Hapa concert benefits ASF

Hawaiian music duo Hapa will stop in the Rogue Valley during its 2010 national tour, thanks to the efforts of Ashland resident John Williams.

When Williams, a Hapa fan, got wind of the musicians' upcoming tour, he conceived an idea that would bring the duo to town and raise money for the Ashland Schools Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that supports Ashland public schools through fundraising in the community. Williams is a parent of two children who attend Helman Elementary School.

In 2006, Hapa played to a sold-out show for the now defunct One World Series at Southern Oregon University, so Williams approached Hapa's manager and ASF about a benefit concert. With no experience as a concert promoter, he coordinated the event with donated services and products. All proceeds will benefit ASF. For more about ASF, visit www.ashlandschoolsfoundation.org.

Hapa features acoustic guitarists Barry Flanagan and Nathan Aweau. The duo's music draws from Polynesian and American folk and pop influences.

Billboard Magazine has called the duo "Hawaii's hottest group."

Hapa will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, in the Music Recital Hall at SOU, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd. Professional hula dancer Malia Petersen (Miss Aloha Hula in 2002) and members of Ashland's hula group Ka Pi'O Ke Anuenue also will perform, directed by Andrea Luchese.

Hapa released its first CD in 1993, featuring the vocals and guitars of Flanagan and Kauai native Keli'i Kāneali'i. Flanagan brought lead guitar and vocals to the group, while Kāneali'i focused on 12-string rhythm and the lead vocals. The debut CD swept the 1994 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards — Hawaii's equivalent of the Grammys — and went on to become the biggest selling CD by any group in the history of Hawaiian music. For the rest of the '90s, Flanagan and Kāneali'i continued to produce music that ranged from covers of classic Hawaiian surf songs to contemporary original melodies. During their live performances, the two added their style to tunes by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and others.

In 1997, Hapa released a recording of U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)" juxtaposed with traditional Hawaiian oli, or chant, from Hawaiian chanter Charles Ka'upu. The result was an instant hit, and Ka'upu began touring with Hapa.

In 2001, Kāneali'i left the group and Flanagan pursued other opportunities. After a chance encounter with Aweau — who had just released his first solo hit — Flanagan and Aweau reformed Hapa.

Aweau's Hawaiian falsetto and rhythm and bass guitar have brought a new dimension to Hapa, along with Flanagan's lead guitar.

Hapa released its seventh album, "Maui," in 2005. "Maui" featured three new Hawaiian-language songs and covers of a Tahitian folk song, "Papa E," and Bob Marley's classic "Redemption Song."

Tickets to the show at SOU are available at www.hapainashland.com. A limited number of tickets also are available at Paddington Station. Tickets cost $25, $15 for students with valid identification.

Call 510-220-5779 for more information.

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