Musical jams offered in two flavors
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor
Two Saturday musical jams, each boasting top-grade, prime Island talent, will compete for audiences.
Both assemble popular groups and soloists. Both are being held outdoors, starting early enough for pre-show partying, with the concerts unfolding 'neath a canopy of stars.
The first is the 7th Annual Jammin Hawaiians concert, at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Waikiki Shell. The lineup includes Sean Na'auao, Fiji, Ho'aikane, Ten Feet and Ho'onua, with obvious and potent Jawaiian rhythms flowing and a decidedly youthful spin. Bring your party spirit (and sunblock, because doors open at 2:30 p.m., when the heat will really be on), along with your picnic stash.
The second is the Kalakoa Jam, kind of a mellower kanikapila, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Andrews Outdoor Theatre. The talent crew includes the Makaha Sons, Ho'okena, Ledward Ka'apana, Kahala Moon, 'ukulele soloist Jake Shimabukuro, hula soloist Nani Dudoit and the halau of Manu Boyd and Vicky Takamine Holt. The intention here is to re-create the energy and the aura of those old Kanikapila songfests Peter Moon used to stage you remember, don't you? in that outdoor "bowl" on the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus.
We caught up with one act from each show Sean Na'auao of Jammin Hawaiians and Jerry Koko, representing the Makaha Sons, in Kalakoa Jam to briefly talk story.
"It's been a busy time, since I released two CDs back to back ("Progression" and "Holomua") last year. I don't think I confused anybody and the way it turned out is basically how I thought it was going to be. One, with more reggae, was a hit with the younger kids. The older people liked the other one, with Hawaiian songs, but since we got the albums out, I've had a lot more calls on the reggae side.
"I guess I'm on the Hoku (Na Hoku Hanohano Awards) preliminary ballot, but everybody gets on that first list. It will be interesting to see how it all goes. My friends tell me I'm going to get a lot of nominations with two CDs this year, but it's all about sharing my music, not about awards. If I win, great, that's a bonus; a Hoku helps sales.
"But I'm already planning my next project, going into the studio next month; it'll be a Christmas CD, shooting for a November release. ... It won't be reggae, just subtle acoustic and Hawaiian tunes. I'm working on some originals but I'm aiming for something you can listen to with your children and family next to the Christmas tree.
"So I'm gearing up. I want to redo 'Mele Kalikimaka Ia Oe,' which I once recorded, and traditional things like 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' and 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.' I just love the holidays."
"I guess we're doing a regular show; they're allowing 45 minutes for each act, and Jake (Shimabukuro) joins us, then we leave him to do his own portion.
"These are changing times for the Makaha Sons. We're not doing the Makaha Bash Memorial Day weekend, so hopefully, we can revive something and look for options for next year. (The group can't use the Bash name, which former manager-booker Kata Maduli owns; the group had a falling out with Maduli and his Mt. Kalihi Productions, leaving them in the lurch at least this year.)
"I've taken on the role of manager. It's good, for now; I'm in line with the people, I know what's going on, I'm doing negotiations. But it's like the old days, when we did everything ourselves me, Moon (Louis Kauakahi), John (his brother) Iz (the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, and (record producer) Lea Uehara.
"We're on the road Memorial Day weekend, hitting four cities. We're doing one big summer concert
June 22 at the Pearl City Cultural Center, for that community, with Robi Kahakalau doing the opening.
"We're off to Japan, too, but we had to cut that trip short we do Mother's Day at the Ilikai Hotel. With Mel Cabang. He's so much fun; it's nice to keep him in the limelight toned down a little bit. He's been behaving real good."