"The Best of Aloha Shorts – Live!" Goes on the Road to Neighbor Islands

Jan 16, 2019

Noe Tanigawa

This February, Hawaiʻi Public Radio honors the Bamboo Ridge anthology of The Best of Aloha Shorts with live performances of favorite pieces of local literature on Hawaiʻi island, Maui, and Kauaʻi. The evenings are hosted by HPR Arts and Culture Reporter Noe Tanigawa and feature some of the original actors from the radio program Aloha Shorts (Stephanie Keiko Kong, Karen Kaulana, Kat Koshi, Dave Lancaster, Devon Nekoba, and Aito Simpson Steele). Musical interludes feature top artists from each island: Mark Yamanaka (Hilo), Pat Simmons Jr. (Maui), and Kirk Smart (Kauaʻi). In poetry, story, and song, The Best of Aloha Shorts - Live! celebrates life in the islands, today and yesterday.

Reservations for any of the Neighbor Island events may be made online at www.hprtickets.org or by calling the station (808-955-8821) during regular business hours. VIP tickets in Hilo and Maui include a pre-show reception.

Actors Stephanie Keiko Kong, Devon Nekoba, and Aito Simpson Steele.
Credit Sammie Choy

A version of The Best of Aloha Shorts - Live! was presented on O‘ahu at the Palikū Theatre in August of 2018 to a sold-out house and standing ovations. After attending that event, HPR member Neil W. Tsukayama was prompted to write:  "The performance was outstanding. The pieces chosen were the ‘Hawai‘i’ in Hawai‘i Public Radio. I felt like I was listening to stories of my friends from my 'little keed' days."

UH Hilo Performing Arts Center
Friday, February 8, 7:30 p.m.

The poems and stories selected for this evening include those by authors with Big Island roots, Darlene M. Javar, Juliet S. Kono, and Lois-Ann Yamanaka, as well as others that proved to be outstanding in live performance. Long-time Hilo resident and award-winning slack key artist, composer, and vocalist Mark Yamanaka performs some of his original work. The two-hour event will be taped for future broadcast on HPR’s station-produced program Applause in a Small Room.

Kamehameha Schools Maui Keōpūolani Hale Auditorium, Pukalani
Saturday, February 9, 7:00 p.m.

Among the readers for this full-length evening of readings is beloved Maui performer Kathy Collins, who reprises her reading of Michael McPherson’s poem remembering the Maui institution and Kahului Shopping Mall fixture “Toda Drugs.” Featured musician is Pat Simmons Jr., a singer songwriter raised on Maui. He'll be performing some of his original work from his debut album This Mountain, one an homage to Haleakalā.

St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Līhuʻe
Saturday, February 16, 7:30 p.m.

The presentation on Kauaʻi is performed without intermission and features guest musician Kirk Smart, who plays guitar, Hawaiian Steel guitar, and mandolin. Besides his wide-ranging musical and linguistic repertoire, he is well-known on the island as the owner of music store Hanalei Strings.

Featured guest musicians Mark Yamanaka, Pat Simmons Jr., and Kirk Smart

Sponsors for the Neighbor Island tour The Best of Aloha Shorts - On the Road are The Cades Foundation, Hawaiian Airlines, Kamuela Farmers Market, and Servco.

About the former radio show
Aloha Shorts was a half-hour weekly radio program co-produced by Hawaiʻi Public Radio and Bamboo Ridge Press between 2004 and 2012. Taped before a live audience in HPR’s Atherton Studio, the show brought together some of Hawaiʻi’s finest writers, actors, and musicians. Although it is no longer on the air, it is remembered as “a major jewel in HPR’s local-programming crown.”

About the book
Released in 2018, The Best of Aloha Shorts is an anthology of over thirty poems and stories drawn from the pages of Bamboo Ridge that are not only excellent in themselves but also outstanding in performance. The collection features a history and behind-the-scenes account of the making of Aloha Shorts, as well as personal essays by some of the writers, actors, musicians, sponsors, and the show’s original host. An online link, www.bestofalohashorts.com, also provides readers with recordings of the pieces in performance. Together, the book and the recordings are a valuable resource for teachers who want their students to read and hear fine writing, some in the Hawaiian pidgin dialect. For everyone, it is a souvenir of a much loved show that continues to serve as a celebration of life in the islands past and present.

About Bamboo Ridge Press
Bamboo Ridge Press, a local, independent non-profit, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. It was founded in 1978 to publish literature by and about Hawai‘i’s people. It currently publishes two volumes a year: a literary journal of poetry and fiction featuring work by both emerging and established writers and a book by a single author or an anthology focused on a special theme.

Read original press release.