In January 2001, singer/songwriter/bassist Sachiho Kudomi was vacationing on the Big Island of Hawaii with her rock star husband, Donto, and their two young sons. While they were watching a performance of a hula dedicated to the goddess Pele at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Donto suddenly fell over, and was rushed by ambulence to the Hilo Medical Center. The next day he was pronounced dead from a brain anurism at 38 years of age. Sachiho decided that Pele wanted to keep him as her own.
Sachiho returned to Hawaii Island a year later for a memorial service at the largest Buddhist temple in Hilo. Several dozen of Donto’s fans flew over from Japan for the service, which featured a musical performance by Sachiho’s all woman trance music band, Amana.
In between the times I recorded Music from Living on the Earth (January 2000) and Living in Hawaii Style (spring 2001) at Sea-West Studios in Pahoa, Hawaii, Sachiho recorded the CD “Rainbow Island” there with world beat band Umi No Sachi, noticed owner/engineer Rick Keefer’s copy of Music from Living on the Earth and recognized the cover of Living on the Earth. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “Very famous book!” Rick put us in touch by email, and the next thing I knew, I was organizing a Hawaii Island concert tour for Amana to follow the memorial service for Donto in Hilo. I had worked hard on the publicity, and we had large, enthusiastic crowds at every show.
Hiromi, the percussionist, also invited Toshi and Masaha, the members of her other band, Dinkadunk, to play between Amana’s sets. Hiromi learned to drum in Africa (and her daughter Tapiwa is half Zimbabwean).
Yoko Nema sings and plays instruments from India, where she goes often to study Indian music and buy merchandise for Tata Bazaar, her gift store in Naha, Okinawa.
About a dozen of Donto’s fans followed us from venue to venue, attending every concert. A couple of them brought their copies of Living on the Earth (Japanese edition) for me to sign. One night I performed one of my autobiographical story shows, and Toshi, whose interpreting skills are excellent, translated my entire show into Japanese for Donto’s fans as I was telling it.
The three band members all brought along their beautiful, happy, elementary school age children, who never squabbled, screamed demands, complained they were bored, or refused to eat what they were served. For an entire week I observed these amazing children, harmoniously playing together or quietly playing alone, utterly unlike almost every single child I’d ever met in the USA.
The band and their families stayed in a big rental home near the oceanfront volcanic warm ponds in lower Puna. When we traveled to the other side of the island, we camped out with friends of mine who have a botanical garden in Captain Cook. We had as much fun as friends can have together in a week’s time, making music together, laughing, sharing stories and meals.
I am looking forward to traveling with Sachiho and her band again in Japan some day! (Note from 20 years later: I did twelve concert tours in Japan, from 2006 to 2019, and almost all of them included collaborations and family reunions with Sachiho, Hiromi and Yoko.)