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 Interview: Uncle Jerome Koko of the Makaha Sons
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Posted - 09/11/2006 :  7:30:09 PM  Show Profile  Visit Admin's Homepage  Send Admin an AOL message  Send Admin an ICQ Message  Send Admin a Yahoo! Message
This year marked the 30th year anniversary for the Makaha Sons as they continue to perpetuate traditional Hawaiian music. On June 17, 2006, the Makaha Sons' "Take a Walk in the Country" concert took place at the Neil S. Blaisdell arena commemorating their anniversary and recently established "Makaha Sons Foundation". This month, the trio of "Moon" Kauakahi on 6-string guitar, John Koko on upright acoustic bass and Jerome Koko on 12-string guitar come out to the East Coast for the first time in 6-8 years (depending where you are).

Here's a brief Q&A with Uncle Jerome prior to the group heading out East.

TP: The Makaha Sons recently celebrated its 30th year. Not a lot of groups have been able to stay together and maintain the public's interest for so many years. What factors have kept you guys at it for so long?

Jerome: There's a lot of factors that goes into anything that you do, for us, it was being true to our music, honesty, humble, and always enjoying every minute of this wonderful journey.

TP: What Challenges have you overcome along the way?

Jerome: There were a lot from the beginning like people telling us we sound like another group, we should start making our own sound and music, the death of Skippy Kamakawiwo'ole and how that would impact the group and sound, and later the news that hit the airwaves, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and the Makaha Sons has disbanded (1994), and tragically his death in 1997, but through thick and thin we somehow got over all these challenges and I'm sure they'll be others but we'll just take it one day at a time.

TP: When you started, what did you want to accomplish in the music world?

Jerome: At the beginning it was all fun and games, it never fazed our minds to accomplish anything, we were just a couple of Hawaiian boys enjoying playing music. It took us almost a year to accomplish our first dream and that was releasing our album (No Kristo - 1976). Many more accomplishment came after that.

TP: Did the group formally or mentally set goals through out the years?

Jerome: I think both, after releasing No Kristo, I remember the Honolulu Skylark, (Jacquline Rossetti) who at the time was a disc jockey on the radio, asked us a question saying "Where do you see the Makaha Sons in 20 years". I blurted out in 20 years I like to see us playing in Carnegie Hall in New York, believe it or not 20 years to the day in 1996 we had the distinquished pleasure to perform in Carnegie Hall, and 1998 also.

TP: We're glad that New York will be included in your celebration of this milestone. When was the last time you were out east?

Jerome: 1999 or 2000, we did Wolf Trap in Virginia.

TP: What are you looking forward to that you cannot get in Hawai'i?

Jerome: Hopefully we have time to catch a broadway show.

TP: The music has taken you all over the world. Any standout moments where you said to yourself, "Wow, I can't believe we're here."

Jerome: Of course that would be Carnegie Hall.

TP: How do you see the current state of Hawaiian music and where do you see it going?

Jerome: Right now Hawaiian music is going strong and I don't see it on the decline for a very long time. Due to the part of the Grammy Awards and young up and coming artist doing Hawaiian music.

TP: Do Hawaiian artists have to travel outside of Hawai'i to make a living?

Jerome: It's sad, but it's true.

TP: Do you listen to a lot of Hawaiian music?

Jerome: Not as much as before.

TP: What kind of music do you like?

Jerome: I love Classical music.

TP: What other styles and genres of music do you listen to and do you draw from them in your own music?

Jerome: Jazz, Country and World music. (Yanni).

TP: What do you want to say to the fans and young aspiring musicians?

Jerome: Stay focus! Follow your dreams, and listen to that hidden voice within you.

TP: What are future plans for the Makaha Sons?

Jerome: Releasing our first DVD project later this year and a CD to follow, also helping young aspiring musicians.

TP: Mahalo. New York and Maryland look forward to seeing you guys.

Upcoming shows:

September 23, 2006, Saturday, 8pm
A Hawaiian Celebration with the Makaha Sons and Friends with Special Guests:
Daniel Ho & Herb Ohta, Jr.
The Aloha Boys
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunters College
68th St. between Park & Lexington Ave.
Ticket prices (reserved): $25, $30 Box Office: (212) 772-4448
For more information about purchasing tickets, please click here to visit the Kaye Playhouse website.

September 24, 2006, Sunday, 3pm
A Hawaiian Celebration with the Makaha Sons and Friends
with Special Guests:
Daniel Ho & Herb Ohta, Jr.
Wendley Bert Kekauoha
Dancers of Halau O 'Aulani
Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center - Dekelboum Concert Hall
University of Maryland Campus - College Park
Ticket prices (reserved): $27, $32
Box Office: (301) 405-ARTS

For more information, visit www.makahasons.com

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