Twelve-year-old Kapena De Lima, who looks like a "Mini Me" version of his famous father, Kelly "Kelly Boy" De Lima, has inherited more than his dad's facial features and solid build. He also inherited his father's love of music and talent.
Name targetedAlbum adds new dimension
Kapena for fame
By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin
Dad never expected that the boy named after a band would eventually become integral to the music, but that's what happened as young Kapena joins the 17-year-old band that was named by his grandfather because it's a simple, powerful name that means "captain."
"This is what I want to be doing my whole life," Kapena said as the group and its manager, Ken "KT" Thompson, celebrated the official release of the 15th Kapena album, "Electrifying," earlier this month with a six-hour party at Gordon Biersch that included performances by Koa'uka, the Ka'ala Boys, Sean Na'aua'o and two Polynesian halau.
Kapena the band -- Kapena and Kelly De Lima, brothers Tiva and Timo Tatofi, and Eddie Teo -- played a short set in the middle of the evening. Young Kapena, Tiva and Timo Tatofi returned to sit in with Fiji, Sakiusa Bulicokocoko, Wendell "Lau Lau" Ching and Ka'ala Boys bassist Rodney Bejer for the all-star jam.
It was a exciting night for Kelly and his wife, Leolani, who were proud of their son's performance.
"When we started him off at 10 he wasn't that great but he's 12 now and he's really come out of his shell," said Kelly.
Leolani qualifies that by saying that Kelly learned to play by ear, and Kapena had more formal training, learning first to read music, "so when he went on stage, it was difficult for him. It was not like he was a professional who could jam.
"But now he has his own style. It's gotten to the point where his father is amazed by the things he's adding to the music. Sometimes they'll be on stage and Kelly Boy will be doing doubletakes at him because he gets bored and can't play a song the same way all the time," said Leolani.
"He plays drums, plays keyboards (and) he's awesome! What he knows (about music) at 12 I never ever knew until later on. He's just exploding," Kelly said.
"He's doing really good in school by the way. He really focuses on his school work and I'm proud of that, too, being that I was a real hard-nosed kid and always got into trouble."
Young Kapena practices solo at least 30 minutes a day and rehearses with the rest of the group on Wednesdays. He says his father is his biggest inspiration and that he plans to take up the bass as his third instrument. In the meantime, since school comes first, he shows up at "about 50 percent" of the band's gigs.
"It would be a lot easier if I wasn't in school. You gotta go to school, you got choke homework, you got projects to do," Kapena says.
The boy made the local music industry aware of his presence in a big way when he blew away a crowd of local record industry pros at the year 2000 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards Show last May. He joined the rest of the band and jammed as the group gave the televised show a badly needed jolt of high-energy music with "Jesus Got A Hold of My Life/I Came to Praise The Lord."
With the official release of "Electrifying," young Kapena made his debut as a recording artist.
"Recording was fun. It isn't that intimidating because you can retake it if you mess up or don't like it," he says.
Kelly sees his son as his heir in life and music.
"I look at him to continue the group in the next generation," says Kelly, who also got an early start, playing professionally when he and Timo Tatofi were still attending Kaimuki High School. Kelly and Timo were sophomores when the trio represented the school in KIKI I-94's "Brownbags to Stardom" youth talent contest. They lost in the finals to a now-forgotten act from another school but decided to pursue music as a career.
A year later they were playing for tips at the Polynesian Pub in Waikiki. Two years after that, they moved to Sparky's and defined a new sound in local music.
The group performed as a trio in its early years before adding percussionist Elton "Bruddah E" McKeague to the lineup. McKeague was eventually promoted from sideman to band member. When he resigned it was on good terms with the others (he is currently a member of the Ka'ala Boys). McKeague was replaced in 1998 by Eddie Teo, then 17, a long-time fan who had grown up listening to the band but never expected to be a member.
Keyboards had been part of the band's studio sound for years. Adding young Kapena to the roster gives the band new options and new appeal in its live performances.
"It just blows me away (to have him in the band) and I'm really looking for Kapena to be the next generation of Kapena. I believe that it's in his heart and he wants to do it so I'm just grooming him, (but) you know that you're getting older when your son plays in your band!"
What: Habilitat's 30th anniversary luau and auction, featuring music by Kapena, Imua, Pomai and Loeka, Honolulu, 3D featuring Del Beazley, Nakani 'Ei, and more. On the menu will be imu-prepared kalua pig, lomilomi salmon, chicken long rice, beef luau, and more. Up for auction will be fishing gear, dive equipment, sporting goods, neighbor island getaways and Las Vegas accommodations.
Place: Windward Community College campus
Date: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $30 for ages 13 and older, $15 for keiki 6 to 12, free for keiki under 5. Family rate of $80 covers two adults and two children; table for 10 $250.
Kapena adds new dimension
to band's familiar sound"Electrifying": By Kapena (KDE KDE-6300)KAPENA fans will find "Electrifying," the group's 15th album, a worthy addition the band's discography. All the familiar components are in place: Kelly De Lima's distinctive voice and trend-setting ukulele stylings, the smooth harmonies of Tiva and Timo Tatofi; Jamaican rhythms here and Hawaiian standards there; Tongan and Samoan songs; and a pop chart oldie remake or two to guarantee local radio play.
The group has gotten more comfortable in recent years performing originals or songs contributed by other writers. "Ku'u Home O Waimanalo" is a fine opening track and expressive vignette.
"Electrifying" formally introduces Kapena De Lima as the group's resident keyboardist. The group has long used drums and keyboards in its studio work and while Kelly, Tiva (bass) and Timo (guitar) are still designated as "Da Crew," this album introduces the group as a quintet.
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