Saturday, June 6, 2009

Keiki Palaka Band and Friends

Uncle Mel and Aunty Lynn Murata are a wonderful couple who truly embody the soul of Aloha. For thirteen years Uncle Mel has taught and led the Keiki Palaka Band ("KPB") out of first Waimanalo and now Kailua Elementary.

Aunty Lynn retired last year as the cafeteria head of Enchanted Lakes Elementary. Uncle Mel heads up the Kailua Elementary cafeteria. These people know FOOD and MUSIC. All year round they host a number of luaus not as fundraisers but to showcase both their keiki band who sing and play 'ukulele and also Hawaiian music legends. These are the kupuna musicians who have made a mark on Hawaiian music. The idea was the Muratas wanted the keiki to get to know and appreciate prior generations of musicians. Everything is done on a strictly volunteer basis.

I just returned from an all-day invitational luau or pa'ina, the Kanikapila 2009, for friends and supporters of the KPB. The food you ask? Kalua pig, chicken long rice, squid luau, lomi salmon, sweet potato, poi, rice, haupia, pineapple, banana muffin, 'ahi poke, fried fish, smoke meat, edamame, pickle onion and drinks. The music which lasted three hours? The KPB headed by Uncle Mel, Nicki Haines, Aunty Momi, Aunty Cissy, Eddie Kamae, Audrey Meyers, many others and impromptu hula by those in the audience called upon by Aunty Nicki. The price of a ticket? Twelve dollars (which only barely covers the food) and undying support of these kids which just comes naturally.

I have in my mind's eye a couple of sweet images from today's luau. There was an elderly woman who in very kolohe fashion, was gently tickling her guy friend across the table using the tip of a laua'e leaf. He was trying hard to ignore her. Another woman was unravelling and redoing her friend's upswept hairdo which carried a garden of gardenias. She was doing this so that she could share some of the gardenias with their other friends around the table.

Earlier this morning during the food prep I had a cup of coffee in one hand, I'd just finished an all butter, old school, cafeteria-style, shortbread cookie and a big slice of Paula Deen's Mt. Dew Pound cake made by Tracy. The guys were rehearsing so I was eating to rousing live Hawaiian music. Radford, one of the cooks from Ench. Lakes, offered me a sizzzzling hot early morning pupu of Korean fish directly from the hot wok. My kind of breakfast. That reminded me of a luau prep at 7:00 a.m. on Molokai, four years ago. We were sitting at a picnic table at a park pavillion. I had my ever-present cup of coffee and my hands were busily separating sticky crab from cartilage. My friend, Ruthie Naki Manu asked me if I'd had breakfast, I motioned "No". So, she obligingly popped chunks of local LOBSTER in my mouth. That's what I call a Breakfast of Champions.

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