OK.  We’re on. Terry and Marion Sigel have offered us their lovely home in Napa for this month’s Flea Jumper gathering on Sunday, May 31st, at 6:00 pm.  You need to let me know via return email if you’re coming and I’ll give you the specifics (mainly the address).  As per Flea Jumper tradition, please bring pupus and don’t plan on playing (or listening) until you’ve had at least one glass of wine…we just sound better that way! Do we need a theme?  Summertime?

In the meantime, I want to thank everyone who came to the World of Pop! at Sonoma Academy last weekend.  After rehearsing for weeks for a performance in the outdoor amphi-theater (and the creation of an amazing set) the whole show (32 kids and the whole array of instruments from around the world and all the sound equipment) had to be moved into the gym the “day of”  because of the rain.  Never-the-less, it was truly astonishing  to see what students can do with music when they “own” it.  I am in awe of Doug Gallagher, the musical director at Sonoma Academy, and all the kids who rose so nobly to the occasion and  performed pop songs from around the globe. Here’s a shot of Spencer Wardwell, Linnea Sablosky, Alex de Man, and Elliot Butterfield  doing “Henehene Kou ‘Aka.” (Also please note the wonderful  Kala ‘ukuleles donated by Mike Upton.) To everyone who made this happen, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Alex and gang Henehene

As a very small tribute to my most amazing daughter, Alex, (and until I can get my hands on an actual  recording)  here  is “Henehene Kou ‘Aka,”as performed by the late–and wonderfully saucy–Israel Kamakawo’ole:

StreetcarThis is such a charming song, with a delightful history. Henehene Kou ‘Aka(For You and I) goes back to the days when the Kamehameha Schools students would ride the street cars of Honolulu together. On one particular outing in the early 1920’s, Pono Beamer was taking his sweetheart, Louise Walker, on the new line along King Street from Farrington High School (near the first Kamehameha campus) to Kaka’ako. Louise had never ridden a street car, so it was a special Streetcar Waikiki excursion for the young couple. When the engine started up, however, she became ha`alulu(shaken)! Pono put his arm around her to calm her down and she  was terribly embarrassed– especially in front of all the other students–so she jumped off the car. Pono lured her back by reminding her that they were going to stop and get some of his Aunty Mariah’s  beef stew.  (That stew must have been VERY enticing because Louise and Pono eventually married and had several children, including the beloved Nona Beamer.) As the students continued on their way by trolley and walked around the districts of Honolulu, they began making verses to tell the story. Several of those kids later became well-known entertainers, musicians, and songwriters.  “Henehene Kou ‘Aka”was copyrighted by at least two of them: Andy Cummings and Webley Edwards. (From Haupala.org, source: Leilehua Yuen as told by Nona Beamer)

Here is a little tutorial on how to play “Henehene Kou ‘Aka” put together by Dominator. If you don’t know Dominator already, it’s time you did. He is the ‘ukulele student’s best friend–figuring out how some of our favorite artists play their best-loved songs and publishing the tab on his website. In this case, Dom has created a wonderful on-line tutorial for “Henehene Kou ‘Aka”as played by IZ. (Dominator, by the way, performed at the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival last year. He’ll be back  this year both as a performer and instructor.) This should be good fun for those of you ready to move beyond simple chord changes in your music. (There’s a simpler version for beginners posted under “Songs”.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you might want to try the solo:

New Songs

If you check out our Song Files you’ll see that, in addition to Henehene Kou ‘Aka, I’ve added  “All of Me” and “I Want to Learn to Speak Hawaiian” (so you can sing along with Bill Tapia) and “Aloha ‘Oe” (because every serious ‘ukulele player should know this one.)  I’m still looking for “Stand by Me!”  We may just have to wing it.

Have a great week and I hope to see you on the 31st if not before.  If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the new website for the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival.