Archive for June, 2014
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
I’m sitting at a gate at the Boise airport while I type this. We’re doing some traveling this week–and not work-related, per se. Well, I can’t say that; not really. I mean, even though I didn’t set out on this journey for “official” Accidental Hawaiian Crooner business, I can’t ever really stop working when my job is sharing Aloha. Right? It’s something that you just do all the time. Like breathing.
Traveling through an airport has become somewhat predictable. When I reach the TSA security checkpoint, I put my ‘ukulele up on the belt to be x-rayed. Without fail, someone always asks, “What’s that? A violin?” And I smile and say “‘ukulele,” pronouncing it Hawaiian-style: oo-koo-leh-leh, which normally leads to their eyebrows going up like question marks. Then I say it, again, but this time I pronounce in a more-familiar-to-western ears way: yoo-koo-lay-lee, and they smile. It gives me the opportunity to tell folks that I play traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music and they smile. Maybe they’ll ask another question (“Like Don Ho?”) or maybe we just leave it at that.
I give ‘em a shaka as I pick up my ‘ukulele on the other side.
Yup, even an action as simple as that is a way of sharing Aloha. A way to share a smile and just a little bit of love in what’s normally a stress-filled situation.
It’s an honor to continue the tradition of Hālawa Valley: carrying Aloha in my heart and planting seeds wherever I go.
May we all find ways to plant seeds of Aloha today.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Yesterday I had the great pleasure of working with NYC-based filmmaker, Allan Piper. We spent the afternoon together, filming the NYC-portion of the upcoming documentary, Return to Hālawa: The Life & Music of ‘Anakala Pilipo.
It was pretty unbelievable.
It started back in November of last year when I was on Molokai to record the soundtrack for the film. Matt Yamashita, the fearless filmmaker of the documentary, said that he wanted an NYC portion of the film. My first reaction: You’re crazy, dude. I don’t know the first thing about filmmaking. And I even imagine how you go about setting up something like that in New York City. No way.
Thankfully, Matt is patient and persistent. He explained that it would be awesome to show that the things Pops has shared with me are traveling beyond Molokai’s shores, that I’m truly carrying them out into the world and sharing and teaching. He asked about the possibility of filming me teaching in NYC public schools. Again, I said NO WAY as the schools don’t let us bring cameras into the classroom because the kids are minors.
(Who knew I could be such a downer?)
And then he had a great idea: I could do a talk-story/presentation, just like Pops and I do on Molokai. Nothing major–small and intimate. And it would be great if I could get keiki/kids there, too. The whole thing could be filmed.
And… in an ideal world, moments that were filmed on Molokai (like me getting ready in the morning, packing up to go to the presentation, traveling to the venue, etc) would be filmed in the Big Apple–highlighting the differences in my two very different worlds, NewYork City and Hālawa Valley.
I still thought he was crazy. But it was definitely worth a shot.
Finding a filmmaker to shoot the portion in NYC wasn’t as tough as I’d imagined. Especially when you know someone like Allan Piper, an established filmmaker and documentarian. I was thrilled when he said he could do the filming for us. And then we actually found a time that we could shoot it. (Coordinating schedules to meet up for dinner with friends can sometimes be impossible. I’m still amazed we found a time to make this happen!)
Once a date had been secured, I needed to send out an email to folks to invite them to the talk-story. Matt had envisioned something intimate like we’d done on Molokai. ”No need to have a big audience.”
I thought we’d be lucky if we got 10 people. Sundays are precious days here in the Big Apple. Folks cherish those few weekend moments and fill them quickly–especially when they have kids. I crossed my fingers that we’d have enough folks there to do it. (Or that Allan would be such a filmmaking wiz that he could make 3 people look like a crowd.)
Allan showed up at my apartment and we were able to recreate a lot of the shots that I remember from Molokai–even a scene where I’m brushing my teeth! I’m not sure either scene will make it into the final cut of the film, but I thought it would please Matt to see things come full-circle. This is how it happened on Molokai/this is how it happened in New York City.
He filmed my commute to the venue, including walking down the chaotic, traffic-filled streets of midtown Manhattan. A huge difference from Molokai where there isn’t a single traffic light. (*Note: At the time of this writing, there may be a temporary traffic light while they work on one of the bridges.)
And then at the venue… WOW!
A beautiful space in midtown Mahattan (lovingly gifted to us for the afternoon by one of the Crooner team, the fantastic Mariko Gordon!) with windows that looked out at skyscrapers and a park. The room filled up quickly with (count ‘em!) 18 people–including 6 young folks! Amazing! I mean absolutely amazing!
And the icing on the cake: we had beautiful blue, sun-filled skies yesterday here in NYC. Talk about a blessing!
The talk-story went really well–even though I wasn’t sure HOW I was going to craft a presentation that was family friendly, short and included enough interaction that it would read well (maybe even without sound) in the final cut. But I could imagine Pops telling me, “Iakona, just go as the makani (winds) blow.”
The audience was a ton of fun to work with. They were the real stars of the day. I shared stories about some of the animals we have down in the valley because that always seems to make folks’ jaws drop. Yes, we have cats and dogs and birds in the valley, but we also have wild boars, goats and lizards. (And sometimes you might find a lizard in the toilet–but that’s another story…) I even shared one of the songs with motions, a short hula noho (school kid-kine) that I’d written. An epic audience participation moment!
And then… we were blessed with a hula by the lovely Ms. Eleanor. She danced her beautiful choreography to my song, Healing Waters. Such a gift to have something like that captured on film. I wish you all could have seen the faces of the folks in the audience–all smiles and even a few tears. (Mahalo for that, Ms. Eleanor!)
Time flew by and before I knew it, we needed to wrap up and head home.
I’m still in shock that it all came together, all of those moving parts.
I can’t wait to see how it fits into the final film.
We’ll keep you posted.
(The next time I make a snap judgement and say NO WAY, remind me of this, Ok?)
Friday, June 6, 2014
It’s time for a new VIDEO BLOG post!
And this one talks all about 3 of my tried-and-true home remedies to make myself feel better when I’m sick. May they be of help to you, too.
*And please share some of YOUR home remedies with us here in the comments!
Happy Aloha Friday!
**Please check out our other videos on our Youtube channel:http://www.youtube.com/user/CroonerVideo