BY LUANA MAITLAND — May in Hawaii means Mele Mei, a monthlong celebration of Hawaiian music. Outrigger Resorts joined in the celebration in a big way with an expanded music calendar at Kani Ka Pila Grille (KKPG) where two Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning groups performed to a packed crowd every Sunday evening from 5–9 p.m. Special artists included Kaiao, Kuana Torres Kahele, Huewa, Mailani Makainai, Lehua Kalima & Shawn Pimental, Kupaoa, Mark Yamanaka, Kuuipo Kumukahi and Maunalua.
KKPG also introduced a new “Island Music” happy hour series as part of Outrigger’s Mele Mei activities with even more island music on stage Wednesdays through Saturdays from 3–5 p.m. Some of the artists that joined us last month included Kaala Boys, Jeff Rasmussen & Robi Kahakalau, Christian Yrizarry and Maila Gibson & Ben Vegas. I am happy to report that the KKPG “Island Music” happy hour music series was such a success that we are continuing the musical fun through August.
Additional Mele Mei activities at the Outrigger Reef included workshops with kihoalu (slack key) master George Kahumoku Jr.; ukulele and falsetto legend Richard Hoopii; Da Ukulele Boyz, Peter deAquino and Garrett Probst, sharing their ukulele picking and precision skills; and Sterling Seaton on the basics of slack key tuning.
Wrapping up Mele Mei was a fabulous night at the 2015 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards held at the Hawaii Convention Center with over 1,000 attendees and performers. Many of KKPG’s entertainers were nominated. This year’s Na Hoku winners were: Huewa for Group and Most Promising Artist of the Year; Mailani Makainai for Female Vocalist of the Year; Kuana Torres Kahele for Single of the Year; Amy and Willie K for Contemporary Album of the Year; and Kealii Reichel for Male Vocal, Song, Album, Hawaiian Music Album, Haku Mele and Favorite Entertainer of the Year. We are particularly proud of KKPG’s Thursday night headliner, Kawika Kahiapo, who won two awards for two separate albums – the first for Hawaiian Language and the second for Slack Key & Island Music Album of the Year.
Outrigger Resorts’ support of Mele Mei is just one of the many Hawaiian music events and activities wrapped under our “E Mele Ana” Hawaiian Music program. The summer months are upon us, so get your calendars out and save the dates for more E Mele Ana music programs coming up.
- Waikiki Aquarium “Ke Kani O Ke Kai” Summer Concert Series – June-Aug.
- Waikiki Steel Guitar Festival at Waikiki Beach Walk® – July 18
- 45th Annual Ukulele Festivals at Kapiolani Park – July 19
- KKPG Slack Key Jam – Aug. 14
- Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival – Aug. 16
- KKPG Talent Search Finals at the Made In Hawaii Festival – Aug. 22