Review Maui Ukulele Festival

“You folks were great at the Festival on Sunday!” said Kathy Collins, MC. “You were the best sounding group,” said the sound guy for the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC).

Maui Ukulele Pops Band performed for 3rd time

Maui Ukulele Pops Band performed for 3rd time

Hundreds of spectators came out for the 10th Annual Maui Ukulele Festival at the MACC held Sunday, October 11 from 1-6 p.m. We led the Maui Ukulele Pops Band at 3:00 p.m. for our third time at the festival. We also performed in 2010 (with 9 students) and in 2011 (with 7 students). Students take classes from me at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better.

New this year, 6 students from my Ukulele Strumming 202 class joined 5 Band members which gave us a total of 11 plus my husband on u-bass and me. Band members standing in the front row wearing our informal pink/grey outfits from left to right were: Andrea Kaumeheiwa, Claudia Welch, Eileen Taketa, Linda Ewing, and Sandy Magallanes. Class members standing in the back row from left to right were: Doug Miller, Alma Hanzawa, Sally Waki, Lynn Hashizaki, Susan Colletto, and Charles Calvan. Band member Holly Huelsmann was expected that day but absent due to back problems. As in past years, we had everyone stand and play since it was a short program. It seems like we just get plugged in and settled on stage, and before we know it, it’s time to unplug and get off the stage.

We prepared 5 songs for our 10-minute set, and got to play 4 before getting cut. We played all upbeat songs of different genres and strums, and enjoyed seeing people dancing to our music:

  1. Koni Au I Ka Wai – Hawaiian, with Hum Ding-Ah Strum.
  2. Lahaina – pop, with Latin Strum.
  3. Proud Mary – rock and roll, with Tom Tom Strum.
  4. Medley: La Bamba/Twist and Shout – pop, with Latin Strum.
  5. Sophisticated Hula – hapa haole, with Boom Shaka I Wanna Strum.

We also had fun behind the scenes. I have always enjoyed hanging out with fellow entertainers in the back stage “performers only” room. The air conditioning is such a welcome relief to the outside heat and humidity. This year I took some videos of the Hula Honeys, a women’s trio, practicing smooth jazz with their new bass player. I also took a picture with Kathy Sakuma, wife of Roy who was the festival MC and organizer of Ukulele Festival Hawaii. Roy was loosing his voice, so Kathy Collins was brought in to MC the second half of the program which included us.

Art Vento, CEO of MACC with Mele

Art Vento, CEO of MACC with Mele

Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa and his wife Ann took a photo with us as we waited in formation to go on stage. The mayor complimented everyone for taking the time to practice and prepare for their performance. Not everyone can do that, especially at their age. I thought we did good considering we only had 11 days notice and no class time to prepare (Kathy called us on October 1 on behalf of the MACC). We had offered a special practice session at our house the day before the festival, and 6 people came (Claudia, Doug, Eileen, Lynn, & Sandy). At ukulele class following the festival, I also thanked everyone for participating as we wouldn’t have been there if not for them. Art Vento, President & CEO of the MACC likes us because we fill the kupuna (senior) group niche. Whatever works!

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele