Alison's friend Ann Owens invited us to visit with her at her mom's beach cottage in Kailua on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Ann grew up there, but now lives nearby in Sacramento. So we got to stay in a residential area, away from the tourist hot spots ... and had an insider as our tour guide. Kailua is on the windward side of the island, along the northeast coast, on the other side of the Koolau Range from Honolulu. This means that you get the natural cooling effect of the prevailing trade winds blowing from the northeast.
Pictured to the left is John's sand sketch of a gecko on the beach at Kailua. The gecko is a small lizard found everywhere in Oahu ... which is good, because they have an insatiable appetite for bugs (which include monster 2" long cockroaches). A gecko foot gets so intimately close to surfaces that subatomic quantum attraction forces outperform gravity, and the gecko can easily climb walls and ceilings.
By pure luck, we found out about a free music festival happening the day after our arrival. This was the 25th Annual Slack Key Guitar Festival, being held at Kapi'olani Regional Park, below the Diamond Head crater at Waikiki. Slack Key - or kiho'alu - is guitar played finger-style in various open tunings, allowing frequent use of open strings in the compositions. We must have heard most artists on the island; each performer only had time to play two or three pieces. Most of the artists played solo acoustic guitar, but a few had ensembles of bass, ukelele, and lap steel guitar.
Pictured right is the group Hapa, with Barry Flanagan on guitar, Nathan Aweau on bass, along with Ernie Cruz on rhythm guitar. Hapa does more contemporary arrangements of the traditional music.
Alison and John digging the music.
Behind us are food booths run by local community organizations to raise money selling plates of native cuisine. This we sampled freely, with gusto ... gotta have trad food with trad music! Poke (marinated raw tuna), lomi lomi salmon (marinated raw salmon), seaweed salads, pork lau lau (pork wrapped in ti leaves, and steamed over hot coals), kalua pork (pork in an Asian plum sauce marinade, then pit roasted), chicken long rice (with rice noodles in coconut milk), and other goodies. Various kinds of poke are sold in the Kailua Safeway ... we did a smorgie of several for dinner one evening. Safeway fish was excellent, and all sushi-quality, smelling like the ocean ... unlike the fish counters here in Sacramento, where the smell of rotting flesh assaults your nostrils from 50 feet away.
Danny Carvalho's solo set knocked John's socks off. At the time, Danny was a high school senior, and Kailua homeboy, and oh yeah ... a virtuouso guitarist. John immediately ran to the music booth after his set to grab Danny's CD. He plays the trad standards with flourishes of blues and rock ... his CD includes a cover of Carlos Santana's Europa.
Alison and Ann study the festival program ... a necessity, because the festival lasted all day, but sets were only 15 to 20 minutes long.