Hoping for a Hat Trick By Kekoa Catherine Enomoto, Maui News

The Maui News
Hoping for a Hat Trick
By Kekoa Catherine Enomoto, Staff Writer

WAILUKU – Three of five CDs nominated for the Best Hawaiian Music Album Grammy Award hail from Maui County, according to an announcement Thursday.

Oh boy, we’re still really blessed for the third time,” said slack-key guitar stylist George Kahumoku Jr., who is going for Grammy No. 3. The Lahainaluna ceramics teacher hosts the weekly Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Concerts that have generated the last two CDs winning Grammys for Best Hawaiian Music Album.

The awards event “will be a big celebration with all of us,” he said. “We’re all good friends. . . . We’re all connected together.

The Maui-related nominees are “Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar,” produced by Kahumoku, Daniel Ho, Paul Konwiser and Wayne Wong (Daniel Ho Creations label); Keola Beamer’s “Ka Hikina O Ka Hau,” or “The Coming of the Snow” (Dancing Cat Productions); and Raiatea Helm’s “Hawaiian Blossom” (Raiatea Helm Records).

The other nominees are Cyril Pahinui’s “He’eia” (Dancing Cat Productions), reprising some slack-key classics of his iconic dad, Gabby Pahinui; and actress Tia Carrere’s “Hawaiiana” (Daniel Ho Creations).

Molokai native Helm, a falsetto singer and first-year Hawaiian studies major at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said she plans to attend the Feb. 10 Grammy ceremonies at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“Oh of course, I can’t miss that kind of opportunity, because not too many people from Hawaii get that opportunity – especially for my family.”

Her own “record label started about three years ago. It’s pretty much a family-produced label with my dad, my mom and myself,” she said, referring to her father, Zachary Helm, who is also county deputy parks director.

“I am so proud,” she said, saying she feels she has a “more mature voice. My sound is really sort of blossoming.”

Slack-key virtuoso Beamer was in Japan on Thursday, but his mother, esteemed storyteller and kumu hula Nona Beamer, said from Lahaina she was “ecstatic” over her son’s nomination.

The 13 artists on the “Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar” compilation album include Maui residents Richard Ho’opi’i, Sterling Seaton, and Da ‘Ukulele Boys duo of Peter deAquino and Garrett Probst.

“I thank the audience for loving Hawaiian music, and I thank the world for accepting us as part of the Grammys,” said Ho’opi’i, 66, from his Kahakuloa home.

DeAquino, 23, of Waiehu said, “To get a chance to play with all these legends, it’s been surreal. To sit next to them and see the licks they play is awesome, so it’s just getting better and better.

“I’m just honored to be nominated,” added the Maui Community College student who is seeking a teaching degree and is an ukulele instructor for the Kamehameha Schools Maui summer school.

Seaton, 19, is a Lahainaluna graduate who used to sit and play guitar outside Kahumoku’s classroom.

“I’m really excited. I didn’t think I’d make it this far,” the MCC student said. “I’ve only been playing onstage with them – it might not even be a year.”

Probst, 22, sells cars in Kahului when not jamming with Da ‘Ukulele Boys. He hopes for a hat trick by his Maui no ka ‘oi colleagues.

“It’s a head rush to be nominated again. I feel really blessed to be working with a real all-star lineup of musicians on this project. . . . Hopefully we threepeat.””

Kekoa Catherine Enomoto can be reached at kekoa@mauinews.com.

© COPYRIGHT 2007 The Maui News.


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