Guest Sharon Johnson and her husband are cruising again with HAL, this time on Zaandam’s 21-Day Collectors’ Voyage to Mexico and Hawaii. Sharon will chronicle their cruising experience for us on the blog. Enjoy!
Feb. 20, 2013:
One of the “On Location” team members that boarded the Zaandam in San Diego is living legend Henry Kaleialoha Allen. He is the last of the great Hawaiian ukulele and steel guitar players still living and is consider a master of both instruments. No one in Hawaii has equaled his achievement. The Hawaii State legislature has recognized him by declaring April 4th in Hawaii as Henry Kaleialoha Allen Day. He played Hawaiian favorites on the Hawaiian guitar with the HALCats during our sail-away. On our first full day at sea, Henry and his wife Sherron gave the history of the ukulele which is a Portuguese instrument brought to the islands by Portuguese cowboys. We found out that ukuleles bought back in the fifties are quite valuable, especially if made by the Martin Company. The plastic ukeleles bought today are just toys as they can’t be tuned.
We are so lucky to have Henry Kaleialoha Allen on the ship. He is one of the last teachers and players of the only truly Hawaiian musical instrument, the Hawaiian Steel Guitar. There are some players in bands in Hawaii, but they really don’t know how to play it correctly. Henry knew the Hawaiian who accidentally invented the Kika Kila (Hawaiian guitar) when he dropped his comb on a guitar. The steel guitar is played worldwide and especially by those playing country western music. Henry demonstrated how he uses a steel bar to make the sound that is associated with the Hawaiian Steel guitar. He also uses two metal and a plastic pick on his other hand. Those sailing on the Zaandam’s next Hawaiian cruise are in for a real treat.
Malia and Paki added their fantastic artistry to the “Aloha Hawaii” Concert with their graceful and elegant performance of the hula as they danced to the music and songs played by Henry Kaleialoaha Allen.
There was a hula class each day in the Lido Pool area. On Location team member Paki taught the class the hand, body and feet movements to the “Little Grass Shack” hula. We practiced for three days. Today we all walked onto the stage of the Zaandam’s Mondriaan Lounge to perform for our fellow passengers. The Mondriaan Lounge was packed. Paki and Malia led us in the hula. Henry Kaleialoha Allen and the HAL Cats played the hula music. — Sharon and Alan Johnson