Review ‘Ukulele Guild Exhibition

It was a beautiful day with only one unexpected downpour that had the audience scurrying for cover on Saturday, November 14, for the 8th Annual Maui Ukulele Guild Exhibition at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center in Kahului. We got to the Center about 9:15 a.m. as the first group was performing on stage. For our 5th year of participating in the exhibition, we set up a display table about Ukulele Mele On Maui alongside the guild members display tables of how the ukulele is made. Our table was the perfect spot to talk to people while watching the entertainment on stage. Kathy Collins did a great job as MC for the program that went from 9:20 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. New this year, Kamehameha Schools had to cancel and thus Neal Yamamura sang with the La’au Street Band to fill in the noon time slot. When they started playing “Puamana,” I spontaneously went up to dance hula, being careful not to slip on the tile floor that was still wet from the rain. I enjoyed dancing with another hula dancer as we both did our own versions of the song.

Ukulele Mele On Maui

Maui Ukulele Pops Band performed November 14

Ten students from my Advanced Ukulele class at Kaunoa Senior Center for seniors 55 and better performed as the Maui Ukulele Pops Band. Rich and I stood on left side of the stage and were the only ones singing into the microphones with our instruments plugged into the sound system. My students sat in one row to our right and shared music stands while playing and singing. Everyone looked so spiffy in our formal Band attire. The Band has performed at every exhibition since 2011.

Ukulele Mele On Maui

Linda and Janet danced hula in our Band show

Band members who participated this year were: Andrea, Beverly, Claudia, Eileen, Ellen, Holly, Janet, Kelcy, Linda, and Sandy. We played a variety of Hawaiian, hapa haole, and pop songs with different strums, which really made us stand out from the other community groups who performed on stage. This year we had 4 members who also danced hula to 2 of the Band songs: Beverly and Kelcy danced to Ka Ulu Wehi O Ke Kai, and Janet and Linda danced to Henehene Kou Aka.

This year’s Maui Ukulele Pops Band’s 30-minute set:

  1. On The Beach at Waikiki – Hum Ding-Ah Strum
  2. Silhouette – I Wanna Rest Strum
  3. Ka Ulu Wehi O Ke Kai – Latin Strum, plus hula
  4. Medley: Tiny Bubbles/Pearly Shells – Hum Ding-Ah Strum, 2 keys
  5. Proud Mary – Tom Tom Strum
  6. That’s Amore – 2 Waltz Strums: Chicken Pluck/Thumb Strum Up, swaying
  7. Lahaina – Latin Strum
  8. Henehene Kou Aka – I Wanna Rest Strum, plus hula
  9. Medley: La Bamba/Twist and Shout – Latin Strum

After a hula halau from Oahu performed once again, the Maui Ukulele Jazz Trio took the stage. This was the second year that Cindee B. joined Rich and me, as Hinano K. played with us the previous 2 years. New this year we included many songs led by Cindee, plus 2 new songs that Cindee and I played on the banjo uke. We enjoyed pushing the envelope with what people expect to hear played on the ukulele by playing the unexpected jazz standards and other hard songs with challenging chords and rhythms.

This year’s Maui Ukulele Jazz Trio’s 30-minute set:

  1. Uwehi Ami and Slide – fast jazzy strum with instrumentals to In the Mood
  2. Sway – Latin Strum, Cindee lead vocals.
  3. Blues in the Night – 4And Strum – Mele lead vocals.
  4. Meditation – Bossa Nova Strum – Rich lead vocals.
  5. Sweet Georgia Brown – Hum Ding-Ah Strum, 2 banjo ukes, Cindee whistle, lead.
  6. Sentimental Journey – jazzy strum, 3-part harmony.
  7. There’ll Be Some Changes Made – Hum Ding-Ah Strum, Cindee lead.
  8. L-O-V-E – I Wanna Rest/Bossa Nova Strums, Rich lead, bass solo.
  9. Nevertheless – I Wanna Rest Strum – Cindee lead.
  10. When The Saints Go Marching In – Hum Ding-Ah Strum, 2 banjo ukes, 2 keys.

For more info, read 1st promo post, read 2nd promo post with entertainment lineup.

Next year’s event will be Saturday, November 12, 2016. We look forward to the once-a-year opportunity to have both our performing groups sharing our music in public and showing what is possible to play on the ‘ukulele.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele


Mele Fong is a professional singer, song arranger, and master of multiple strumming styles for the 'ukulele. She is an experienced educator with over 50+ years experience playing the 'ukulele and entertaining worldwide. Mele performs with her husband in the duo "The Hawaiian Serenaders" and leads student groups. In 1996, the duo represented the State of Hawai'i in concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Mele and her husband Richard Tom were both born and raised on Oahu and now reside in Maui.