I hope you are well and enjoying some good music this week in the car, at home or live at the club! I wanted to share about a musical adventure I had last week performing with the hyper-talented Pali Ka’aihue!

Pali Ka’aihue! Band Leader, Composer and all-around gifted musician!

He has just released his new CD “All In” and we had a string of gigs to celebrate the release with all-star heavy hitters in the Hawaiian Music community performing on the same bill. I have lived in Hawaii for 13 years now but still learn so much about Hawaiian music, language and culture every time I have the honor to perform with those that embody Aloha in music.  Not only can Pali’s fingers move almost faster than the speed of sound, his musical sense and compositional creativity are in a class of their own. He successfully fuses Hawaiian, Rock, Jazz and Latin into his own genre. Our performances were electric and audiences were astonished hearing this fresh, upbeat sound for the first time.

Candice and Matt Tape on their honeymoon!

The first night I performed with Pali and his band, we played at Koaloha Ukuleles and I met this lovely young couple who were on their honeymoon and came to the store because they wanted to do something different for their last night in Hawaii before going home. They had no idea that it was to be a special night of music, food and new friends. They even had an ukulele engraved with their wedding date. Such a cute couple with great energy and enthusiasm for life!

The uber-talented Nathan Aweau! He sounded just like a recording. No Autotune needed here!

Then there was Nathan Aweau who performed after us. OMG this guy is so amazing as a singer, songwriter, guitarist and bass player! I just hope he doesn’t play drums too or we’ll all be out of work! 🙂  I remember the first time I performed with him at the Don Ho show about 10 years ago and when I heard him sing and play bass, I just about dropped my drumsticks and lost the beat. He is someone to watch as his career continues to blossom.

Kamaka Fernandez singing superb falsetto.

The final performer for the Koaloha evening was Kamaka Fernandez. Boy can this guy sing and groove on the uke in the traditional style. I like how he jokes about being African American raised on Maui and that when people look at him, they can’t believe such incredible Hawaiian music is coming from his mouth. Hawaii is like that though, we all kind of poke fun at each other but at the end of the day, it’s about where your heart is. His heart is definitely Hawaiian through and through.

The legendary Ledward Ka’apana performing at our Corner Kitchen CD release concert.

Ledward Ka’apana also performed on different nights and had crowds cheering for more! Can I get a Hana Hou?!!! He is legendary and has influenced and inspired many young musicians to continue the Hawaiian music tradition. What a gem!

So that was my music-filled week! I thank my lucky stars that I get to perform with such amazing human beings and share it all with you!  –Von

The drummer’s view! Also in Pali’s band are Jenn Wright – Percussion/Vocals (to the right in the pic), Kapono Na’ili’ili – Guitar/Vocals, Will Yokoyama – Bass/Vocals, and Josh Kaye – Keyboards

Brandon was honorably discharged from the Navy and is now on his way to Berklee College of Music to pursue his drumming dreams!

This is the month when several of my drum students head of to college. What a journey watching them grow up! They are all very fine human beings (and drummers!) and the kind of people you would want to know. Three are heading to Boston. Two to Berklee College of Music and another Boston College to study business. Another student heads to Arlington Texas to study music in a week and still another has moved back to Australia to pursue graphic design. I am so very proud of all of them as they have demonstrated the most important facet of success, persistence.

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Brooke just graduated from high school and is now on her way to Berklee to pursue her music dreams!

With each passing year of teaching drums, I have a chance to reflect on my graduating students and have found that the older they become the more we become friends.  When I was young and inexperienced in life, I used to think happiness was all about making money and buying things. The older I became, the more I realized it is really about the relationships I have with those around me. My family, friends and those I support, nurture and inspire through Von Baron Music.  Just having the opportunity to share my love of drumming with many students each week brings immeasurable joy into my life. Seeing them grow up and move on toward their dreams excites me for how they are going to change the world in very positive ways.

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Nelson just graduated from high school and is on his way to Boston College to study Business with the future dream of managing a successful Rock band!

I have included some photos in this blog and started a new tradition to snap a picture with graduating students before they departed for their educational destination.  I stay in touch with most of my students and offer an ear, moral support or advice whenever they need it. It’s a unique opportunity I have to build relationships that I hope will last a lifetime. You see, in the end it’s more than just teaching Paradiddles and drum rolls, it’s nurturing bonds that will give us great happiness for years to come.  I hope you too are able to establish and nurture those connections and create a foundation of happiness to last throughout your life!

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Taylor just graduated from high school and will pursuing her drumming dreams at the University of Texas at Arlington!