Yamasato’s Playing Is Still Pure

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - October 14, 2009
| Del.icio.us
Jon Yamasato

It was 10 years ago when Pure Heart dominated the Na Hoku Hanahano Awards with four wins: Most Promising Artist, Best Island Contemporary Album, Album of the Year and Favorite Entertainer of the Year.

With each trip to the podium, Jon Yamasato, Lopaka Colon and especially Jake Shimabukuro were overwhelmed with emotion. It was a pure victory that left a lasting mark on Island music. Their winning self-titled album gave us amazing hits such as Bring Me Your Cup and Hey Baby. And they followed it up with another outstanding album featuring songs such as How Can I Get Over.

I met Jon, the lead singer of the group, back at UHManoa through a mutual friend and was taken aback by his vocal talent. In jam sessions at our on-campus apartment, the reactions were always the same. “Is that voice coming out of that guy?”


Jon has expanded his music resume throughout the years. In 2000 he collaborated with Justin Young, releasing Y2J. Around the time he also co-produced the talented duo Keahiwai.

As a huge fan of Jon’s talent, when I was getting married in 2003 I asked him if he’d provide the entertainment for our reception. And he was fabulous!

HAPA - Nathan Aweau and Barry Flanagan

These days Jon has channeled his efforts into his family and career. As the full-time dad of 9-month-

old daughter Nysa and full-time independent Realtor, he has his hands full. But he still manages to make time for the occasional gig.

As a board member of Aloha Chapter of Certified Residential Specialists, Jon has taken on the task of co-chairing the organization’s annual Wings For Shriners Concert to benefit Shriners Children’s Hospital. And, of course, his chairman duties included finding the entertainment.

And he delivered. The benefit concert, happening Friday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. at The Waterfront at Aloha Tower Marketplace, will feature HAPA (Nathan Aweau and Barry Flanagan), Dennis Kamakahi, Ben Vegas and Maila Gibson, as well as Jon himself.

Food will be available for purchase from Highway Inn. Tickets cost $20, with 100 percent of proceeds going directly to Shriners Hospital for its current renovations. To purchase tickets, call 733-7060, ext. 106. Tickets also will be sold at the door ...

The Pakele Lounge was the place to be last Thursday as Keale celebrated the release of his album Kawelona - Ride the Sun. He was joined on stage by special guests Danny Carvalho, The DAMNative Band and Don Kaulia.

“Danny Carvalho jumped up for a couple songs even though he’s not on the CD,” says Keale. “He’s just amazing and I hope to feature him on the next CD.”

This CD includes Hanohano Niihau, Sister, Aloha Kaeo, Pule The Sun, Nani O Kaala, Hiki Mai Ka La, E Ka Pua, Aia I Keawaula, O Kalalau, Sleepy Song (Might Be Me), Nalu Blues (Waimanalo Blues), Itsy Bitsy Spider, Real Old Style and Hawaii ‘78/In This Life.

On the album Don Kaulia and Kawika Kahiapo helped with guitar stylings, and Bill Griffin and Leslie Kline of the bluegrass band Saloon Pilots jump in on a number of songs.


“My cousin Keone Nunes, a tattoo expert in the traditional style, wrote the liners to give meaning to Kawelona,” adds Keale. “It is a Niihau expression for the shimmering of the setting sun.”

Keale’s first CD was Kahikina - Sunrise.

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