For the second year in a row I had the honor of playing at the Waikoloa ‘Ukulele Festival. This year was the 19th annual event and took place this past Saturday, March 2nd.
I’ve been going to the fest for over a decade and it’s always been (and continues to be) a huge source of inspiration for me. Watching these awesome players is what makes me go home and practice! Roy Sakuma has my eternal gratitude for bringing so many great artists to Hawai’i Island over the years.
This year featured John Keawe, Kris Fuchigami, Kalei Gamiao, Free and Easy, and Herb Ohta Jr., among others. I didn’t get to check out as many sets as I would have liked due to preparing for my own time slot on stage.
I played on the Island Gourmet stage under the lovely tree at the West end of the Queens’ Shops. My set was more patient than last year, highlighting some of my Hawaiian tunes and some originals from If Only. I got some positive feedback from listeners after the show which is always reassuring!
But the highlight for me was seeing my mentor and friend, Herb Ohta Jr. He finished up the festival on the main stage with a sleepy selection of stunning ʻukulele instrumentals. I don’t now if I’ve ever seen him play solo. He sounded great despite being jet-lagged from a recent Japan trip.