Melisa Uchida
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Friday - April 29, 2005

MUSIC and babies: that’s what’s “in” this week. Let’s start with music: Jimmy Buffett and Norah Jones were on the isle just days apart. Buffet performed at the Waikiki Shell; Jones at the Blaisdell. Despite decades between them, they’re similar. Hawaii is the last stop for both of their tours, and both have incredibly loyal fans. “He’s the guy every guy wants to be,” said Mai Tai bartender Eddie Agi. “He never grows up. He’s a big kid. I love that guy!” Agi is like a big kid, too. This cutie is single and, unlike Buffett, doesn’t have any kids. He’s also not alone in his admiration of the multimillionaire pilot/musician. The whole Mai Tai bartending crew loves the man who made Margaritaville a household lullaby. GM Francine Cekeda, manager Dave Braden with his girlfriend Sejal, and bartending couple Tina Ludlowand Heath Howard were all seen at the show. Maybe Buffett should write a song about Mai Tais in paradise … Jake Shimabukuro and Henry Kapono joined Buffett on stage for a few songs. Buffett also sang Hawaii songwriter Jack Johnson’s The Horizon Has Been Defeated. Johnson played for a sold-out audience on the same stage just days before … Also heard through the coconut wireless Buffett gave a private performance at the Hilton Waikoloa last weekend …

A FEW days later and a few miles away, thousands of Norah Jones fans filled the Blaisdell to see and hear the Grammy Award winner. Her duet with the late Ray Charles Here We Go Again won Record of the Year and her song Sunrise won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. She learned a lot about Hawaii in her brief visit. Her concert started on Hawaiian Time (about 20 minutes late). Jones greeted her fans with a big “Mahalo! … That also means thank you!” she laughed into the microphone. I think she might’ve meant “aloha.” Her hula was a little better than her Hawaiian, but she only danced a few steps. Her jokes were better than her hula. “I had an appearance on Sesame Street,” she said during a break between songs. “I had a date with ‘Y’ … but he stood me up … I think he was hanging out with his ‘X.’ Oooohhh bad joke,” she laughed to herself. So comedy isn’t her talent, but she does an awesome Napoleon Dynamite impersonation! None of these other talents detracted from the main attraction — her sultry voice gave me chickenskin when she sang Come Away With Me. “We love you Norah!” someone screamed from the audience. Another fan brought a lei to the edge of the stage,which she leaned down and gracefully accepted … She’s on the Foo Fighters’ upcoming album In Your Honor

MY favorite local reggae band Natural Vibrations wrapped its 23-day tour and headed home too! Fourteen shows across the West Coast … ohhh, scary fun! You’ll hear all the good tour gossip next week, and the details of their welcome home party on Cinco de Mayo (May 5) at Pipeline Café …. If you’re old enough to remember Kiss — I hear the tribute band Kiss Army is heading our way in May …

BIG bellies are also “in” this spring. The boom hit once celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Courtney Cox-Arquette and Kate Hudson caught the baby bug. Now Britney Spears? Here in Hawaii, Helene Mann is following in these moms’footsteps. She’s just as gorgeous and treating her pregnancy as Elle MacPherson, Kate Moss and Paltrow did — holistically. Mann plans have a natural water-delivery birth. She avoids dairy and wheat and has been a vegetarian since childhood. While Paltrow, Moss and MacPherson did prenatal yoga, Mann surfs. “She’s almost seven months and still surfing,” her boyfriend Terry Echols brags. “We really tried to position ourselves so we’d be home more when the baby comes,” he added. Echols owns a nursestaffing agency called Perfect Break Staffing. He says he’ll be able to work from home about 50 percent of the time. I have to say, Mann is a twig. Just like these celebrities, she hardly shows, except for her belly. There’s no bloating in her face, swollen ankles, or tired eyes like “normal” women. She attributes that to her healthy lifestyle, diet and being active. “When I get tired I take a walk instead of taking a nap. It gives me that extra push in the afternoon so I have the energy to get everything done.” “If it’s a boy we’re going to name him Little Kamehameha,” laughed Echols. “Aah, no,” smiled the mom to be … Michelle Kondo Ho is also pregnant! She and BOH’s Peter Ho are nearing their one-year anniversary and already their home is blessed! …

HPU’s cheerleading squad is recruiting (from left)
Jason Snyder, Christina Namocot, Matt Parkey,
Sierra Jenkins and Brittney Segars

MORE cheers — HPU’s cheersquad is recruiting. Coach Matt Parkey held tryouts at the YMCA on Atkinson. About 80 girls and boys showed off their back tucks, tumbling passes and some other maneuvers I can’t pronounce let alone spell. “Anyone can try out,” said Parkey. As I watched these girls get flung into the air, twist, turn and land in a basket of arms, I thought … Is he kidding? Apparently not. There are no pre-qualifications to try out. Judges included former cheerleaders Jason Snyder and Brittany Segars. They say they have high expectations. HPU is the No. 1 team in the country for Division II schools …

Mr. Huwel’s Intro to Engineering class, Sacred Hearts
Academy, with celebrity crew Stephanie Lum and Lani Moo
at the annual Meadow Gold Milk Carton Regatta

MORE fun — this time in the sun at the annual Meadow Gold Milk Carton Regatta at Magic Island. The traditional regatta was designed to teach students about health, science and design. The boats are made out of 300 milk cartons and plastic wrapping. Dick Huwel said his Intro to Engineering students at Sacred Hearts Academy looked for “proper buoyancy, reducing drag, and to win!” Their boat floated all right, but steering it was another issue. Personalities from local TV stations raced the boats, but only three of the four made it back to shore (in the boat). Mr. Huwel’s class was relieved the capsized boat was not theirs …

KECIA, former member of the Red Door Dancers, recently moved back to Hawaii. You might’ve seen her shakin’ her thang’ at the MAC fundraiser at the Wave Waikiki a few weeks ago. Now, you can catch her every first and third Saturday at Skyline at the Hanohano Room …

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