Review April 8 Ukulele Mixed Plate

pre-show talking with audience

“I return every week just to hear you sing,” said Alan.

Before our show began, I talked to a man I recognized from previous Ukulele Mixed Plate events. “I return just to hear you sing,” said Alan.

For the first time at our Ukulele Mixed Plate show in Wailea, Rich played my ukulele and sang as I danced hula to two songs, “Puamana” and “Honolulu I’m Coming Back Again.” We planned on my dancing since our usual two hula dancers were in Hilo for the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. However, as I was introducing the first song, Puamana, I spotted a young Japanese woman in the audience moving her hands in hula movements, and thus I invited her up on stage to dance with me. It was great to be spontaneous! Turns out that Mika is a friend of Linda who usually dances for us, and Linda had asked Mika to come and help out in her absence. We also found out afterwards that Mika knows my webmaster Ben who told her to take ukulele lessons from me. Ben is good friends with Mika’s boyfriend. What a small world!

Mika didn’t know how to dance “Honolulu I’m Coming Back Again,” so I danced that as a solo and explained how the song has special meaning to me. While attending the Conservatory of Music at the University of Pacific, my Jewish roommate and I had a roommate act. She taught me songs in Yiddish and I taught her hapa haole songs like “Honolulu I’m Coming Back Again” so that I could dance hula. We had a great time sharing our cross cultural music at the college coffee house and at other gigs. “Honolulu I’m Coming Back Again” is one of the homesick songs that brought back fond childhood memories to both my husband and I since we both grew up on Oahu and lived for many years on the mainland.

Another first for this Ukulele Mixed Plate event was the addition of an MC who introduced us as The Hawaiian Serenaders, and setup the sound system for the acts before and after us. However, he set the volume so loud for the warm up act and after our show act, that it was difficult for me to talk to people without shouting at them. We do our own sound setup, and asked the audience for their feedback to make sure we weren’t going to blow their ear drums out. The Hawaiian Serenaders show, and the group ukulele lesson went well. We ended right on time after performing and teaching for 1 ½ hours.

Afterwards, a mother and her teenage daughter came up to say thank you. They related to me saying I went to music school, as the girl wants to study sound engineering and put her love of engineering and music together. I told them that was a great idea, especially in this digital age!

“Will you be here next week?” asked a woman who purchased one of my packaged sets of book/DVD/CD and our Hawaiian Songs and Stories CD. The next Ukulele Mixed Plate will be Wednesday, April 22. This maybe the last time people get to see us for free before The Shops at Wailea starts charging for parking in May.

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.