all you wonderful audience from Auntie Bev’s re-scheduled gig called “The Queen of Chalangalang at Kaua’i Pardee Central” where Auntie Bev will teach ukulele and hula from 6:00 – 7:00 pm and show us the old Hawaiian style Kanikapila from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Be there or be square!
Friday, January 25, 2013
“The Remarkable Kealii Reichel in Concert”
I had to ask Puna Krauss of Mele.com, who was my connection in coordinating this amazing concert, “So … tell me … what is the magic of Keali’i Reichel that make people respond to this concert like no other concert that I staged? I felt like I was under an avalanche!” He and cousin Cherissa Kane smiled softly, looked at each other, and he shrugged. “I don’t know,” was his honest answer.
Since word first got out via coconut wireless back in November 2012 that Keali’i was doing a concert for EKK, my email and my phones have been over-actively going off with me trying to promise folks that they would be guaranteed a seat at this concert; calls from blizzardy Minnesota, emails from Canada, and all the way to the DAY AFTER the concert, I was trying to make sure that everyone who wanted could get in to experience this concert. My apologies to the nearly 200 people that I had to turn away since all tickets sold out five days before the actual concert date. That is why I felt like I was inundated by an avalanche.
The concert itself was like a giant family gathering in “Oprah’s living room”, as Keali’i described it, because every free seat in the entire hotel was brought into the ballroom and many got up close and personal to the stage by sitting on the floor. In keeping with the style of EKK and Keali’i’s informal approach, Keali’i tossed his lineup of songs to the wind and took questions from the audience and that guided the songs that he sang. Even if he laughingly “la-la-la’d” some of the lyrics to songs that he had not sung for awhile, he graciously obliged the requests for songs. His friend and guitarist Shawn Pimental went along with the spontaneous line-up of songs, and Keali’i’s lovely cousin, Cherissa Kane danced the hula to the songs with the grace and charm of a Merrie Monarch Miss Aloha Hula.
For someone who grew up in Waimea Valley where pidgin is the first language, I found Keali’i’s show presented in very local pidgin informal, fun, fresh, full of surprises, and the audience just loved it. He admitted to being scared sitting alone on the stage in front of a very enormous audience, but one would never know that as he told stories and sang the new and familiar songs that many have come to love.
One of his favorite topic of conversation was the inimitable Puakea Nogelmeier, Hawaiian language expert and composer of some of Keali’i’s songs. His imitation of Puakea’s extraordinarily low voice was hilarious as were the stories about how it was to compose a new song on a napkin on the airplane while flying to class in Honolulu in order to meet the requirements for Puakea’s song composition class. Whenever Puakea comes to Kaua’i to present, Keali’i is one of his favorite person to talk about, so they definitely have a mutual admiration society going on.
Keali’i claims to be a kumu hula first and a singer second, something he fell into when dared to come up with a CD. Talk about smart moves; that set off a chain of events that led to where he is today as one of the most sought-after performer from Hawai’i. He is currently working on a new CD after a ten-year recording hiatus, so hopefully, he will find it in his heart to return to Kaua’i to share his new CD.
For his hana hou number, he took off his singer hat and put on his kumu hula hat. “No program is complete without a Hula Mai,” he explained as he spelled out the details of what one would find in a Hula Mai or song about the genitals and love making. He share that when his halau performed a Hula Mai, shortly after, a number of his dancers became hapai with child. I have seen Hula Mai performed before but never quite as sensuously as when he and Cherissa danced it with descriptive hand motions and suggestive body language, flirtatious smiles and enticing looks. It brought the house down. Undoubtedly, many had to rush home as that hula must have charged up any dormant hormones.
Monday, January 21, 2013
“Let the Celebration Begin” — Keale, LT Smooth, Donald Kaulia
What a way to kick off the 30th anniversary season of E Kanikapila Kakou with a combination of three outstanding artists — Walt Keale, LT Smooth (Leon Toomata) and Donald Kaulia. Each of these musicians stand tall amongst the musical greats of Hawai’i, but put them together and one wishes the program was four hours long instead of two hours long.
Keale with his stories of his ‘ohana — among them the legendary Bruddah Iz Kamakawiwo’ole, the late Uncle Moe Keale and on and on — and his extraordinary voice, carries the message of Pono loud and clear. Passionate about the cause of the Hawaiian people, he moves his audience with the resonance that fills his every song and messages of persuasiveness that is gentle but firm and a great measure of humor. Keale loves Kaua’i and will return to Kaua’i every chance he has, and folks on Kaua’i reciprocate royally whenever he comes for perform.
LT Smooth, an intriguing combination of Maori, Samoan and Irish, has everyone in tears as he shares his story of coming clean of a life of gangs and drugs in the footsteps of his Dad, and today making a new life for himself as one of the extraordinary musicians on the Hawaiian scene. Hailing from the Kona side of Hawai’i Island where he and his band Vakanui keep the music alive and thriving, LT comes from a family of ten boys and one girl. His blond, blue-eyed sister who is fighting for her life against breast cancer told LT in their recent meeting to keep telling his story because there is always someone out there who needs to hear his message. LT can play about 16 different musical instruments from his early desire to become famous while living in New Zealand, but now his message of love and compassion for fellow man is his new priority; his love for the guitar was evident in his “machine-gun licks” as he was called on to play the pa’ani or instrumental interlude. He is truly a master at it.
LT and Donald Kaulia kept switching off guitars during the evening. He met the other two musicians while performing at the many slack key festivals on each island. Their harmony together is truly something special and we were fortunate to be able to hear it. A musician with a truly demanding day job with Grace Construction, we were fortunate that Donald could squeeze it into his busy schedule to return to Kaua’i for this EKK gig. He credits his education and job preparation to his hanae parents who adopted both Donald and his brother. Getting to know his biological siblings later in life revealed a great deal of musical connections. Musically he comes from a family of outstanding musicians including the famous Ledward Kaapana. He shared an instrumental that Led taught him that came down from their tutu-man or grandfather. A new song has to be given away; he shared a song he wrote about Wailau on the back side of Molokai.
The program could have gone on for hours and nobody would have called time, but the clock was ticking so the trio performed a rousing “Hawaii 76” with unmatched harmony of voices. Because the crowd appeared not to be ready to leave, LT led a hana hou number which had everyone dancing in their rows and in the aisle and finally everyone felt ready to call it an evening. What a way to begin this celebration of wonderful Hawaiian music.
Who’s Coming Up Next at EKK?
Monday, February 4, 2013, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
E Kanikapila Kakou “30 Years of EKK — One Long Hawaiian Kine Pardee”
Bobby Moderow, Jr. — Smashing Solo by leader of Maunalua
If you have a disability and need assistance call Carol Yotsuda at (808) 245-2733 for Monday events.
Contact: Garden Island Arts Council, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 35 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”
E Kanikapila Kakou 2013 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 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.
Send out January 28, 2013