A Painting of Eddie Kamae Takes Me Back

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I humbly believe that the greatest ukulele player ever was Eddie Kamae. He recorded what I find to be the best ukulele album in existence “Heart of the Ukulele” in 1962. I was very blessed to have the opportunity to share the stage with and play with Eddie Kamae when I played ukulele for Braddah Smitty. It wasn’t my best night and I was honestly rather intimidated to be playing with such a master. As he sang “E Ku`u Morning Dew” and I transposed in my head the often played version in G to D, I prayed he wouldn’t ask me to pa`ani. Of course he did and I proceeded to mangle what is a perfectly constructed melody in my attempt to quickly transpose the melody up a fifth. This is a lot more challenging on an ukulele with its limited range and peculiar re-entrant high G tuning.

None the less, afterwards Smitty related to me Uncle Eddie’s impressions of me as a player. When Smitty asked him how “the boy (me)” did, he responded with “the boy still has lots to learn.” When Smitty said “I think in a couple years he get ’em” Pops said, “I think in 20 or 30 years he might get ’em.” That remains the most humbling assessment of my skills as an ukulele player and something that always reminds me to keep working at my craft and more importantly be ready for the moment. This painting is currently on display at the Isaacs Art Center at HPA, it is what got me thinking about that moment when Eddie Kamae sang “E Ku`u Morning” and tossed me the solo. An adjunct is I totally nailed “Ka Lama `Ae One.”

 

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