Ukulele Friends Hawaii

man repairing guitar

The outbreak of the novel corona virus has been devastating to many people, but one of the groups hit hardest are musicians whose incomes are largely from live performances. But if nothing else, at least one good thing happened to the ukulele community as a result of all of this. The ‘Ukulele Friends Hawaii group was born.

‘Ukulele Friends Hawaii is a Facebook group created by some of the most famous ukulele artists in Hawaii. The admin list includes Bryan Tolentino, Herb Ohta Jr., Jake Shimabukuro, Brittni Paiva, and Craig Chee & Sarah Jo—I am sure you recognize more than one of those names—and there are even more people involved in the group. When the Islands of Hawai’i locked down and closed their door to tourists at the beginning of the outbreak, the musicians formed this public group—originally to exchange information with each other. Soon, however, they started livestreaming their meetings to their fans and followers, and eventually the group became a window sharing Hawaii’s unique ukulele culture with the rest of the world.

For many people living outside of the Islands, Brother IZ’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” might have been an introduction to the wonderful instrument known as the ‘ukulele. On June 25th, the group talked about IZ, Isreal Kamakawiwo’ole during their livestream. Gaylord Holomalia, IZ’s manager and also a keyboard player in IZ’s band, was the guest and spoke about how IZ made music with him.

In these Thursday livestreaming interviews, the artists often invite their own idols, artists from the previous generation whose music and playing style inspired the artists who formed the Ukulele Friends Hawaii group. By listening to the artists asking questions, you learn how their music was shaped by their experiences.

The artists also regularly livestream on Tuesdays, usually without guests, and then you can enjoy listening to the artists banter with each other. They welcome questions about ukuleles and Hawaiian music and will respond to you during the livestream.

Check out the ‘Ukulele Friends Hawaii page to learn more and watch some of the archived previous livestreams while you are there.

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