After a six-week COVID-related pause, the Kahilu Theatre resumed in-person concerts last Saturday with a thrilling appearance by award-winning singer Amy Hānaialiʻi.
A year ago, Hānaialiʻi experienced a much different concert at the venue. Then, cardboard cutouts represented an audience in an empty theatre, while a pre-recorded applause track filled in the quiet gaps between songs.
With a full parking lot of cars, and folks lining up to enter the Waimea venue, last Saturday’s show was slightly reminiscent of a pre-2020 event, yet there were signs the pandemic is still with us. Amy’s drummer Mike Casil tested positive for COVID hours before the show and couldn’t perform. Hānaialiʻi also admitted she experienced the virus too.
“I got the nasty COVID in December…,” Hānaialiʻi told the crowd. “I now drink Throat Coat tea and take lozenges, but it’s all good.”
For a portion of her show, Hānaialiʻi focused her set on early material she had co-written with guitar virtuoso Willie K. The two had worked together since 1993, and their song collaborations appear on her first four albums. “I decided to pull these out of the archive and give them a little ‘facelift.’ They’ve never been performed live. We’ve been rehearsing them, and they sound magical,” Amy noted in our pre-show interview.
One of those was “Mo’oku’auhau,” a song inspired by a dream Hānaialiʻi had about her soon-to-be-born daughter. After the song finished, her daughter, now 15, came out to wave quickly to the crowd. “She may be 15, but she acts likes she’s going on 30,” joked the singer.
For several numbers, Hānaialiʻi featured several dancers (and her cousins) from Hālau Nā Kīpuʻupuʻu, a traditional Hawaiian dance school in Kamuela. The Hālau is celebrated for revitalizing many ancient art forms and practices within hula not commonly seen today and is recognized for reviving the art and traditions of Kapa within the lines of hula.
Hānaialiʻi closed her show with “For All We Know,” a soft rock song written for the 1970 film Lovers and Other Strangers and made famous by The Carpenters. “This song is so poignant to what’s happened (with the pandemic),” Amy said. “Hopefully, we’re on the tail end of it.”
Hānaialiʻi is looking forward to returning to the recording studio this year and has completed a few studio albums that will be released in the future. “I’m also trying to help entertainers get back on their feet through HARA (Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts). We have 500+ Hawaiian Academy members, and we’ve created more music during the pandemic. Entertainers have a hard time when they’re not performing, and it’s just not normal for us. So, the musicians went into the studio and started recording hundreds of albums. As a result, there was a surge of music last year, and an even bigger one coming this year.”
Missed the show? Don’t despair. You still can catch the concert on Kahilu.TV.
Notes & Links
Down By the River | Nani Wale Ia’u o Waimea | Mo’oku’auhau | Ku’u Pilikua | Hawai’i Your My Home | Wasting the Rain | ‘Kalawai’anui | Haleʻiwa Hula | Hanaiali’i | Mauna Kea Ku’u Iwi Hilo |
Hana hou: For All We Know
Concert date: 05/FEB/2022
Musicians: Wailau Ryder (guitar), Marcus John (bass), Gilbert Emata (piano/vocals).
Hālau Nā Kīpuʻupuʻu: Kumu Micah Kamohali’i, Stallone Chartrand, Halnette Chartrand, Trisha Hodson, Michael “Bubba” Hodson.
About the author: Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: Steve Roby