rising star of the Hawaiian music scene, Makana, celebrated the release
of his latest CD, “Koi Au” at Gordon Biersch, alongside the pier at
Aloha Tower. What better way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon, in
mid-October, than to sip great ice-cold German style lagers while
listening to this incredibly talented artist? Add to the mix Guy Cruz,
Jeff Peterson, and Mauna Lua and you have the makings for a very
memorable evening of local talent along the Honolulu waterfront.
off the musical festivities was slack key guitar virtuoso Jeff Peterson.
A couple of songs into his set and I realized that I was listening to
greatness. This man exudes talent and will be giving some of the legends
of slack key a run for their money. I see Na Hoku awards for Peterson in
his future. Next up was Guy Cruz of the prolifically talented Cruz
family. His contemporary versions of blues and island rhythms had the
Makana took the stage, the audience settled down with reverence to his
beautiful sounds. His opening number was the first of many surprises
from the new album. “Fado” was sung completely in Portuguese, and it
reminded me of the magical music sung in local pubs in the ancient part
of the Alfalma district of Lisbon. It’s no wonder that this album has
an international feel – Makana conceived most of it while visiting
Paris. He continued down this road of musical adventure with pieces
reminiscent of folk, rock, and jazz.
of my favorite Hawaiian standards, “Ku’u Lei’ Awapuhi” reminded
me of the time I saw Hapa perform this piece at the University of
California, Irvine, inspiring me to leave my life back on the mainland
and settle into this tropical paradise I now call home. For the second
set, Makana joined Mauna Lua on stage in a celebration of local music.
This brilliant pairing brought out the best of both groups and left the
crowd wanting more.
musical roots are deep in Hawaii. He joined the Honolulu Boy Choir at
age seven, took ukulele lessons from master Roy Sakuma, as well as
lessons from slack key guitarist, Sonny Chillingworth.
is an aura about Makana while he is on stage. He is not flashy, or
overly dynamic, but he is centered. His heart is completely
apparent in his music and this transcends into a command of his
audience. This man, with musical arms reaching in so many different
worldly directions, has his soul deep in the music of Hawaii.
thanks to Gordon Biersch for helping keep the music of Hawaii alive and
available to everyone in need of an ice cold lager and the brilliant
colors of sunset over Honolulu Harbor. I look forward to hearing much
more from Makana, whose worldwide musical exploration is a melodic
indulgence for us all.