Hawaiian music on a holiday for a Hawaiian prince

Music filled the food court area as Kamuela Kimokeo performed some antics on his Martin guitar.

That was one of the highlights to yesterday’s lunchtime performance of “Pilioha,” a group that recently released its first CD. The music was part of the Kukui Grove Shopping Center’s Prince Kuhio Day holiday offering.

The antics on the guitar started earlier in the rendering of a Ledward Kaapana tune as Kimokeo slid the microphone boom up and down the fretboard of the acoustic guitar while continuing to pick out the melody.

“They’re good,” said Wes Kaui, a musician in his own right, while enjoying the performance over lunch at the mall.

The lunchtime performance was also highlighted by the rendering of an impromptu hula from mall regular Aunty Alice Canales who said she never took hula lessons in her life. “But I know the motion of the ocean and good-looking men,” said Canales following her crowd-pleasing performance.

Pilioha’s stop at Kukui Grove was just one of several that started with an appearance at a nearby book store where the trio signed autographs and met with fans purchasing the new CD.

Then it was a Prince Kuhio Day performance on the mall followed by an appearance at E Kani Kapila before winging back to O‘ahu where the trio resides.

“Glenn Mayeda and Gary Kalehua Krug Jr. are first cousins,” Aunty Maria of KKCR said. “They both grew up in Kalihi from small kid time. They go way back from when they used to share the ukulele together.”

Maria, who hosts a Hawaiian show and distributes Hawaiian music, said she couldn’t help but catch the new group during their island tour.

Those days from small kid time had a strong influence on the performance that opened with a strong Hui Ohana influence in its “Hilo March” presentation.

But beyond the Hui Ohana days of Hank’s Place in Kaimuki, Pilioha also showed its diversity of delivery in Hawaiian music, clearly drawing traditional influences from groups like the Kahuanu Lake Trio and the Makaha Serenaders.

“Kamuela’s dad is Kimo Kimokeo who plays old-time Hawaiian music in Waikiki,” Maria said. “And he’s still going at it.”

For those making the trip to O‘ahu, Maria said Pilioha makes regular appearances at the Aku Bones Lounge and the Chart House.

Lunchtime diners succumbed to the soothing music that was a blend of an electric bass, the Martin six-string and the Takamine 12-string. That blend was made complete by the falsetto rendering of several numbers from Krug as diners dug into their wallets for a copy of the CD.

“Keep playing,” Maria said while unpacking another carton. “The more they play, the more they sell.”

Miki Kaipaka was the recipient of a Pilioha T-shirt for knowing how to spell out the group’s name.

“I’ve been here for 35 years,” Kaipaka said. “I waited and gave people a chance, but in the end I got the shirt.”

Judge Trudy Senda, enjoying the Prince Kuhio holiday, was also surprised with the performance.

“This is so relaxing,” she said. “It takes you back to the old days. At first, I thought it was a CD playing too loud, but then I saw the guys playing. This is really good music.”

The lunchtime performance goes back to the time when Hawaiian music was in its glory, making the transition from the old to the contemporary.

Drawing on the impromptu hula from Canales to the contemporary rendering of Ka‘apana’s mouth-picking piece, Pilioha highlighted the Hawaiian holiday for a Hawaiian prince.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.

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