The 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.

Kicking 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 crowd rocking.

As 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.

One 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.

Makana’s 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.

There 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.

Many 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.