There’s always a sense of excitement and organized confusion each time this year when a few musician friends and I make the trek down to SoCal for the annual NAMM Show. This year is no different and is already shaping up to be a more jam packed schedule than ever! Stay tuned right here for updates, photos and video not only from NAMM Show but from the Southern California Slack Key Festival!
Well, here we are at the end of another incredible year!
Around this time we tend to reflect back on the previous twelve months to try and get a mental snapshot of achievements that sum up our entire year. It could be a momentous, life-changing event or even a small personal goal that you’ve fulfilled.
There are quite a few things that I’m proud of and thankful for this year. My beautiful and supportive family. I chipped away a bit at my second album. Found out a lot more about both my Hawaiian and Filipino ‘ohana genealogy. Took part in the incredible wa’a (Polynesian voyaging canoes) ceremony. In the last month, even took on a giant travel agency’s ill-advised ad campaign.
I’m particularly most proud of what a few friends and I were able to accomplish over just a couple of weeks in early April.
On March 11, 2011 a devastating 8.9-magnitude tremor, which struck about 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo affected the lives of many people. Easily one of the worst natural disasters in history.
Watching the turmoil unfold trough video footage on the news hit me like a ton of bricks and I knew that there must be something I could do. I wasn’t sure what that “thing” was yet, but there had to be something. I immediately went to Facebook and messaged a handful of friends who I thought might share the same sentiment. Among that list and one of the first to respond were my friends Edgar and Leah Dang at Aloha Warehouse which is a Hawaiiana store right in the heart of San Francisco’s Japan-Town. We had originally planned to do a small acoustic concert inside of the store and I would call a couple friends to join me. We planned to donate whatever proceeds we made to the Red Cross and we really weren’t expecting to raise more than $200 and change.
As the planning continued, more friends and supporters began to surface. Daryl Higashi (HCCNC) was instrumental with rallying the support from some key organizations and political figures including Mayor Ed Lee and Japan Consul General Hiroshi Inomata. Susie Kagami of Hawai’i Music Live was another friend who stepped up to the plate in a huge way. A few other major contributors were Jeanne Cooper (SFGate/Hawai’i Insider) who wrote the press release, Sound Innovations who donated all of the sound equipment, Colortone Digital donating the signage and banners, and Osaki Design who came up with a beautiful logo that truly captured the essence of what we were doing.
Before you knew it, this thing which began as a modest house concert, blossomed into an an amazing 8 hour event featuring 14 bands from Hawai’i and San Francisco crossing many genres from Rock to Hawaiian. We dubbed the event Kōkua Japan (help Japan) San Francisco.
At the same time our event was unfolding, a few friends across the Pacific in Hawai’i (Lynn Piccoli, Pali Kaaihue, and Tony Solis of Pakele Live) were planning their own series of benefit concerts at the Willows. Their advice was not only welcomed but extremely helpful.
14 bands and hula halau from Hawai’i and San Francisco spanning multiple genres of music.
An estimated 4000 people attended the 8 hour event.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee addressed the crowd as well as Japan Consul General Hiroshi Inomata from SF.
Proclamation from Hawai’i Governor Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Governor Brian Schlatz.
Proclamation from Mayor Ed Lee.
This was the first time I had ever participated in the planning of such an enormous event from the ground up and it taught me an important thing. If you truly believe in something, no matter how big that thing is…nothing can stand in your way!
I’ve already taken that mindset and have applied it to many aspects of my life.
I would like to thank everyone who has followed me on this blog and across all my social media sites. Without you it would cease to be a social forum so I truly appreciate all of your hits, tags, posts, likes, favorites, re-tweets, sharing and comments!
I hope to truly push these social platforms to their limits in the coming year and I could not do that without folks like you!
Mahalo to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today! I’ve learned so much in the past year and hope to continue learning. 2012 is going to be an incredible year. I have a few things already in the works. Although I can’t mention them quite yet, you can be certain that you will be the absolute first to find out about them if you stay tuned right here!
The power of the collective voice and social media was proven over the past week when online travel agency Travelocity agreed to remove their offensive hula ad after receiving hundreds of complaints from passionate supporters of hula and Hawaiiana. The original post began as a photo in Facebook, followed by a more in depth writing here in Tumblr, and finally in Twitter. After only a few days, Travelocity contacted me via Twitter announcing they would be taking the “hula ads” down.
In addition to the social networks, huge thanks are due to traditional news outlets like KGO Newstalk Radio and SFGate.com/SF Chronicle (Hawai’i Insider) for helping to spread the word! Ultimately it was the solidarity and perseverance of ordinary folks like you and I that got their attention.
It was so gratifying to use platforms like Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter in a positive way to educate those outside of the Hawaiian and hula communities. There are still many out there who could still benefit from a dose of cultural learning, but this was an amazing small step in the right direction!
Thank you to everyone who submitted their thoughts to Travelocity and thanks especially to Travelocity for doing the right thing and being pono!
I encourage everyone to follow up and send a message of aloha to Travelocity and mahalo them for their efforts.
One of my goals for 2012 is to utilize new technology in a way that is smarter and more efficient so that we can focus on the important stuff like MUSIC. I’ve updated the calendar section of my website replacing the old “manual” entry calendar with the much more powerful embedded Google Calendar. The best part is that I can do real-time updates from anywhere (including my phone) so you’ll be sure to get the latest scoop on all of my live performances!
Looking for that perfect gift that screams “ALOHA” for that hard to shop for person? Need a unique Secret Santa or White Elephant present? Then be sure to check out my friend Lynn’s online Hawaiian merchandise store "Me Ke Aloha" which carries everything from koa wood bookmarks to the latest trending Hawaiian music (including my album)…order now to beat the holiday rush! Tell her Steven sent you!
Getting psyched for Winter NAMM 2012 in January! Particularly excited for this one as I’ll be welcoming 2 new sponsors Spectraflex Cables and Black Diamond Strings! For those of you attending, I will be performing at the Kanile’a ‘Ukulele and LR Bagg’s booths on Saturday. Hope to have more photos and video to blog this year. I’ll be traveling with my full band and will try to capture as much behind the scenes footage of the NAMM craziness as possible. Also, I will be performing at the 2012 Southern California Slack Key Festival and possibly a smaller venue or 2 in the area so stay tuned…See you in SoCal!!!
Steven, i was at your class at the napa uke festival, and forgot the passwd to get into the strumming lessons on your website. can i please have it again? thanks for the great class- you are a patient and talented teacher! Laura
Aloha Laura! Mahalo nui for taking my workshop in Napa! Please send an email to “email@example.com” and it will be sent to you…thanks again!
I rarely make personal pleas, but this particular cause sits close to home since it affects my ‘ohana. I am asking for kōkua from all of my social network families - This Thursday, my cousin Kumu Kawika Alfiche and his hālau will be meeting before the city of South San Francisco in the hopes to obtain a use permit to remain open as the only fully functioning Hawaiian Cultural Center in Northern California and perhaps all of the continental US. A lot of my own development as a Hawaiian artist has come as a direct result from the nurturing, support, guidance and mana’o I’ve received from Kumu Kawika, his haumana and Kaululehua Hawaiian Cultural Center. Please help them stay open by writing a brief letter to show your support. Could be as simple as: "I support the Kaululehua Hawaiian Cultural Center in South San Francisco because…" Please email to: firstname.lastname@example.org before Wednesday if possible…thanks in advance for your help! Mahalo!!!
Join us in San Jose this Saturday for great mele, hula and ono food! I’ll be performing a solo set. See you there!
Saturday, December 3, 2011 6:00pm until 10:00pm
Billy De Frank Center, 938 The Alameda, San Jose, CA
www.defrankcenter.org / (408) 293-3040 Also available for purchase: Food, beer, wine, arts and crafts, CDs and more!!! Portion of the proceeds will benefit: Billy De Frank Center, Halau o Keikiali`i and Kaululehua Hawaiian Cultural Center Special guest performances by: Steven Espaniola, Halau o Pi`ilani and Kumu Hula Kanani Densing.
Concert promoter Mitch Chang has a knack for putting together incredible lineups that you won’t see anywhere else! Visit www.slackkeyfest.com/ for more info on this incredible annual showcase of Hawaiian talent!
Join us this Holiday season at Thunder Valley Resort and Casino! An incredible lineup including myself, Faith Ako, comedian Andy Bumatai, and the legendary Mahaha Sons! You definitely won’t want to miss this one!