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View Full Version : Hawaii Question - Where are the great Ukulele Scenes?



Braddtastic
03-05-2019, 04:33 PM
Aloha! I am fortunate to be planning a family vacation to Hawaii and am trying to choose between Maui, The Big Island (where I got my first ukukele), and Oahu to spend a week. I've enjoyed all the past posts about where the great ukulele stores are, but my question is a little different... which offers the best "ukulele scene"? I know there are many ways to interpret that choice of words, but with all the knowledge here I think I'll learn much more if I just leave it vague! ;-)

My life was changed spending weeks on The Big Island long ago, yet my10 yr old daughter has never been to the islands before at all, so I dont want to avoid touristy stuff altogether... just looking for some great ukulele along the way.

Thanks for any wisdom you can share!

Just Russ
03-05-2019, 07:59 PM
If you do come to Oahu, I recommend setting aside some time to tour at least two ukulele makers since they're all so different and visit both Ukulele Site stores (Haleiwa has a bigger selection where Kaka'ako has proximity to good food).

Brad Bordessa
03-06-2019, 07:04 AM
My money is on O'ahu. That 2nd Sunday thing HMS is doing at Salt looks great. Work your trip around the 'Ukulele Festival. Go to the factories, HMS, catch Herb at the Willows, Etc...

If you get to Big Island, Alan Hale in Kona is probably you best contact for a "scene," though it's probably just more of a weekly jam. Shoot me an email if you try BI and I can try to clue you in on what I know about.

Kimosabe
03-06-2019, 07:40 AM
I think what many mainland ukulele players don’t understand is that the ukulele is most often played as one instrument in a larger group which usually includes a guitar and a bass. Sometimes it is just used as another rhythmic instrument and sometimes as an instrument for an occasional lead solo or both. So, in answer to the question as to where the ukulele scene is, it’s everywhere on the island, just about every time any group plays Hawaiian music.

One of the better players I’ve seen recently played at Jerry Santos’ last performance at the Tapa Bar at the Hilton Resort in Waikiki. He was part of the extended Auntie Genoa family and joined with them when Jerry invited them up on the stage. Killer counter rhythms adding to the overall mix. I asked him his name but it was noisy and his name was a Filipino name that was too hard for me to remember. Who knows? Maybe I’ll run into him playing again somewhere or maybe never. Nice guy. Probably not a professional player. Too hard to make a living playing the uke. Maybe he just plays in family gatherings along with the guitar players, the bass players, the singers, the hula dancers, the family, the ohana.

gochugogi
03-06-2019, 09:22 AM
I agree, the ukulele is omnipresent in island music but it's rare to hear a solo ukulele performer outside of festivals, feature concerts and the YouTube. You'll likely hear more crazy good ukulele on a slow afternoon at The Ukulele Site shop when Cory and friends are practicing.

rainbow21
03-06-2019, 09:45 AM
It might be that you have things backwards. If this is your daughter's first trip (and your earlier trip was transformative), then you might consider evaluating which island (or two!) would make the best trip for the two of you. The islands are so different... want Honolulu and the big city experience?... want to see the volcanoes?... spend days on the beach?... etc. Once you make this choice, then find the ukulele scenes that will enhance this trip.

Oahu is usually my first choice, especially when I brought my kids. Honolulu offered so much in a small space (Waikiki, Ala Moana, Hanauma Bay, Pearl Harbor, Aloha flea market...) with a single rental car day to visit Matsumoto's for shave ice (and now the Uke Site!) on the North Shore. I am planning an uke-centric trip to include the Uke Site Sunday concert, tours of Koaloha and Kamaka (and maybe Kanile'a) and some of the live entertainment in the area. My wife said she would be fine with the shopping and laying out on the beach and good eating (especially plate lunches).

gochugogi
03-06-2019, 09:20 PM
https://www.facebook.com/HawaiiMusicSupply/photos/rpp.187734725862/10156337602390863/?type=3&theater

UkerDanno
03-07-2019, 01:48 AM
I've never been to Hawaii, but it's at the top of my bucket list, I'd go to Oahu just to tour the Kanile'a, Koaloha and Kamaka factories and HMS of course. There's also a Ukulele Club of Hawaii jam the first of every month...https://www.facebook.com/ukuleleclubhawaii/?eid=ARDqOWpcl0WqhPA0XMafnohukxxWGd-FKCiHIlgphOIqE39_URG3pZ4a04AhmcxYnbgQs5hlvAsLFDC2

I also would have to see Kapena!

peanuts56
03-07-2019, 02:09 AM
I've never been to Hawaii, but it's at the top of my bucket list, I'd go to Oahu just to tour the Kanile'a, Koaloha and Kamaka factories and HMS of course. There's also a Ukulele Club of Hawaii jam the first of every month...https://www.facebook.com/ukuleleclubhawaii/?eid=ARDqOWpcl0WqhPA0XMafnohukxxWGd-FKCiHIlgphOIqE39_URG3pZ4a04AhmcxYnbgQs5hlvAsLFDC2

I also would have to see Kapena!

I agree. Kapena is a great group to hear, Kelly Boy DeLima is a magnificent ukulele player.
The Ukulele Club Jam is fun, I'm on Oahu 4-6 weeks a year and go join their get together.
Led Kaapana plays at Honey's in Kaneohe. Though he's known more for his guitar skills he's also a really good ukulele player. You never know who will show up and sit in. We got to hear the late Aunty Diana Aki sit in this past November. Led's also one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.
Ohta San and Herb Jr. are also great to hear.
Jake will play The Blue Note in Waikiki from time to time.
If Willie K is playing in the area make sure to hear him. He's one of the 5 best live performers I've ever heard and I've heard everyone from Tony Bennet to Sting.
Message MMStan here on the forum and ask him who's playing. Stan is a very good friend of mine and we get together to catch a performance when I'm there. Stan also knows all the great places to eat.
Have a great trip.

Kherome
03-07-2019, 02:45 AM
Maui Nō Ka ʻOi! (Maui is the best)

If you haven't spent time on Maui, please do yourself a favor and do so, it really is the best of the islands! In Wailuku there is a shop called Mele Ukulele that you should definitely visit. The employees are great and passionate about the ukulele. They'll most likely be happy to jam with you and tell you where else to go to find the ukulele scene you're seeking.

Maui has it's own vibe and there is so much to do and see! Your daughter would love it. There is a place called "surfing goat dairy" that you should take her to (if she likes animals like most kids do) and get some sweet chocolate treats while you're at it. If you go during the time of year when the whales are there, there are amazing WW tours to take. The banyan tree park in Lahaina often has art in the park type things, and local artist musician jams. There are so many things to do in Maui! If you pick Maui and want to hear more about what to do/see I am always happy to talk about Maui!

KanePono
03-09-2019, 07:38 AM
Maui Nō Ka ʻOi! (Maui is the best)

If you haven't spent time on Maui, please do yourself a favor and do so, it really is the best of the islands! In Wailuku there is a shop called Mele Ukulele that you should definitely visit. The employees are great and passionate about the ukulele. They'll most likely be happy to jam with you and tell you where else to go to find the ukulele scene you're seeking.

Maui has it's own vibe and there is so much to do and see! Your daughter would love it. There is a place called "surfing goat dairy" that you should take her to (if she likes animals like most kids do) and get some sweet chocolate treats while you're at it. If you go during the time of year when the whales are there, there are amazing WW tours to take. The banyan tree park in Lahaina often has art in the park type things, and local artist musician jams. There are so many things to do in Maui! If you pick Maui and want to hear more about what to do/see I am always happy to talk about Maui!

I agree. I've lived on Oahu and returned many times on vacation, but for my peace of mind, relaxation, entertainment and recreation, Maui is the best. The Ukulele scene there is accessible and varied. Retail is much more limited than Oahu, but the uke stores in Wailuku (Bounty and Mele) and the Mele shop in Wailea are well stocked and in my experience, staffed with helpful and friendly people.

I met Arlie-Avery Asiu working at Mele in Wailuku. He is an accomplished Ukulele musician, Na Hoku Award nominee, and a most pleasant person to talk story with. Look him up!

Other Uke musicians frequenting Maui venues that I have seen are: Andrew Molina, Anthony Fluke, Taimaine Gardner, Herb Ohta Jr. and the fabulous Rock & Roll ukulele group, Kanekoa. Venues to check out include: Wailea Mall (free concerts and uke lessons), The Slack Key Show in Lahina, Nalu's restaurant in Kihei the Kihei Library and the Maui Arts and cultural center.

If you want play with others in a friendly, relaxed environment, 808Ukejam, plays on Thursday evenings at the Keolahou Congregational Church in North Kihei. You and your daughter can learn and play ukulele and hula with the friendly people there.

We just booked our trip for next February and look forward to enjoying music and beach on the beautiful Island of Maui.

hollisdwyer
03-10-2019, 07:31 AM
I’ll be making my first trip to Hawaii in late May to visit a friend who I traveled across the globe with almost 50 years ago and who lives on Molokai. Except for transiting through airports my entire week will be on Molokai, which I perceive as a bit off the beaten track. Any local knowledge available? I’ll be picking up a Hoffmann custom that is waiting for me at her house.

hawaii 50
03-11-2019, 07:12 AM
My money is on O'ahu. That 2nd Sunday thing HMS is doing at Salt looks great. Work your trip around the 'Ukulele Festival. Go to the factories, HMS, catch Herb at the Willows, Etc...

If you get to Big Island, Alan Hale in Kona is probably you best contact for a "scene," though it's probably just more of a weekly jam. Shoot me an email if you try BI and I can try to clue you in on what I know about.


Yes Brad 2nd Sundays at Salt in Kaka'ako doing very well..so far many of the great uke players have come by Bryan Tolentino.Craig and Sarah.Kimo Hussey.Led Ka'apana.Kalei and Corey,Paula Fuga,Andrew Molina the list to long already to go on....btw Chuck Moore came by for the Grand Opening also....Andrew and The Ukulele Site doing a nice job...when are you coming by?...:)

Braddtastic
03-17-2019, 02:24 PM
A big MAHALO to all of you who kindly took the time to respond to my earlier post. I do wish this site had a "Like" button sometimes. :D I now know that my family will be coming in to Maui in late June and leaving Oahu in early July. I've DM'd a couple of folks, and if any others have suggestions for Maui, Oahu, or the process of island hopping, I would really appreciate them. Thanks again.

Braddtastic
03-17-2019, 03:12 PM
Hawaii Tribune Herald
Honoulu Star Advertiser
Maui News
Molokai Dispatch

Follow these news papers on-line, they all have information about events and activities in the Islands. Not a lot of ukulele specific material, but a lot of general info for those who like local fairs and gardens and similar activities.

Thanks, Bill!

ukuleleabe
03-18-2019, 04:44 AM
Thanks everyone for this awesome thread. My wife and I are going on a trip this July. We're still figuring out what all we will see. Will definitely be on Oahu to see the Ukulele Festival on the 21st.

We might spend a day visiting another island, but we only have a week, so we're trying to make the most of it all.