Tonight I became a princess as an evening production at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki proved itself the most regal setting in Hawaii's musical kingdom. In the most vintage of Hawaii's settings, I was serenaded by not only one handsome prince, but by the three handsome and seriously talented princes of Maunalua.
Maunalua has put the Hawaii back into Hawaiian music. Comprised of lead singer (and my so-called long-lost Portagee cousin) Bobby Moderow Jr; bassist/vocalist Kahi Kaonohi; and guitarist/ukuleleist/vocalist Richard Gideon, Maunalua has won three Na Hoku Awards (the Hawaiian equivalent of the Grammy), and this past January, they jammed at the inauguration luau for our first "local boy" President, Barack Obama.
Held in the nostalgic Monarch Room of the newly refurbished Royal Hawaiian Hotel, this one-hour performance begins with the traditional blowing of the conch shell and a bone-chilling oli (chanted greeting). The stage is set to look like a typical Hawaiian home out in the country, complete with flower-bedecked front porch and corrugated tin roof.
Bobby first takes his spot on the front steps and plays solo as if warming up for an upcoming luau. Kahi and Richard join him on the porch and banter with each other local style before they launch into their first song. From this point, everything seems suitably impromptu as hula dancers join in and the jesting between songs continues. The vocal harmonies and leo ki'eki'e (falsetto), blend so perfectly that the three voices become one.
The songs range from traditional Hawaiian to a rendition of the Crosby, Stills & Nash song, Teach Your Children. Two Shadows, written by Bobby Moderow Jr, has me hoping for more original pieces in the future.
Next Thursday at 7 pm will be the last of Maunalua's nine appearances at the Monarch Room as part of the Curators of Hawaiian Music Concert Series. Contact me if you're interested in going as Bobby gave me the thumbs up to comp "Tenney's Twenty".
My hope is that the Royal Hawaiian Hotel staff will in the near future bring Maunalua back to the Monarch Room as a permanent fixture.
(The Royal Hawaii at dusk, snapped w/ my iphone from the parking garage)