Waitiki 7 brings exotica music back to Hawai’i

Waitiki 7 brings exotica music back to Hawai'i

Photo by Hökü Krueger

Waitiki drummer Abe Lagrimass in a performance in Mr. Laufou's band class on Monday, May 16.

By Hoku Krueger, staff writer

PUKALANI – A melody different from the usual reggae and pop sounds heard around school flowed through the halls of Keku’iapoiwanui Monday morning as Mr. Siuai Laufou’s first block band class enjoyed the music of exotica band Waitiki 7.

Bassist Randy Wong said that whenever they tour, they also perform at local schools. The band chose KS Maui because of the personal connections they have to Mr. Laufou’s son, Tupu, who attended the Berklee College of Music with several of the band members.

The students listened to the music and asked questions in the relaxed, conversational atmosphere created by the band’s classic island music.

“I think it was cool to see what kinds of other music you can play besides jazz and pop rock. Every year Mr. Laufou brings in performers, and Waitiki 7 was one of the more intriguing performances I’ve seen. I especially liked when Lopaka [Colone] was doing bird calls. I wouldn’t have been surprised if an ‘elepaio flew into the room,” freshman band student Lexis Viena said.

Waitiki 7 is made up of bassist Randy Wong; soprano saxophonist, C flutist and auto flutist Tim Mayer; percussionist and exotic bird caller Lopaka Colone; vibraphonist Jim Benoit; violinist Helen Liu; pianist Zaccai Curtis and drummer Abe Lagrimass. The original members of the band met while attending college in Boston.

The group members wanted to be able to perform music that was from Hawai’i, but “different from what you would normally expect,” Mr. Wong said.

Mr. Mayer said that exotica music originated in the Hawaiian Islands. It emerged as a popular form of music on the mainland during the 1950’s and 60’s, springing from, “a mixture of cultures that were around during the end of World War II,” Mr. Mayer said.

Mr. Laufou said that the students are able to benefit from a performance during class because of the new exposure they gain from listening to a band that, “create[s] a different sound than what the students are used to.”

“Tim brought in totally new instruments that we don’t have. I don’t think they ever have ever heard anyone play a vibraphone like Jim did,” Mr.  Laufou said.

The students were also surprised to hear that Mr. Colone attended high school with KS Maui’s Academies Principal Jay-R Kaawa at Moloka’i High School. The two were in the same graduating class.

“I was surprised that she worked here as a principal. The last time I saw her was at our class reunion,” Mr.  Colone said.

Waitiki 7 spends most of their time performing in Boston, but visited and performed on the islands of O’ahu and Maui over the last week and will be in Lana’i next week.