Michael Kollwitz

Jamming with Henry Kaleialoha Allen at Iao Theatre

With Henry Allen at Iao Theatre

With Henry Allen at Iao Theatre

Sorry the image is a little blurry but it’s the only one available that memorializes my impromptu performance last month with Henry Kaleialoha Allen at the Iao Theatre in Wailuku. I was the opening act for the Kalama Intermediate School’s Ukulele Explosion event on May 9th. Try to imagine over 50 kids in matching aloha uniforms- all of them playing ukulele in unison. Wow. It was pretty amazing.

I had just finished tuning up and Henry Allen was on the stage behind me, also tuning up. Then suddenly the promoter told me to start right away. Sitting behind me was Henry- the Living Legend. I couldn’t bring myself to ask him to leave the stage. I just leaned over and whispered “Henry, do you want to play a few songs together?” He didn’t even look up when he answered in a monotone voice “Blue Hawaii in C”.

I knew the song in G so I didn’t want to try to transpose it on the fly. I said “Try this…” and I started playing my originals “Front Street Stroll” and a few others. The audience hushed to total silence waiting to see what happened next and we played 4-5 songs together for the crowd. What a great feeling that was. It’s not often that you get to share the stage with a bonafide living legend. Many mahalos to Henry Allen for such a wonderful experience!