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Mauna Hpe Brings Back Nostalgic Music of Yesteryear

The years slipped away, and we were transported back in time to the early days of Hawaiian music with the nostalgic sounds of the Hawaiian steel guitar, bringing back fleeting images of the majestic Lurline pulling into port, hula dancers greeting visitors in their swishing cellophane hula skirts, wearing sweet-scented plumeria leis. Today this steel sound has found its way into many genres of music worldwide.

The sweet haunting sound of the steel guitar under the masterful hands of Jeff Au Hoy is the distinctive sound that defines Hawai’i. Adam Asing keeps a definite swing beat on his bass and young Kapono Lopes completes the trio with his guitar accompaniment.

Each of the trio took turns taking the lead on vocals, and all of them joined in on the harmony for that smooth blending of voices that take you back to Hawaiian music. Together the three form the group Mauna Hape, first time at EKK. Jeff did perform at EKK once before as part of Cyril Pahinui’s group along with Peter Moon Jr.

Adam Asing hails from Papakolea and brings with him the musical influences of the last generation of Hawai’i Calls veterans Benny Kalama and Sonny Kanahele who played music until they were in their eighties.

Twenty-one-year-old Kapono Lopes is a native of Kapa’a, Kaua’i but got his education at the Kamehameha Schools on O’ahu. The Kauahi and Holt ‘Ohana who hail from Kekaha were in attendance full force to see one of their youngest and most talented family members share his music at EKK.

Some weeks we get a lot of fascinating stories and background about the songs; this week we got a whopping twenty-three songs each delivered with such professionalism, wonderful harmonies, variety within the genre, and several unexpected surprises.

“We’ll play our favorite music and hope you enjoy it, too.” Simple and direct and they were right on track. They opened with recognizable old favorites — Hanohano Hawai?i with Adam on vocals followed by Song of Old Hawai’i sung by Jeff, and all three harmonized on Aloha Kaua’i. Sand composed by Andy Aiona in the 1930’s was sung by Kapono with the two others joining in. Jeff’s steel pa’ani was awesome. They sang a medley titled Nani Wale N? ?Oe/ Maunaloa. That made us slow down, lie back and sip mai tais.

For a change in pace, they called on Owen Kauahi’s daughter, Sanoe Kaohelauli’i of Anahola to dance Pap?lina Lahilahi. A sassy hula, Jeff translated the words to English for the benefit of the non-native speakers. Of course, it was clear that the hula was full of kaona and mischievous intent. You could see it all in the hands and hips action.

The audience loves it when hula dancers jump on the stage so when Blaine Sasaki, our resident lei-maker wearing one of his lei po’o concoctions on his head jumped up to dance?Ulupalakua sung by Adam, cheers resounded throughout the ballroom.

Jeff, whose specialty is the music of the Territorial period in Hawai’i, sang a hapa-haole song — No Place Like Hawai’i — composed by Eddie Brandt with additional very kolohe risqué verses by Kaua’i’s own Ed Kenney which reflected so clearly the sentiment of the times in the 1960’s, it was a real treat because many of these older songs are rare experiences; it’s great to see that they are brought back and kept in the repertoire of island musical treasures.

Princess P?pule, another old favorite often danced as a comic hula by the much-loved kupuna hula dancers, was sung by Kapono. It would have been a great hula to watch a tutu passing out her papayas. Keeping with the songs of early Hawai’i with images of being on the beach at Waikiki, the trio sang Hawaiian Hospitality.

21-year-old Kapono, with just eight months on the steel guitar but a lot of heavy-duty mentorship with the likes of steel guitar master Bobby Ingano, played a fast-paced steel solo titled Moani Ke ?Ala/Girl in the Yellow Holok? followed by one of Hawai’i’s favorite and best-known songs Makalapua. He is already well into his promising future.

To invite the audience to try to win the ‘ukulele donated each week by Kamoa ‘Ukulele, Kapono played an instrumental When You Wish Upon a Star. The big surprise of the evening was when Lono Lopes’ name was called as the winner of the Kamoa ‘ukulele; he is the brother of Kapono Lopes.

Following the intermission, the trio started up again with a medley of songs – Adam sangN?lani and Jeff sang Beautiful Kauai. The irresistible strains of the steel guitar drew hula dancers up to dance. Donna Stewart, Ina Legins, and Momi Thacker, each with her own choreography looked so happy dancing the hula to such wonderful music. Hula dancers are always such audience pleasers.

Kaulana Ka Inoa O Kaua?i by Aunty Margaret Aipolani of Kekaha brought Kekoa Tango up to the stage. In the days of Club Jetty down by Nawiliwili Harbor, the formidable foursome of Aunty Margaret, Laua’e Arashiro and Kapono’s Kauahi grandparents, used to walk around and entertain the customers in the old Hale Nani Restaurant, which was part of Club Jetty. These songs bring back such wonderful memories of the people and places that are no longer with us. That iconic foursome was such a major part of music in West Kaua’i.

Of course, the audience yelled out their hana hou to keep Kekoa on stage. The very talented alakai to Kumu Hula Troy Hinano Lazaro danced the very feisty hula Tewetewe. You could see the artists were so enjoying the hula additions to their music as they sang with huge smiles on their faces.

Another unexpected surprise was Kapono’s invitation to his grandmother, Herberta Hanakaulani Kauahi Montgomery to come up to the stage to sing Hanalei Moon. “You gonna get it!” chastised grandma to her delighted grandson, but she got right into it and sang the song beautifully. Back to the lively swing beat with Adam getting into it with his whole body. Hene Hene Kou ?Aka and a Kaua’i favorite Hanohano Hanalei were sung by the trio.

Another last-minute spontaneous addition to the playlist was an original composition sung by Jess Montgomery of Kilauea called Kim Chee Kisses which he wrote for or about his wife. “There are strange and wonderful things we eat here in Hawai’i – kim chee, daikon, bago-on, balut, duck eggs, and on and on” – and he includes all of these wonderful delicacies in his ballard about his wife’s eating habits. Yes, local culinary practices are food for the creative songwriters who can make a whole fun song out of it. Jess did exactly that and shared it with our appreciative audience.

Audience requests shouted out from the audience brought Troy Hinano Lazaro up to the stage to graciously add N?wiliwili hula to the evening feast of song and dance. Always a treat to watch Hinano dance the hula.

Once again, another unique and wonderful night of Hawaiian music came to an end with everyone holding hands and singing Hawai’i Aloha. It’s hard to believe that the 36th season is more than half over, but we have four more wonderful Monday evenings to join in on great entertainment, wonderful artists, cherished moments with friends, and a chance to support Hawaiian music for years to come.

“ . . . one more Aloha then it’s time for goodbye . . .” Smiling faces stream happily out of the ballroom.

If you have a disability and need assistance for Monday events, email Garden Island Arts Council

Info at — “Celebrating 42 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”

Funding for E Kanikapila Kakou 2019 Hawaiian Music Program is made possible by Hawai’i Tourism through the Community Enrichment Program, with support from the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, the Garden Island Arts Council supporters and 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.

How to find EKK

March Arts & Culture Events

February 21 – March 10
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:00 pm; Sundays at 4:00 pm
WIT’S END at Kukui Grove presents “Proof”,
2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama & Tony Award for Best Play.
A compelling, witty and well-structured story of a gifted young woman coping with the mental illness of her brilliant mathematician father.
At WIT’S END, Kukui Grove Center, next to Kaua’i Bakery
Info: (808) 635-3727
Tickets $20 reserved; $25 at door; $100 in advance for reserved table of 4 — Online

Monday, March 4, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
E Kanikapila Kakou presents
Mark Yamanaka, Bert Naihe and Sean Naleimaile
‘ukulele hour starts at 6:00 pm
Kauai Beach Resort Jasmine Ballroom
Donations at the door
Food/drink Concession provided by KBR inside the ballroom

Monday, March 4, 6:30 pm
Kauai “Live Poets’ Society” Upcoming Meeting
All Poets & Poetry Lovers Invited
Bring 10 – 12 copies of your poem to share and writing materials
Lihue Public Library Conference Room
Info: (808) 241-3222

Wednesday, March 6, 5:00 – 6:30 pm
North Shore Library presents:
Friends’ Lecture Series: A Journey to the Southern Ocean
Speaker: Naturalist Elise Lockton on Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Antarctic Peninsula aboard National Geographic Explorer expedition ship.
Princeville Public Library, 4343 Emmalani Drive
Info: (8080 826-4310

Saturday, March 9, 7:00 pm; Doors open at 6:00 pm
The Mokihana Club presents a benefit concert
Keola Beamer & Jeff Peterson with Moanalani Beamer
Kauai Beach Resort Jasmine Ballroom
Tickets: $50 General; $75 Gold Circle
Benefits scholarship fund for KCC Nursing Students
& High School Music Students
Contact: Kauai Mokihana Club,;
(808) 755-5235

Wednesday, March 9, 7:00 pm
Kauai Concert Association presents
Van Cliburn Winner Daniel Hsu
“poet with an expressive edge to his playing that charms,
questions, and coaxes,” – Philadelphia Inquirer
Kauai Community College PAC
Adults $30/ Students $10
Info: Kauai Concert Association

Saturday, March 9, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Grove Farm Old Time Games
Grove Farm Museum, Lihue
Cost: $1 – $2
Info: Julie McLeod, (808) 245-3202

Monday, March 11, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
E Kanikapila Kakou presents
Kaua’i Rising Stars – Jeremy & Aimee Brown, Kimberly Hope,
Keikialoha Kaohelauli’i, Kepa Kruse, Rydge Nuesca
Kauai Beach Resort Jasmine Ballroom
Donations at the door
Food/drink Concession provided by KBR inside the ballroom

Tuesday, March 12, 5:30 pm
NTBG and KCC’s collaborative ‘Earth Matters’ public lecture series
M?l? (Laysan Albatross) in Hawaiian Culture
Speakers Sabra Kauka and Hob Osterlund
On importance of seabirds in Hawaiian culture. Focusing on m?l? (Laysan albatross) at Midway Atoll within the Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument; they will explore the threats seabirds face, present day efforts to help them thrive alongside Hawaiian culture, and the unique role of Kaua?i plays in perpetuating m?l? in Hawai?i.
KCC Campus Center Cafeteria behind the Performing Arts Center.
For questions about access or special accommodations, call (808) 332-7324 Ext. 225 at least 10 days in advance.

Visit for details.

Saturday, March 16, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
9th Annual Anahola Prince Kuhio Day Celebration
Anahola Beach Park, Anahola
Free & open to the public
Info: La Contrades,; Lady ipo Kahaunaele-Ferrerira,

Monday, March 18, 5:45 – 9:00 pm
E Kanikapila Kakou presents “IRON MANGO”
(Kalei Gamiao, Lopaka Colon, Jon Yamasato, Richard Gideon)
Kauai Beach Resort Jasmine Ballroom
‘Ukulele workshop by Kalei Gamiao – 5:45 – 6:45 pm
Donations at the door
Food/drink Concession provided by KBR inside the ballroom

Monday, March 18, 6:00 pm
Waimea Public Library hosts
Judith Burtner, author of Robinson Family Governess
The book gives historical context to letters written by the author’s grandmother, Hettie Belle, who worked as a governess to Aubrey Robinson’s young children in the early 1900s.
Info: Michelle Young, Branch Manager, Waimea Public Library
Email: | Web:

March 20, 5:00 – 6:45 pm
The Life & Legacy of Prince Kuhio
PrincevillePublic Library lecture series
Info: Mallory Fujitani,

Monday, March 25, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
E Kanikapila Kakou presents
MAKAHA SONS (Jerome Koko, Kimo Artis, Mark Yim)
w/ Hula by Leilani Rivera Low’s Halau
Kauai Beach Resort Jasmine Ballroom
Donations at the door
Food/drink Concession provided by KBR inside the ballroom

Saturday, March 30, 10:00 am – 12:30 pm; registration 9:30 am
Hawaiian Herbal Lecture
Experience the heart of Hawaiian culture and its herbal medicine tradition at a special event lead by Sean Chun, a renowned Hawaiian cultural practitioner – healing methodology & philosophy; use of La’au and Ho’oponopono
Lawai International Center, 3381 Wawae Road, Kalaheo, 96741
$25 minimum donation, includes light refreshments
Reservation: text or call (808) 639-5952; email;

Saturday, March 30, 12:00 noon – 6:00 pm
KekuaAloha Foundation presents
4th Annual Keiki Fun Day
Kapaa Middle School Band & Choir; Candice & Co.
Salsa Dances, Kapaa Elementary School Kid Fit Crew
2nd Annual iSiva Youth “Burn Out Suicide” Fireknife competition,
Drumming exhibition; 2010 World FireKnife Champion Res Tiumalu
Kapaa Beach Park
Drug, Alcohol & Smoke free event

April Arts & Culture Events

April 6, 9:30 am – 2:00 pm
Kauai County Farm Bureau
2019 Annual Garden Fair
& Boy Scout Makahiki
KCC Front Lawn

Info: Amy Chun

April 6
KSA Spring Show (membership)
Show Spril 12 – May 3

Saturday, April 13, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Pacific Harp Project with Noel Okamoto
Classical harp music incorporated into the realm of jazz, pop and
fusion; this groundbreaking group “leads the listener to the conclusion: The harp has been unchained”
Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center
Cost $10 – $30

May Arts & Culture Events

Friday – Sunday, May 17- 19, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Kauai Sufi Retreat
Church of the Pacific, Princeville
Info: Shanti Karen Joy, (808) 346-1423

Wednesday, May 22, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Hawaii International Music Festival
One Night Only!
Featuring Metropolitan Opera Singer Amy Shoremount-Obra, Internationally acclaimed Eric Silberger & Kauai’s own Monica Chung
Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center, Lihue
Cost: $10 – $30
Info: (808) 245-SING

Sunday, May 26, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Banana Poka RoundUp
Hawaiian Music, Basket making, children’s games, forest crafts, exhibits
Kokee State Park, Kokee
Cost: Free
Info: (808) 335-9975;

July Arts & Culture Events

Save The Dates – Call For Entries

The Visible Hand: Hawai‘i Craftsmen Statewide Exhibition 2019 August 30, 2019 – October 4, 2019
Honolulu Museum of Art School Gallery, 1111 Victoria St, Honolulu, HI 96814

Juror: Emily Zaiden is Director and curator of the Craft in America Center in Los Angeles, where she has curated more than forty exhibitions focused on contemporary craft and design for the Center and outside venues.

Emerging and established artists from across the state are encouraged to submit up to six completed artworks for jurying.

Online registration opens Monday, July 15, and closes on Sunday, August 11

Visit for more information.

Hawai’i Island: Evan Jenkins,, (808) 640-0283
Maui: Jennifer Owen,, (808) 575-2523
Molokai: Paula Scott,, (808) 567-9604
Oahu: Christopher Edwards,, (808) 2585-1965
Kaua’i: Caylin Spear,, (808) 639-7324

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“The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you’re finished”
–Nelson DeMille