Honoring the force behind the mele of today

Na Hoku Hanohano was held last week on O‘ahu, but Thursday, the Kaua‘i Historical Society hosted an event similar to the prestigious event honoring Hawaiian music.

“It’s never been done before, anywhere in the state,” said Koko Kaneali‘i, the emcee for the event as well as the featured voice on the DVD “Na Mele ‘Aina ‘O Kaua‘i.”

Kaneali‘i pointed out that there have been more songs written about Kaua‘i, and the debut viewing of the DVD featuring the sounds and stylings of “backyard” musicians was one of the ways Kaua‘i Historical Society is attempting to preserve the legacy of these living treasures.

There were no tuxedos. Just the “fancy” aloha shirt, slacks, and of course, shoes. But the dress code was in line with the backyard music the featured artists were known for.

Two of the performers, Kalani Flores and Auntie Kapeka Chandler were in wheelchairs, a testament for the need to preserve the tradition and influence these longtime musicians have had in the rise of Hawaiian music.

Others are recognizable faces in the community who spend their weekends and free time jamming in backyards, garages, and wherever is convenient.

Donna Stewart provided the scripting for the video that is interspersed with actual jam sessions on location with Kaneali‘i adding commentary about the various personalities and the music they play.

In addition to Flores and Chandler, musicians who were honored included The Happy Hawaiians, Kalalea, Samson Mahuiki, Uncle Dooley Ka‘aumoana with Momi and Kalani Kaiminaauao and Lady Ipo Kahaunaele, who performs with Flores.

Each of the musicians was on hand to autograph copies for customers who purchased the video, and in addition to granting autographs and a helping of wala‘au, the musicians also treated guests to live performances of their music.

Stewart said those who want copies of the unique DVD can contact the Kaua‘i Historical Society at its Lihu‘e office located in the historic County Building, or visit their Web site at www.kauaihistoricalsociety.org.

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