HONOLULU (KHON2) — Although the ukulele was not invented in Hawai’i or by Hawaiians, it has been embraced by Hawaiians and is prevalent in Hawaiian music. The ukulele was originally called a machête. It was invented in Madeira, a Portuguese volcanic archipelago, and introduced to Hawai’i by Madeiran slaves and indentured servants who were brought to Hawai’i to work on sugar plantations in the late 1800s.
The Ukulele Foundation of Hawai’i announced that the popular Ukulele Picnic is returning Feb. 17-19 and will include local and international musicians.
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The three-day event will take place in multiple venues around Honolulu. Some of the performers slated to be a part of this celebration are Boo Takagi, Raiatea Helm, Mark Yamanaka and Kalei Gamiao.
“Among the many charms of Hawaii is its music, especially the ukulele, which fills the air like a gentle breeze,” said Kazuyuki Sekiguchi, chair of the Ukulele Foundation of Hawaii, the event organizer. “Since our first Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii in 2009, it’s been our goal to share Hawaii’s culture through the instrument that for many symbolizes Hawaiian music, the ukulele.”
On Friday, Feb. 17, the Ukulele Picnic Special Live will be a two-hour performance from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Beach Bar of the Moana Surfrider. Legendary musician Boo Takagi, who this year marks 75 years of ukulele performance; Yoko Oginome; Yoshio Nomura, Kenta Ebara; and the Sekiguchi Band will all be a part of this event.
Saturday, Feb. 18 will be the Ukulele Picnic, a six-and-a-half-hour celebration that will take place at Ala Moana Center’s Centerstage from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This is a free event. Performers will include Hawai’i’s Raiatea Helm and Mark Yamanaka, local and international ukulele virtuosos, group performers and the 1933 Ukulele Allstars from Japan.
The final day of the picnic is Sunday, Feb. 19. The Premium Ukulele Party and Boo Takagi Tribute will be at DECK located at Queen Kapi’olani Hotel from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Takagi will turn 90 in March. This is a ticketed event that will include Raiatea Helm, 1933 Ukulele Allstars, Kazuyuki Sekiguchi, Boo Takagi, Yoko Oginome, Yoshio Nomura, Yanagiman, Yu Hatakeyama and Kimiko Wakiyama.
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“We are thrilled to perform at three different venues this year and have selected places that are convenient and familiar to both locals and visitors,” Sekiguchi said. “We believe this is an opportunity for Hawaii residents who have never experienced Ukulele Picnic before, as well as tourists from the mainland and Japan, to discover this exciting musical event.”