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‘Oiwi takes E Kanikapila Kakou stage Monday

HANAMA‘ULU — Coming up is the fifth of seven Monday nights in the heritage Hawaiian music program, E Kanikapila Kakou, now in its 39th season.

The session starts at 5:15 p.m. with a jam session with the presenters, who take the stage at the Kaua‘i Beach Resort at 6 p.m.

Translated from Hawaiian, it means “Let’s play a stringed instrument together.”

Monday’s guests are local boys known as the group ‘Oiwi, which translates from the Hawaiian language as “natives.” Members are D.J. Yaris, John Mahi and Bronson Aiwohi.

This is a group with history. For starters, says Yaris, it was his dad’s group. His dad was well-known kumu hula Doric Yaris, and his group used to play at the Kaua‘i Beach Resort’s Mai Tai Hula Show Hour.

After his dad passed away, D.J. Yaris’ uncle Fred took it on and D.J. Yaris moved to Kona.

“Every time I came back I played with them,” says Yaris, “and the blend between all of us when we played together, we ended up taking a name for the group and did extra side gigs, did a home recording, and we’re working on more now.”

“The name ‘‘Oiwi’ was given us by my grandma, Momi Gampong. ‘‘Oiwi means ‘native,’ though not necessarily to Kaua‘i. We all have Hawaiian blood and do Hawaiian music.”

Yaris’ instrument is the bass. “It’s the foundation,” he says. “We set the tempo and vibe.”

The youngest of the group, Aiwohi, plays rhythm guitar.

“He’s holding down the chords of a song,” says Yaris. “Without him, we wouldn’t know if it’s a minor or major chord song.”

Mahi, who pursued music in his birthplace on Hawai‘i Island, discovered at some point in high school that his leo ki‘eki‘e, or falsetto, broke out. (The audience goes crazy for it.)

He moved to Kaua‘i, and as luck would have it, he bunked down on the Westside next to a family from Ni‘ihau, where all sorts of musicians, including the popular Sons of Ni‘ihau, gathered to play Hawaiian music and sing.

Yaris says of ‘Oiwi, “This group is my pride and joy. We play everything from traditional Hawaiian music to conventional style, and with just a trio, we can be so easy to work with.

“I wouldn’t trade anybody in the group for the world. When our manager asked who would I pick regarding musicianship and respect, it was always Bronson and John — it will always be Bronson and John.”

For remaining EKK presentations, April 18, April 25 and the Makana-hosted concert on May 30, purchase tickets online at:

Anyone experiencing difficulty purchasing tickets may call Shannon Hiramoto at 808-489-2947.

The program gets support from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Hawai‘i Visitors &Convention Bureau and the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau.

w Info: 808-245-2733,, the Garden Island Arts Council website,, the EKK Facebook sits,
Source: The Garden Island

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