Hitting the High Notes
The little instrument with four strings brought out a big crowd for the 16th Annual Great Waikoloa ‘Ukulele Festival on Saturday, March 5, at Queens’ MarketPlace and Kings’ Shops. Thousands of ‘ukulelelovers, luthiers, musicians, families, and friends filled three performance areas to enjoy 15 mini-concerts by ‘ukulele notables, to learn about making the instrument, and sit in on playing lessons, kani ka pila style.
The day began with a free B.Y.O.U. (Bring Your Own ‘Ukulele) class taught by leading instructor Roy Sakuma, the founder of ‘Ukulele Festival Hawai`i, now in its 46th year. From there, the music was nonstop, starting off with the enthusiastic Thunderbirds, a high school ‘ukulele band from Anchorage, Alaska. High points included classic favorites Ohta-san and Nando Suan, the exciting style of Chris Fuchigami, Brian Vasquez, Kevin Haleamau, Alii Keanaaina, Hilo’s own Brittni Paiva, the power of Paula Fuga, and Taimane Gardner, who never fails to wow an audience with her unique blend of flamenco, Hawaiian, classical, and original fusion music.
In addition, visitors got a sneak preview of the new Hawaiian ‘Ukulele & Guitar shop, coming soon to Queens’ MarketPlace, where a large selection of instruments, as well as sheet music, CDs, strings, accessories, and a fun new line of t-shirts will be offered.
Twelve lucky festival attendees were selected to take home brand new, topbrand ‘ukulele, which Sakuma shared from generous sponsors. “We hope that all the winners will be inspired to play, and to come back next year and join in the music,” said Margo Mau Bunnell, Sales & Operations Manager, Waikoloa Land Company. “This year’s ‘Ukulele Festival broke all the records. More people came out, and the music was the best yet. It’s so great to see.”