Has Lei Day lost its luster? Restore Waikiki Shell concert!

May 1st, 2015

Is May Day still Lei Day in Hawaii?

Not so much today.

A key reason: The Brothers Cazimero, who made it a tradition to don lei on May 1 to join their festive hoopla at the Waikiki Shell, no longer stage their concert at the Waikiki Shell.


They did it for nearly 30 years, ending a valuable community commodity in the mid-2000s.  Now there’s no one — an individual or a group — producing an event that has the allure and ammunition like an ol’ May Day party like Robert and Roland Cazimero’s.

Remember? You’d work daytime, and anticipate an evening Lei Day show, if it was a weekday. A weekend was easier to navigate your picnic spot on the amphitheater’s lawn. The concert was always a one-nighter, on May 1.

You’d pack or buy your bento dinner, and revel in the Hawaiian music pageantry. Occasionally, hula folks would dance in the aisles and amid the throng of the lawn crowd. So the fun and joy spread from stage to the audience, an example of the aloha spirit at work.

May Day also had its own song, “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii,” a composition of Leonard “Red” Hawk, that was unilaterally performed and sung by school celebrants, as well as The Caz at the Shell.  But when was the last time you heard this tune? Do you recall its lyrics?  Can you still sing it?

The opening verse:

May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii

“Garlands of flowers everywhere

“All of  the colors in the rainbow

“Maidens with blossoms in their hair…”

Sure, some of you parents support your kids’ May Day pageants at school. But even these modest school programs — also remember those maypole dances? — are  becoming endangered species.

During my tenure at the Honolulu Advertiser, I used to acquire two lei on May Day. One to wear daytime at work, another for that night’s pageantry with Robert and Roland Cazimero, at the Shell. Their mantra: make a lei, give a lei, wear a lei.

The idea to get festive was a defining event that corralled both residents and visitors alike, to celebrate the music and the dance of these islands.  Thus, the Caz bros had the savvy and the integrity to summon their hula gents and maidens, their featured dancer Leina’ala Kalama Heine, and a notable guest star roster (always a secret, till show time) over the nearly three decades, for some serious sharing and caring.

For many locals, this became pretty much the only venture to Waikiki at night in a year. After all, the era of packed Waikiki showrooms, a cluster of movie theaters, and scores of new restaurants were reasons for an outing, but no longer. Surviving showrooms now target visitor audiences, the film theaters are gone, and locals just avoid Waikiki (you listening, you foodie truck fans?).

Lei Day was the kingpin of attractions in its time. (Sorry, Aloha Festivals, but happy you still have a ho’olaulea and a parade… and the still ongoing daytime lei contest don’t count).

The Lei Day gathering was “invented” by island artist and writer Don Blanding and Grace Tower Warren, who felt the urgency to celebrate aloha and culture. The tradition was revived in the 1980s when The Caz did the first one nighttime at the Shell.  The momentum and the magic made each outing a sellout, but the effort took time and money and a year’s commitment, since when one was pau, planning for the next began soon thereafter.

With the homeless crisis putting a smear on Waikiki, there really is an urgent need to put a positive spin on our beloved visitor mecca.  A Lei Day concert on May Day would be a quick band-aid, but it needs a new vision and a new focus — perhaps a project that the Hawaii Tourism Authority and/or the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau can support, enlisting the kokua of the entertainment community.

May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii, and ironically May Day is the universal call for help, too.

Help! We need restore Lei Day tradition luster again.



Roland Cazimero ill; Christmas concert canceled

December 4th, 2009

“A Cazimero Christmas,” the annual Brothers Cazimero holiday spectacle slated for a Dec. 11 through 13 run at the Hawai’i Theatre, has been canceled due to illness of Roland Cazimero.
Burton White, producer of the Christmas show, said that Roland has been hospitalized and diagnosed with pneumonia.
“We regret to announce that we have decided to cancel the show,” said White. “We’re doing it early so as not to inconvenience patrons.”
Roland has been out of commission all this week, unable to make rehearsals and also skipping The Caz’s regular Wednesday night gig at Chai’s Island Bistro, which was canceled.
“Naturally we all hate to disappoint patrons and seldom cancel performances, but we are all more concerned about Roland’s health and speedy recovery," said White. "This decision was made between Robert, Roland and me this morning at Roland’s hospital bedside and the tears in Roland’s eyes were testament to how disappointed he was that we had to make this difficult decision.”
Roland’s brother Robert Cazimero said, “The energies I was putting into the final touches of a great show are all now redirected to the health and well-being of my brother, Roland.”
There was no immediate word on refunds, but producer White, who has been discussing the matter with Robert Cazimero, said that’s a possibility that perhaps one performance may be a last-minute addition to the Hawai’i Theatre calendar, pending Roland’s recovery, before “Stomp!” moves in for a run beginning Dec. 22.
Options will be weighed, along with Roland's recovery progress, next week, said White, who is the theater's artistic director and manager.
White said the theater also had planned to upgrade and fix an aging air-conditioning system, which was to begin after the closure of the Cazimero show, and be operating by the time "Stomp!" launches its holiday run, so that's also a factor in rescheduling a Cazimero show.

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Cazimeros pace Na Hoku nominations with 6

May 26th, 2009

Like every other entertainment competition, Hawai'i’s Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards — see it live June 9 on K5 The Home Team, originating from the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel’s Ballroom — is all about numbers.
Who’s got the most nominations? Who’ll win the most trophies? How many categories this year? How long will the show run?
Here’s the picture, by the numbers:
24 — Number of categories in play this year.
6 — Most nominations logged by The Brothers Cazimero, fueled by their “Destiny” CD.
5 — Second most-nominated act is Pali, for its “...With Aloha” disc, tied with Howard Ai, whose “Kaleihulumamo” CD is right up there with the contenders.
4 — A three-way tie for four nods, with Teresa Bright, for her “Tropic Rhapsody;” Holunape, for its “Ahea? Ano!” CD; and Amy Hānaiali'i, for her “ ‘Aumakua” Grammy nominee.
3 — Number of nominations for Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole, for his “Kaumakaiwa” album.
1 — There’s a lone new category this year, Slack Key Album, enabling ki ho'alu strummers a place to compete; in years past, pigeon-holing a instrumentalist who sings, or a singer who strums, was challenging (where depended on how much vocals vs. instrumentals). The new division puts slack key efforts in the right place and spot-on limelight, not competing with, say, 'ukulele players. Ki ho'alu's time has come. And it has nothing to do with the controversy of the Hawaiian Grammy Award winners of the past -- mostly ki ho'alu compilations.
1 — Number of “Amerian Idol” finalist disqualified from the ballot. And no, it’s not Jasmine Trias, it’s Camille Velasco, whose "Guava Jelly," which was listed on the final ballot, has been deemed ineligible because it was a single, not a DVD music video.
10 — Number of competitors on the final ballot for Favorite Entertainer, each nominated in at least one key category; this is the only category with voting input from the general public (all other categories are voted on by members of the Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts).
2 — Potential posthumous laurels, to a single act, Israel Kamakawio’ole :& the Mākaha Sons of Ni'ihau for “Unforgettable,” which is vying in two categories, though the awards would go to the producer and engineer.
It’s anyone’s guess as to who’ll corral the most wins, and upsets are always part of the outcome.
As for duration, the Hoku Awards are known to ramble on and on and on.


Anthology Album:
• “50 Greatest songs of Hawai’i,” various artists (Mountain Apple), Honolulu Magazine, producer
• “Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contest Winners, Best of,” various artists (Hula), Don McDiarmid Jr., Don “Flip” McDiarmid III, producers
• “Kamalei: Keali’i Reichel Collection – Two,” Keali‘i Reichel (Punahele), Keali‘i Reichel, Fred Krauss, Jim Linkner, producers
• “Keys of Love,” Kapena (KDE Records) KDE Records Inc., producers
• “Unforgettable,” Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and the Mākaha Sons of Ni’ihau (Poki), Tim Mathre, Kata Maduli, Lea Uehara, producers

Christmas Album of the Year
• “Aloha Kalikimaka: A Hawaiian Christmas,” Maui Jam (Maui Jam)
• “Christmas Aloha,” various artists (Moutain Apple)
• “E Ola Ke Ali’i: The Na Kama Christmas Collection, Vol. 1,” Na Kama (Makani).
• “Kimo’s Hawaiian Slack Key Christmas,” Jim “Kimo” West (Westernmost)
• “Kohala Christmas,” Kohala (Palm).
• “Winds and Colors of Christmas,” ‘Ilima Rivera (Mahina Mele).

Compilation Album of the Year
• “Hawaiian Slack Key Kings Master Series, Vol. II,” various artists (Rhythm and Roots), Chris Lau, Milton Lau, producers
• “Hawaiian Style 5,” various artists (Neos), Pati St. John, producer
• “Live at ‘Iolani School Fair — Vol. 1,” various artists (No Hum Yet), Fred B. Li, producer
• “Love, Love, Love,” various artists (One Hawaii), Alika “Boy” Kalauli, Sherry Kalauli, Shawn Pimental, producers
• “Pink CD,” various artists (Island Soul), Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation, producer

Music Video DVD of the Year
• “Kamehameha Schools 2008 Song Contest,” Kamehameha Schools (Mountain Apple Co.)
• “Like Ocean, Like Lace,” Cheryl Bartlett (Akimbo)

Contemporary Album of the Year
• “Acoustic Beauty,” Tahiti Rey (Rey of Light)
• “Another Rainbow,” Jeff Rasmussen (Fat Katz)
• “‘Aumakua,” Amy Hānaiali’i (Ua)
• “Everyday,” Ten Feet (Ohana)
• “Full Circle,” Titus Kinimaka (no label)
• “Time,” Dave Tucciarone (Dave Tucciarone)

Hawaiian Album of the Year
• “Ahea? ‘Ano!,” Holunape (Roy Sakuma)
• “Destiny,” The Brothers Cazimero (Mountain Apple)
• “Kaumakaiwa,” Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole (Mountain Apple)
• “Pili O Ke Ao,” Kupaoa (Kupaoa)
• “Yesterday and Today,” Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai'i (Sons of Hawaii)

Hip Hop/R&B Album of the Year
• “Alive and Well,” King Kek
ai (Ekahi)
• “Connie,” Connie Cruz (One Hawaii)
• “Hawai‘i and Beyond,” Ryan Hiraoka (Rubbah Slippah).
• “Planet Earth,” Nigel Kauanui (no label)
• “Reborn,” A Touch of Gold (Golden Boy)

Instrumental Album of the Year
• “Contemporary Ukulele Instrumentals,” Kalei Gamiao (Kalei G)
• “From the Heart,” Noly Paa (Pali Winds)
• “Haleakalā,” Jeff Peterson and Riley Lee (Peterson)
• “Kohala Live,” Kohala (Palm)
• “Spotlight,” Ohta-san (Roy Sakuma)

Island Music Album of the Year

• “‘Aina,” Peter Apo (Mamo)
• “Dear Mama,” Darren Benitez (Fat Katz)
• “Force of Nature,” Led Kaapana and Mike Kaawa (Jus Press)
• “The White Bathtub,” Kenneth Makuakane (Makuakane)
• “...With Aloha,” Pali (PK)

Jazz Album of the Year

• “Aloha Monday,” Aaron Kaleo Agsalda (Esperanza)
• “Hawaiian Jazz,” Stephen Jones and Bryan Kessler (Wire and Wood)
• “Live at the Dragon Upstairs,” Ginai and Pierre (RVR)
• “Tropic Rhapsody,” Teresa Bright (Teresa Bright)
• “The Very Thought of You,” Shea Argel (Argel)

Reggae Album of the Year
• “The Bond That Binds,” Kawao (Jus-Us Kawao)
• “Free Again,” Kontiki (Kontiki)
• “It’s About Time,” Dani Girl (Island Soul)
• “Nothing to Hide,” Rebel Souljahs ( 000000)
• “We’re Coming,” Pohaku (Pohaku)

Religious Album of the Year

• “All for One,” Del Beazley (Mountain Apple)
• “Heaven in Your Heart,” Debra Lynn (Rainbow Rose Press)
• “My Generation,” SRM Worship (no label)
• “Psalms for Healing,” Wesley Taira (no label)
• “Send Love Everywhere but Now,” Anita Hall (Duck House)
• “Tiffa,” Tiffa Garza (One Hawaii)

Rock Album of the Year

• “Admit One,” Pimpbot (Pass Out)
• “Imua,” Imua Garza (One Hawaii)
• “Light You Up,” Kristofer David Gray (no label)
• “Many Classics, Kalapana Plays Their Best,” Kalapana (OTB)
• “A Sense of Urgency,” Upstanding Youth (no label)

Slack Key Album of the Year
• “Hanalei Tradition,” Doug and Sandy McMaster (Aloha Plenty)
• “Hawaii Island...Is My Home,” John Keawe (Homestead)
• “Kaowahi,” Ben P. Kaili Jr. (no label)
• “Paradise on the Ocean,” Doug Fitch (Doug Fitch)
• “Somewhere,” Danny Carvalho (Lava Rock)

Female Vocalist of the Year
• Diana Aki, “Kalihi” (Songbird)
• Teresa Bright, “Tropic Rhapsody (Teresa Bright)
• Amy Hānaiali‘i, “ ‘Aumakua” (Ua)
• Natalie Ai Kamauu, “‘I” (Keko)
• Ku‘upio Kumukahi, “Let’s Hula With Ku‘upio” (Ward)

Male Vocalist of the Year
• Howard K. Ai, “Kaleihulumamo” (Ginger Doggie)
• Del Beazley, “All for One” (Mountain Apple)
• Darren Benitez, “Dear Mama” (Fat Katz)
• Bill Kaiwa, “Na Halia” (Kaiwa)
• Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole, “Kaumakaiwa” (Mountain Apple)
• Aaron J. Salā, “Napo‘ona Mahina: the Illusion of Reality” (Hula)

Group of the Year
• Brothers Cazimero, “Destiny” (Mountain Apple)
• Holunape, “Ahea? ‘Ano!,” (Roy Sakuma)
• Led Kaapana and Mike Kaawa, “Forces of Nature” (Jus Press)
• Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai'i, “Yesterday and Today” (Island Sounds)
• Pali, “...With Aloha” (PK)

Most Promising Artist of the Year
• Anita Hall, “Send Love Everywhere but Now” (Duck House)
• Hapa Folk, “Good Fun” (no label)
• Kupaoa, “Pili O Kea Ao” (Kupaoa)
• Mānoa Voices, “A University Hawaiian Combo” (Hula)
• Dave Tucciarone, “Time” (Dave Tucciarone)

Album of the Year
• “Ahea? ‘Ano?,” Holunape (Roy Sakuma), Holunape, producer
• “‘Aumakua,” Amy Hānaiali‘i (Ua), Matt Catingub, producer
• “Destiny,” Brothers Cazimero (Mountain Apple), Jon de Mello, producer
• “Kaumakaiwa,” Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole (Mountain Apple), Shawn Pimental, Kaukaiwa Kanakaole, producers
• “...With Aloha,” Pali (PK), D.J. Pratt, Pali Ka‘aihue, producers

Song of the Year

• “Dear Mama,” by Darren Benitez, from “Dear Mama,” Darren Benitzez (Fat Katz)
• “Island Days,” by Pali T.W. Ka‘aihue, from “...With Aloha,” Pali (PK)
• “Ka ‘Imi Loa,” by Snowbird Bento and Roland Cazimero, from “Destiny,” Brothers Cazimero (Mountain Apple Co.)
• “Maka Ua,” by Myrna and Eddie Kamae, from “Yesterday and Today,” Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai'i (Hawai'i Sons)
• “Waiaka,” by Olana and Howard Ai from “Kaleihulumamo,” Howard K. Ai (Ginger Doggie)

Entertainer of the Year
• Howard K. Ai, “Kaleihulumamo” (Ginger Doggie)
• Darren Benitez, “Dear Mama” (Fat Katz)
• Teresa Bright, “Tropial Rhapsody” (Teresa Bright)
• Brothers Cazimero, “Destiny” (Mountain Apple)
• Amy Hānaiali‘i, “‘Aumakua” (Ua)
• Holunape, “Ahea? ‘Ano!” (Roy Sakuma)
• Led Kaapana and Mike Kaawa, “Force of Nature” (Jus Press)
• Natalie Ai Kamauu, “‘I” (Keko)
• Ku‘uipo Kumukahi, “Let’s Hula With Ku‘uipo” (Ward)
• Pali, “...With Aloha” (PK)

• Linda Ching and Toni Drake, “From the Heart,” Noly Paa (Pali Winds)
• Debbie Chock and Lori Nuha, “Napo‘ona Mahina: the Illusion of Reality,” Aaron J. Sala (Hula)
• Alfredo Garma, “Kaleihulumamo,” Howard K. Ai (Ginger Doggie)
• Stacey Leong Design, “‘Aina,” Peter Apo (Mamo)

• Milan Bertosa, D.J. Pratt and Gaylord Holomalia, “Many Classics: Kalapana Plays Their Best,” Kalapana (OTB)
• Kit Ebersbach, “Tropic Rhapsody,” Teresa Bright (Teresa Bright)
• Fred Li and Eric Kop, “Bob Tribal,” Bop Tribal (Pass Out)
• Shawn Livingston Mosley, “Altar Natve,” Millicent Cummings (Jai Ma)
• Shawn Livingston Mosley, “White Bathtub,” Kenneth Makuakane (Makuakane)

Liner Notes

• Olana Ai, “Kaleihulumamo,” Howard K. Ai (Ginger Doggie)
• Robert Cazimero and Roland Cazimero, “Destiny,” Brothers Cazimero (Mountain Apple)
• Gerald Kahula Hirata, “Aloha ‘Anianiau,” Leilani River Bond (Leilani)
• Kahauanu Lake, “E Hula Mai Kakou,” Na Leo (One Hawaii)
• Puakea Nogelmeier, Fred Krauss and Keali‘i Reichel, “Kamalei: Keali‘i Reichel Collection — Two,” Keali‘i Reichel (Punahele)

Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards
6 to 11 p.m. June 9
Hawaii Ballroom, Sheraton Waikiki Hotel
$115 for HARA members, $125 for non-members; $200 VIP seats available

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