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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 11, 2001

Music Scene
Ho'okena celebrating 15 years of music

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writer

Ho'okena – from left, Glen Smith, Horace K. Dudoit III, Manu Boyd, Chris Kamaka and William Aarona – takes the stage tonight, May 11, in the final installment of the HawaiÎi Theatre's Hana Hou! Music Series.

Hawai'i Theatre's Hana Hou! Hawaiian Music Series
8 p.m. today, May 11
• Hawai'i Theatre $25 ($5 discount for students, seniors, military and Hawai'i Theatre Center members)
• 528-0506
• Also: 7:30 p.m. opening act is Ellsworth Simeona

Ho'okena group leader, vocalist and master 'ukulele player Manu Boyd apologizes for having just 15 minutes to talk.

Unexpectedly summoned for some afternoon furniture-moving at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, where he is public information specialist and publications editor, Boyd thankfully finds an empty conference room where he can not only rest, but talk at semi-length about Ho'okena's performance as part of the Hawai'i Theatre's Hana Hou! Hawaiian Music Series. The concert, set for tonight, is the group's third for the series in as many years.

Sporting a downtown-friendly aloha shirt and slacks, Boyd looks surprisingly crisp and cool for someone who's been hauling furniture. Despite the self-imposed time limit, he happily talks at length about Ho'okena's fondness for the series.

"The series is very supportive of Hawaiian music," says Boyd. "We live in a time when there are a lot of outside influences and distractions as far as the music goes that kind of take people away from the essence of what our island heritage is all about. The Hana Hou! series, because it focuses on groups that do a lot of Hawaiian language music, gives a chance for the music to be seen in the premiere venue in Hawai'i."

As full-time career guys with busy day jobs, Boyd and the rest of Ho'okena — William Aarona, Horace K. Dudoit III, Chris Kamaka and Glen Smith — also enjoy the opportunity afforded them by Hana Hou! series founder and Hawai'i Theatre manager Burton White to "just bring the music," as it were, to the lofty venue.

"We produce the show, but we don't have to market it, or handle the logistical or technical aspects," says Boyd.

"We just show up, plan our show a bit, bring our guests in and do a concert. It's way different from, say for instance, our Christmas concert at the theater where we do all the promotion and handle all the details involved in producing a concert. This is basically the theater's show."

Ho'okena's set list for tonight's concert, says Boyd, will likely feature a career-spanning retrospective of audience favorites in celebration of the group's 15th anniversary.

"We're kind of going over the events of our last 15 years together and trying to do things throughout the year that celebrate a pretty major anniversary for a Hawaiian music group that is still relatively young, but established," says Boyd. "There'll also be some songs we're adding as bonus tracks to an anthology we're working on."

Boyd declines to reveal the anthology's four bonus cover tracks ("We're still kind of fine-tuning them," he says, smiling), but hopes to release the 20-plus song collection spanning the group's six studio albums on or near Ho'okena's August anniversary date.

"What we do know is that we're ready to do another full Ho'okena album right now," says Boyd. The group's last album of original music, "Ho'okena 5," was released in 1999.

"We have enough material. The challenge is finding the time." Boyd expects Ho'okena to step into the studio late this year for an early 2002 release date.

But first, there's Hana Hou!

In addition to Dudoit's wife, solo hula stylist Nani Dudoit, Ho'okena's guest list will include hula from Kapua Dalire and Maelia Lobenstein Carter. Boyd's own Halau o ke 'A'ali'i Ku Makani will also be on hand.

"Our big special guest is Aunty Genoa Keawe," says Boyd, practically beaming at the mere thought of sharing a stage with the local music legend. "We have a great deal of respect for her. She represents so many things to us."