Geoff's Notes

Thu, 25 Mar 2004

Well, I'm a bit behind getting started due to problems getting to my blog site, but here we go. I flew from Providence at 6 a.m. on Saturday the 13th to arrive at LAX in time to reach Ojai for a 3 p.m. Sweet Chariot West show. Many of the folks who have been gathering in Maine on Swan's Island each August for years are now heading to Ojai for a late winter booster shot. Organized by Doug Day, who started the Swan's festival almost twenty years ago, this event on either coast is the best modern day vaudeville you'll find anywhere, bringing together an amazing spectrum of talent ranging from great songwriters to fall out of your chair comedy. My part is to supply some energetic chanties for march-in opener. All in all a great show for the public and an unforgetable party for the performers. We did another show on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and then hung out 'til late that night and most of Sunday singing.
I then flew from LAX to Honolulu on Monday morning. I was picked up and hosted by Tom Cummings from the Bishop Museum who is one of the cast for the ECHO Storytelling Festival. Monday evening, at Tom's suggestion, I went to the "Horizons" show at the Polynesian Cultural Center at Brigham Young University. Although the show is highly coreographed and dramatized, the dancing I was assured is traditional, and it was impressive. The show presents dance from the six cultures of Hawai'i, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, Figi and New Zealand, performed by students at BYU who must study three of those cultures as part of their curriculum. I will say that they certainly do learn how to dance!
On Tuesday morning, Tom drove me back across the island to Hanaha'uoli School. I went there last year to do an assembly in honor of the fact that my mother's first job as a music teacher was here at Hanaha'uoli in 1936. Last year, one of her student came to that assembly, and I can tell you that was a powerful moment for me. This year, as I walked into the open air assembly hall, the whole school (200 students, K-6) were singing "John Kanaka" which they learned from me last year. Wow! I then had a great time singing for and with them for forty minutes or so. I then did four sessions with different classes in the music room through the rest of the day. That included another astounding moment for me, when the sixth grade performed "Last Leviathan" for me, which they had taken from a CD I left with them last year. When Chris Mullen, the music teacher, first told me about it, I was taken aback that these kids would choose such a sad and powerful song, but their arrangement showed how deeply they had understood the piece. It brought me to tears.
Tuesday evening I flew to Maui, and I think I'll pick up there with my next entry. Aloha for now.

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