It’s January. It’s cold outside. You’re probably dreaming of a warm, beachy vacation on the shores of a far-off island. That may not be in your travel itinerary, but you can escape there in your mind with the Masters of Hawaiian Music show, coming to The Barns at Wolf Trap for two nights this month. We spoke with musician George Kahumoku Jr. (pictured above, left) ahead of the performance.
When were you first exposed to Hawaiian music?
I was born into a Hawaiian, musical family. We have what we call pā‘ina, where you become one with the land. These are our rites of passages, celebrations on the island. These happen when you’re born, when you get married, when you graduate from high school and even in death. You have a lot of celebrations for each person’s lifetime, and at each of these is music, like a big party. It’s what I grew up with. I started playing the ukulele at 3 years old.
What makes Hawaiian music special?
It comes from the earth: the mountains, the islands, the lush greenery. The peacefulness of the sea, and the restlessness of the sea. We draw peace from the environment. It comes through the music. It’s the connection to the earth that people are looking for, they just don’t know how to find it. The music brings them there.
What do you love about Wolf Trap?
Bob Grimes [production manager at Wolf Trap] is probably the best song man in the world. We play everywhere from Great American Music Hall to Carnegie Hall. The thing that makes Wolf Trap special is the people. Those guys are just so unbelievable. And the acoustics at The Barns … nobody can beat the acoustics. It’s the best sound in the world. // Jan. 24 & 25; 8 p.m.; The Barns at Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Road, Vienna; $27-$32