Kawika– A Moment Etched in My Memory

Some twelve years ago, I was a beginning ‘ukulele player at a Hawaiian music workshop on the Big Island. One rainy afternoon, I walked into the front foyer of the Pahala Plantation House, where the workshop was taking place,  to find Dennis Kamakahi (on guitar) and his son, David (on ‘ukulele), playing “Kawika.”

Even then I knew this was a moment that would live with me for a long, long time. I just didn’t know how or when it would come back to me.

Why David and Dennis were playing “Kawika” that afternoon, I don’t know. Most of us think of Dennis, who passed away in 2014, in reference to the popular songs he wrote: “Wahine Ilikea,” “Koke‘e,” and “Pua Hone.” But Dennis was, among other things, a gifted scholar of Hawaiian history and culture. And “Kawika,” recorded by Sunday Manoa in 1969, is considered by many to be the spark that ushered in the second Hawaiian Renaissance—a revitalization of the traditions, culture, and language of the Hawaiian people. Maybe it was part of a story Dennis was telling about King David (Kawika) Kalakaua, whom the song was written about. Maybe he just really liked it. It is a powerful piece of music.

Looking around the room on that rainy day in Pahala, I also saw (a very young) Brad Bordessa sitting on the stairs, listening intently to Dennis and David and soaking it all in.  This was where I first met Brad, who was thirteen at the time—a serious musician even then. (A few years later, Brad posted an excellent ‘ukulele tutorial for “Kawika” on his blog, Live ‘Ukulele.)

That rainy afternoon in Pahala, the Kamakahi’s playing “Kawika,” and Brad listening on the stairway. . . . .all that musical magic came rushing back a few weeks ago when Brad suggested creating and teaching an ‘ukulele ensemble for “Kawika” at the 2018 Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat, October 14 – 20. And with Kaliko Beamer Trapp also on the staff, to teach Hawaiian percussion, language, and pronunciation, there was no question in my mind that “Kawika” was simply meant to happen. And so it will.

Below is a link to “Kawika,” as recorded by Sunday Manoa. Enjoy. And while you do, imagine taking part in the musical ‘ukulele magic that happens each year in Hawi, at the northern end of the Kohala Coast. Registration is still open and the Kohala Village Inn still has a few rooms available.

If you can’t wait until October, you can get a quick lesson from Brad right here:

Last Few Days for Early Bird Registration

Registration fees for the 2018 Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat  will go up on July 14 so there’s no better time to register than now (and save $30/person!)

Plus, there are still rooms available at the Kohala Village Inn. If you can snag one of those, you’ll be staying very close by and have plenty of ‘ukulele buddies to connect with.  (This year, you are responsible for finding your own accommodations.)

We’ll be announcing the latest additions to the staff shortly. But, in the meantime, take a peak at who we’ve lined up so far and visit this link to learn more about each one of them:

Robyn Mahealani Kneubel

Kaliko Beamer Trapp

Brad Bordessa

Lehua Wilson Ahsam

 

 

 

 

And if you’re still wondering why you and your ‘ukulele should come to Hawai’i for a week and get immersed in the music and the culture, you might enjoy reading Why You Should Come to Hawai’i to Play Your ‘Ukulele. 

Plus, we throw a really great party, no matter where we are!

So, I hope you can join us……and join us soon.

Let us know if you have any questions.

Registration is now open!

Registration for the 2018 Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat is now open!  And we have a few exciting changes to announce.

In the past, retreat registration included accommodations at the Kohala Village Inn.  However, we have moved retreat headquarters just down the road a bit to the Hawi Plantation House and Cottages, which offers many benefits, including a saltwater swimming pool! Plus, it gives YOU the opportunity to decide where you want to stay among a number of options in addition to the Kohala Village Inn.  But other than where you sleep, the Hawi Plantation will be your home away from home for the duration of the retreat.

All of the workshops and activities, plus breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the registration fee, with the exception of two of the evening meals.  This will give you an opportunity to try one of the lovely, local dining establishments in town….on your own, or with some of your new-found ukulele friends.

Brad Bordessa and Kaliko Beamer-Trapp are coming back  and we have added Lehua Wilson AhSam to our staff to assure that every other little thing runs smoothly and that we have a seamless connection to the local community.  Plus Lehua will be coming up with some tasty workshops to add to the curriculum.  Robyn Kneubuhl will be coming back this year, bringing her oh-so-lovely ‘ukulele instruction to the retreat and hula, as well.  We also have a couple of mainland instructors “on hold” and will be announcing their participation, soon. And, if we can get KonaBob back, we’ll have instruction in lap-steel guitar and stick bass, too! Click here to read more about this year’s staff.

The registration fees are as follows:

Retreat Registration per person:  $1,369

Add’l cost for non-uke-playing companion: $869

REFUND POLICY:

If we cancel the event for any reason, any time before August 14, 2018, we will offer a full refund.

If you cancel for any reason prior to August 14, 2018, we will refund all but $65 of your registration fee.

No refunds are available after August 14.

That’s it!  If you are ready to register and have your credit card handy, click here, to be redirected to our secure site to register now.

Hope to see you in October (if not sooner!)

 

Lehua Wilson AhSam – The Jewel in the Crown

Lehua Wilson AhSam has been an integral part of the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat since we moved to the Kohala Village Hub two years ago. So, we thought it was time to let you all know a little more about her.

O Kaneohe Koolaupoko kuu one hanau

O Hilo Paliku kuu wahi hanai

O Kohala Loko kuu wahi noho 

O Lehua Ah Sam kuu inoa 

Roughly interpreted: Lehua was born in Kaneohe, Oahu; raised in Hilo, Hawai’i; and lives today in “deep” Kohala with her husband’s family.

But there is much more to Lehua Wilson AhSam than all the places she has been, and she continues to astound us all with her resources, talent, skill, and generosity.  She is the “tock” to the “tick” of the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat: consistently sure and steady, relentlessly operating in the background (as the Executive Director of the Kohala Village Hub), and absolutely indispensable.

She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and a Master’s in Hawaiian Studies, is fluent in Hawaiian language, and teaches Hawaiian Studies at the Hawaiian Community College.  She is also trained in Hula and has performed at the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo. . . . .and to hear her sing is to take a journey back to the time of the Hawaiian monarchs.

Lehua is also a crew member for Makali’i, Hawai’i Island’s own voyaging canoe.

“He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa” 

“The canoe is our island, and the island is our canoe.”

It is Lehua’s passion for Hawaiian culture and all things wa’a (canoe-related) that will inform and enhance our “extra-curricular” activities, especially our visit to the Maka o Hule Heiau. It is her attention to every detail during our stay at the Kohala Village Inn that will ensure our success, again, at this year’s Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat October 15 – 21, at the Kohala Village Hub in Hawi.

Lehua joins a staff of exemplary talent at this year’s retreat: Gerald Ross (‘Ukulele and Hawaiian Lap Steel Guitar); Brad Bordessa (‘Ukulele); Kevin Carroll (‘Ukulele and Uke-estra); Lady Ipo (‘Ukulele and Hula); Kaliko Beamer-Trapp (‘Ukulele and Story-telling); and KonaBob (Slack-key Bass and  Hawaiian Lap Steel Guitar.)

It’s not too late to register, but we only have 3 rooms left at the Kohala Village Inn!  So hurry, if you don’t want to miss the most fun you can have with your ‘ukulele on, Hawaiian style!

Click Here for On-line Registration

Introducing Kaliko Beamer Trapp

Kaliko Beamer Trapp will always hold a special place in my heart.  He is the instructor who took this faltering, struggling ‘ukulele beginner with six thumbs on each hand, and got her to the point where she could change chords, strum, and sing (in Hawaiian). . . . .all at the same time. . . . .and with a certain amount of ease!  So Kaliko was a natural choice to teach our beginning ‘ukulele classes at the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat last year, and, of course we had to bring him back.

Kaliko’s fun-loving approach to ʻukulele and his ability to make everyone feel at ease as they chart new territory will be a huge benefit to all beginners at this year’s retreat. But what he brings for everyone else is every bit as valuable: a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Hawaiian music, culture, history, language, and tradition . . . . . a very welcome addition and important piece of the puzzle that makes up the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat.

Kaliko, is the hānai (adopted) son of the late Aunty Nona Beamer and brother of famed Hawaiian slack key guitarist, Keola Beamer. He is an avid student of Polynesian culture and language and is a lecturer in Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

In addition to teaching ‘ukulele for beginners, Kaliko will be teaching a workshop on rhythm (something we all can use) with traditional Hawaiian percussion instruments and another workshop focusing on “Hawai’i Aloha,” the beautiful song that traditionally closes any Hawaiian gathering or ceremony. His students will also  learn the meaning and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian words.  (Imagine if you heard a visitor enthusiastically singing “Tinkle, tinkle, little star!”. . . . .Don’t be that person!)

And he will tell us stories.  Kaliko is a fabulous and gifted story teller who lovingly, and respectfully, recounts the ancient tales of his adopted homeland in the most entertaining manner. (Last year,  Kaliko’s  “story time” was the highlight of the afternoon for many of us.) Time permitting, he may also be our personal guide for an optional visit to Pu’ukoholā Heiau, a temple built by King Kamahameha and dedicated to Kū, the Hawaiian war god, and other local historic sites.

We couldn’t ask for a more informed, compassionate, or entertaining guide as we explore the music, culture, and history of Hawai’i. 

We sincerely hope you can join us.

Register Now

Tchaikovsky comes to Hawai’i!

Tchaikovsky and Irish Fiddle Tunes!

jifkogfiddjpfbbkHave we got a treat for you! ‘Ukulele instructor extraordinaire, Kevin Carroll, will be joining us at the Kohala Village Inn, October 15 – 21, for the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat, bringing incredible opportunities to learn and play world music with one of the finest instructors we know.

How about learning a little Celtic ‘Ukulele?  You’d be surprised at how similar in format and spirit an Irish “session” is to an Hawaiian kanikapila and how readily an ‘ukulele can play Celtic fiddle melodies!

Or how about a 5-day class in ‘Ukulele Blues & Soul to experience the gritty, rhythmic tones and textures that unfolded as “the blues” and morphed into “soul.”  Think Bessie Smith. The Four Tops. Vocalists, bass players, baritone and standard ukulele players will all find ample opportunities here to expand their skill sets.

And if you’re a classical music buff (and even if you’re not) you could work on your picking, strumming, timing, and learning to play as an ensemble while learning, practicing and performing Tchaikovsky’s Chanson Triste. . . . .on the ‘ukulele!

And because it is Hawai’i (and because Kevin always goes all out), don’t be surprised if  Kevin also brings us a couple of  arrangements of classic Tin-Pan-Alley “Hawaiian” tunes to play as an Hawaiian band!

Honi kâua wikiwiki!

We love working with Kevin Carroll and his students agree that he is simply one of the best ‘ukulele instructors out there.  We are over the moon that Kevin has agreed to join us in Hawi  and hope you will join us as well!

Registration is open and we still have rooms available in all categories, though all choices (especially with shared bathroom) are in increasingly short supply. Register soon for the most options.

Click here for more information.

Guess who’s coming to Hawi?

No doubt about it, some of the folks who come to the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat are hankering for ways to expand their musical repertoire beyond the ‘ukulele. Consequently we will be extending this year’s offerings by bringing in the “King of Swing,”  the inimitable Gerald Ross, who will be teaching not only ‘ukulele, but Hawaiian lap steel guitar, as well.

For many years now, Gerald has been one of our favorite ‘ukulele instructors, always bringing new advanced techniques and tunes (and occasionally a few new jokes), and delivering them all with a relaxed, easy-going style (bordering on mischievous) that only someone with his years and years of musical experience can deliver.  (He did, after all get his start on “Captain Kangaroo.”)

Not only are Gerald’s workshops top-notch, but he is also an amazing band leader with a propensity for putting together some stellar bands on the fly, and bringing out the best in everyone!  He is a jam master extraordinaire and his musical repertoire seems limitless, from tunes of the Big Band era to the slinky tones of surf music. . . . . and beyond.

Gerald joins a stellar cast of characters already committed to this year’s retreat, including Hawai’i Island’s own KonaBob, Brad Bordessa, and Kaliko Beamer. So, you know we’re in for a week of wonderful ‘ukulele instruction, camaraderie, and good-hearted fun.

There’s more to come, including a few additions to the staff, but in the meantime you should know that registration is  now open and we’d love to have you join Gerald and the rest of the crew at the Kohala Village Inn, in the lovely little town of Hawi, October 15 – 21.

Click here for rooms and rates