In my back yard it’s swingy and jazzy

1 07 2013
Jazz guitarist and bass player Robert, who is the proprietor of Uncle Bobo's BBQ restaurant in Kaaawa

Jazz guitarist and bass player Robert, who is the proprietor of Uncle Bobo’s restaurant in Kaaawa. (Rebekah Luke photo)

Sometimes it takes an effort by someone in the community to remind us how very privileged we are to live and work in Kaaawa. And to remind us there are attractions right in front of us in our own back yard.

This past Sunday afternoon it was by Robert and Keiko of Uncle Bobo’s Smoked BBQ restaurant, who organized a 19-piece big band as well as a jazz guitarist from Japan to play for  residents and guests for free.

What a show! The review from Sunway and Joerg, the professional musicians and music producer in my party, was that this big band could fill any room with an appreciative audience. No doubt our town would welcome that kind of event at least quarterly, and it would be good business for Uncle Bobo’s.

BBQ al fresco and big band sounds at Uncle Bobo's

Smoked BBQ al fresco and big band sounds at Uncle Bobo’s. (Rebekah Luke photo)

I live in the middle of the Pacific in a comparatively rural (not urban) neighborhood on the windward side of Oahu island. It’s a 20- to 25-minute car ride to the nearest supermarket, and 45-55 minutes to reach Honolulu or Kailua in the middle of the day. Most everyone who lives in Kaaawa has a long commute to somewhere several times a week.

It’s “far,” by island standards.  But we love it because it’s what we call country. Kaaawa’s stunning mountain and ocean scenery and proximity to the base camp of TV shows or movies shot in Hawaii make it a favorite choice for location managers of the movie industry.

Low tide at Kaaawa

Low tide at Kaaawa

We like the quality of life. Kids play outside, they walk or bicycle to school, roosters crow, dogs bark, folks fish and grow food, and we play music on the back porch. You can walk along an empty beach or on the back roads, and everyone you pass will say hello. It’s mostly local families, not visitors, who use the park and beaches on the weekends.

For services, our town has a public school, a post office, a gas station, a 7-Eleven, a fire station, an EMS station, beach parks with restrooms, and Uncle Bobo’s—a diner that’s had the longest run in all of my nearly 30 years here.

Above all we are thankful for the gift of community.

Yesterday it was happening. People came from all over. Uncle Bobo’s put up tents for shade, and the kitchen was hopping with non-stop orders. There were music stands with Uncle Bobo’s logo on it, big band style. We listened to long sets while munching on brisket or pork ribs or Kualoa Ranch beef burgers with avocado. Tent campers packed Swanzy Beach Park across the street, more so than most weekends, but amazingly people managed to find parking, and there was plenty of toilet paper in the women’s restroom at the park for the crowd.

We watched the world go by on Kamehameha Highway. I saw a limo pull up and a parade of old Fifties cars. Motorcycle clubs too. My neighbor and friend Andrea tirelessly circulated a petition to “keep the country country.” I bet she collected a lot of signatures. I met Lisa, all grown up now, who lived in our house as a girl; she introduced herself to me. Nora who played piano for our glee club for a while said “hi” and that she was playing piano in the band earlier. Wow, they sounded great! Thank you, Uncle Bobo’s!

Pretty soon it was time for my cousins and friends to walk back to the studio, and Sue regretted not bringing her camera, because she wanted to capture the majesty of the mountains—the ones that are right in my back yard.

The view of Makaua Valley and mountains at Kaaawa from Swanzy Beach Park

The view of Makaua Valley and mountains at Kaaawa from Swanzy Beach Park. (Rebekah Luke photo)

Copyright 2013 Rebekah Luke
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