Monday, August 31, 2009

The Many Faces of Willie K.

I first discovered Willie Kahaiali`i (a.k.a. Willie K. or Uncle Willie K.) about 11 years ago playing live music in a place called "Hapas Night Club" on Maui. I was immediately taken by his eclectic style of music which seemed to draw from many artists including Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, and Jimi Hendrix to name a few. He was playing regularly on Monday nights and I made it a point to arrange my travel schedule so that I could catch him as often as possible.

In a single performance, you could easily see the many facets of Willie K., and understand how his versatility appeals to so many people with different tastes in music. I once watched Uncle Willie start a music set with a Ukulele and when he was finished, it occurred to me that he had sampled U-2, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, and Willie Nelson. And those are just the artists I could remember. The audience was standing and screaming for more and so was I.

He's truly a charismatic entertainer with a special flavor and I'll always cherish those special memories of seeing him live.

As I attempt to make my transition back from Hawaiian vacation life to Mainland living, I thought I'd share with you a piece of the Uncle Willie K. that I knew and loved.

Here are a few of the many faces of Willie K. Can you guess which one is my favorite?

Traditional Hawaiian

Willie K. The Tourist Bureau Representative

The Fourth Tenor - Plácido Domingo, José Carreras , Luciano Pavarotti and Uncle Willie K.

Blended Folk/Bob Marley/Sting

Uncle Willie K. - As the World - Imitating the artists of "We are the World"

Uncle Willie K. - The Ink spot

Uncle Willie K. The Ukulele player and Opera Singer

Uncle Willie K. singing and playing the Blues

Willie K. has played with and/or opened for such musical giants as B.B. King, Santana, Al DiMeola, Willie Nelson, Prince, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Elvin Bishop, Bonnie Rait, Jackson Browne, Mick Fleetwood, George Benson and Jimmy Buffett. That's quite a resume. For an entertainer who started when he was 10 years old, it's fascinating that his style continues to evolve even today.

Check him out in - The Barefoot Natives,

and stay up to date with Willie K. by following his Calendar - Willie K's Events

Let me know which Willie K. you like best in the comment box.



Chris said...

Well, I liked the traditional one the best... makes you want to sway to the music and certainly makes you smile to the music!

I liked the Blues second best.

He's really good!

intrepidideas said...

Thanks Chris.... Naturally I like all of his music, but I think I like his Blues the best!

Bowie Mike said...

I've been meaning to find the time to check out these videos for a few days. I'm partial to the blues also, so I'm in agreement. "We are the World" is also a must see - very funny. This guy is quite a performer. He has a wide range.

intrepidideas said...

Thanks Bowie Mike... It's hard not to like him because as you say - "He's got a wide range."