In 2006, I went to Honolulu to build a ukulele by hand.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Come to Papa

Today was my day to finally see a little of Honolulu culture. My first stop was Iolani Palace, the only royal residence on American soil and the official residence of the last two monarchs of Hawaii, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. As a uke player, I take interest in the fact that they were both accomplished musicians. Kalakaua wrote the Hawaiian anthem--“Hawaii Ponoi”--And Liliuokalani wrote one you might have heard of: “Aloha Oe.” The highlight of the tour for me was the fact that Iolani Palace has a huge staircase made of koa wood, and I couldn’t help looking at it and thinking, “I could make a lot of ukuleles out of that.”

From the palace, I headed to the Foster Botanic Garden, which was nice, but there were no ukulele trees. On the way there though, I made an unscheduled stop at Hawaii State Art Museum, which I happened to walk by. It's the kind of museum I like. Nice stuff, but not so much of it that you get sick of looking at nice stuff. The weird thing is that the very first piece I looked at was a ceramic sculpture made by Vicky Chock. She just happens to be the only Hawaiian artist whose name I know, and I’ve only known her name for two days because it was two days ago that Mike Chock--the guy who’s teaching me to build a ukulele--told me about his wife, Vicky. Funny coincidence. And a nice surprise because the piece was wonderful.

After a stroll through the botanic garden, I made my way to the shopping center at Aloha Tower because I had heard there was a uke store there worth checking out. When I found The Hawaiian Ukulele Company, Cal showed me his ukes and played a few songs for me on his 8-string vintage Kamaka tenor ukulele before I bought a few books of music. And then another coincidence: As I was telling Cal how much I liked playing KoAloha ukes the other day, none other than Papa KoAloha himself walks in with a delivery of ukes. I took the opportunity to get a picture with him and to tell him how much I liked playing his Pinapple Sunday uke at the KoAloha factory.

And now I can’t complain that I haven’t been in the water yet, because I finished the day with an ocean swim.

[view today's photos]


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