Waikīkī

It was nice, seeing Hawaiian music in Waikīkī last night. It was the group, Native Pearls. Mihana Aluli and Kanoe Cazimero, on guitar and ‘ukulele, with piano accompaniment by Kit Ebersback.

Funny, the Blue Note club entertainment coordinator was saying hello to everyone before the show. She asked me what made me interested in coming to see them. I told her that I used to work for Duty Free Shoppers, and how Kanoe had come to help with the Duty Free Aloha Week floats back when The Brothers Cazimero, her brothers, used to perform on those floats in the early 80s. “It’s been almost forty years since I last saw her,” I said.

The entertainment coordinator asked me my name, so I of course did my usual, “It’s Lanning, like planning without the p.”

This woman is a good business person. No doubt but that she went straight backstage and told Kanoe what I’d said, along with my name. Right in the middle of the second song, Kanoe called my name, said hi to me, and thanked me for coming. And she talked to me two more times, once when she was dancing this sexy hula. Whoa.

The other woman, Mihana Aluli (her middle name is Irmgard, so the traditional Hawaiian music genes in both ladies are awesome), who turned 70 the day before yesterday and partied until 4:30 yesterday morning, said she was singing in a lower key as the result of said party. She talked about how when she was a little girl Waikīkī was such a slow and easygoing place. Her family would pile in the car Friday afternoon and come to the beach to hang out with relatives and friends until Sunday afternoon.

I remember it. Those days, when Waikīkī epitomized the calm beauty of a true tropical paradise.

But, Mihana said, even with all the changes, Waikīkī will always be the heart of paradise, and then she said she was looking forward to the day when she’d be able, once again, to play all day there. I’m only guessing at what she meant; it gave me chicken skin.

Mostly local people there last night, but what I really loved, beyond the hula, and on top of the singing, was that one of the two was always translating the words for us. I love that. I know very little Hawaiian, despite growing up here. They also told us the stories behind the songs. Now days, it’s hard to find performers who help the listeners appreciate the stories, the poetry that way.

Gotta say, Kanoe “Tootsie” Cazimero has aged better than I, and what a voice. I never knew she had such a beautiful voice. Oh, and she can still hula like a champ. Beautiful.

I went up to her at the end of the show.

“Kanoe, I don’t know if you actually remember me after forty years, but I remember you. I can still picture you helping to decorate the floats.”

“Oh yes,” she said, “when they told me Lanning from Duty Free float days, I thought, Lanning, oh yeah, I remember that name. I remember you.”

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