Imagine a warm tropical morning.
The sun sparkles on the aquamarine bay just beyond you. Palm trees arc over a manicured lawn as small boats, kayaks and paddleboarders skim across the bay.
You’re sitting at a wooden table, iced tea at hand, surrounded by friendly people. And they’re all playing ukulele!
Yep, that’s what happens every Thursday morning at 9:30 at Akule Supply (I know, funny name for a restaurant, huh?) when Alan Hale’s (that last name’s pronounced English style, not Hawaiian) group gets together in the Kona area of Hawai’i Island.
And, lucky me, I got to join them this week.
There are a fair amount of ukulele gatherings in the area—and I wish I could have also attended Jack Knight’s Mele Ohana group which meets at 6 pm on Wednesdays at the Regency Hualalai, but our schedule didn’t allow it.
‘Glad I didn’t miss the Thursday morning kanikapila.
Alan, the group’s very-able leader, wore his Moore Bettah Ukulele t-shirt in honor of my new ukulele and introduced me, pointing folks to my website. I was the only “guest” there that day, but I understand the gathering of 40 that I experienced swells to at least double that mid-winter when the snowbirds arrive with their ukuleles.
As I noted last time I played with this group, everyone had a tablet loaded with music. I did not see a single book or notebook of “real” paper songs on any of the tables. The tablets (the majority seemed to be iPads) were propped up, vertical orientation, on the tables. The iOS app of choice was forScore; Alan maintains a Dropbox site with a wide variety of songbooks from groups as well as songsheets used by the Kona group. New songs are automatically downloaded by each member when they’re on wifi and everything’s available then, even when they’re strumming offline.
I sure wish I could do this with my own Ukuleles of Paradise—not only would it be easier on everyone than carrying all those books with them, but it was also so darned fast when a song was named: folks typed in the first few letters of the name and the song popped up immediately. The way I see it, that leaves more time for playing more ukulele songs!
But the technology definitely took a back seat to the welcoming spirit, laughter and fun playing that continued for the next two hours. Songs ranged from 60s tunes and contemporary melodies to Hawaiian (some sung entirely in the Hawaiian language—and I didn’t note a single strummer stumbling over all those vowels; it’s practice, I guess…). A few players broke from the ranks of strummers and shared a hula as the group played along. Sigh…
The group’s final song of the morning remains what it was last time I visited: “I Believe in Music.”
As I packed up my ukulele, I looked around at the smiles and the conversations that continued. Not only music, it’s pretty evident that this group also believes in aloha and sharing the joy of ukulele.
Traveling to the Kona area? Don’t miss joining this group, ukulele in hand!