Driving Lessons on the Big Island: My Hawaii
By Ben Pleasants
Can a song played at rush hour over the Islands of Hawaii cause car crashes? Can a song make you suddenly sob and shake and weep and completely lose control of your automobile while you are driving from Honoka’a to Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii? Can a song be banned from the radio on the mainland because it is too powerful, too moving, too compelling? Perhaps. I’m not sure. I’m still trying to find out the facts.
Let me begin at Sam’s Hideway in Kona. It’s a little karaoke place where working people go after their day’s over. My friend Charles Colman took me there on a Friday night. It’s in the Kona Marketplace just off 75 – 5725 Ali’I Drive, down the block from Uncle Billy’s Kona Inn. Charles said we had to go on Friday night, when Kimberly sings. I’ll give you the number, so you can check the next time you’re in Kona. It’s 808 326 7267.
Sam is Sam Kekaula. He’s Hawaiian. Robert Kekaula, his son, does sports on Honolulu TV. Kimberly is his daughter. On Fridays, you’ll see her pouring drinks at the bar while people line up for the free hot dogs. It was the third time I saw her sing, when things began to happen. Two of her cousins were there. Both Hawaiian. Kimberly sings in Spanish, English, Portuguese and Hawaiian. That night, pouring drinks, people coming and going, she sang one of her Hawaiian standards. She’s a very beautiful woman in the way that only Hawaiian women can be. Two kids have only made her more beautiful. As she got into her song, which was more of a prayer than music, tears came to my eyes. Like most Haole’s (whites), I am only partially aware of what Hawaii really is and what it really was. The longer you stay, the more you feel it. I was there for six months...
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