Friday - November 03, 2006
The men of O Wai La and their wives at Gordon
Biersch: Kalani and Jason Mejia, Kauwila Hanchett,
Kahualaulani Mick, Shirley and Jason Shimizu
IT BEGAN AS an impromptu jam session among three friends at Kailua beach more than a decade ago. Thirteen years later, the men of O Wai La -Jason “Iakona” Shimizu, Kahualaulani Mick and Jason “Manuwai” Mejia - celebrated the release of their first CD compilation, Wehiwehi Hawai’i (adorning and honoring Hawaii). No, it didn’t take 13 years to make the album - that labor of musical love came together over the course of three years, while playing second to the group’s ever-changing and ever-growing lives.
(front, from left) Anna Gomes, Lisa Kubota,
Kolby Akamu, (back) Cedric Duarte and Michel
Cherry at Chai’s Island Bistro
“We said it’ll never be more important than family, but we set time for our music,” explains Mejia. That proved to be time well-spent as a packed house at Gordon Biersch last Sunday enjoyed the chicken-skin harmonies of the guys who met in Hawaiian language and hula classes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Mayor Mufi Hannemann stopped by for the performance as did Weldon Kekauoha and his wife Rona, and several members of the Honolulu Fire Department, including Mejia’s crew from Station 2 Pawaa - Chris Nolan, Chuck Spencer, Blake Takehashi, Jobe Lapinad, Bert Nakamura and Casey Ferreira. Opening tunes by the Waimanalo Sunset Band warmed up the huge crowd that enjoyed a 90-minute songfest by O Wai La - an extra-long musical tribute the guys dedicated to their families and friends who’ve taken this journey with them. Many thanks went out to Auntie Vickie Holt-Takamine, who asked the guys to play for her halau, Pua Ali’i ‘Ilima, shortly after “beach” meeting all those years ago.
Chef Chai, Lisa Kubota, KC, Roz and Ryan Segawa at
The guys say if not for Auntie Vickie, they may have never become a real band. That first gig took place at Aloha Tower Marketplace - sounds like O Wai La has come full circle. ... Another hot spot at Aloha Tower has to be Chai’s Island Bistro. The restaurant turned indoor/outdoor nightclub on Saturday night with go-go dancers and a Halloween costume party. “Nacho Libre,” the “St. Pauli’s girl,” “Arwen and Aragon” from the Lord of the Rings and others showed up to win cash and prizes from the event put on by Alan Yamamoto and the crew of Power 104.3, KC and Ryan Segawa. KGMB 9’s Lisa Kubota and Michel Cherry enjoyed the night with friends Kolby Akamu, Cedric Duarte and KITV’s Anna Gomes. Contest judges, Kubota, Segawa and myself had a tough time scoring the 15 entrants, but found a winner in Joel Shugart as Jack Black‘s Nacho Libre, who walked away with $300. ...
Kalei Akaka, Christa Wittmeir and Derin DeRego at
the grand opening of Prada on Kalakaua
Blonde Sighting: The grand opening of Prada’s newest store on Kalakaua welcomed radio jock Maleko of Star 101.9 and friends Tom Zoeller and Valerie and Leonardo Chavez (newlyweds - congratulations!). Also there were Lost star Daniel Dae Kim, Abercrombie and Fitch GM Josh Meibos and Clear Channel’s Derin DeRego. ...
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