What is the first thing I thought when I woke up at Heaven Beach? You’re right if you guessed “Get in the ocean!” The warm, clear, blue water buoyed me as I glided along, feeling, “Yes. Yes. Yes. This is exactly the way it’s supposed to be. I love this. I really, really love this.”
Sachiho taught a group of people to hula to Donto’s famous song “Nami.” The cool-looking red and white building in the back is the beachfront bar, Heaven.
Later, I discovered that sumo wrestling is not just for obese persons. Skinny hippies like to wrestle, too. I even saw one round of girls wrestling.
For less athletically-inclined festival goers, there was plenty of shopping, too.
And those who had drummed and danced ‘til dawn the night before could always snooze away the afternoon on the hammock porch.
A couple of very creative young DJs at one of the picnic tables created electronic collages thoughout the afternoon, and their friends danced with poi balls, especially enchanting one very small boy.
Yoko Nema told me she’d wanted to talk with me so much when she came to Hawaii in 2002 that she’d been studying English since the last time we met. I was blown away; the wall between our two languages is formidable, and I’ve been intimidated by it for many years. I begged her to interpret for me during my performance that evening, and she very graciously obliged me.
One of the first acts of the afternoon: an all-girl rock band from Osaka.
Yu Soda, an amazing young musician from Tokyo, performed an entirely improvised set, masterfully playing an enormous variety of wind and percussion instruments against a recording of the sound of the wind.
At sunset, I played a set combining songs from all three of my CDs.
Next Amana played. Their sound joins Hiromi’s African rhythms and exotic instruments with Yoko’s harmonium and bhajans (holy chants in Sanskrit), and Sachiho’s lively bass guitar (she was the leader/bass player of Zelda, a famous all-girl punk band in Tokyo in the ‘80’s) and Steiner harp (a lap-held woodframe harp invented by Rudoph Steiner). Sometimes all three women play djembe (hand drums). They all sing, and they write and arrange songs together.
Sachiho called me up to play Hau’oli La Hanau, the opening song from my Hawaiian CD, Living in Hawaii Style, with Amana. We dedicated the song to Donto.
A ska band got the crowd dancing…
…and an even bigger ska band got them dancing even more.
The Matsui family rocked out, with Roku singing and playing guitar, and Kameya, age 15, playing bass guitar. They played some of Donto’s songs in his honor. Roku has been teaching his kids to play musical instruments from the time they are quite young. He also told me that all five were born at home, delivered using the directions from the birth page of Living on the Earth (!!!)
Auta Matsui, at age 12, played rock and roll trap drums better than lots of adult pros I’ve heard. Nala, Sachiho’s 12 year old son, blew away the crowd singing one of Donto’s songs with the Matsuis, but, alas, I missed the photo-op. As you can well imagine, the two boys are best friends.
The next morning, the tents and vans slowly disappeared, and the tipis came down. The organizers of the festival carried the altar objects from the tipi to the dragon rock at the end of the beach for a closing ceremony.
After the ceremony, Yu Soda carried the bamboo branches from the altar to the ocean and released them. Afterwards, he and his partner Saori walked with me up the beach for a while, and we vowed to meet again next year.