In Hawaiian, “kani ka pila” literally means “the instrument (makes a) sound” and has come to be used to describe a backyard jam session. Thanks to Mainstage Center for the Arts and the Township of Gloucester, “Kani Ka Pila” was a night of Hawaiian music and hula featured as part of the Sounds of Summer Concert Series in Veteran’s Park. It is a rare occasion to have two New Jersey residents headlining a Hawaiian music show in the Garden State. As it turns out, the evening ended up feeling like two separate shows. It was a 2 for 1, and the price was right – FREE!

Hawaiian Music – Act I

2005 Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contest winner, Bill Wynne kicked off the show with several songs that included Home In These Islands. I followed with a solo set of my own, playing some of my Hawaiian slack key guitar favorites Ku’u Ipo Onaona and Pua Sadinia. For the rest of the evening, Bill and I performed as a duo, a real kanikapila! Just when things were hitting a groove – hula dancers had joined us to dance Ka ‘Uluwehi O Ke Kai and Ka Pilina – the weather curtailed our plans. What had previously been beautifully clear blue skies suddenly opened up with a heavy rain shower.

Intermission – 30 minute deluge

Hawaiian Music – Act II

Thanks to Bill’s sound system, the show continued. Funny how the program can transform so suddenly from a concert in the park to an intimate show inside a gazebo. Kudos to everyone’s quick action to seek cover and move all electronic gear to safety. We played another couple hours, exploring a number of songs that we’d never performed before, and had a lot of fun.

Big mahalos to Mainstage Center for the Arts for organizing the event and bringing Hawaiian music to the community. In addition to producing great shows, the organization is dedicated to bringing arts programs to children. Thanks for featuring “Hawaiian Style in New Jersey” as part of your Summer Series and for your unwavering aloha spirit!

Wonderful photos by Dave Gruen: