Friday, November 27, 2015         


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Kahauanu Lake's class equaled band's talents

By Ben Wood


IT WAS SAD to pick up Tuesday morning's Star-Advertiser and read that one of Hawaii's great singer-muscians Kahauanu Lake died Sunday. He was 79. Kahauanu was a good friend and the Kahauanu Lake Trio was one of my favorite acts from the first time I saw him, his older brother Tommy and Al Machida perform. The trio was formed in 1955 and performed at the Halekulani, the Kaimana Beach and the Royal Hawaiian. K, as he was sometimes called, asked me to write the liner notes for one of his Hula Records albums that was released in 1983. It was entitled "The Best of the Kahauanu Lake Trio — Ke Po'okela Vol. 1." Po'okela means superior, unsurpassed, the best, according to the late noted Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui. The K-Lake Trio was all of those things and it had class. In my liner notes I wrote: "The Kahauanu Lake Trio does not use gimmicks or amplifiers. They have no need for such things. They simply stand tall — perfectly groomed in white or dark trousers, long-sleeved aloha shirts and wearing fresh flower lei — and sing songs of the islands from their hearts in their incomparable silky smooth harmony that floats on air. Whenever Kahauanu sees a longtime fan walk in the room, his memory cells start percolating and the next selection will be that person's favorite song. That's class. Kahauanu learned his music from the elders. 'I learned from Kawena Pukui, Aunty Vickie Ii Rodrigues and of course my mom, Kuliaikanu'u.' The Lakes' late mother was a Parker and a descendant of the Kamehameha Dynasty" ...

OTHER RECENT losses include one of Hawaii's greatest athletes, pro baseball and football star Wally Yonamine, 85, who died Feb. 28. I watched Wally play football for Farrington High and went to school with his wife, the former Jane Iwashita, who was one class ahead of me, 1948, at Roosevelt. A member of Jane's class, Alexander McLain Jr., 80, a versatile athlete and pal, died Feb. 8. Alex was a retired Hawaiian Tel employee who played in my golf tourneys and loved to sing and play music. Alfred "Ah Sup" Hong, 92, a partner in Charley's Tavern, where I had my first legal drink and many more, died Feb. 11. Condolences to all of the families ...

"THE KING AND I" opens March 25 at Diamond Head Theater and the musical has already been extended through April 17. Perhaps one of the reasons for ticket demand is that "The King" is played by Paolo Montalban, who is best known as the Prince in the 1997 ABC/Disney movie musical "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella," opposite Brandy. He appeared in the 1996 Broadway revival of "The King and I" ...

DON'T FORGET tonight's "Sustainable Cuisine" evening on the Halekulani Garden Terrace, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., featuring a spread of isle foods by chef-restaurateurs Roy Yamaguchi, Ed Kenney and the hotel's Vikram Garg. Julie Reiner is in charge of beverages. Tickets are $125 and will be sold at the entry. Call 931-5040 for more info. It's a benefit for Kapiolani Community College's Culinary Institute of the Pacific ... Murphy's is celebrating St. Patrick's Day for the month of March by donating $2 for each pound of corned beef it sells during the month to Hawaii Children's Cancer Foundation ...

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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