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Rhythm and Views

Hawaii – the Happiest Place on Earth

Rhythm & Views recently spent an extended weekend on Oahu to support Maui musicians FreeRadicals Project, MOTHxp and DJ Boomshot who were playing at the annual Hallowbaloo Music + Arts Festival.

We arrived early on Friday afternoon and though I had planned to relax pool-side before the nightlife commenced, my 11-year-old talked me into visiting the Honolulu Zoo. She literally had been declaring her need to visit there for years, so when she spotted it across from our hotel (the comfortable Queen Kapiolani) it was impossible for me to say “no.”

I must admit I have a love-hate relationship with animals in captivity. But I put my conscious aside for a few hours and it was definitely worth it. The price of admission was reasonable and the size of the zoo was perfect a quick visit – big enough to keep our interest, small enough to leave us energized for the big weekend. Plus, there is nothing quite like the joy on my daughter’s that came from wandering from animal to animal throughout the zoo.

After a quick stop back at our hotel, we headed to Aloha Tower donning Halloween-appropriate T-Shirts: a black MOTHxp for Z and a black “Lost Boys” movie tee for me; we decided to save our full-on costumes for Saturday night’s block party in downtown Honolulu.

I was a bit concerned about taking an 11-year-old to Hallowbaloo, especially since alcohol was served at most events. But concert promoter Mark Tarone guaranteed me it would would be appropriate for my tween and assured me we both would have fun.

He was right; Saturday’s edition of Hallowbaloo was all it promised — and more. Hundreds of costumed locals and visitors filled the streets. And there were no drunken zombies spilling beer on my daughter — which I found quite surprising for a big-city Halloween celebration.

The music throughout the weekend was great – Hell Caminos were one of my faves – but the people-watching on Saturday night was the best. We spotted a bevy of vampires, zombies and spooks of all types as total strangers stopped each other in the street, photographing unique, fun and interesting Halloween wear. We met some interesting folks including Edward Scissorhands, Hunter S. Thompson, Angry Birds, Lego Batman, Lady Gaga and a box of Crayolas.

My daughter’s Zombie costume, with her uber-scary face painted by Maui’s own Rachel Deboer, drew a lot of attention. My Medusa snakes headpiece — with blue LED lights flashing – also was a big hit. It was a ton of fun hearing people say “cool costumes” every few feet we walked – especially since they were basically homemade.


Later in the evening, as the party moved inside for the over-21 set, we returned to our hotel and packed up for our next adventure – the new Aulani Disney Resort and Spa in Ko Olina.

Like animals in captivity, I have a love-hate thing going with Disney. My internal hippie sees the Disney corporate machine hard at work, cashing in on emotional manipulation. On the other hand, I think I was more excited to meet Stitch than was my daughter, Zofia.

Our days at the Aulauni were wonderful. Disney has fused the genuine essence of Hawaiian culture with Disney fairy-dust, creating a magical property that features beautiful accommodations and Disney-quality entertainment.

I’m happy to say, there was not any kitschy Hawaiiana strewn about or blatant “buy Disney” opportunities around ever corner. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty places to spend money but it was done tastefully and unobtrusively.

One highlight of the resort was the sting ray exhibit, in which my daughter participated. She was able to spend a significant amount of time with two young marine biologists learning about the graceful creatures. They took a lot of care to educate my daughter, making her experience of holding and feeding the rays definitely worth the added cost. Plus, a portion of the proceeds go to ray conservation here in the Hawaiian islands.

For adults, I must say the Laniwai spa was an exceptional experience. Again, the Hawaiian culture is mixed-in well with a spa environment that rivals any I’ve experienced on Maui.

Disney may be over the top – and expensive – but it was worth it. The resort is not huge, making for an intimate and comfortable vacation. There were dozens of life-guards on duty from 7 am until 11 pm; the characters wandered the resort meeting and greeting families; the rooms were wonderful and the employees were very friendly.

Sure, I could nit-pick a few scabs but I’m keeping a positive light and maintaining it was one of the best resort experiences I’ve come across in a long while.

To top things off, getting in and out of the Honolulu airport was a breeze; the 20 minute flight back to Maui was quick and affordable and the memories will last a lifetime.

Living on Maui is paradise, that is a fact. And our weekend on Oahu at the Aulani and for Hallowbaloo made me realize that our land-mass in the middle of the Pacific is the authentic “Happiest Place on Earth.”

by Suzanne Kayian

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November 13th, 2011 at 04:32pm skayian

Music, Mystique, MOTHxp

MOTHxp burst onto Maui’s music scene at a 2010 Battle of the Bands — two guys dressed as cowboys creating a full-sensory experience with a drum kit, a guitar and a multi-media show that I soon realized changes for each performance.

Less than one year after their Maui debut, guitarist James “Cotton” Hartman and drummer James Bowersox were named among the “20 People Who Matter On Maui.”

Master craftsmen of the live show, Hartman and Bowersox could easily be the latchkey offspring of Tool and Cirque du Soleil. They fuse the sound and the fury of post-punk prog-rock with visual stimulation, creating a show that is not just a concert but a piece of performance art.

photo by Sean Michael Hower

Each concert experience is unique; the band’s creative fashion ranges black-light body paint to smoking jackets and three-piece suits.

The band brings its music to life with a variety of “performance artists” at each show. Acrobats twirling on silks, belly dancers, hula-hoopers and go-go dancers are often seen amongst the mix.

MOTHxp is more than performance art, however, Their music drives their concerts with avant-garde beats and brilliant string work. The band’s culturally-flavored melodies and heady sound — oddly dark and luminous — takes audiences to the peaks of mountains and the depths of the sea. It is a intensely-fun ride that isn’t easily forgotten.

For a chance to see this mystical mayhem live, go to the Hard Rock Cafe in Lahaina this Saturday, Aug. 20. MOTHxp is truly an experience.

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August 17th, 2011 at 02:16pm skayian

The Throwdowns Celebrate New CD Release at the MACC

The Throwdowns will kick-up the concept of “CD Release Party” a few notches on Aug. 6 when the band takes over the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Yokouchi Pavilion for one of the island’s most anticipated summer concerts.

The release of the band’s first full-length album, Legs of Our Own, will be celebrated with an all-ages show featuring special guest appearances by some of Maui’s hottest new artists including MOTHxp and Lily Meola.

The concert also is generating a lot of buzz due to the inclusion of Hawaii’s eclectic singer/songwriter Kimie (pronounced Kimi-ay) on the bill as an opening act.

If that’s not enough — and it would be — Maui’s very own reggae ambassador Marty Dread will join the band on stage, bringing his very special party spirit to the Yokouchi Pavilion. Marty also is a featured performer on the band’s new album, lending his reggae vibe to the album’s lead single, “Stay HI,” which is currently dominating Hawaiian radio — and is my personal favorite album cut..

The band also is promising more special guests — and they are keeping their collective mouths zipped as to who it might be. “We got some top secret shit that’s so hush-hush that I’m gonna probably get shot just for thinking about it,” the band’s Kimo Clark told Rhythm & Views. After some prodding, this is all we could drag out of Kimo: “You’re just gonna have to check it out for yourself on Aug. 6. All I can say is Moth, Kimie, Lily and much, much more.”

The band will screen the debut video for the album-cut “Shake Your Bones” at the concert. And the show will be broadcast live to Ustream for those on Maui — and around the world — who cannot attend.

“We know that all our fans are really smart and awesome so we wanted to give them something that can handle their high standards,” Kimo said about the CD release party.

Tickets are available on-line or at the MACC box-office (808) 242-7469.

by Suzanne Kayian

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August 1st, 2011 at 11:37am skayian

HAPA remembers Charles Kaupu

by Suzanne Kayian

Maui lost a treasure July 13 when kumu Charles K. Kaupu Jr., a chant teacher and performer, died in the early morning hours.

Kaupu’s charismatic vibe only recently found its way into my heart when I was writing a piece about the award-winning Maui movie “Get a Job.”

Then, in the wee hours of the morning on July 13, I began writing a blog about HAPA. There was Kaupu again, a member of the band, his image touching my heart though my computer monitor. I finished the blog and planned to edit in the morning before posting.

Upon waking, I heard about Hawaii’s loss and could not go forward with a post that was written to encourage music fans to check out Hawaii’s HAPA, who is currently on tour on the Mainland.

Now, I’m going forward with the blog and dedicating it with blessings to Kaupu and his family. R&V respectfully — and once again — is encouraging its readers to take some time to enjoy life, explore cultures, cross age barriers and investigate pop culture icons by checking out live music — specifically HAPA.

The group that was called by the New York Times “the most successful Hawaiian-music group in recent history” reached 17 million people this year during a guest appearance on an episode of Hawaii Five-0.

The Hawaii Five-0 appearance – and HAPA’s numerous albums — can flavor your palete for their music; but as a live-music fan, it is no surprise I’m going to suggest you try to catch HAPA on stage.

Fortunatly for those on the Mainland — living or vacationing — HAPA is in the midst of a tour that launched July 7 in the Pacific Northwest and runs through Aug. 7.

The 25-date tour travels to Canada and the U.S. with stops in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Boulder, Santa Barbara and Flagstaff, among others.

HAPA blends American acoustic folk-rock with a menagere of influences ranging from ancient chants and cowboy ballads to fishermen tunes and traditional church choirs — creating a beautiful Pan-Polnesian sound that is both contemporary and true to its roots.

Wallace Baine of the Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote something that inspired me as a journalist and as a music fan: “If Maui were music, it would sound like these guys.”

HAPA co-founder Barry Flanagan told R&V the band has started a memorial for Charles during this tour; each night, an empty chair will sit on stage draped with a Lei and flowers for Kaupu. Flanagan said anyone wishing to bring anything to add to the memorial during the concerts is welcomed to do so at any of their shows.

Flanagan also has posted a tribute to Kaupu on the bands website that is worth reading. And Brian Kohne, director of “Get a Job” dedicated the film to the memory of Kaupu during his award-acceptance speech at the Las Vegas Film Festival. It is certain there are many more memorials for the beloved Kaupu as we on Maui keep his life, love and spirit alive.

For a complete itinery of tour-dates and more information on HAPA and their music, please visit the band’s official website.

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July 20th, 2011 at 12:15pm skayian

Henry Kapono CD Release Party

By Suzanne Kayian

Henry Kapono is throwing a CD release pau hana party Friday July 1 and wants to extend an invitation to Rhythm & Views‘ readers.

The free concert will be held July 1 from 5 – 7 p.m. at Duke’s Beach House at Honua Kai Resort & Spa in Kaanapali.

The show will be the first in a series of events celebrating the release of Kapono’s new CD, titled Henry.

The Wild Hawaiian as we affectionately call him also will play on Oahu July 2 at Tropics Hilton Hawaiian Village and July 3 at Duke’s Beach House Waikiki.

He’ll continue the CD release celebration at the Ala Moana Center during its 20 Years of Hawaiian Entertainment Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration. Henry will be performing at the center’s fireworks stage at 7:30 pm.

The album’s first single, Coming Home, is Henry’s salute to military personnel; he is offering a free download of the song via his website to honor those who serve their country and their family and friends.

The album’s official release date is July 1. Henry is Kapono’s fifteenth solo record.

Kapono also stars in the Maui-made film Get a Job, which received the Best Comedy Award July 26 at the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival.

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June 27th, 2011 at 01:49pm skayian

Rabbitt Celebrates Birthday Properly

Rabbitt & The Propers will celebrate lead singer Jessica Rabbitt’s birthday June 24 with a special concert at Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei. The band has quickly made its mark on the local scene with a soulful jazzy sound that is so fresh, we hate to use the words “jazzy” and “soulful.”

What truly makes Rabbitt & The Propers special is the fact that the band’s mighty leader, aka Jessica Lewis, is a dynamic performer who surrounds herself by some of the best musicians on the island.

The band may be new, but the players are all established. The well-respected and highly-admired Kanoa Kukaua and David “Wolf” Wolfberg handle guitar and bass, with Aaron Fulton on the drums; Fulton may not be as well known as Kanoa and Wolf, but his skills — which literally have been called awe-inspiring — make him worthy.

Plan to celebrate Jessica’s birthday Proper-ly on June 24 at Stella Blues. The specially priced tickets ($5) will insure the place will be hoppin’.

by Suzanne Kayian

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June 16th, 2011 at 01:40pm skayian

Santana Entertains Visitors and Locals

Rumors of a private Carlos Santana concert first surfaced a few months back; I was at a school function for my daughter and a friend asked if I had heard anything about the show.

I had not heard anything. However, I am aware Santana has a home on Maui so I gave the report a bit of merit and kept my ears open.

Two weeks ago, Santana was spotted at the Maui airport, leading me to think the rumors of a show may be true. I began texting and tweeting, trying to find out more details; I wasn’t really certain why, since the concert was expected to be private; but being an inquisitive rock journalist, I just had to know.

There was no information to be had — until late Saturday night when I received a text from a friend, Dave Bauss, music aficionado and bartender at Milagro’s in Paia: “Hear anything about secret Santana show on beach in front of Kaanapali Beach Hotel tomorrow 2 pm??” the text read.

Apparently, the crew had kept fairly silent until Saturday night when word got out they were building a huge stage on the north end of the Kaanapali Golf Course.

I hit the coconut wireless for additional details; between late Saturday night and early Sunday afternoon, I was convinced the show definitely was a go; and it definitely was going to be a private or corporate gig. Start time was a bit vague.

Bauss and some friends were headed down to the beach to see if they could hear the music. Sitting outside a concert is not an anomaly on the island. However, I had never participated and was hesitant to drive the hour-plus for the mere possibility of being able to hear the music. My family wasn’t too excited about the idea, so we began preparing for an evening at home.

When Dave got to Kaanapali, we kept texting. He said he saw a boat-full of people being brought to the site. Then he texted me a photo of the stage set up, saying they were sitting only 30 ft. away. That was it; I was convinced this was an event not to be missed. It was nearing 7 pm and knowing we’d be cutting it close driving from Olinda, I loaded the family in the car anyway and headed toward the West Side.

Half-way there, Dave texted: “Third song.” The show had started and we were still a slow 20 miles away. As we debated turning around, my iPhone dinged that “you have a text” sound. Dave had sent a photo of the band on stage. It was so cool, because you could see Santana’s new wife, Cindy Blackman, on the drums.

“Can you hear well?” I inquired. “It’s like sitting in the front row,” said he replied.

With my daughter and beau in tow, we committed to the show and headed to Kaanapali. When we arrived, my heart started pumping.

The roped off venue in the midst of the Kaanapali Golf Course looked like a movie set. A concert venue had been erected overnight and the stage set-up was huge.

The music was clear as a bell; we could hear it wafting through the night air as we parked the car and walked toward the crowd.

I had been concerned about peripheral security, but I wanted to check it out nonetheless. Low and behold, surrounding the private event — on the beach, along walkways and on the rolling hills of the golf course — were fans, friends and families enjoying the music from a far. No one was being asked to leave.

The sound was great and the two giant projection screens could be seen from all around the stage. The balconies of the surrounding hotels were full, all of us enjoying the concert in the cool Kaanapali evening breeze.

We missed the beginning of the show but arrived in time to hear more than an hour of wonderful music filled with messages of peace and humanity.

This month’s issue of Maui No Ka Oi lists “Pop-Up Concerts” on their “Best of” Shaka list 2011. I must agree. We have so much great music on the island, one could see a different live act every night of the week; there are numerous bands, solo artists and duos that constantly amaze me with their talent.

However, catching a Santana concert by simply sitting on the beach will be one of those surprise Maui events that will be remembered for years to come.

Follow Rhythm & Views‘ Twitter @rhythmandviews and let me know if you were there. I’d love to hear what you thought about the event. We at R&V thought it was splendid.

By Suzanne Kayian

Photos by Dave Bauss

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May 31st, 2011 at 10:24am skayian

Maui Movie Takes Top Honors

Maui’s homegrown film, “Get A Job,” won top honors at the 2011 Big Island Film Festival, held May 11-15 at the Fairmont Orchid Plantation Estates. The movie, which stars Maui musicians turned actors Willie K and Eric Gilliom, took home the top honor as “Peoples Choice Feature;” it also was named “Best Hawaiian Feature.”

Festival Director and Founder Leo Sears said in the six-year history of the film fest, “Get A Job” is the first movie to receive a perfect 5 score on each and every ballot submitted by the audience. “That is amazing,” Sears said.

“Get A Job” writer/director Brian Kohne was very excited when he talked to Rhythm & Views about the honor. “They dug us on the Big Island,” he said.

Brian is humbled to have received the perfect ballot scores but he is quick to point out the movie is by no means perfect. “Rather, it’s true beauty lies in the celebration of our flaws – the one thing every person in the world has in common — for it is our flaws that define us as human,” Brian said. “And it is our compassion that defines us as islanders. When you combine both qualities, it also makes for great comedy!”

“Get A Job” is a quirky buddy flick that weaves emotional relationships with situation comedy, creating a film that is both hilarious and heartfelt.

The movie stars many of Hawaii’s top entertainers including Jake Shimabukuro, Augie T, Henry Kapono, Amy Hanaiali’i, Kealoha, Marty Dread and Maui No Ka Oi’s very own Kathy Collins, among others.

It also features special appearances by internationally known island-dwellers Mick Fleetwood, Willie Nelson, Pat Simmons and Cris Sommer Simmons.

Filmed entirely on the island, with a cast that is 95 percent Mauian, “Get a Job” embraces the Valley Isles’ arts & entertainment scene. In addition to the cast, writers, producers, actors, crew, etc., the film’s soundtrack features music by local faves the Barefoot Natives, Don Tiki, Amy Hanaiali’i, The Throwdowns, Avi Ronen, Kealoha and Kristen Grove.

How can you see it? Kohne is negotiating mass distribution for the film, so those who haven’t been able to catch it at a Hawaii screening don’t have much longer to wait.

Congrats to Brian Kohne and the entire “Get a Job” team.


by Suzanne Kayian

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May 20th, 2011 at 03:30pm skayian

Mick Fleetwood Welcomes Rock Photographer

Fleetwood Mac co-founder Mick Fleetwood – featured in this month’s Maui No Ka Oi - will welcome photographer Neal Preston to The Shops at Wailea’s Celebrites Galleries tonight from 6 – 9 pm for a showing of Preston’s work.

Neal has been photographing rock royalty for nearly 40 years. He has toured as the official photographer with Led Zeppelin, the Who, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen and countless others.

Led Zeppelin by Neal Preston, courtsey of Celebrites Gallery

His extensive portfolio includes images of David Bowie, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Richard Nixon, Pearl Jam and Marvin Gaye.

Preston’s work has graced the covers of hundreds of magazines, books, record albums and CD/DVDs. His photos have appeared on the covers of Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Time and People. In fact, he is one of the most-assigned photojournalists in the history of People Magazine.

Preston also worked as the unit and special photographer for several feature films including Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous,” “Vanilla Sky,” and “Elizabethtown.”

He also was the key source for photographs for VH1′s acclaimed “Behind the Music” documentary series. The show featured more than 1,000 still photos in 50 episodes.

It is such a privilege to have Neal Preston visiting Maui. I can’t wait to see his images hanging in Wailea tonight — and we get to rub elbows with Mick Fleetwood to boot.

by Suzanne Kayian

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May 4th, 2011 at 02:36pm skayian

The Grammys and George Kahumoku, Jr.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences restructured the Grammy Awards earlier this month, merging existing categories across all genres including pop, rock, R&B and country. Most of the changes make sense. One change, however, did bring out the ire in some of Hawaii’s music fans; the award for Best Hawaiian Music Album was combined with Best Native American Music Album and Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album. The new category will be called the Best Regional Roots Music Album.

The award for Best Hawaiian Album was only added by the academy in 2005. For the few years it existed, some of Hawaii’s most beloved performers traveled to the Mainland to participate in the annual Grammy Awards ceremony.

Rhythm & Views would like to take you behind-the-scenes at the Grammys during one of those trips with Maui’s slack-key master George Kahumoku Jr. and guest blogger Brad Burnham.

Burnham has spent 20 years in the media, attending several high-profile events with massive amounts of press, security and production including the NFL Super Bowl, complete with locker-room interviews, private parties for the NFL alumni and a private concert with Hootie and the Blowfish. He also attended Universal Studios‘ Jurassic Park Ride opening in Hollywood with Steven Spielberg and has appeared on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

He told R&V that he has seen some very high-profile events and he thinks the Grammys top them all. We’d like to welcome Burnham as he shares 24 hours at the Grammys with Uncle George.

George Kahumoku, Jr. and Brad Burnham

Glamorous Grammys (Hawaiian Style)

by Brad Burnham

Ever wonder what actually happens when an artist wins a Grammy, accepts the award and then disappears off the stage? Well my friends, I experienced this whirl-wind with a handful of Hawaiians who picked up their fourth award in five years. And I must set the stage, no pun intended, by stating that I have been very fortunate to have observed some very extraordinary presentations and productions … and I think the Grammys take the cake, or in this case, the pineapple.

I will do my best to paint the canvas of this 24 hour extravaganza so you will have an enlightened perspective as to just how great and just how grand this show really is.

Uncle George Kahumoku Jr. is a legend on Maui. He is a multi-talented slack key guitarist and is the life and breath of a true Hawaiian. We became friends about three years ago after I first saw him perform at his weekly concert series (Masters of Slack Key). This show blew me away in its quaint simple setting and is a must-see for anyone visiting Maui.

Since then, we have stayed in contact and I was lucky enough to take my family to visit him and his wife on his farm in Wailuku. A couple weeks before the Grammys (2009), George, knowing that I would assist him with photography as well as written re-caps, called and invited me. I could not say yes and mahalo fast enough.

I flew from Phoenix to LA and taxied to his location in Manhattan Beach. We shot the Manhattan Beach breeze for about two hours, and it was very much like our visit on his farm — fun, friendly and relaxed, not at all full of the hype that you would think would accompany the few hours before an event of this magnitude.

Our host Paul Konwiser, wife and son dressed and we drove to the Staples Center. The police presence was massive; I would consider it to be on the level of a Presidential visit. Multiple check points, mirrors being rolled under the cars, tire spikes, packs of police (30 of them in groups being prepped for the day) all nearly sporting swat-like weaponry. A very impressive display by the LAPD to say the least. And keep in mind, that this was all being done to the people that were “supposed to be there” and had VIP tickets on the dash of their cars. Quite a deal and a little unnerving, as at one point, we wondered if we might even have trouble getting in.

Once in the parking garage, Paul and his wife graced George and their son with beautiful flower and ti-leaf leis. That’s it. We were ready to go in.

They all quickly entered the LA Convention Center, while I, having just flown in, needed to run to my nearby Westin Bonaventure to change and freshen up. A curious moment because when we split up, we could not help but wonder if we find each other again.

Not to worry. After a quick stop at my hotel and a taxi back down to the event, I was easily inside. Something that I was not aware of is that there is a pre-show telecast, where nearly all of the awards are given out in a smaller version of what is seen on television. George had told me to hurry as their category was to be called early on, #24 to be exact.

I got there and immediately saw the legendary Neil Young. So at that point, I quickly realized that I was in the right place. I made my way up to the camera tri-pod platform, which was dead center about 10 rows off the stage. After about 12 categories — I was a bit late — Best Hawaiian Album was being shown on the big screen.

Oh my gosh…this is it! I get goose bumps just writing this. What a moment! And within what seemed like seconds, the nominees were announced…and bam…the winner is? “MASTERS OF HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY GUITAR VOL.2,” Jeff Peterson, George Kahumoku Jr, Wayne Wong, Paul Konwiser and Daniel Ho! OMG…my friends just won the Grammy! I could barely breathe and was not sure what to do, except to start shooting pix with my iPhone.

As the newly crowned champs left the stage, I figured, just like on TV, that they would exit stage right, set their trophy on a pedestal, return to their seats and watch the rest of the categories. Boy was I wrong. What happened next was like transcending into a glitzy glam-packed fairytale.

We all — the winners, their wives and myself — assembled on the stage-right side of the room and were told to wait there by an escort. I had no idea what was going on, but George and the crew did, as they have walked down this beach before.

Another escort appeared and made a quick count of the members in our party. We had an escort at the front of the group and also one at the back, so nobody could join our group. We headed out of the LA Convention Center en route to who knows where, down an escalator and into one of the metal detectors. (By the end of the event, I must have gone through, been wanded etc. at least five or six times.) It seemed a bit over-kill, but extremely safe.

As we went through to go into the Staples Center, we had to show our tickets for the main event. Some how George had dropped his along the way. I did not have any trouble believing it with all the excitement; but it did not appear that we were going to get to continue on. I think George’s boyish smile got him out of that jam, because the senior supervisor let us go through quite quickly.

More escalators, turns, more hallways; I could not even come close to retracing my steps and now it appeared we were about to enter a media circuit. Over the course of the next 60-90 minutes, we made about seven or eight stops at various locations. All the while, George, Paul and Daniel seemed to be on the phone doing interviews of their own, I assumed with Hawaiian press.

Upstairs in the Staples Center, we were whisked past the suites. Many were marked (as dressing rooms) with the names of the performers for the main event. As we walked by these rooms titled Jay-Z, Slash etc., again it was quite clear that we were in the epicenter of the Grammys.

It seemed like nearly every 100 yards or so, there was a stopping point. The winners (Jeff, George, Wayne, Paul and Daniel) would go up a couple of stairs on to a platform with a podium and mic and field questions from the press. The first one seem to be local (LA) press. As we continued, it seemed as though yet another stop was international press. There were three to four other stops in different locations, with video cameras and different settings and backdrops.

George and the guys stopped briefly at each one for a quick Q-n-A, and then off to the next. As we walked from stop to stop, it seemed that everyone along the way was offering congratulations. At first, I did not know what to say; I was simply an invited guest. But it happened so often that at one point, I just started saying “thank you.” Yet another iconic moment, everything was executed so well, all of the nominees and winners, friends and family, staff, etc., all could not have been more full of friendliness.

The interviews started to wind down a bit, so I started to think that this has got to be about it. Wrong again. Now it was time for pictures. The picture area was very cool. Our group was immediately stopped and asked to stand around a computer screen where a small lens snapped their photo and immediately put them on Facebook. I thought that was an interesting, unique touch. Sort of a “star-tracker” for those at home to watch as the winners were being announced.

The photo area was terrific, but full of rules, as in: “Don’t touch the Grammys!” Uncle George (aka Uncle Grammy or Grammy Kahumoku) was having fun with the trophies and was attempting to pass them around a bit to Jeff’s wife and myself. Several times he and the group were told that “only the winners” could touch the prize. I did not know this was such a taboo thing to do, but we quickly realized that the Grammys themselves carry a pride, history and heritage, and with that comes a very distinct set of dos and don’ts.

When George realized that I could not hold one, he graciously pulled me on to the camera set and asked the shooter to capture a picture of he and I, with him holding the Grammy. That my friends is a moment I will never forget. I can barely describe how beautiful that moment was; here I am, just a guy, just a friend of George, not a Grammy winner. For crying out loud, yesterday I was in Scottsdale, AZ, selling Audis and now today, I am in the heart of the Grammy celebration with a winner and his trophy, on the camera set, getting possibly the most memorable keepsake I could ever possibly hope to get.

All that said, I had to chuckle while realizing that it was George’s Hawaiian-ness coming out. The spirit of Aloha, to give what you have to another, to share your life with another, to live in the present and to fully share the moment. I had to step away from the group, as the authenticity of those chain of events watered my eyes.

Becoming speechless at this last stop put me in the “OK, I’m good. I can go home now” mode, feeling as though nothing better could happen. Little did I know, the best part — the infamous walk down the red carpet — was next.

End Part 1.

R&V would like to thank Brad Burnham for sharing his story. Visit soon for the second part of Brad and George at the Grammys.

Upcoming Event

George Kahumoku Jr. will appear Sunday, May 1 at the Iao Theater in Wailuku. His performance is part of Hawaii Public Radio‘s “Aloha Shorts” radio program of writings from Bamboo Ridge Press performed by Hawaii’s actors. The show tapes before a live audience on the first Sunday of every month, normally on Oahu. The Maui show, “On the Road with Aloha Shorts: Maui No Ka ‘Oi,” marks the recent launch of HPR’s new station on the island, KIPM 89.7 FM, and the Maui residents who made it possible.

This weekend’s show will feature five authors with Maui roots read by seven Maui residents. In addition to Kahumoku, “Aloha Shorts” will feature a performance by singer/songwriter Gail Swanson. Information about the show can be found at the HPR website.

Also check out George Kahumoku, Jr.’s website for information about his music and his weekly slack key show at the Napili Kai Beach resort on Maui.

Tune into the next edition of Rhythm & Views to read the rest of Brad’s story about attending the Grammys with one of Hawaii’s most honored entertainers.

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April 27th, 2011 at 08:55pm skayian

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