The Sound of Music! Auwe....soooooo many Hawaiian musicians ventured from Hawaii to the Pacific NW to entertain us in the first few months of Summer 2007 (I’m assuming it was summer ‘cause the Sun came out a few times).........
Keola Beamer & Carlos Nakai at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center! This was a very different kind of Keola Beamer concert than I’ve been to in the past! It was an awesome melding of the cultures of the First Nation/Native Americans and Hawaii and the two words that best captures the wonderful mood of the concert has to be “spiritually enchanting”! Carlos is an absolute master of the flute and the tones he blew were so hauntingly beautiful....Keola blended his nostalgic Hawaiian Kiho`alu guitar and his mellow voice with Carlos’ flute and the result was pure magic! Toss in the fluid movements of Moanalani’s hulas and wow: the audio and visual blend of Hawaiian Oli/Indian chants/hula/the flute and the Kiho`alu guitar was totally “chicken skin” enjoyable!!!!!
The 2007 Mother’s Day Ladies of Slack Key concert in Edmonds, WA featuring (Cindi Combs, Owana Salazar and Brittni Paiva) was a fantastic treat for the many Moms (and their Ohana) in attendance. Talk about three talented ladies who are masters of their arts: Cindi and Owana are elite guitarists and, with the possible exception of Jake S, no one plays the ukulele better than Brittni........and Owana’s voice is so nice and easy to listen to! I met Brittni a year ago at the Kalama Days of Discovery celebration and, since then, she has blossomed from a shy teenager to a pretty polished stage performer...
At their Green River CC, Auburn, WA concert, it was real obvious that Manu Boyd and his Ho`okena group still has that “sound” (soooo smooth and harmonious)!
But if I had to nominate the best from among the Hawaiian entertainers I saw during this period, it’s a tie between “da Tita from Moloka`i”(Melveen Leed) and the one/the only Brother Noland! Da Tita Melveen was s-u-p-e-r, a rare one woman act who completely enthralled the Green River CC audience with her humor and dancing and especially with her powerful voice singing a variety of songs (Hawaiian, Broadway, Blues, Country Western, et al). Meanwhile, Brother Noland had an overflowing crowd at Seattle’s 2007 Folk Life Festival groovin’ and a-movin’ in the aisles and on the grass with his legendary Hawaiian/Jawaiian style music....auwe da guy is sooooooooo good (more impressively, Brother Noland is deeply involved in promoting/operating Hawaiian music/dance/cultural and sports camps for kids back in Hawaii!) Brother Noland told me his joy comes from giving back to his people...what a neat guy!
Mahalo to Steven Gomes, Da Kauai guy, for inviting Kathy and I to the John Cruz concert at the Triple Door in downtown Seattle. I love all Hawaiian music but am basically a “traditionalist” so it takes me a bit longer to warm up to the music of “new Hawaii”. I absolutely loved John Cruz’s hit “Island Style” song but still looked at him as one of the “new music” guys until I had a chance to listen to “Hi`ilawe” from his new CD (will be available to the public in August 2007) and auwe.....what a terrific, awesomely great rendition of an old time, traditional song!!! I can’t wait for the CD to come out....meanwhile, John’s Triple Door concert was good; not quite sold out but lots of folks there (though not a lot of Hawaiian Islanders....where were you all????)
I saw a bunch of Hawaiian Islanders at most of the above concerts/events but, unfortunately, most of you missed another, very special concert! That one was free, held in the very nice Dumas Center Concert Hall ( Federal Way, WA) and featured 24 young musicians from Hawaii. These youngsters, grades 6-12, were part of the Kamehameha Schools (Oahu) Student Orchestra who played in Canada (Vancouver and Victoria) and Olympia, Federal Way and Seattle, WA during a two week tour! While these youth can (and do) play ukuleles/guitars, their instruments of choice are violins, violas, cellos and stringed bass. Their focus was on the classical music of composers like Bach and Debussy but they did toss in a few Hawaiian songs and dances....’twas ninety minutes of great music as those kids can really, really play their classical music instruments (and they’re pretty darn good on the ukuleles, guitars, hula too!)
Bobby Nakihei (you know him....he’s da real nice guy from Bobby’s Hawaiian restaurant in Everett, WA...) called to tell me about Steven Souza (whose family is from Kailua, HI) being one of the first high school players selected in the recent Major League Baseball draft. Steven, who plays for Cascade HS in Everett, was selected by the Washington Nationals. Congrats Steven!
Spaghetti and Hawaiian Music? Yep....Brad Inserra’s Swingside Cafe in the Fremont area has been called the “Best Little Italian Restaurant” in Seattle. Brad lived on the Big Island of Hawaii for several years and calls himself a Hawaiian at heart (one of Brad’s closest friends in Hawaii was the late Kahu Lanakila Brandt). Every now and then, Brad gets homesick for Hawaii and brings in musicians to play Hawaiian music. Kinda different but good fun and really good food..........
Gotta hele on.........a hui hou e malama pono.................Danny
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