One of the things I like best about Hawai`i is the music. Almost anywhere you go, you can find music and catch a performance of some kind. We were fortunate enough to catch at least one performance nearly every day of this trip. The Courtyard Marriott featured live music every evening. They were mostly local performers with a wide range of talent. We didn’t catch the names of most of the performers, but being that the bar provided a somewhat intimate setting, there was a lot of audience participation. We requested Hi`ilawe from one duo, which got us into a discussion of Gabby Pahinui who made the song famous.
On Friday night we heard Pancho Graham at the Hukilau Lanai near our hotel. Graham is Na Hoku Hano Hano award winning musician who can be heard on the soundtrack of The Descendants. The Na Hokus are the Grammies for Hawaiian music. The Hukilau Lanai was also a very intimate setting.
The only evening we did not catch a performance was the evening we stayed at the Volcano House. Volcano House, on the rim of Kilauea caldera had only recently reopened after the eruption. Their kitchen had not opened yet and they had not booked performers.
The bar of the Grand Naniloa in Hilo also had performers every night. Sometimes two groups. None of them were famous, but some will be. One group was led by a teenager playing the ukulele backed by his grandfather and uncle on guitars. I wish I had gotten his name because he was great. We’ll be hearing more of him.
We scheduled our arrival on Oahu for Sunday morning so we could hear the Royal Hawaiian Band which performs every Sunday afternoon in Kapiolani Park. The Royal Hawaiian Band is the oldest, full time performing, municipal band in the United States. It was founded in 1836 by King Kamehameha III and has been in continuous existence ever since. It is now an agency of the City and County of Honolulu. In addition to the Sunday performances, the band performs every Friday noon at Iolani Palace and special events around the state.
Sunday evening, we attended a performance by the trio, Puamana, at the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. We were invited to the performance by one of the members of the group, Mihana Souza, whom we had known when we lived in Kailua in the 1980’s. The Souzas lived only a few houses from us. Their daughter went to school with my son and played Little League together. Puamana was formed by Irmgard Farden Aluli, Mihana’s mother. Auntie Irmgard was a prolific composer of Hawaiian music, with over 200 songs to her credit, second only to Queen Lili`uokalani in output. She was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 1998 and died at age 89 in 2001. The group continued under the direction of Mihana and received a lifetime achievement award from the Hawai`i Academy of Recording Arts in 2015. Here is the group performing before Auntie Irmgard’s death. I think that is Mihana playing base.
And I can’t end without mentioning the performance every evening at sunset at the House Without A Key in the Halekulani Hotel. It is a gorgeous hotel in an historic location. the House Without a Key sits on the sight of a former guest house where Earl Derr Biggers once stayed and which became the setting for the first Charlie Chan mystery. Every night you can catch a performance of a trio and a dancer. On the night we were there, the dancer was Miss Hawaii 2015.
The Tiki Bar Is Open
This Aloha Friday, the featured drink is a ginger martini, which they served at Hukilau Lanai. This drink requires a bit of preparation of the ginger syrup. It’s probably best offered to company when you can prepare the ginger syrup in a batch ahead of time.
Peel a whole lemon and place in a food processor with two cups of fresh, coarsely chopped ginger, peel and all. Finely chop the lemon and ginger mixture. Place in a saucepan with one cup of sugar and two cups of water. bring to a boil and simmer for fifteen minutes. Strain the mixture and let it cool. You can refrigerate it up to a week.
Or you can buy the syrup in the bottle from Amazon, Whole Foods, and probably any well-stocked liquor store.
In a shaker add 3oz. Vodka, 1/2 to 1 oz. ginger syrup, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice. Shake over ice, strain into a stem glass and garnish with a twist of lemon.