Kahulanui to bring Hawaiian swing to Temecula

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Kahulanui will bring Hawaiian swing music from the Big Island of Hawaii to the Old Town Temecula Community Theater Wednesday, March 4. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Kahulanui, which means “The Big Dance,” has been crowned The Hawaiian Kings of Swing and the nine-piece Hawaiian Swing Band from the Big Island of Hawaii will visit the Old Town Temecula Community Theater Wednesday, March 4.

Known for their innovative and creative arrangements, Kahulanui will visit Temecula for the first time and take audiences on a trip back in time with a form of music that blends Hawaiian music with American jazz.

“It has its own unique sound and makes you want to do the hula and the jitterbug at the same time,” Scarlet Eskildsen, the band’s manager, said.

“During the World War II era, American servicemen and entertainers in Hawaii brought with them a love of the big band swing music popular at the time,” she said. “Hawaiian musicians melded the sounds of the ukulele, steel guitar and Hawaiian language with the brass, drums and syncopated rhythms of swing.”

She said mid-20th century Hawaiian musicians and songwriters like Alvin Isaacs, Sam Koki and Lani McIntire brought their fluency in big band swing music into the performance of Hawaiian music, “by joining ku’i the swing-band harmonies and arrangements of that era to Hawaiian songs.”

Throughout Hawaii in the 1920s and 30s, one could find orchestras playing Hawaiian swing and the house would be jumping, she said.

“Kahulanui borrows from these influences and performs classic Hawaiian songs in a syncopated style making Hawaiian swing vibrant and alive in Hawaii today,” Eskildsen said. “It is important to keep Hawaiian swing alive because it is such a big part of Hawaii’s history.”

She said the band is also rooted in history.

“Kahulanui is an inspiration passed down three generations from grandfather Robert Kahulanui Naipo, to dad Rodgers L.L. Naipo Sr., to grandson and Kahulanui band leader, Lolena Naipo Jr.,” Eskildsen said. “Lolena remembers stories of his grandfather who was a member of the Royal Hawaiian Band during an era when horns and drums were a big part of Hawaiian music.”

She said the music is sure to get the crowd moving.

“Highlights include upbeat fun music that makes you want to jump up and start dancing, our lovely hula maiden dancing the hula, and a great dynamic between all nine players onstage,” Eskildsens said. “Our band puts on a high energy amazing show – we get standing ovations wherever we go.”

She said she hopes people will come out on a Wednesday to hear something different from the norm.

“We invite people to come and join us for a wonderful evening filled with amazing music, beautiful dancing and great stories told by our frontman Lena Naipo,” Eskildsens said. “The band is personable and entertaining on every level.”

Kahulanui performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater, 42051 Main Street in Temecula.

Tickets range in price from $25-40 and can be purchased at the theater box office, by calling (866) 653-8696 or online at www.tickets.temeculatheater.org.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.