“Love is you
You and me
Love is knowing
we can be”
– John Lennon, Love
This was my first time at SubCulture, an intimate venue in the East Village of New York City. I remain humbled and grateful that HAPA is willing to share their stage with me. The opportunity to share Hawaiian slack key guitar and Hawaiian music in New York City is a tremendous gift, but to have the opportunity granted to me by musicians that I look up to carries even greater weight. I seized the chance to play a song that Uncle Raymond Kane taught me Pua Sadinia, Wahine ‘Ilikea dedicated to the late Uncle Dennis Kamakahi, among others. My wife requested Honolulu City Lights which I forgot to play. Next time, I promise!
In the past 5 years, I have seen HAPA perform many times but mostly at larger venues than SubCulture. The energy shared between onstage musicians and audience was really great at this place. The sound was good too. In my humble opinion, HAPA in its current configuration of Barry Flanagan (vocals/guitar), Ron Kuala’au (vocals/guitar) and Tarvin Makia (bass) is really hitting its stride. While performing earlier HAPA material well, the group really shined on Tuahine and Tapa`o No Te Here, highlights from recent releases. To the audience’s delight, Tarvin demonstrated his smooth vocals on Pu’uanahulu and Ku’u Home O Kahalu’u. Kudos also to hula dancer and Miss Hawaii USA 2006 Radasha Ho’ohuli who graced the stage throughout the evening.
Following a brief intermission, HAPA invited special guest Aidan James, a 12-year old ukulele playing phenom from O’ahu. Aidan rocked the house with U2’s All I Want Is You and Ed Sheeran’s You Need Me, I Don’t Need You. His hana hou was Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. I was very impressed by this young man, on and off stage. Aidan is definitely one to keep on your radar. Given what he is doing musically at age 12 holds immense promise for what he could be doing at age 20! It’s actually scary to think about.
I had the privilege of rejoining HAPA on stage to close the show with Kaopuiki Aloha, Lei Pikake and John Lennon’s Love. Again, a huge mahalo to Barry and Leslie Flanagan and HAPA for inviting me on this adventure. A special thank you to my friend Thomas Dang Vu who took all of these amazing photos. Finally, much love to everyone who came out to support Hawaiian music in New York!