In Tune with the Islands
Music and dance tell you as much about the people, culture, and traditions of a place as any guide book ever could. When you hear mariachis serenading, you understand something about the romanticism of Mexico; likewise, the swinging beat of ragtime jazz clues you in to the festive, rollicking mood of New Orleans.
In Hawai`i, it is the hula dancers, ukulele and guitar players, and the falsetto singers who reflect the cultural depth and poetic soul of the Hawaiian Islands. At Waikoloa Beach Resort, the beautiful sounds and sights of island-style music and dance are seen and heard every day of the year.
“You can be sitting poolside at one of the resorts, strolling through our shopping centers, or enjoying a meal... chances are an authentic Hawaiian musician or dance troupe will be there to entertain you,” says Scott Head, Vice President of Resort Operations. “There are also special performances throughout the year where we bring in bands such as Chicago for our guests and the local community. We believe music and dance are relaxing, entertaining for the entire family, and often educational, too. That’s why providing high-quality local entertainment for our guests is a priority throughout the resort.”
John Keawe is a perfect example of a well- known local musician who enjoys sharing his talents with Waikoloa Resort guests. A Hawaiian musician and slack key guitar player from Hawi in the North Kohala district of the Big Island, Keawe has toured throughout Hawai‘i and the Mainland U.S., but says he particularly relishes his regular Tuesday evening (7 pm) performances on Center Court Stage at the Kings’ Shops. “My passion since the 1970s has been to write songs and use the Hawaiian slack key,” Keawe says. “My songs are very reflective of life on the Big Island. When people hear me sing — particularly on songs such as “The Big Island…Is My Home” — I hope they get just a little better understanding of what a special place the Big Island is.”
On the first, second, and fifth Wednesdays of each month (7 pm), Hula dancers are entertaining, but reflect the deeper cultural roots of the Islands. Kahulanui (The Big Dance) performs on Center Court Stage at Kings’ Shops to the delight of listeners. A four-man band, Kahulanui’s music is inspired by three generations: from grandfather Robert Kahulanui Naipo, to dad Rodgers L.L. Naipo Sr., to grandson and Kahulanui band leader, Lolena Naipo Jr. Lolena remembers the stories his grandfather would tell of being a member of the Royal Hawaiian Band during an era when horns and drums were a part of Hawaiian music, a style which influences his playing today.
The Poetry of Hula
Hula dance has become beloved around the world. But there’s nothing quite like experiencing a hula performance in its birthplace of Hawai`i. Stop by Kings’ Shops any Friday afternoon around 6 pm and you will find a talented local halau (troupe) showcasing their talents. Aulani’s Hula Halau (who also perform at Queens’ MarketPlace) showcase their talents on the third and fifth Fridays of each month; while Na Kamali`i O Kona Halau performs on the first Friday of each month; and Halau Waiau performs on the fourth Friday of each month.
“The resort is a nice forum for our youngsters,” says Lani Isaacs, executive director of ‘Alohi Polynesian Dance Academy, whose halau performs on Fridays at Queens’ MarketPlace. “They study the art of hula during the week, and when they get to perform what they know it is truly an educational experience. I tell my audiences that I hope they truly experience the essence of Hawai`i while they are here, and we want to show that there is more to hula than what is depicted in Hollywood movies. The hula is an art ... it is not just coordinating hand and foot movements ... it is a discipline. What makes the hula different than other dance disciplines is that it is a study of our language, our history, our traditions ... our dancers are perpetuating their culture through the hula.”
Queens’ MarketPlace comes alive with hula every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the center also features live music by local artists every third Saturday at the Coronation Pavilion (6 - 8 pm). A good family experience, the Coronation Pavilion offers hardscape and lawn seating and is conveniently located close to the Queens’ MarketPlace Ono Food Court, where you can find everything from pizza to Hawaiian barbecue to Subway sandwiches to ice cream.
“In 2013,” Head says, “the Queens’ MarketPlace decided to have monthly ‘mini- concerts’ in the Coronation Pavilion area to feature local groups from the Big Island that played different genres of music.” Indeed, there has been something for everyone to enjoy, from the soulful jazz music of Tropical Vibrations to the melodic vocals of Betsy Curtis; from a Bluegrass concert by Friends of Bluegrass to the hip-hop-contemporary style of Mystic Rythmz.
Upcoming monthly mini-concerts include Ekolu Mea Nui with popular Hawaiian music entertainers Kunia Galdeira, Kevin Kealoha and Grammy Award winner Sonny Lim; Krazzy Bone, a rock and roll band from Hilo; and Hawaiian Soul artist Pomai Longakit (of Pomai and Loeka).
Concerts, Movies & More
But the entertainment at Waikoloa Beach Resort doesn’t stop with music and dance. Every fourth Saturday of the month, families gather for the ever-popular “Movie Under the Stars” night at Queens’ MarketPlace. This monthly event is free to the community and offers a safe outdoor setting for everyone to enjoy family friendly movies.
There’s also something going on every night of the week in the Malolo Lounge at Hilton Waikoloa Village, whether it be ukulele music, guitar music, or high- energy soul and R&B.
“We try to provide a good variety of music for our guests,” says Leanne Pletcher, Director of Marketing Communications. “Depending on the night of the week, you might find country or you might find local talent. The Malolo Lounge is a very comfortable room, and it’s right off our main lobby, so it is very popular with hotel guests and visitors to the resort. Plus, some of the bartenders have been working there since the resort opened, and it’s almost like coming home for some of our longtime guests.”