Hawaiian music icons Henry Kapono and Jerry Santos launched the first of three Artist 2 Artist concert series last Saturday at the Kahilu Theatre. Their two 50-minute collaborative sets turned back the clock to a simpler time in the islands. The audience not only joyfully reminisced but sang along to their favorite tunes, many which had Waimea in the title.
Kapono’s Artist 2 Artist concept began last year at the Blue Note in Honolulu. It’s part solo performance, part musical collaboration with a guest artist, and a talk-story section, where both open up about each other’s career and musical influences. The series has been so successful that Kapono is now touring it around the islands. The Kahilu has booked two more Artist 2 Artist shows – one in November with Keola Beamer, and the final performance next January with Malani Bilyeu, one of the founding members of the group Kalapana.
In his first set, Kapono mentioned that he just returned from an East Coast gig and has two new albums. One is called Songs of C&K, an 11-track collection of the group’s hits, featuring Kapono in collaboration with ten of Hawai‘i’s next generation of local musicians. The recording benefits the Henry Kapono Foundation, which supports local organizations with a primary focus on local arts, culture and music. Kapono performed “Song For Someone,” a duet he does with Paula Fuga on the album.
Welcome 2 My Paradise is Kapono’s latest album, released only a few weeks ago. He played two songs from the recording – “America,” a tune which has a Bob Dylan/Neil Young/Bruce Springsteen vibe to it complete with Kapono dawning a harmonica around his neck on a flex rack. The second was a love ballad titled “4 Ever and 4 Always.” Kapono then introduced Jerry Santos. They played “Waimanalo Blues” together, and then it was Santos’ section of the show.
Jerry Santos is best known for his work in the Hawaiian musical group Olomana, which began in 1973. The singer/songwriter has been a familiar presence on the Hawaii music scene for almost four decades. He was accompanied by the talented Kamuela Kimokeo, who played many brilliant solos on his acoustic guitar. The two perform on a regular basis at various Oahu venues.
Oahu-born Santos recalled his early days as a musician in Waikiki and how time has changed the scene. “There was a man who owned a car dealership on Kalakaua Avenue back then,” said Santos, “and to protest zoning restrictions in the area, he brought in a bunch of wild pigs. I wish I had a picture of tourists walking by all these pigs in a pen.”
Santos joked later that even things at Waimea’s Red Water Café have changed. “I remember a time when folks would ride up and tie up their horses in front of the place, and got so drunk, they’d get a ride home in a car, and leave the horses behind.”
Santos and Kimokeo opened their first set with traditional paniolo slack-key songs like Sol K’s classic “Hawaiian Cowboy.” There was a great interaction between the two – soothing harmonies and melodies as sweet as lullabies.
After a brief intermission, Kapono returned to the stage performing two classics, “Home In The Islands,” and a touching song written about his father, “Sailing.” He then brought back Santos and Kimokeo, who played a medley of audience favorites before bringing Aunty Penny on stage to dance Hula. Santos recalled that he got to know Aunty Penny years ago in Honolulu. The two teased each other about their history together.
Near the end of the show, Kapono, Santos, and Kimokeo did “Danny’s Song,” a 1972 hit by Loggins & Messina. About halfway through the tune, the musicians let the audience finish all the words they knew by heart. The memory-rich night ended with the encore “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”
Henry Kapono: Friends | America | 4 Ever and 4 Always | Song For Someone | Waimanalo Blues (w/Jerry Santos) |
Jerry Santos and Kamuela Kimokeo: Hawaiian Cowboy | Wait For Me | Old Waimea Coral | Paniolo Country | I’m Grateful |
Henry Kapono: Home In The Islands | Sailing |
Jerry Santos and Kamuela Kimokeo: Medley: Seabird/The Lion/Ku’u Home O Kahalu’u | Home |
Kapono, Santos, and Kimoke: Danny’s Song | Kea Aloha O Ka Haku
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
For the latest Henry Kapono music news, please visit: http://www.henrykapono.com
Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and originally from San Francisco. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
All photos by Steve Roby.