Kokua Festival's ensemble finale memorable
Final thoughts from last week's sixth Kokua Festival at the Waikiki Shell:
• For some reason this one felt special, particularly at the end of each show when Jack Johnson kept rolling out each musician to play a song with until they were all on stage together. All of them joined Ziggy Marley in a "Three Little Birds" sing-along to end the show. Seeing Johnson, Marley, Taj Mahal, Anuhea, Paula Fuga and Jake Shimabukuro perform together was a perfect ending.
• Fuga wasn't listed on the bill, but she fit right in when Johnson called her up to sing "Country Road." Every time I hear her sing, I'm amazed she didn't make the cut when she auditioned for "American Idol" in 2003. Known then for her Big Girls Rock T-shirts, she was told by Randy Jackson she wasn't "Idol" material. Since then she's cut her own CDs, toured with Johnson and sung "Cry, Cry, Cry," with Johnson on Marley's Grammy-winning "Family Time" CD. The boring — and declining — "Idol" could use her booming personality and sweet voice now.
• The Marleys, reggae royalty, made the festival a real family affair. Ziggy brought his mom Rita on stage for a song, and she returned to sit with the audience. Actor Woody Harrelson was one of the fans who stopped by to pay his respects to Bob Marley's widow. Ziggy also brought on stage to sing with him his 5-year-old daughter Judah Victoria Marley and 3-year-old son Gideon Robert Nesta Marley.
• If I were a betting man (and I am), I would lay odds that Johnson's "To the Sea" album will rank as one of his most successful. He sang "You and Your Heart" from it both nights and the YouTube video of it is captivating. It shows Johnson singing while surfing, swimming and bodysurfing off the North Shore.
Congrats to 2003 Roose-velt High School grad Bruno Mars, featured on B.o.B's "Nothin' On You," the No. 1 single on iTunes for the week ending April 19. Mars graduated as Peter Hernandez and changed his name when he left for Los Angeles at age 17. He was in town last Friday playing to a packed house at Level 4. The album dropped Tuesday.