Review Ukulele Show in Lahaina

Richard Tom and Mele Fong – the husband and wife duo The Hawaiian Serenaders – presented Story of the Ukulele and Concert at Lahaina Library on September 15. Luana from Brazil inquired about taking ukulele lessons.

“I work on cruise ships and I want to learn to play the ‘ukulele” commented Luana from Brazil after our performance on Saturday, September 15 at 11 a.m. at Lahaina Public Library.

My husband and I performed as the duo, The Hawaiian Serenaders, on ‘ukulele, u-bass, and vocals as we presented Story of the ‘Ukulele and Concert. We are artists with the University of Hawai’i at Manoa’s Statewide Cultural Extension Program, and have represented the state of Hawai’i in concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

This was our fourth show in two years at Lahaina Public Library. It was a good thing that we arrived in Lahaina one hour before show-time because the main street was closed for a runner’s event which meant we ended up parking and walking a couple blocks to the library. When we got to the library, we noticed across the street there were tents and amplified music being played as part of the Festivals of Aloha. The branch librarian said she wasn’t told about the street closure or competing event across the street – but the show must go on!

One man came to our show because he read about it in the Maui Weekly and two women just happened to walk by the library and came in. There were other people using the library who heard us play. New this time I added my own PR efforts to the library’s and I was pleasantly surprised when The Maui News published a photo with caption that I submitted in the Sunday newspaper.

During our presentation, we talked about the history of the ‘ukulele, Hawaii’s official instrument, and displayed our personal collection of the 4 different sizes of instruments including the soprano, concert, tenor, and u-bass, with 4, 6, and 8 strings. One man asked many interesting questions about the evolution of Hawaiian music and I referred him to the reference book I use – Hawaiian music and Musicians by George Kanahele and edited by John Berger. We performed songs of different musical genres to show the versatility of the ukulele and were pleased when the audience enthusiastically clapped after each song.

Total: 11 songs including 2 with Hawaiian language lyrics

  1. Koni Au I Ka Wai – Hum Ding-Ah Strum (history-King Kalakaua patronage; Hawaiian example)
  2. Sophisticated Hula – Boom Shaka I Wanna Strum (hapa haole example from 1940s)
  3. When the Saints Go Marching In – Hum Ding-Ah Strum (banjo uke example)
  4. Lahaina – Latin Strum (about Maui and pop example with sing-along on chorus)
  5. Moon River – 2 Waltz Strums (movie example)
  6. Hey Good Lookin’ – Hum Ding-Ah Strum (country music example)
  7. Ka Ulu Wehi O Ke Kai – Latin Strum (Hawaiian example)
  8. Be My Baby – Boom Shaka I Wanna Strum (60s example)
  9. Autumn Leaves – I Wanna Rest/Bossa Nova Strums (jazz example)
  10. When You’re Smiling – Hum Ding-Ah Strum (banjo uke example)
  11. What Aloha Means – 2 Waltz Strums (return to roots with hapa haole example)

Our next free show sponsored by the University of Hawaii Cultural Extension Program will be Tuesday, September 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Kihei Library.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele