Review Kihei Library July Show

This was our third library program this year as sponsored by the University of Hawaii Statewide Cultural Extension Program.

It was standing room only for The Hawaiian Serenaders “Story of the ‘Ukulele and Concert” at Kihei Public Library on Tuesday night, July 11. The venue was spacious, air conditioned, and had lots of parking, all which contributed to 49 people in attendance (the largest audience we’ve had so far at a public library). Plus, the library’s advertising efforts were great on the state library website and in the local newspapers. We got this gig because the children’s librarian heard about us from her sister who has taken my ‘ukulele classes.

“Are you the famous Mele Fong?” asked a volunteer at the library as were setting up. “We’ve seen your YouTube videos,” commented a local man before the program started.

This was the third program we presented this year at a public library as sponsored by the University of Hawai’i Statewide Cultural Extension Program. New this time, we used the library’s PA system and we had a hula dancer, Janet Rineer, who performs in our Maui Ukulele Pops Band. We also added another banjo ukulele song and replaced a contemporary hapa haole song with a pop medley in a minor key.

It was standing room only with 49 people attending our “Story of the ‘Ukulele and Concert” at Kihei Library on July 11.

The program included a display of different types of ‘ukulele ranging from soprano, concert, and tenor instruments with 4, 6, and 8 strings and what they sound like. Plus we took my dad’s banjo ‘ukulele and played two songs on it. We gave a history of the ‘ukulele, and performed Hawaiian, hapa haole, and pop songs to demonstrate the diversity of music that can be played on Hawai’i’s official instrument. Rich gave a special demo of his ‘ukulele bass and played instrumental solos on it. We also led a sing-along.

We played the following ten songs and why:

  1. Koni Au I Ka Wai – Hum Ding-Ah Strum (history-King Kalakaua patronage)
  2. Puamana – I Wanna Rest Strum with hula (uke began as rhythm accompaniment to singers)
  3. Bill Bailey – Hum Ding-Ah Strum (on banjo uke)
  4. Uwehi Ami & Slide – I Wanna Rest Strum (merging instrumental picking into local song)
  5. Medley: Summertime/Moondance – I Wanna Rest/4And Strum (minor key contemporary)
  6. Lahaina – Latin Strum (pop example with sing-along on chorus)
  7. Ulupalakua – ‘Ōlapa Strum with hula (Hawaiian place name song & story behind the song)
  8. Medley: Maui Waltz/Pua Lilia – 2 Waltz Strums: Thumb Strum Up/Chicken Pluck (3/4 time example)
  9. Blues in the Night – 4And Strum (change genre and change to uke with high A for picking riff)
  10. Fly Me To the Moon – Latin Strum (features u-bass solo and change genre)

A hula dancer did 2 songs during the program.

Afterwards, a lady thanked the library’s branch manager (who was standing in front of us) for having us perform. A young boy returned with his dad and asked if he could hold an ‘ukulele. In a few minutes I taught him to play “Are You Sleeping?” a simple 1-chord children’s song with all down strums and he did great. As we were leaving the library, a staff person behind the book counter said “You guys were great.”

The library’s branch manager was very pleased with our program. We received a thank you note from our contact the children’s librarian who was sorry she wasn’t able to attend our performance, “but I’ve heard wonderful reports of your concert and presentation.”

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele