Ka‘ea: KAPA Hawaiian FM – 100.3, 99.1, and online at kaparadio.com.
Jaz: Alright, it’s an Aloha Friday. He is our special guest for tomorrow’s Hui Kako‘o Concert Series at the Keauhou Shopping Center, Mr. Mark Yamanaka. Let’s get him on the phone.
Jaz: Eh, good morning bruddah!
Mark: Good morning! How you guys?
Jaz: How you man?
Mark: Uh, tired.
Ka‘ea: I bet. It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks, months, year?
Jaz: So, what have you been up to since the last time we talked brah?
Mark: Ah, just been around traveling, and of course spending time with the kids and girlfriend and so, having fun though.
Ka‘ea: How was Vegas?
Mark: Vegas was good! We had a lot of fun at Aunty Cissy’s festival up there, Kumukahi. Of course, that was only like one day, and we had the rest of the days to gallivant.
Ka‘ea: Was that a hula competition?
Mark: Yea, they call it the Kumukahi ‘Ukulele and Hula Festival. So, they have halau that participate. It’s a smaller scale of competition but it’s growing, and the turnout is pretty good.
Jaz: So, how much money you lose?
Ka‘ea: Just recently, you were on um, Hot Hawaiian Nights was it?
Mark: Yea, I was just on Hot Hawaiian Nights a week ago, basically, and that was good, you know, the only thing is I don’t really care for the cameras and the lights.
Ka‘ea: Sweatin’ ah?
Jaz: Eh that’s okay, you gotta have one beach towel wrapped around your neck for the whole performance, yea?
Eh, you know, I’ve always wanted to ask you, you have been playing with Eddie and Bert for I don’t know, about 30 years or something?
Mark: Yea, as long as I was around.
Jaz: We notice that aside from being musician partners that you guys really have that kind of – and we know you didn’t start in a malo – but you have that hula brother kind of relationship too, yea?
Mark: Oh, totally! And I think Uncle Johnny has kinda brought us together in that way and it’s special. We can hang out off the stage too, and I think that as a band that’s really important; to be able to have an off-the-stage relationship too cause without the music, we gotta be friends, and we should be friends, and on the stage we should be friends too, so we can click.
Jaz: Yea, exactly. The flow would be so much better if you guys get along, yea?
Mark: Totally, totally.
Ka‘ea: So brother, with your busy schedule, and all the things that you have going on, what are some of the things that have been highlights since the Hoku Awards this year? What are some of the things you’ve done, that you’re like, ‘I cannot believe I’m doing this’?
Mark: Ah, Vegas is one of ‘em.
Mark: Nah, I enjoy seeing new things, new places, like Vegas. I don’t have much opportunity to go up there and the mainland as well. We’re pretty much in Japan most of the time. Just being able to see different places, and for me, it’s about meeting new people. What I still cannot get over is these musical-music people in Hawai‘i that I look up to as I was growing up. I don’t even have to introduce myself. They know who I am, and I’m like what? That kinda stuff trips me out.
Ka‘ea: Yea, yea! That must be so cool, where your idols, all of a sudden they’re calling you by your first name. Hah! you know my name?
Mark: Yea, that to me is like ho. Like just last week I ran into Jeff Rassmussen and Robi, and Del Beasley, and they’re all like, you know, just chattin’ and we were friends for a long time. Those are the guys that just kill it in the music scene.
Jaz: Yea, big time, big time.
Ka‘ea: That’s so funny.
Jaz: So, what’s next for you man? You have two hit albums, and we talked about during the release of your second album on, kinda the pressure that you went through of trying to either out-do or do as well as the first album. So now you have a hit second album. Now the third one I’m assuming is in the works or in the planning?
Mark: It’s definitely in my thoughts and the thing with Lei Maile, it hasn’t even hit a year old yet. But I think as far as the whole industry [goes], you gotta always be thinking ahead and what you can do better, and how you can improve yourself. So, I just talked to my girlfriend about it, Leilani, and we’re like, you should do another one, just like Pua Kenikeni and Maile because ultimately what I’m trying to do is branch off from the Hawaiian stuff – not necessarily from the Hawaiian stuff – but I wanna explore different genres too.
Jaz: Alright, well since we got Bruddah Mark Yamanaka on the phone today, let’s go ahead and jam one of his acoustic versions, this is from the HiSessions. Here is “How Great Thou Art.”
HOW GREAT THOU ART
Jaz: From the live HiSessions, “How Great Thou Art,” it’s Mark Yamanaka, here on KAPA Hawaiian FM – 100.3, 99.1, and online at kaparadio.com, our special guest for today’s KAPA Cafe.
Jaz: …You do great Country music, and [I] was wondering if you were ever gonna just do possibly an all-Country album.
Mark: You know, I always talk amongst my friends that know I love country, and those friends that love country too, and we’re like, brah, we gotta get together and do a Country CD. I wanna establish myself as what I am, and get a little bit further into this and then explore. But yea, I think Country or contemporary stuff is kinda where ultimately I wanna end up somewhere.
Jaz: You know, a lot of artists, when they’ve made or when they get to a certain stage in their careers, they usually branch off into the behind the scenes world where, you know, either [they] start recording guys or producing guys or managing careers of up-and-coming guys. Has that been in the thought process of you?
Mark: You know, I’m not even smart with that kine stuff, so I would love to learn a little bit… but the furthest I go is iPad. I don’t know, it’s just not my niche, you know?
Ka‘ea: Aw, that’s too much.
Jaz: Well, we’re very excited. We wanna thank you because you drive all the way to Kona for many Hui Kako‘o Concerts man. We really wanted to show you some love for doing that.
Mark: Aw, you know, I think for some people that know me, I’m just a fan of music and Hawaiian music in general, so Hui Kako‘o Concert Series, they get the best, you know. I love Nathan Aweau and of course Sean Na‘auao. Those are all of my friends now. I love listening to them and love learning from them so, any chance I get, if the schedule is free I come out and of course it’s for a good cause.
Mark: Two cans of food, you know? What is that?
Jaz: And of course, you’ll be here with your two bruddahs, Eddie and Bert tomorrow, and how’s Bert been doing brah – when you have a band member that also has a CD out as well, that could be kind of hectic. But I’m sure you guys make it work, yea?
Mark: When he told me he was gonna make a solo album, I was like ho, right on. I’m like, finally, and I was like full supportive because he deserves it. He’s been in this industry, hula and right into music for all of our 30 years. He’s like a brother slash dad to me and I learn from him so any chance I get to help him, I’m right there. He’s gonna be there tomorrow night, jammin’ with me so, even with Hot Hawaiian Nights, I told him you need to take a hand full of songs… cause you know, he deserves the recognition.
Ka‘ea: That’s awesome.
Mark: That’s what I like cause, if was my choice, I’d stand behind him all the way.
Jaz: Well, we’re really looking forward to seeing you Saturday brother. Our majority of Hui Kako‘o artists that we bring in are by request, and you’re ah, multiple requests for you.
Mark: Aw, right on! I’m excited because it’s been a couple years, yea? The last time I came, knock on wood, I was sick, and so I felt like ho…
Jaz: Oh! That’s right, you were ma‘i yea, that’s right!
Mark: Yea, I was a little ma‘i.
Ka‘ea: Oh my gosh, that’s right!
Mark: I was like ho, I gotta redeem myself. So, I’m drinking a lot of water, and making sure…
Jaz: Eh, nobody could tell, other than the hanabatas coming out of your nose.
Mark: I was ma‘i but I’m super excited to come back tomorrow and hopefully kill it a little bit better.
Ka‘ea: Right on brother, we’re so excited to see you tomorrow.
Mark: Thank you very much for having me.