I love writing, especially writing about people....I love it most when I can meet the “person” in people, the often wondrous human souls beneath the facade of their public images.....Amy Hanaiali`i is physically a very beautiful woman and she is one of Hawaii’s most outstanding entertainers (numerous awards including a few Hokus attest to that) but to meet her without the stage makeup and flashy clothing is a revelation. There she was, on a cold wintry night, just relaxing and having dinner at Seattle’s Kona Kitchen restaurant, no cosmetic makeup, dressed ever so casually, cuddling with her nineteen month old baby Madeline Ualea o Ka Mahina Tikehu Austin! I’ve met Amy a few times, seen and enjoyed her fantastic singing at numerous concerts but I don’t think she was ever more beautiful than she was that night! Warm, humorous, friendly....a woman, a mother! Amy and her husband John Austin are planning to establish an aqua-culture farm raising opae (shrimp) on Moloka`i next year! John Austin is of Maori/ English/Scottish ethnicity and from New Zealand, a really nice guy to talk to (auwe...he has such a neat accent, a kinda Britishy and Maori sound). One of John’s grandfathers on his Mother’s side was a Maori chief. Amy and John and baby Madeline currently live in the Aina Haina/Hawaii Kai area of Oahu.
Amy and her group were in the midst of a concert tour along the Pacific coast states and stopped in to dine and meet and greet fans at the Kona Kitchen restaurant in Seattle. Kona Kitchen’s owners (Angie and Yuji Okumoto) asked if I could gather some of my musician buddies (Iwalani Kamahele/Bernie Simeona/Jack Aldrich/Kai Hanchett/Kory Tideman) to kanikapila while the “real pros” (Amy, super guitarist Chino Montero, Bobo Miles, Kehaulani Marzo, Hanale Ka`anapu, Micol Kane, Nathaniel Stillman, Ikaika Brown, Kalani Miles) were dining. It was a backyard kinda kanikapila (you know...the kind where everybody joins in...auwe so much fun...Amy later said she and her entertainer gang had a “fabulous time” that night) Amy got up and sang a few numbers while Chino Montero did some awesome guitar and ukulele picking.Chino Montero is a Portuguese/Puerto Rican/Spanish Hawaiian Islander from the Palolo Valley (Kaimuki HS ’80 guy) who has been playing guitar for Amy for eight years. Bobo Miles (now resides in Santa Cruz, CA but travels around doing olelo and music/dance workshops) did a few of his inimitable hulas while Kehaulani Marzo (Amy’s lead dancer from Puna, Hawaii/Waiakea HS grad) added a whole lot of graceful dancing. Local (Seattle area) talents including “Kona’ Kitchen’s” great singing waitress Angela Manke, falsetto ace Gary Medeiros, Billy Nahalea and dancers Lei De Los Santos and her daughter Kim added to the fun environment on that cold Seattle night.... Auwe, the many fans who came to the “Kona” got to enjoy some great entertainment (for free)!!!
Amy’s “A Hawaiian Christmas” Concert at the Seattle Townhall was a super treat...Amy was awesome, demonstrating her versatility by singing songs ranging from Po Lai E to Summertime to Autumn Leaves to Kuu Hoa (among others) and ending the evening with a stirring rendition of “Ave Maria”. Amy had the audience in “the palm of her hands” because of the genuine warmth she exuded on stage; she was funny and daring (jumping up on a piano to do one number)! Bobo Kaleo Miles and his group were great as the opening act...and the audience got a special treat when Jeff Peterson (Maui guy) did a few kiho`alu songs (da guy is very good)! But there was no doubt in the audience’s minds that this night belonged to Amy....
Our loss is Hawaii’s gain......Namele.com was the promoter responsible for bringing some of Hawaii’s best entertainers (like the Makaha Sons, the Brothers Cazimero, Alea, Aunty Genoa, Amy Hanaiali`i, et al) to Seattle over the past decade. Namele.com’s shows at the Benaroya Hall, Seattle’s premier venue for music, were always first class. The man behind Namele.com is leaving us to return to Hawaii and he leaves a gap that will not be easily filled. Aaron Langhof (Punahou guy) is going home to help his parents run their growing solar energy business. Aaron did tell me that he’s not getting out of the concert promoting business completely. Hopefully Aaron and his concerts will be back in Seattle in the future.....until then, good luck Aaron and mahalo for all the great things you’ve done for our Seattle area Hawaiian community..............
One of my spies (his initials are Ben Baker, a guy who is busy, busy spreading Aloha via his music and as President/Pelekikena of the Washington State Hawaiian Civic Club) tells me about the recently opened Ali & Sumo’s Hawaiian Grill restaurant in Tacoma (430 East 25th Street, near the Tacoma Dome). Owners are Bert and Valerie Dollente. Ben Baker loves to eat so I believe him when he says “da food is awesome delicious”....
Hauoli Makahiki Hou! As the year 2008 begins, I look forward to meeting those of you I’ve not yet met and to renewing old friendships with the many of you whom I’ve met over the past few years. Here in this land far removed from Hawaii (where our hearts will always be), I admire and respect you all so much because it is YOU who make our culture live on!
Gotta hele on.....a hui hou e malama pono............................Danny
Copyright © 2004-2009 by Northwest Hawai`i Times