Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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'Hawaii Calls' recreation thrills with song, dance

By Ben Wood


The women of Koa'e Kea, retired Hawaiian Airlines DC3 hostesses, always put on an entertaining show, as all of them can sing, dance hula or play an instrument, but Saturday at the Ala Moana Hotel they called in stars to put on a "Hawaii Calls" radio show that brought the house down, winning a standing ovation. Just as in the radio show, the program began with the sounds of Waikiki waves rolling to the shore along with "Babe" Bell's conch shell tones, and wound up with the cast singing "Aloha Oe." In between, Nina Keali'iwahamana, Gary Aiko, Joe Recca and Hiram and Casey Olsen captivated the crowd of 150 with their music. Nina and Gary were given most of the solos and also did a duet on "Ke Kali Nei Au." Joe portrayed the late announcer Webley Edwards well, and he sang and danced hula. Hula dancers Jackie Booth, Likelike Davis and Janu Cassidy charmed the audience. Casey's steel-guitar solo was also big. Hale Ka'ohu Rowland had the crowd in stitches as she danced a very vampy "Sophisticated Hula" ...

...HALE WAS a workhorse. She was emcee for the night and was an event organizer with Koa'e Kea founders Abigail Funn Chong and Carol Mae Vanderford, and others. Many memorable Hawaiian and hapa-haole songs were sung, taking people back to the 1930s, '40s and '50s when the radio show was broadcast. But hits of later years, such as Keola Beamer's "Honolulu City Lights," sung by Gary; and Kui Lee's "I'll Remember You," sung by Nina, were also presented. To open the annual party, Naluhoe, made up of Vicky Hollinger, Kawika Maguire and Recca, performed as guests such as Lorna Kaeck, Lei Gould, Kalena Awa, Vivian Luning and her daughter Kanani Estrada shared the spotlight. It was quite a night ...

...STILL SWAYING: Patrick Makuakane & Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu celebrated "serving hula for 25 years" in San Francisco last month with a series of events ... Some of "Sunrise" host Grace Lee's interview with Daniel Dae Kim was shown on CBS' "Early Show" Monday to plug "Hawaii Five-0" ...

...DANCING ON: In the Traveler's Notebook page of this month's Town & Country, the Lani Kai, a new spot in New York's SoHo district described as "Trader Vic's for the '10s," is featured. It is owned by Hawaii-born Julie Reiner. The short piece by Eimear Lynch says "Lani Kai serves tuna poke and pupu platters," along with Reiner's drinks. A specialty with "tropical fruits and herbs" is called Leilani's Fizz, made with lemongrass syrup and "muddled lychee" ...

PARIS HILTON was on Molokai for about five days for a photo shoot and departed early this week. She was friendly to kids and grown-ups at Kamoi Snack-N-Go as they took pics ... Mountain Apple's Jon DeMello and Leah Bernstein were lunching at Stage Monday and Leah said Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's recording of "Over the Rainbow" has been No. 1 on the singles chart for eight straight weeks in Germany and his album "Facing Future," which includes "Rainbow," is No. 8. Those Germans know good music ...

------ Ben Wood, who sold the Star-Bulletin on Honolulu streets in World War II, writes of people, places and things Fridays. E-mail him at

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