Country flavor highlights Westside ‘Music in the Park’

WAIMEA — A container of pickled mango and two, not one, container of iced tea makes the music delicious.

Kahalau Leoiki was one of two acts for the Music in the Park presented by the West Kaua‘i Business and Professional Association, Saturday at the Hofgaard Park in Waimea.

The program is at its midpoint with two more performances remaining in the summer series. Pono Breeze and Pa‘ani headline the July 23 event and Cruz Control and Hula Halau Tiare a Nani o Kaua‘i round out the offerings on Aug. 6, each series running from 2 to 4 p.m.

Free to anyone who wants to sit back with an ice cream cone, plate lunch topped with dessert, or just cold drinks of the non-alcoholic type, the music being offered is enhanced by the unique backyard flavor of the performers.

Free merchant giveaways punctuate the two-hour interlude, presented through the efforts of Penny Young, the Waimea Main Street Program coordinator.

“You want some pickled mango?” Young asks, volunteering some of Thomas Nizo’s stash on the table housing the sound board for the afternoon performance.

Leoiki is no stranger to pick-up performances, being one of the performers who greet passengers at the Lihu‘e Airport, and that environment unveils his wide range of music ranging from traditional Hawaiian to contemporary hapa-haole.

“You want Samoan?” he queried a request from the audience. “I only know one.”

That prompted him into a contemporary number heavily flavored with the Samoan tempo.

“He plays all over,” said his mother who was enjoying the performance in the shade of a Samoan coconut tree in the park. “We play for Pete and Kapu Alquiza at the Sheraton Kaua‘i and Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa lu‘au.”

Leoiki’s mother described him as a “freelancer,” joining gigs and looking for places to play.

That brought him to blossom with “Pua Olena,” a traditional number composed by Uncle Jimmy Kaholokula, the moving sweet mele inspiring Sherry Patrick, a kumu hula, to an impromptu hula.

Hula was also on the bill as na kaikamahine of Hula Halau Tiare a Nani o Kaua‘i overflowed onto the sidewalk while kane members prepared for their stint following Leoiki.

“We’re based out of Kekaha,” said Corrina Pascua, who with her husband Jerry, lead the halau. “We’ve only been together for about two years and mostly do performances at the St. Theresa Carnival and the Waimea High School events.”

Pascua said they’ve ventured to the Eastside for just a couple of appearances, although several of their wahine have participated in the Kaua‘i Polynesian Festival, the Heiva i Kaua‘i, and more recently, the Kaua‘i Kau Wela Summer Festival, which wrapped up at the Kukui Grove Center two weeks ago.

The Music in the Park is sponsored by the County of Kaua‘i, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and Kaua‘i Festivals.

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

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