Last year a couple of Hawaiian musicians touched down on the Vineyard for a brief visit. This week they are back for a more extended stay, and will perform for the public at the Katharine Cornell Theater on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 7 pm.
The father/son duo Mele’uhane play traditional Hawaiian music, as well as blues and rock ’n’ roll. Keikilani Lindsey sings lead vocals and plays guitar and ukulele. His son Leokani (Leo) Lindsey plays lead guitar, utilizing a style called slack-key guitar. The open-tuning fingerstyle that originated in Hawaii is achieved by loosening one or more of the guitar strings until the six strings form a single chord. The Lindseys represent the latest two generations in a long line of Hawaiian storytellers and musicians.
Keikilani and Leo first came to the Island to help welcome the boat Hokule’a — a replica of an ancient Hawaiian vessel that stopped for a few days on the Vineyard during its three-year voyage around the world in support of sustainable living.
Mele’uhane (which translates as “spirit song”) performed as part of a three-day celebration and educational event that took place last year on the Vineyard Haven Harbor in honor of the arrival of Hokule’a.
The father and son were impressed enough by the Vineyard and the welcome they received last summer that when Islander Sam Low suggested that they make a Vineyard stop as part of their current tour, they accepted enthusiastically.
Mr. Low, who is one-quarter Hawaiian, was involved in the events surrounding the Hokule’a visit last June. In 2013 he published a book about the Hokule’a and the Hawaiian renaissance titled “Hawaiki Rising: Sailing in the Wake of Our Ancestors.” His film, “The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific,” was screened on-Island prior to the boat’s arrival, and he took part in many of the activities surrounding the historic event.
Mr. Low forged a friendship with the Hawaiian musicians during their visit last year, and invited them back, making arrangements for them to appear at various locations prior to their Saturday performance.
“To me, this is sort of a way of celebrating the bonds that Hokule’a established between Hawaii and Martha’s Vineyard, and thank the people who were involved in the visit,” says Mr. Low.
This past Sunday, the Lindseys attended the Wampanoag Powwow to pay their respects to the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah, who hosted the crew of Hokule’a and built an ancient mishoon (canoe) to greet her — the first mishoon built on the Island in many years.
On Wednesday, Mele’uhane will sing at the Edgartown School’s parents and teachers night to celebrate the school’s outreach to Hawaiian schools. “The Edgartown School has begun to establish a relationship with Hawaiian schools with the theme of ‘Many Islands, One Ocean,’” says Mr. Low.
On Thursday, the Lindseys will be at the Tisbury Senior Center, joined by the center’s own Princess Poo-Poo-Ly ukulele band.
The final event of the Vineyard visit will be the public concert at the Katharine Cornell Theater on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 7 pm.
“The Hokule’a sparked a revival of Hawaiian culture,” says Mr. Low. “It’s one of the most significant revivals that I know of.” The Hokule’a was first launched in 1975. Last year’s round-the-world trip was the ship’s third voyage.
Perhaps the revival that Mr. Low speaks of accounts in part for the popularity that Mele’uhane have enjoyed. They have released two albums, and earlier this year, Leo Lindsey’s solo album was nominated for the Slack Key album of the year by the Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts.
Mele’uhane will perform on Saturday Sept. 16, at 7 pm at the Katharine Cornell Theater. Tickets are $15 in advance at Alley’s General Store, Island Music, ticketsmv.com, or $20 at the door.