Wood Craft

By Ben Wood

Saturday, September 5, 1997

Luahine statue
to be dedicated

A statue of legendary hula dancer Iolani Luahine by Kim Duffett will be dedicated Tuesday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where Luahine performed in the 1950s. Iolani's niece, Hoakalei Kamau'u, and Hilton executives Peter Schall and Noel Trainor are inviting guests to the ceremony. Luahine, easily one of Hawaii's greatest dancers if not the greatest, died in 1978 at 63. When Sterling Mossman made a comeback in 1972 at a club on Kapiolani, he asked Iolani to help him with his opening. She enthralled the audience with her incomparable artistry. After she did two shows, young hula dancers gave her flowers, leis and fruit in tribute. After that, Iolani wanted some pau hana drinks, but it was late and the club was closing. So she and I went to my place for drinks. I put recordings featuring Gabby Pahinui, Sonny Chillingworth, Atta Isaacs and Eddie Kamae on the turntable. When the music started, Iolani fell silent and a distant look came to her eyes. Then she sprang up and started dancing to the music. I was in awe. She danced song after song, even to really fast numbers such as "Palolo." I was blown away by the incredible experience. As daylight began to peak through the darkness, she ended my personal dance concert. I thanked her, walked her to her car and she drove away. I never saw Iolani again ...

Steel guitars at Halekulani

FOR me, today's reigning Waikiki hula queen is Kanoe Miller, who performs at the Halekulani's House Without a Key daily, starting around sunset. Kanoe is backed by some of Hawaii's finest musician-singers, including steel guitarists. The Halekulani presents Aloha Festivals Steel Guitar Week at the House Without a Key starting next Saturday through Sept. 21, with top steel guitarists ... Connie Kissinger sang with Kit Samson at the Ala Moana Hotel last week ... The Over the Hill Jass Band starts playing at Cisco's Sept. 16, at 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays ...

DANCING ON: Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews in the Star-Bulletin carry plenty weight. She gave Palomino a glowing review on Aug. 28, and said the downtown eatery's paella was the best she has ever tasted. The next day, the demand for paella was so great that Palomino ran out of it during lunch. And the joint was really jumping that evening, with guests such as Mayor Jeremy and Ramona Harris and chef/restaurateurs Jeremiah Tower from San Francisco's Stars and Kelvin Ro of Kahala Moon. Even Eddie Niemeyer of Palomino's sister eatery, Ryan's, came by for dinner ...

HOKU'S at the Kahala Mandarin opened its Oyster Celebration yesterday, featuring oysters presented in a variety of ways. It runs through Tuesday ... Aloha Festivals fashions will be shown at the Mandarin's fashion show luncheon Thursday ...

JACK and Ann Simpson are making plans for Kathryn Murray's 91st birthday on Sept. 15. Ann said they will have a little celebration for Kathryn at Swiss Inn tomorrow, just before before the Inn closes for a month's vacation, and also have her up to the Simpson home for dinner on the 15th with Dr. George and Juanita Ewing ...

VonAppen calls perfect play

UH football coach Fred vonAppen showed he's a big man by visiting Gov. Ben Cayetano in the hospital and ending their feud over a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. The guv was hospitalized this week with a bleeding ulcer and the coach called the perfect play by going to the hospital and giving him the Pepto ... VonAppen, his staff and the 'Bows deserve a mighty high five for their 17-3 upset over Minnesota. And I can't say enough about Eddie Klaneski ...

Ben Wood, who sold the Star-Bulletin in the streets
of downtown Honolulu during World War II, writes of people,
places and things every Saturday.

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