Video by David Corrigan, Voice of Stephanie Salazar
LAUPAHOEHOE, Hawaii: The eighth Annual Laupahoehoe Music Festival was held on Saturday at Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park.
Somehow, the torrential downpours that soaked the rest of the island spared the event, honoring the memory of musician and Laupahoehoe resident Braddah Smitty.
Penny Keli’i Vredenburg and Aunty Lucille Chung have been a part of the festival since it was first envisioned by Smitty.
Smitty passed away last year after a long battle with diabetes and additional complications from cancer. The event now bears his name, and continues on.
Claybourne “Bruddah Smitty” Smith was a Hawaiian music icon. A nephew of the late slack key master Gabby Pahinui, Smitty was a member of the renowned music group, “Sons of Hawaii”.
In 2008, Big Island Video News had occassion to interview Bruddah Smitty during a Slack Key Guitar Festival in Keauhou on the Kona side of the island… the master of kī ho`alu shared some of his wisdom with our camera on that day.
On that same day, one of the performers who took the stage was Makana, a new breed of Hawaiian guitar virtuoso, well versed in art of traditional slack key.
Coincidentally, it would be a few years later during the 2012 Laupahoehoe Music Festival that Braddah Smitty would join Makana on stage, for what would be Smitty’s last public performance before his death.
For Smitty, it was all about keeping the traditions of Hawaiian music alive.
Today, Smitty’s music festival raises scholarship money for graduating seniors of Laupahoehoe area students and funds community projects.
Since it was organized in 2005, the nonprofit Malama Hawaii Nei has awarded nearly tens of thousands in scholarships to date. Under the current plan, every student who applies receives a scholarship.
Even while we were filming this interview, a big donation was telephoned in to Vredenburg from the Friends of Smitty organization.
The Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School also conducted a silent auction to help raise funds for the purchase of the first hybrid school bus in the state.
The purchase of the Thomas Built C2e Hybrid Bus is part of the school’s Green Sustainability Program, which also includes organic gardening, composting, animal husbandry and recycling.
As in years past, this year’s Hawaiian-style event featured some of the island’s best music and hula entertainers performing at Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park. Organizers sy the spot is noted for its sacred and natural beauty and was a regular stopover by Kamehameha in his canoe voyaging conquest of the islands.
Today, the tradition is carried on by dedicated volunteers.