Big Island or Bust

Source: Big Island or Bust

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Musical surprises

On Friday while working at the airport I was surprised to see Kuana Torres-Kahele at a baggage claim carousel. I hadn’t heard anything about a pending concert. So, not being shy, I walked over and asked him if he were here just for a visit from the Big Island or did he have something coming up on Maui. Well, yes indeed, he was having a CD release party that night at the Bailey House Museum. Tickets would be selling at the door at 4:30pm. I was scheduled to get off work at 3:00pm. Perfect timing. So, I decided to stay in town and not make the long trip back up to my home in Kula. However, I was clad in my airport uniform–a bright yellow blouse and black pants. I decided the pants could stay, but the blouse would have to go. Off I go to Ross for an inexpensive top. I found a cute black and white striped shirt with a sparkly graphic print and a bonus little short sleeve “jacket” attached. Perfect. I was wearing my utilitarian shoes, had only rubber slippers in the car, so since the pants covers all but the toes, they remained. I was good to go. One stop at the ATM and off I went.

The Bailey House is a lovely little museum just past Wailuku town on the way to Iao Valley. Though somewhat small by museum standards it houses a wonderful array of ancient artifacts–carved fishing hooks, lovely feather lei made from now extinct birds, fighting implements, a wonderful replica of the sailing canoe “The Hokule’a”, huge swaths of tapa. There were little gift shops, upstairs rooms, nooks and crannies of displays, artwork painted by the once owner Mr. Bailey. So many things to see and do. I made a note to myself to visit again when I had more time and a camera.

The concert was to be held on the grassy grounds of the museum. It’s an intimate setting seating maybe 100-150 people. White tents had been erected to cover the musicians as well as the audience in case of rain. However, the night was clear, starry and, wondrous to me, balmy.

The price of the ticket was $35 which I later discovered included Kuana’s latest CD–Pi’ilani Maui. I would’ve paid the $35 just for a chance to see Kauana again and was pleasantly surprised to received the signed CD as a bonus. The island of Maui is the featured island on his “island CD set”. CDs with original songs of Hawai’i Island and Ni’ihau have already been released and Maui was the third in a set of 10. There will be a CD for each of the five remaining islands as well as a CD of original oli (chants). The 10th CD? I have no clue.

The audience was decidedly “local”… colorful aloha shirts, lauhala hats with flower lei or feather bands, glittering Hawaiian bracelets, flowers tucked behind ears. Since there was a booth selling beer, wines, soda, etc. This was a 21 and over crowd. One could buy a dinner from a booth selling a selection of food not normally found at a concert. There was pulled BBQ pork bao which is a soft sweet manapua dough folded over delicious pork. There was poke nachos (a preparation of raw fish, seaweed and spices served over chips), dried saimin, brisket and ceviche. Wow! I had the bao which was absolutely mouthwatering and a beer.

The warm up band, Komakakino is made up of a group of young men from Hilo with whom I am quite familiar. The father of one of the band members, Paul Neves, is a talented well known kumu hula from Hilo. He added to the entertainment by dancing to several of the songs. Though the band members are young and a relatively new group, they are quite professional in their musical talents as well as their look–nice matching aloha shirts and shorts.

Komakakino

Komakakino

Kuana came on after most everyone was done with dinner and feeling cheery from the beer and wine. He was in rare form and was hilariously entertaining, joking with the audience. It was a family lu’au atmosphere…a backyard kanakapila! People from the audience got up and danced. Local Maui singers were called up on stage to thunderous applause. Kuana sang a variety of songs from his Maui album as well as songs from previous albums. He told stories about the backgrounds for some of his songs. He also did melodies from the past adding his own style. The crowed sang along to old classics. I nearly cried at his version Pua Carnation…a beautiful rendition of an old standard.

Kuana Torres-Kahele

Kuana Torres-Kahele

I’m so glad I worked on that Friday or I would have missed out on a perfect evening of song and dance.