Da Ukulele Boyz

Performing as Da Ukulele Boyz, cousins Peter deAquino and Garrett Probst have played together since their childhood, when they competed in Keoki Kahumoku’s Maui Ukulele Contest held annually at the Hula Grill.

Now regular cohosts at George Kahumoku Jr.’s Masters of Hawaiian Music shows, they’ve just released an impressive new CD, “On Hawaiian Time,” which they will present tonight at a release party at the Napili Kai Beach Resort.

Recorded live at the show, the new album showcases their talent and versatility. Covering a spectrum of Hawaiian music, they mix classic favorites like “Noho Paipai,” “Manuela Boy,” and “Church in an Old Hawaiian Town,” with popular contemporary songs such as Keola and Kapono Beamer’s, “Sweet Okole,” and Sudden Rush’s, “I Remember.”

“These are songs that we’ve played for years,” says Peter. “They are songs that we grew up learning, that we’ve just played for fun at family parties. And our family has been asking us to record those songs for so long.”

“We wanted a well rounded representation of the kind of music we like to play,” adds Garrett.

With its broad range, including both lively material and sweet, beautiful Hawaiian language songs, “On Hawaiian Time” would make a perfect gift for anyone appreciating a sampling of our island’s rich musical heritage.

“For me all the songs on the CD are Hawaiian because we play them in the Hawaiian way,” Peter continues. “It’s a touchy subject when you talk about Hawaiian music and a lot of people have their own opinions, but I feel Hawaii and the culture is alive. It’s a living organism and is always changing, and any music that is introduced is going to be planted and grow, like reggae introduced by Bob Marley in the ’70s, we make it our own. It’s cool when you start breaking down the walls. I hear Uncle Ledward (Kaapana) playing the Beatles and all kinds of music, and it’s all in slack key. We could have went all Hawaiian language and tried to get Best Hawaiian Album at the Hokus, but it’s not about that, it’s about us sharing our music with people.”

Rather than spend time recording in a studio, the duo decided to capture the magic and spontaneity of their live performances.

“The cool thing is, I think about it as a surfer,” he continues. “You have the free surfers who surf for fun, and you have the contest surfers, which is like going into the studio, where you have a lot more control. When you’re free surfing or just jamming out sometimes you will play things where you go, wow, what was that? That was cool. Because Garrett and I basically grew up and learned on stage, we figured might as well put out what we do. It’s the best way to get our sound to our fans. And you put your soul on the record when you do it live.”

“It’s fun because it’s live,” says Garrett. “We’ve been playing together for such a long time, there’s like another dialogue in between what we’re doing when we’re playing music. We have an understanding of where we’re going to go. It connects really well together because we’ve been doing it so long.”

The Boyz open and close the album with two energetic, surf-themed instrumentals: Herb Ohta Jr’s, “Body Surfing,” and the classic surf-rock hit, “Wipeout,” where they shine on ukulele.

“People are attracted to the ukulele’s sound,” Peter notes. “We get a lot of response when you hear two ukuleles together. It’s like a dueling banjos type of thing. Garrett plays a high G string ukulele and I play a low G ukulele. When we started taking lessons from Herb Ohta, Herb plays with a low G, and I fell in love with the sound and I made the switch. There’s a definite different tone, and they’re really complimentary. Our ukuleles have a kind of weird relationship and we make it work.”

George Kahumoku Jr. plays slack key guitar with the Boyz on one song, “Noho Paipai,” and Probst borrowed Kahumoku’s 12 string, switching from ukulele on a few tracks. “It’s a real local style,” deAquino adds. “It came out super nice.”

The duo were both previously featured on three of the Slack Key Show’s Hawaiian Grammy Award winning compilation CDs – “Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, vol.1,” “Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar,” and “Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar.” And they are also featured in the new DVD, “The Best of the Slack Key Show, Vol. 1.”

Besides playing in Da Ukulele Boyz, Peter plays with Three Pounds of Poi at Dukes Beach House in Kaanapali, at Kimo’s as deAquino Braddaz, at the Hula Grill with the band TBA, and with the reggae/rock band Sounds of Addiction, which just released a hot new EP and gigs at venues like the Hard Rock Cafe and Longhi’s. Probst is also a member of Three Pounds of Poi and TBA.

“Garret and I grew up together and started playing together at the second annual Maui Ukulele Contest in 1997,” deAquino recalls. “We got a lot of help from Uncle George and Keoki Kahumoku was a huge help because they let us play at the gigs. We didn’t know anything about musicianship and being an entertainer. They guided us. Garret got me playing on the ukulele because he had this unique talent. He can play whatever he hears one or two times. When you’re playing with someone like that it drives you a lot more to get better.”

Playing together for about 17 years, deAquino says they’ve become so attuned, “there’s nobody who can duplicate our sound when we’re together. When he’s playing a certain chord or lick I know already where he’s going to go, and vice versa, when I start playing he knows where I’m going. It’s to the point where sometimes we’ll play the same stuff, we’ll hit the same notes. Our family connection and blood line comes out through the music. We do our own gigs, but when we play together there’s something totally different.”

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The Maui Gospel Community Choir will present a benefit luncheon for The Maui Farm on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Maui Tropical Plantation. The event features a Southern cuisine buffet with live gospel music. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, and $55 per couple. For more info, call 298-9022.

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Singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb returns to Maui to play a Moonlight show on July 11 at the MACC’s Yokouchi Pavilion. In 1994, Loeb became the first unsigned artist to top the American charts with her single “Stay (I Missed You),” from the soundtrack to the hit movie, “Reality Bites.” The song spent three weeks at the No. 1 spot after the film’s release and eventually sold over 750,000 copies worldwide. “Stay” earned Loeb a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance, and won a Brit Award for Best International Newcomer. Her other popular songs include “I Do,” and “Nine Stories Do You Sleep?” Maui’s Gail Swanson will open. Tickets are $30 and $45 for premium seating. Call 242-7469.

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Celebrating its 40th year of broadcasting on Maui, KAOI 95.1 FM will be offering hourly giveaways of prizes including CD box sets, T-shirts, posters, and a chance to win a trip to California to see Fleetwood Mac in concert.

On King Kamehameha Day in 1974, the legendary I-FM signed on the air as Hawaii’s very first neighbor island FM station.

From a MOR (middle-of-the-road) station, playing Barry Manilow and similar mellow artists, it transitioned to AOR, or album-oriented rock, in the early 1980s.

In 1983, DJ Guy Amico introduced Hawaii’s first all reggae radio show on the station.

It’s now known as a classic-based adult alternative rock station playing artists like Dave Mathews, Pearl Jam, Jack Johnson, the Beatles, the Stones and U2. It’s also home to the popular, syndicated “Nights with Alice Cooper” show.

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Coming up, we’ve got Shaggy headlining the MayJah RayJah Music Festival on July 25 at the MACC. Former Chicago singer/keyboardist Bill Champlin plays the McCoy Studio Theater on July 27. Great news that Michael Franti & Spearhead return with SOJA to play at the MACC on Aug. 29. And the brilliant duo of Tuck & Patty will perform at the McCoy on Aug. 30.