Star-Bulletin Features

What do a
security guard—butcher—professor
—tour guide—travel agent

have in common?

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Piko Lakatani, right, at Polynesian Cultural Center

Ka Himeni ana

By Malia Rulon
Photos by Star-Bulletin

The participants in Ka Himeni Ana come from everywhere.

One is a philosophy professor at Windward Community College. One is a travel agent at Colbe Corp. Another is a butcher at Waike-le Sack N Save. And another is a security guard at Pioneer Plaza. Some are also students, working at the Polynesian Cultural Center for the summer.

But they all share one common bond -- the love of Hawaiian music.

It is this passion that has brought these musicians with so-called "day jobs" to the 15th annual old-time Hawaiian music competition. To be held in the ginger-filled Hawaii Theatre, this competition features pre-World War II Hawaiian music performed without amplification.

"It's probably the only venue in the Hawaiian Islands that features the voice and music unamplified -- and therein lies the beauty of the event," said Ron Loo, a professor by day and musician in The Sweet Potato Band by night.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Vicky Hollinger at Cambe Corp. Travel

Loo, who teaches philosophy, logic and guitar classes at WCC, calls music a "lifelong interest" that allows him to learn about Hawaii in a more pleasurable way than "simply peering through history books."

He is like many other part-time musicians who are able to enjoy the best of both worlds, playing the music he loves while maintaining a stable career. For him, music represents a means of enjoyment rather than a way to get food on the table.

"This music thing is food for my soul," Loo said. "It's a hobby that allows me to come together and play with others who have similar interests."

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Ron Loo at Windward Community College

Vicky Hollinger is another part-time musician who enjoys music on the side.

She's been playing the ukulele and singing since she was four years old and now, she plays with her son, Kawika McGuire, while her daughter dances hula.

But during the week, Hollinger is a travel agent.

Playing music as a hobby "really does keep the enjoyment level," Hollinger said. "If you watch some entertainers who just do music and only music, often times you don't see the same level of enjoyment."

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Rodney Aires at Waikele Sack N Save

Hollinger, who plays with Kawika, 23, for private parties and special occasions, said that it's wonderful to be able to contribute to the joy of an occasion through their music.

"That's why I enjoy it," she said.

Rodney Airas, Jr. and his group said they enjoy playing music part-time because it's "more fun" and "not so much stress."

"For now, I really like (music) as a part time thing," Arias said. "You don't have to worry about anything else except to go and play your best."

Arias said that although his group, the Rodney Arias Band, plays for parties and get-togethers, they all have jobs that keep them busy during the week -- he's a meat manager at Waikele Sack N Save, ukulele and guitar player Francis Kalamau works for the state Department of Transportation, and bass player John Mokulehua is a security guard at Pioneer Plaza.

Mokulehua, who used to play with Rodney Arias Sr. in the Paradise Serenaders, said it got to be too hard to do music full-time.

"Music is very unstable right now," he said. "There's hardly any places to play. ... It's not like before."

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
John Mokulehua at Pioneer Plaza

Mokulehua performs as a hobby. "I play for the enjoyment," he said.

That's why Aaron Kaonohi does it.

Kaonohi and three other college students from Kahuku met in a garage one night and just started playing.

"Eventually we got out of the garage and started playing for friends weddings and luaus," Kaonohi said. Now they play every Friday night at the Sheraton Waikiki.

"But we all have things we want to accomplish," Kaonohi said. "For us, music is an enjoyment, it's not a lifestyle."

Kaonohi is a Pacific Island Studies major at Brigham Young University, rhythm player Bruce Naluai is studying criminal justice at Chaminade University, lead ukulele Sam Langi is studying elementary education at WCC, and base player Piko Lakatani is a Japanese and music major at BYU.

"Family and school come first," Kaonohi said.

"Music is something we just do on the side for fun."

And so far, it's been "more fun than anything," Kaonohi said. "I just hope it stays fun."

The facts

What: Ka Himeni Ana
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Hawaii Theatre
Tickets: $6 to $20
Call: 528-0506

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