Melveen’s Weekly Gig; Ukulele Fest

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - July 07, 2010
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Melveen Leed celebrates her birthday this month plus a new weekly show at the The International Marketplace

Even a broken foot can’t slow down Melveen Leed.

Last week the charming Molokai-born talent took to the stage at The International Marketplace for the first performance of her new weekly show just after breaking her leg during a recent trip to California.

“A broken foot is not going to stop me from performing - my mouth is not broken,” says Da Tita.

The new gig every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. is exactly what Leed was hoping for - a place where the kupuna could come, is free and open to the public, has good food and plenty of parking.


 

Leed’s repertoire, accompanied by Tito Berinobis on guitar, includes genres that span the world, including country-western, jazz, contemporary, Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino and even African. Guests can expect nothing less than a good-fun time.

“My show is never a set performance. I go according to my audience and I know exactly how to pace it,” says Leed. “I never know what kind of songs I’m going to do. All I know is I’m going to pull out all the old songs that they remember.”

Roy Sakuma (left) and his mentor Herb “Ohta-San” Ohta

Rounding out her weekend, Leed spends her Sundays at Chai’s Island Bistro performing from 6 to 8 nightly. And it’s where she’ll be celebrating her birthday July 18.

She has a few things to fill up her weekdays, too: A new jazz CD, her “dream concert” at Hawaii Theatre (Sept. 11) and a book titled Been There ... Done That.

“Now that I have my iPad I’m hoping to finish my book by the end of this year,” says Leed. “It’s going to have a lot of advice for women because I’ve been married five times. It will be about relationships, my life and my career rolled into one.”

For more about Melveen’s many projects and performances, visit her at melveenleed.net ...

Also celebrating a birthday this month is the Ukulele Festival - 40 years, to be exact.

Presented by Ukulele Festival Hawaii, this year’s international ukulele celebration happens Sunday, July 18, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Kapiolani Park Bandstand.

“The glue that has made this event successful is that it’s remained free and it’s established itself as a wonderful family event,” says Roy Sakuma, founder of the festival.

Jake Shimabukuro joins the lineup of musicians at the 40th annual Ukulele Festival

Keeping the festival free to everyone hasn’t been an easy feat with performances by some of the best in the business. Taking the stage this year are Jake Shimabukuro, Cecilio & Kapono, James Hill, Ohta-San, Herb Ohta Jr., Bryan Tolentino and Natalie Ai Kamauu, to name a few.

Of course, 800 ukulele students - mainly children - will perform a medley of popular tunes and, for the 39th straight year, Danny Kaleikini will serve as emcee.

The festival also will feature ukulele displays, food booths, ukulele giveaways and free shuttle service 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Kapiolani Community College.

“We’ve expanded in the sense that we’re having a booth where people can go to play the ukulele, we’re going to have bouncers for the kids and we’ll have more food,” says Sakuma. “We’re trying to make it more festive.”

When he created the festival 40 years ago, one of Sakuma’s core beliefs was for it to be free to everyone, and he’s stuck by that promise.

“In the past we’ve had different corporate sponsors, but instead this year we’re having the gala to help fund the event - it’s going to be a lot of fun.”


The fundraising gala with dinner, live entertainment and a silent auction is at 5:30 p.m. July 16 in Ala Moana Hotel’s Hibiscus Ballroom. The evening’s entertainment lineup features Kaleikini, Shimabukuro, Ohta-San and Kamauu.

“We are hoping the community will join us for a fabulous evening to help us keep the ukulele festival free to the public for many years to come,” says Sakuma.

Tickets cost $65 and table sponsorships (10 seats) are available for $1,200, $3,000 and $5,000. For reservations or more information about the gala or the festival, call 486-0546 or visit ukulelefestivalhawaii.org.

 

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