Friday, June 13, 2003



The Makaha Sons, from top, Louis "Moon" Kauakahi, Jerome Koko and John Koko.

Westside boys

The Makaha Sons play in their own
backyard in a fund-raising concert

Career highlights

Take a Walk in the Country

The Makaha Sons, with Ho'okena & Nani Dudoit, Kanilau, Paie'a, Imua and Kilinahe, with special guests Fiji, Robi Kahakalau, Sean Na'auao, Raiatea Helm, Del Beazley and JJ & Darlene Ahuna, plus Hula Halau O Kawaili'ula, Halau I Ka Wekiu and Halau Hula O Napunaheleonapua

Where: Makaha Resort Golf Club, 84-626 Makaha Valley Road

When: 6 p.m. tomorrow

Tickets: $20 presale, $25 at the door (children 4 years and under free). Available at Makana Resort Golf Club, Borders Books and Music at Ward and Waikele, Sam Choy's Diamond Head Restaurant and online at

Call: 695-7517

The history of the Makaha Sons starts, not surprisingly, in Makaha, and after years of driving into Honolulu to play an annual festival at the Waikiki Shell, they feel the time has come for town residents to come to them for a change. The trio of Louis "Moon" Kauakahi and John and Jerome Koko is presenting one of the year's biggest Hawaiian concerts in their own backyard, namely the Makaha Resort Golf Club.

"We're taking it back to Makaha, and it's like the Makaha Bash, but since that name is already owned by somebody else, we're just calling it 'Take a Walk in the Country,' " Jerome Koko explained.

It promises to be a huge show, with many of the Sons' longtime friends coming out to share their aloha for the "Westside." Net proceeds from the concert, and 100 percent of the money raised by a silent auction held in connection with it, will go to the Nanakuli and Waianae High School scholarship funds, the Officer Glen Gaspar Memorial Fund and the Arrianna Diaz Cancer Fund.

The Sons will also record the event for an upcoming album.

"We've got Ho'okena, Paie'a, the group Imua, Kilinahi, kumu hula Chinky Mahoe and his halau, ... Kanilau, and aunty Darlene Ahuna, Fiji, Raiatea Helm, Sean Na'auao, and Del Beazley," Koko said.

"Fiji's been in the stable with us a long, long time, so it was appropriate that he come with us, but it's pretty much going to be an all-traditional night, just trying to get the Hawaiian music back into the realm of popularity. Pretty much what we're striving for now is to keep it all Hawaiian -- we might get Fiji to do one Hawaiian song! That would be nice."

The Makaha Sons rehearse while Betty Wilson does an impromptu hula.

TRADITIONAL Hawaiian music has been the foundation of the Sons' sound ever since the original group of Moon, Jerome Koko, Sam Gray, and Skippy and Israel Kamakawiwo'ole came together as the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau in 1975. Moon, Koko and Gray grew up in the area, but another group was already performing as the Makaha Sons, so the young quintet added the "Ni'ihau" to both set themselves apart and acknowledge the Kamakawiwo'ole family's Ni'ihau roots.

In the group's early years, they were hailed as young traditionalists, and they remain committed to acoustic instrumentation, tight three-part harmonies and Hawaiian lyrics.

Producing their own major concert in a relatively out-of-the-way location is the latest in a series of carefully planned moves by the newly independent trio. They set up their company, Makaha Sons Inc., last year and have taken full responsibility for their business affairs.

"Before we had people doing it for us and we were just like sitting in the back," Koko said. "There's a little more work, but each of us has our jobs. I do all the managing stuff, John does the paper work stuff and Moon does all the music stuff and the halau stuff. Everybody has their work cut out for them, but it's been a wonderful year."

Old-time fans know that the Waianae coast was the site of the group's first big concert productions in the '80s before the group and its management began presenting an annual Makaha Bash at the Waikiki Shell. With the new company in place, the Sons bring their concert tradition full circle.

"I think it's appropriate, since we incorporated ourselves last year, to take it back home this year and have the town people travel out to our side," Koko said. "There's always a bad rap about Nanakuli (and the) Waianae side, but we're loving people out there and we want to invite all the town people to make the drive out there."


Career highlights
of the Makaha Sons

>> 1974: Skippy and Israel Kamakawiwo'ole move to Waianae; Israel meets Jerome Koko.

>> 1975: The Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau play their first official public performance at the Nanakuli High School May Day program.

>> 1976: The Sons record their debut album "No Kristo."

>> c. 1977: Sam Gray and Jerome Koko leave the group.

>> c. 1979: Group lineup stabilizes with Moon, the Kamakawiwo'oles and Mel Amina.

>> 1982: Skippy Kamakawiwo'ole dies and Amina abruptly quits; Kauakahi asks Koko and his younger brother John to help out with a previously scheduled gig. The improvised quartet is a big hit.

>> 1984: "Puana Hou Me Ke Aloha" becomes the first album by the new quartet.

>> 1985: The group wins their first bunch of Na Hoku Hanohano awards.

>> 1992: The Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau win the Hoku award for "Group of the Year."

>> 1993: After winning the group award for the second year in a row, Israel quits the group several days before their Makaha Bash concert at the Shell. The remaining trio becomes The Makaha Sons.

>> 1994: The Makaha Sons release "Ke Alaula" (The Dawning).

>> 1995: The album and the band wins five Hoku Awards.

>> 2002: Kauakahi retires from the Hawaii National Guard, and The Makaha Sons form their own business corporation.

>> 2003: The band will present "Take a Walk in the Country" in Makaha.

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