Blonde Highlights

Rick Hamada
By Roz Makaula
Friday - September 08, 2006
| Del.icio.us

LIVING IN HAWAII makes it easy to take the opportunity to hear and see a live performance of traditional Hawaiian music for granted. There are countless venues, (some free) which offer a taste of feel-good nahenahe music on a regular basis. But what if you live in Alaska or the Bay Area and are itching for something live?

Well, I found at least two answers to that question: Kealii Blaisdell and Steven Espaniola. Both are local boys and Mainland transplants - Blaisdell now resides in Alaska, Espaniola lives in California. Both are committed to perpetuating the Hawaiian culture and language through their talent of song. The two got together for some kanikapila at Don Ho‘s Island Grill last weekend where Blaisdell kicked off the release of his second album, Keeping It Traditional. Those in attendance also enjoyed performances by Weldon Kekauoha (didn’t he just perform at Na Kama‘s CD release party too? He’s a busy man!), Darlene Ahuna and Moke Boy. Before that night, Blaisdell and Espaniola had never met, but were friends, corresponding for weeks over the web via MySpace. After learning that each had a planned trip to Oahu during the same weekend, Blaisdell invited Espaniola to be a part of his party. Interestingly enough, both landed gigs on the KHNL News 8 morning show, just days apart from each other. Television viewers fortunate enough to tune in witnessed falsetto at its best, twice in one week and in the early a.m. hours - wow! Espaniola visited the Islands to promote his debut album, Ho’omaka, which means, to begin.


Another talented musical artist set to start on a new project of sorts is Jake Shimabukuro. The ukulele wonder is now a featured contestant on VH1’s Talent Load, a TV show and website that searches for America’s most gifted individuals. The whole premise of the contest is to find folks who are the best at what they do - whether it’s juggling, doing cartwheels, or, um, playing the ukulele. Jake’s newest album, Gently Weeps, makes its way into stores Sept. 19. A release party for the album is planned for Sept. 30 at the Hawaii Convention Center.

With all the various singing competitions out there, the one that seems to stand out from the others on primetime television is American Idol. The latest installment of auditions will soon be under way. At least one pop-star hopeful from Hawaii will be packing his bags for a chance to make it big. Let’s wish Kamu Brede good luck. Those of you who enjoy dining out might know Brede from CPK in Kahala.

Speaking of the kitchen, while there for dinner recently, spotted Maunalua‘s Bobby Moderow. We patiently waited for a table and planned to make a quick stop to say hello, only to realize we missed the op when we turned back and no longer saw the musician in the restaurant.


From food to fashion, I had a chance to talk story with style maven Shawnee Hammer, host of Hawaii In Style TV. Hammer told me that she and executive producer Julie Aragaki are on their way to New York for Fashion Week. The ladies have the exclusive Hawaii VIP film pass to see and tape everything on and behind the catwalk. They’ll be attending the big show with five local stylists, all from Aveda Salon and Spa in Ala Moana. Cherie Stamm, Ralph Malani, Scotty Geddings, Dayna Umemoto and Johnny Brillo were hand-picked to do the hair of models walking down the runway in one of the industry’s most prestigious annual events. The episode of Fashion Week is scheduled to air during the second season of Hawaii In Style TV sometime in October. You can see the show every Sunday on OC-16 at 7:30 p.m.

Now, a corrective Blonde Highlight: e kala mai to Augie T. and all his fans. The cost of his Comedy in the Community series is 10 bucks a person, not $5 as I mentioned in a previous column - still, it’s a deal like no other! Half of what you dish out will go to Augie’s Speak the Dream Foundation, which provides scholarships for underprivileged kids.

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