Jazz guitarist Jeff Linsky will pay tribute to the residents of Kalaupapa at a concert Saturday at the Doris Duke Theatre.
World-touring guitarist’s heart stays in Kalaupapa
Jazz guitarist Jeff Linsky has toured the world over. As he puts it, he frequents "impressive concert halls in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. For one recent engagement, (my wife Lisa and I) spent an entire month in an overwater bungalow at the St. Regis Bora Bora.
JEFF LINSKY: KA 'OHANA O KALAUPAPA
Place: The Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Time: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $30 general and $25 Academy members
Call: 532-8700 or visit www.honoluluacademy.org
Ka 'Ohana O Kalaupapa
"I've played Brazilian music in Brazil, French music in France, Japanese music in Japan, etc. Yet, I've never had a more rewarding and appreciative audience than our friends in Kalaupapa."
In fact, his experiences performing at the former Hansen's disease settlement have been so moving that, at Linsky's latest concert at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, he will pay tribute to his friends on Molokai. Linsky will share with audiences the workings of the nonprofit Ka 'Ohana O Kalaupapa, an organization that highlights the dignity of all patients exiled to the island peninsula dating back to 1866.
The guitarist has invited some old friends to join him on stage: pianist Rich Crandall and singer Jimmy Borges, whom Linsky hopes will make the gig in spite of his busy performance calendar. Makana, a fan of Linsky's, also will be a special guest.
LINSKY, already an established guitarist on the Los Angeles scene when he was just a teenager, decided at the age of 19 that he wanted to live in Hawaii. Writing via e-mail while on his way to a gig at a private event in Pebble Beach, Calif., Linsky said, "I arrived in Honolulu in 1972, and although I continued to travel around the world, I kept a home in Hawaii until 1988.
"During those early years in Hawaii, I had heard of the famous Kalaupapa settlement on Molokai, but never visited there. It wasn't until just a few years ago, during one of our yearly concert trips to Hawaii, that my good friend Sonny Silva told us about his cousin Olivia in Kalaupapa. Olivia Breitha had written a famous autobiography entitled 'Olivia: My Life of Exile in Kalaupapa.'
"When my wife Lisa was a little girl in Catholic school, she had raised money in the name of Father Damien for the patients of Kalaupapa. When we learned about Olivia and read her book, we were inspired to visit Kalaupapa and hoped to share the gift of music with the patients there. Thanks to Sonny and Olivia, we were sponsored in for a special concert," he continued.
"Sadly, on the day we arrived in Molokai, Olivia passed away. We went on with the concert in her honor, and began our friendship with the patients and (kupuna) of Kalaupapa."
The guitarist has written a composition called "Kalaupapa" to honor its residents, a lovely piece that includes some familiar slack-key motifs amongst his usual Latin- and Brazilian-influenced playing. Linsky also donates CD royalties to Ka 'Ohana O Kalaupapa.
"The first time I performed in McVeigh Hall in Kalaupapa was inspirational," he said. "When you see a woman in a wheelchair before you, visibly ravaged by a difficult disease, with no fingers, bandaged feet and very little vision, and she is smiling and swaying to the music, doing the hula in her wheelchair (and) wearing her pink Las Vegas visor -- I'm telling you, she just couldn't be any more beautiful or darling."