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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 10, 2005

Sons talk inner workings of outdoor bash

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

From left, Jerome Koko, John Koko and Louis "Moon" Kauakahi are The Makaha Sons, who present an annual summer concert featuring up-and-coming local talent as well as established Island entertainers. This year's show is Saturday at the Waikiki Shell.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser


5:30 p.m. Saturday; gates open at 4 p.m.

Waikiki Shell

$15-$30 reserved, $10 general

(877) 750-4400, ticketmaster.com

Featuring: The Makaha Sons, Keali'i Reichel, Fiji, Willie K., Ho'okena, Raiatea Helm, Na Palapalai, Auntie Genoa Keawe, Na Kama, Hoku Zuttermeister, Kalaeloa, Troy Fernandez, Pilioha, Natalie and Io Kamauu

Ever wonder how The Makaha Sons manage to launch their annual summer shebang?

We asked Louis "Moon" Kauakahi, John Koko and Jerome Koko everything you wanted to know about "The Paradise Yellow Pages Take a Walk in the Country 3," unfolding Saturday at the Waikiki Shell. The who, the why and the how; the challenges, the headaches, the vibes.

So pay attention, and now you know, too:

On why there's a title sponsor:

"I'm good friends with the vice president of (the Paradise Yellow Pages), and we had lunch one day at Sam Choy's, going over different strategies on how their company could be more of an asset to the general public," said Jerome Koko. "I popped the idea if they wanted to be one of our sponsors; two days later, she had the OK from the president to do it."

"I believe Paradise Yellow Pages is the title sponsor, followed by Hardware Hawai'i," said Kauakahi. "This was based on the amount they contributed. We solicited sponsors when we moved from Makaha back to the Shell."

On why there are so many A-list guest performers this year — resembling a Na Hoku Hanohano Awards night:

"Most shows start at 7:30 p.m., and they stay on stage for two hours; we start ours at 5:30 p.m., so we can get more guests and still have a spot for us," said John Koko. "We try to get more 'exposure' for the up-and-coming artists and have the popular artists come in because everyone enjoys them."

Said Kauakahi, "One of my suggestions to both J & J is that we not have a lot of entertainers; instead, have just a few groups and lengthen their performance time. In the past, our time would be cut short. One of the concerns that I hear most often is 'not enough Makaha Sons'; this is something that I believe we should work on for future concerts."

"It all started at the first Makaha Bash back in 1987, when we had the most stunning lineup ever, from the young and vibrant Kapena to the legendary duo Cecilio and Kapono," said Jerome Koko. "We just try to stay with that trend and present the young, up-and-coming, to the legends of today."

On how they finalize the roster:

"We all get together and throw names around and then call and see who can (or who wants to) come; this year, I decided on Pilioha, Na Kama, Hoku Zuttermeister and Natalie Kamauu; to me, these represent the artists who will perpetuate traditional Hawaiian music," said John Koko.

"Somehow, we always end up with so much talent that it becomes overwhelming, especially with the rehearsals. Performers are selected based on their appeal to the public, or what we think the public would like to see and hear," said Kauakahi.

On the order of acts:

"One important thing a stage manager has to be aware of is that time keeps running; if a performer goes on longer, that pushes the show back," said Kauakahi. "In the end, the last group has to compensate for the lost time, which is why we go last; it's easier for us to cut back our songs."

"We accommodate the guests," said John Koko. "Sometimes, a guest like Na Palapalai has another gig to go to, so they go on early. Some like to just hang out and mostly watch, so we can put them on later."

"The less time you have in the business, the sooner you're going on stage; so Pilioha will go first with their guests, Natalie and Io Kamauu; ending the show with us will be Keali'i Reichel," said Jerome Koko.

On the 10 p.m. curfew:

"Stage manager Kalani Apuakeau is our clock watcher; and the city has its own," said John Koko. "When we're running out of time, it's usually when we're on stage, so we skip songs and go straight to the end of our segment. We have to be off by 9:30 p.m., but the city will give you a 'grace' period till 10 p.m., so we take it to 9:59:59, like last year's show, and not a second more, or we'll get fined."

On surprises up their sleeves:

"No surprises this year," said John Koko. "The only surprise, for us, is knowing the song (title) that Willie K. is going to do. He usually just comes on stage and starts jamming; we have to follow along."

Said Kauakahi: "It was always customary in the past, when Israel (Kamakawiwo'ole) was still with the group, that at every concert we would perform a new song, or an old song with a new arrangement. I am hoping to do that, or bring that back."

"Even though our guests are pre-announced, there's always that magic, to be revealed that night," said Jerome Koko.

Makaha Sons buzz, from behind the scenes

Three songs the Makaha Sons can never leave the stage without doing:

"Mehameha/White Sandy Beach," "I'll Remember You," "Ke Alaula."

About those matching aloha shirts:

"Jerome will usually pick what we're to wear, but he'll usually check with Kamehameha Garments (their sponsor) and see if they have anything new," said John Koko.

"Usually, the night before any show, we decide what to wear; I think we will be taking two shirts for the concert," said Kauakahi.

"Depends if we're taping the show, using brighter shirts," said Jerome Koko.

Food before, during, or after the show?

"Always after the show," said John Koko.

"I will probably only have coffee; if anything, probably a sandwich," said Kauakahi.

And Jerome Koko: "Eat before the show, expect to be burping during the show; after the show is best."

Does the anticipation and tension lead to dreams or nightmares?

"My only nightmare is forgetting an arrangement or the words to a song, especially a new one," said Kauakahi.

"The only dream that hits me is making sure the people go home happy; the nightmare is if no one shows up," said Jerome Koko.

"I've never had a dream or nightmare about the concerts, but I worry about the groups showing up on time and pray it doesn't rain," said John Koko.

— Wayne Harada

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com, 525-8067 or fax 525-8055.