I am no musician. I can’t read notes, my fingers are too stiff, and my fingernails are too papery to pluck strings on a guitar.
But I love music.
Last night, one of my favorite Hawaiian musicians--slack key guitarist Makana--entertained a few hundred people at a concert hosted by the Garden Island Arts Council themed, “Alice Meets Makana in EKK Wonderland.” The event culminated the three-month-long Hawaiian music concert series on Kauai—E Kanikapila Kakou. Guests were encouraged to come in costume. (I borrowed some wings and a halo from my friend’s two-year-old daughter and played an angel for a few hours.)
Here’s a short clip of Makana’s performance. (Please forgive the quality. All I had with me was my point-and-shoot camera.)
Here’s the thing about Hawaiian music. When it’s played like this, the fact that I have no idea what Makana is saying, I am right there, riveted, believing every word. And even when Makana doesn’t sing a lick, I am in it—zeroed in on the man and the music and absolutely nothing else. Talent and heart, that’s what Makana possesses and so generously shares with the rest of us mere mortals.
Plus, the dude wore a wig—no kidding—and a big ‘ol hat. He dressed as the Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, and he made his bass guitarist Lono Kaumeheiwa and percussionist Lopaka Colon and handlers and friends all wear costumes, as well. Cool.
My favorite Makana song these days continues to be “Koi.” On his newest CD, Venus and the Sky Turns to Clay, the song runs 7 minutes and 24 seconds. Last night, Makana and Lono and Lopaka extended it to a full 9 minutes. I was enthralled.
Here’s a few seconds from the beginning of last night’s performance of “Koi.”
I’ve seen Makana perform before—at the 2009 Hawaii Writers Conference on Oahu and last fall at a restaurant at Waipouli Beach Resort here on Kauai. He never fails to captivate me, and he’s always worth every penny of admission I have to pay to see him perform. By the way, Makana’s name translates from Hawaiian to English as “gift.” And, that, he is.
I rather doubt Simon Cowell could find a negative thing to say about this man.