by Anne E. O’Malley
January is that time of year on Kaua`i when Hawaiian music fans flock weekly to E Kanikapila Kakou. It means, literally, “Let’s strike up the music.”
But it’s so much more. Now in its 30th year, the 10 Monday night weekly season that runs from January 21 to March 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Kaua`i Beach Resort brings listeners to their feet, promotes spontaneous hula and shouts of “Hana Hou” — More!
Each season, there’s also one concert among the less formal Monday structures, and this year, EKK will welcome for the first time the internationally recognized Keali`i Reichel on Friday, January 25. The concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25.
“It’s a big score that we got him,” says Carol K. Yotsuda, director of the program, its co-founder and the executive director of the Garden Island Arts Council that umbrellas it. She’s been trying for years.
E Kanikapila Kakou is a huge draw, with locals as well as visitors from around the world. They email Yotsuda in advance to get the dates, and when the program is finalized, usually in November, the airlines are going ka-ching! with bookings.
We don’t want to be a one-time destination,” says Yotsuda, who was also one of the founders of the GIAC 37 years ago. “We want to become everybody’s second visit, third visit, a repeat destination.
“I think Hawaiian music has that power. I see it coming across my desk — emails constantly arriving.”
You can practically hear the sobs of people emailing from places with five feet of snow, sorrowful that they can’t attend this season.
Coming to EKK this month
Musicians who come are ecstatic, and it’s common for Yotsuda to receive three and four calls a day from those who come —and Blackberry and iPhone messages composed on flights back home, praising the program to the skies.
Says Yotsuda, “It’s an amazing program. You can’t always define everything about it, or how it works — it just seems to have a magical effect.”
Funding for the 2013 E Kanikapila Kakou program is once again made possible by a grant from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority and managed by the Kaua’i County Office of Economic Development. The Kaua`i Beach Resort lends partial support to the program. The Garden Island Arts Council receives partial support from the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through a grant-in-aid from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the NEA.
For information about other GIAC programs such as a Hawaiian language initiative, airport windows and Van Go!, click here to keep a watch for updates online in February.
EKK in Brief
What: E Kanikapila Kakou 30th season, Kaua`i Pardee Central
Where: Kaua`i Beach Resort located off the highway between Lihu`e airport and the Wailua River.
When: Monday evenings from January 21 through March 25, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Highlights: From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., practice on ukulele or (sometimes) learn a hula. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Musicians break loose on stage, lots of talk story and amazing music.
How Much: Make a donation in the calabash, or become a patron — check it out upon your arrival
Monday guests most immediately featured include: Jan. 21, Keale, LT Smooth, Donald Kaulia, Let the Celebration Begin!; Jan. 28, Aunty Bev Muraoka and Her Gang,The Queen of Chalangalang at Kauai Pardee Central; Feb. 4, Bobby Moderow, Jr., leader of Maunalua, Smashing Solo
AND OF COURSE, THE CONCERT FEATURING KEALI`I REICHEL onFriday night, January 25 at 7 p.m. at Kaua`i Beach Resort. Tickets are $25.