This post is from Liz Uyeda, Assistant, Program and Production, whose heart will always be in Hawaii.
“We’ve never played in a thunderstorm before,” said Robert Cazimero when he arrived at the Filene Center. He had just flown in from Tokyo, Japan where he had left a typhoon, or so he thought. It was a dark and stormy afternoon in Vienna, Virginia, but one thing was clear, no amount of lightning and thunder was going to dampen the aloha spirit of these performers.
In Hawaii we talk a lot about the aloha spirit, but what is it really? It can be as big as stopping to help a complete stranger to something small like sharing a smile with someone on the street. The aloha spirit is a warm infectious energy that Robert, Roland, Noland and their dancers were kind enough to share with us on a very wet evening.
Brother Noland was the first to causally take the stage. Grinning with his bright blue guitar in hand Noland greeted the audience and promptly removed his slippers (which is the Hawaiian term for “flip-flops”). No local boy can properly jam with shoes on. As a native of the Big Island of Hawaii, Noland shared stories of his home. He regaled the audience with the story of his “Hawaiian swimming lesson” which was about his father taking the kids out into Waimea Bay on a boat and throwing them into the ocean until they “figured it out.” He told stories about waterfall inspired chords, about surfing, and finally closed his set with an unforgettable performance of his song “Coconut Girl.” Some of you may remember this song from the Pineapple Express soundtrack or if you have never heard it before, check it out below. But be warned, it will get stuck in your head.
When the Brothers Cazimero took the stage with their dancers, the soggy crowd greeted them with an enthusiastic “Alooooooha!” For those of us from Hawaii, listening to the brothers and watching their dancers perform is like returning home. Roland and Robert didn’t even stop playing when the rain, for a few seconds, took out the power. Remember when I said nothing was going to dampen their spirits?
The Brothers invited Brother Noland for one last song together, a personal favorite of mine, “Pu Pu Hinu Hinu.” I think we’ve all had the experience of putting pearly white shells up to our ears at the beach, to listen to the ocean waves. This was the first Hawaiian song I learned to sing, when I was in preschool, waving shiny shells in both hands. It was a beautiful way to close an evening together.
When the show closed it was time to say goodbye. There is no such thing as a quick goodbye in Hawaii. You have to say mahalo (thank you) about 50 times, give about 60 hugs, and about 100 kisses. Then you’ll be close. It was hard for me to watch them leave but I know it’s not a real goodbye. It’s what we say in Hawaii “aloha a hui hou,” “until we meet again.”