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Louis “Moon” Kauakahi on Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox


Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox: Louis "Moon" Kauakahi

Louis “Moon” Kauakahi on Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox

Tuesday, June 30 at 7:30 pm


The Mākaha Sons of Niʻihau released nearly two-dozen music albums, reconfigured their band member lineup multiple times, and endured a string of personal tragedies. Through most of the band’s history, Louis “Moon” Kauakahi was its backbone.


Kauakahi played a vital role with the Mākaha Sons as business manager, composer and guitarist, from the band’s beginnings in 1976 until his retirement in 2014.


Born and raised in Nānākuli on Oʻahu’s Leeward Coast, Kauakahi discovered his lifelong passion for music at Nānāikapono Elementary School, where he put together his first music arrangement in the sixth grade. His nickname is a tribute to Peter Moon, the late ʻukulele and slack-key master. “I tried to do everything that Peter Moon did,” Kauakahi says.


The Mākaha Sons perform on NĀ MELE: TRADITIONS IN HAWAIIAN SONG in 2004. From left: John Koko, Jerome “Boogie” Koko, Louis “Moon” Kauakahi

The Mākaha Sons perform on NĀ MELE: TRADITIONS IN HAWAIIAN SONG in 2004. From left: John Koko, Jerome “Boogie” Koko, Louis “Moon” Kauakahi


The late Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwoʻole is perhaps the most recognized former member of the band. Iz’s brother Skippy, Sam Gray, Sonny Lim, Melvin Amina, Abraham Nahulu, and brothers Jerome and John Koko were also in the band through the years. Iz and Skippy both died during the course of the band’s history, along with Kauakahi’s in-laws, sister-in-law and wife. “How do you get beyond the hurt?” he asks. “Each person is very unique in that sense. I kept doing something. In my doing numerous things, I managed to decompress.”


Kauakahi maintained a day job during the four decades he was with the band, and now works for the Liliʻuokalani Trust as a youth development specialist in the Waiʻanae area. “I retired twice, but I work hard now even after two retirements,” he says with a laugh. “A lot of times, friends would ask me, ‘Can you perform with us?’ I’d say, ‘Sure.’ ‘Can you do it, like, every week?’ I went, ‘Uh, then I wouldn’t be in retirement, would I?’”