McKinley High School

HIKI NŌ
HIKI NŌ Class of 2019, Part Two

 

This is the second of four specials in which outstanding HIKI NŌ graduates from the Class of 2019 (and one student from the Class of 2020) gathered at PBS Hawaiʻi to discuss their HIKI NŌ experiences and how they feel the skills they learned from HIKI NŌ will help them in college, the workplace and life.

 

This episode features Kera Rasavanh, who graduated from McKinley High School in Honolulu and is now a Business Marketing and Digital Cinema major at UH Mānoa; Drake Dela Cruz, who graduated from Farrington High School in Honolulu and is now a Film and TV Production major at Leeward Community College on Oʻahu; and Serene Morales, who graduated from H.P. Baldwin High School on Maui and is now majoring in Digital Cinema at UH Mānoa.

 

Each graduate also shows a HIKI NŌ story that they worked on and discusses what they learned from the experience of working on that particular story. Kera shares her story “Hawaii Nature Center,” about an ʻāina-based education center in Makiki, Oʻahu that teaches elementary and middle school children how to care for the environment. Drake shows “Betty Santoki,” about a 1962 Farrington graduate who has dedicated her life to keeping Japanese culture alive in her community. Serene presents her story “Justin Yanagida,” about a Maui-based fitness coach who uses struggles from his own past to motivate others to turn their lives around.

 

 

 

HIKI NŌ
Breaking Gender Norms and other stories

 

TOP STORY

 

“Breaking Gender Norms”
Students from McKinley High School on O‘ahu introduce us to their school’s quarterback, who happens to be a female. On August 19, 2017, McKinley sophomore Alexandria Buchanan became the first female varsity quarterback to start a game in Hawaiʻi. She recounts her progress from playing on the junior varsity team as a freshman to becoming the starting quarterback on the varsity team. “I’m proud I got this far,” says Buchanan, “I never expected to be on the varsity level, let alone starting as their quarterback. I take a lot of pride in it. I take a lot of pride in having my team and my coaches trust in me.” McKinley’s football coach and its athletic director also discuss how more and more females have been playing football in recent years, challenging the old perception that it is a sport strictly for men.

 

ALSO FEATURED

 

–Students from Maui Waena Intermediate School in Kahului, Maui, introduce us to a female intermediate school student who inspires younger students to embrace the wonders of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

 

–Students from Kapaʻa High School on Kauaʻi give us an inside look at their school’s building construction class.

 

–Students from Moanalua High School on Oʻahu shine a spotlight on a downtown-Honolulu arts organization: The Arts at Marks Garage.

 

–Students from Kamehameha Schools Maui High School introduce us to a young woman who has created a program that helps other young women build self-confidence and separate their sense of self-worth from social media.

 

–Students from Waimea High School on Kauaʻi present a profile in courage: a young girl who defeated cancer and gained strength and ambition from the experience.

 

 

 

HIKI NŌ
Compilation Show from the Spring Quarter of the 2018-2019 School Year

 

This compilation show features some of the top stories from the Spring Quarter of the 2018-2019 school year. Besides being excellent stories, these pieces all explore the connections between people and, in some cases, between people and other living things.

 

Students from McKinley High School in Honolulu tell the story of teenagers who connect with senior citizens in ways that bridge the generation gap.

 

Students from Waiʻanae High School in Central Oʻahu tell the story of a young tattoo artist who uses his art form to connect with his Hawaiian heritage.

 

Students from Konawaena High School on Hawaiʻi Island feature a 96-year-old Holocaust survivor who connects with Big Island students by teaching them about the devastating effects of bigotry and racism.

 

Students from Hilo Intermediate School on Hawaiʻi Island focus on the special connection between a bone marrow donor and the recipient of that donation who discover (despite the astronomical odds against it happening) that they live just minutes away from one another.

 

Students from Kua O Ka Lā Miloliʻi Hipuʻu Virtual Academy on Hawaiʻi Island follow conservationists who are facilitating the connection between male and female members of an endangered Hawaiian crow in order to save the species from extinction.

 

Students from Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on Kauaʻi introduce us to a singing nun who uses music to help students connect with the values she tries to instill in them.

 

Students from Maui High School in Kahului show us how a disabled student makes profound connections with her non-disabled peers through a program developed by the Special Olympics.

 

Students from Waiākea High School on Hawaiʻi Island tell the story of a pet placement service that connects homeless canines with their forever owners.

 

This special episode is hosted by Crystal Cebedo, a 2016 HIKI NŌ graduate from Waiʻanae High School on Oʻahu who has just completed her junior year at Menlo College in Northern California, where she majors in marketing and human resources.

 

 

 

HIKI NŌ
Lokahi Program

 

TOP STORY

 

“Lokahi Program”
Students from McKinley High School on Oʻahu feature their school’s Lokahi Program, an outreach activity in which students bond with senior citizens at the Kulana Hale Senior Apartments in Honolulu. The students organize an annual senior citizen prom for the residents and lead activities such as arts and crafts and karaoke. Friendships between kupuna and teens, such as the one between resident Faye Kubo and student Regina Nguyen, blossom. Says Regina, “The way I see Faye is the way I see my friends at school. We can literally talk about anything.” Faye says that through her interaction with Regina and other students, “I learn that there’s hope.”

 

ALSO FEATURED

 

Students from Maui Waena Intermediate School in Kahului profile a married couple that wanted to start a family and ended up turning to adoption to find their bundle of joy.

 

Students from Waiʻanae Intermediate School in West Oʻahu discover the values a judo instructor teaches his students.

 

Students from Kalākaua Intermediate School in the Kalihi district of Oʻahu introduce us to a local sculptor who uses invasive tree branches to create a replica of an ancient voyaging canoe.

 

Students from Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on Kauaʻi feature a singing nun who uses music to teach her students valuable lessons.

 

A violinist from H.P. Baldwin High School on Maui presents us with an introspective video self-portrait.

 

Plus—a public service announcement from students at Kealakehe Intermediate School on Hawaiʻi Island raises awareness about human trafficking.

 

This episode of HIKI NŌ also features students’ profiles on their HIKI NŌ teachers.

 

 

 

HAWAIʻI STUDENTS FROM HIKI NŌ: THE NATION’S FIRST STATEWIDE STUDENT NEWS NETWORK, TAKE HOME NEARLY 20% OF AWARDS AT MAJOR NATIONAL COMPETITION

PBS HAWAI‘I – News Release

315 Sand Island Access Rd.| p: 808.462.5000| pbshawaii.org
Honolulu, HI 96819-2295| f: 808.462.5090

 

For questions regarding this press release, contact:
Jody Shiroma
jshiroma@pbshawaii.org
808.462.5026­

 

April 8, 2019

 

Download this Press Release

 

HAWAIʻI STUDENTS FROM HIKI NŌ: THE NATION’S FIRST STATEWIDE STUDENT NEWS NETWORK, TAKE HOME NEARLY 20% OF AWARDS AT MAJOR NATIONAL COMPETITION

HAWAIʻI STUDENTS FROM HIKI NŌ: NEWS NETWORK,
TAKE HOME NEARLY 20% OF AWARDS
AT MAJOR NATIONAL COMPETITION

 

HONOLULU—Hawaiʻi students from HIKI NŌ: The Nation’s First Statewide Student News Network, brought home nearly 20% of the awards at the prestigious Student Television Network (STN) Convention, a rigorous student media competition held March 28 – 31 in Seattle, Washington. The four-day event – open to intermediate and high schools across the U.S. – played host to 3,000 students and teachers.

 

Twenty-three Hawaiʻi schools competed and won a total of 35 awards.

 

PBS Hawaiʻi’s eight-year-old HIKI NŌ (Hawaiian for “Can Do”) educational initiative has helped Island students become national standouts in quality digital storytelling, a medium that is at the forefront with youth.

 

Through HIKI NŌ, students are learning not only the skills of digital storytelling but how to apply them to real-world challenges.

 

Ewa Makai Middle School teacher Ethan Toyota acknowledges HIKI NŌ’s role in their success at the competition. Toyota said, “We really wouldn’t have gotten this far without HIKI NŌ and all of the supportive Hawai‘i media teachers.” Ewa Makai Middle School took home three awards, including first place for Spot Feature.

 

First-time attendee, Janet Powell of Kauaʻi’s Island School, noted that her students could not have competed without HIKI NŌ training.

 

Under their teachers’ guidance, students from 90 public, private and charter schools from across the islands participate in HIKI NŌ, which is based on curriculum that builds skills in storytelling, critical thinking, teamwork and technology.

 

“PBS Hawaii’s HIKI NŌ program has proven to be a launchpad for many Hawaiʻi students in gaining these real-world skills and excelling at a national level. Congratulations to the students and their teachers!” Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawaiʻi president and CEO said.

 

HIKI NŌ is primarily supported by charitable foundations with lead sponsors: Bank of Hawaii Foundation, Kamehameha Schools and ABC Stores.

 

Winning schools and categories listed below:

 

MIDDLE SCHOOL

 

Convention Recap (Middle School)
Second place: Maui Waena Intermediate School
Honorable mention: Ewa Makai Middle School

 

Spot Feature (Middle School)
First place: Ewa Makai Middle School
Second place: Island School
Honorable mention: Maui Waena Intermediate School

 

Movie Trailer (Middle School)
Third place: Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School
Honorable mention: Kamehameha Schools Maui Middle School

 

Nat. Package (Middle School)
Third place: Waianae Intermediate School
Honorable mention: Highlands Intermediate School

 

Public Service Announcement (Middle School)
Second place: Maui Waena Intermediate School
Honorable mention: Kealakehe Intermediate School

 

Silent Film (Middle School)
Third place: Kapaa Middle School

 

Anchor Team (Middle School)
Honorable mention: Kapaa Middle School

 

Music Video (Middle School)
Second place: Waianae Intermediate School

 

Crazy 8s Broadcast News Magazine (Middle School)
First place: Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School
Second place: Maui Waena Intermediate School

 

Crazy 8s Short Film Fiction (Middle School)
Second place: Waianae Intermediate School
Third place: Ewa Makai Middle School
Honorable mention: Maui Waena Intermediate School

 

HIGH SCHOOL

 

Tell The Story Editing (High School)
Honorable mention: Moanalua High School

 

Nat. Package (High School)
Honorable mention: Maui High School

 

Commercial (High School)
Honorable mention: Maui High School

 

PSA (High School)
Third place: McKinley High School

 

Weather Reporting (High School)
Third place: Waianae High School

 

Multimedia Journalist (High School)
Honorable mention: Moanalua High School
Honorable mention: Waianae High School

 

Music Video (High School)
Honorable mention: Waiakea High School

 

Video Tip (High School)
Third place: Maui High School

 

Crazy 8s Broadcast News Magazine (High School)
Second place: Waianae High School

 

Crazy 8s Short Film Documentary (High School)
First place: Kamehameha Schools Maui High School

 

Crazy 8s Short Film Fiction (High School)
Honorable mention: Moanalua High School

 

Crazy 8s Broadcast Morning Show (High School)
Honorable mention: Maui High School

 

Excellence Awards

 

National Winner: Broadcast Excellence–Monthly Show
Waianae High School

 

South Pacific/International Regional Winner: Broadcast Excellence—Weekly Live/Taped News Show
Moanalua High School

 

Film Excellence—Best Directing
Moanalua High School

 

 

 

HIKI NŌ
HIKI NŌ Class of 2018 Special, Part 4 of 4

 

HIKI NŌ presents the last of its four-part Class of 2018 Specials, in which outstanding HIKI NŌ graduates discuss their HIKI NŌ experiences and how they feel the skills they learned from HIKI NŌ will help them in college, the workplace and life.

 

Part 4 features Melanie Lau, who graduated from McKinley High School on O‘ahu and is now majoring in creative writing at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts; Hannah Dumon, who graduated from Konawaena High School on Hawai‘i Island and is now majoring in digital media arts at Hawai‘i Community College – Palamanui on Hawai‘i Island; and Leanna Thesken, who graduated from Kaua‘i High School in Līhu‘e and is now majoring in media communications at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California.

 

To start off the show, each graduate shows a HIKI NŌ story that they worked on and discusses what they learned from the experience of working on that particular story. Melanie presents her story “Ignition Program,” about a program at McKinley that pairs freshmen mentees with junior or senior mentors. Hannah shows “Gravitational Waves,” about a Konawaena High School alum who was part of the team that recently proved Einstein’s theory of relativity. Leanna presents her story “Food Truck Owner,” about a food truck entrepreneur who combines his love of science and cooking to create a unique culinary experience.

 

 

HIKI NŌ
Episode #901 – The Bigger Picture

 

TOP STORY

Students from Kaua‘i High School in Lihue present a personal essay called “The Bigger Picture.” It bemoans how smartphones and other personal electronic devises get in the way of our enjoyment of the natural world around us. The widespread use of smartphone cameras has led people to experience life within the confines of a small screen rather than directly, with their own eyes. “Our phones distract us from the real beauty right in front of us,” says the narrator, “which makes each minute less memorable.”

 

ALSO FEATURED:

–Students from McKinley High School in Honolulu show how a massive art project created a common bond among the employees of a Waikiki hotel.

 

–Young journalists at Wheeler Middle School in Central O‘ahu show how actions taken by students led to the administration extending the time between periods to ensure students have enough time to walk from class to class.

 

–Students from Hana School in East Maui show us how to make a fish ornament out of coconut fronds.

 

–Students from Kamehameha Schools Maui Middle show how a man’s participation in a community band enriches his life, even though it has been more than twenty years since he played in his high school orchestra.

 

–Students from Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on Kaua‘i uncover the massive clean-up effort along their island’s Kalalau hiking trail.

 

–Students from H.P. Baldwin High School in Wailuku, Maui, tell the story of a young woman who was inspired to reveal the real person behind her make-up.

 

 


The Power of the Hour: Insights on PBS Hawai‘i

 

CEO Message

The Power of the Hour: Insights on PBS Hawai‘i
The Power of the Hour: Insights on PBS Hawai‘i: Pictured, from left: Norm Baker - Aloha United Way Chief Operating Officer; Zi Jun - McKinley High School senior; Connie Mitchell - Institute for Human Services Executive Director; Nani Medeiros - single mother and nonprofit director

Pictured, from left: Norm Baker – Aloha United Way Chief Operating Officer; Zi Jun – McKinley High School senior; Connie Mitchell – Institute for Human Services Executive Director; Nani Medeiros – single mother and nonprofit director

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOHow many times have you seen or heard something that makes you feel anxious about the future of Hawai‘i? And how many times have you shaken off the thought, as day-to-day life calls you back, with its challenges and pressures? You know that your passing thoughts will return. Your concerns persist.

 

Perhaps that’s one reason why the statewide viewership of Insights on PBS Hawai‘i has doubled in the last two years. For one hour, on Thursday evenings from 8 to 9 pm, we explore one of the quality-of-life issues that are tugging at all of us.

 

The power of the hour is the different perspectives presented. For example, on March 1, our subject was the Islands’ tens of thousands of “working poor.” The Aloha United Way had published a study showing that in 2015-2016, about a third of Hawai‘i’s working households struggled to make ends meet. (An additional 11 percent of Hawai‘i’s households were living in poverty.)

 

I was moved by Insights guest Nani Medeiros, matter-of-fact and thoughtful, as she spoke of being on the high end of the working-poor spectrum. The single mother of a young daughter runs a small nonprofit organization. Born and raised in Hawai‘i and of part-Hawaiian ancestry, Nani never expected to live anywhere else. However, she sees a changing Hawai‘i that she and her daughter may need to leave.

 

“We’re getting by just fine…but there’s never going to be any huge ‘getting ahead’ for us,” she said, “I’m almost 100 percent certain I’ll never be able to buy my own home. Saving for a [down payment] is completely out of grasp.” Last year, she said, her rent increased by $300 a month: “That’s huge.”

 

High school senior Zi Jun said that his immigrant parents live with the stress of debt, even though they work hard to support the family. For all they do to keep the family fed, clothed and housed, they derive precious little time to spend with Zi and his sister.

 

“I see my parents coming home every night, and they’re not happy,” he said.

 

Aloha United Way’s Chief Operating Officer Norm Baker and Connie Mitchell, who leads the Institute for Human Services, pointed out that there’s help available for homeless people who will accept it, but our society is missing a “preventative piece” to keep the working poor from falling into homelessness due to an illness or accident. A short-term subsidy could stabilize a highly vulnerable household and prevent society from incurring higher costs.

 

During Insights’ one hour of live television and live streaming, viewers gain reliable information, and they get an idea of what it’s like to live in someone else’s skin. Different perspectives can yield understanding. We believe a common understanding builds respect – which, in turn, can generate trust and positive action.

 

Insights is currently the second most-watched locally produced program on PBS Hawai‘i (after Nā Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song). According to market research, Insights draws men and women viewers in equal numbers and attracts viewers evenly from every household income level from $35,000 to $150,000.

 

Aloha nui,

 

Leslie signature

 

 

HIKI NŌ
Episode # 910: Top Story – Kyle Quilausing’s motto: “Stay Humble, Pray”

 

TOP STORY

Students from Waiākea High School in Hilo on the Big Island introduce us to a man who’s spreading his motto: “Stay Humble, Pray.” This philosophy grew out of Kyle Quilausing’s experience during a decade in prison. He now shares his story of drug addiction and the consequences – with Hawai‘i high school students in hopes they can avoid his fate. “Quilly” puts on shackles when he visits schools because he believes showing has greater impact than just telling.  He says his greatest accomplishment is the feedback he gets from students who tell him he has persuaded them not to try drugs.

 

ALSO FEATURED

–Students from Wai‘anae High School on O‘ahu show us how a varsity wrestler is excelling at his sport when the small sophomore may look like he is in way over his head.

 

–Students from McKinley High School on O‘ahu explain their “Ignition” mentoring program, and how it is helping anxious incoming freshmen make a smooth transition to high school.

 

–Students from Island School in Līhu‘e on Kaua‘i introduce us to two of their fellow students – brothers who are pushing the boundaries of business and technology as high-tech entrepreneurs.

 

–Students from Kamehameha Schools Maui Middle School in Upcountry Maui teach us to play the ancient Hawaiian game of konane.

 

–Students from Ilima Intermediate School in ‘Ewa Beach on O‘ahu profile mural artist Hilton Alves who is giving back to Hawai‘i schools while fulfilling his own goal to create 101 waves on walls.

 

–Students from Moanalua High School on O‘ahu profile a fitness buff and nutrition advocate who keeps motivating others while going through her own battle with cancer.

 

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Benny Rietveld

 

Benny Rietveld’s first experience playing music was at the age of six, in the piano department at Gem’s in Kapalama. “I liked the idea that you could press something, and it creates this…cool sound,” Rietveld remembers. He was mentored by band director Henry Miyamura at McKinley High School, and played in local jazz and rock bands before moving to San Francisco and touring with Sheila E. and Miles Davis. Today, Benny Rietveld plays bass for Carlos Santana, and still sits in with the Hawai‘i musicians he grew up with.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Oct. 18 at 4:00 pm.

 

Benny Rietveld Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

Do you think music is more than just fun?

 

Totally; yeah. Music is powerful, music is magic. It allows us to do so many things invisibly. You can put it in the background, you can have it in the foreground, you can stop, start. You know, it’s always there, and it helps you celebrate things, it helps you mourn. It drives people to battle, you get married and you can create babies with it. It transports you, it reminds you of things in your life, just hearing something. Like, oh, my god, you know.

 

M-hm.

 

It’s an incredibly powerful force, and it can actually change people’s lives, you know. And that’s why I think musicians have a really big responsibility to just keep on point, keep being mindful, keep getting better, showing up. Because it’s a really powerful thing.

 

Benny Rietveld, who still calls Hawai‘i home, is the bassist and music director for Santana, a band he first heard when he was a young boy growing up in Honolulu. He’s been recording and touring with Santana since the 1990s, and he’s also known locally as a member of Topaz, a jazz fusion band that he and his high school friends had in the 1970s. Benny Rietveld, next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawai‘i’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Benny Rietveld has recorded three albums with the iconic Latin rock band Santana, including Supernatural which became a worldwide sensation when it was released in 1999. Rietveld was born in Holland to parents of Dutch, French, and Indonesian ancestry. They moved their family to Hawai‘i when Benny was three. He grew up in Honolulu, where he started showing musical talent at a young age.

 

I took piano lessons when I was six.

 

Why did you take piano when you were six? Now, that’s early. How did that happen?

 

Remember Gem Store on—well, I don’t know …

 

Kapalama?

 

Yeah; in Kapalama. Yeah. Well, we used to live in Kalihi, and so we’d go through there, and it was always the piano section, and I was always plinking on the piano, you know. And my mom thought, Oh, he’s musical. You know how kids, you know, they hit a hammer, and it’s like, Oh, he’s gonna be a carpenter when he grows up.

 

But were you plunking better than most kids, do you think?

 

I don’t think so. I just liked it. I liked the idea that you could press something, and it creates this cool sound. I think. That’s how I remember it. And then, so we got like a little piano, upright piano, and she gave me lessons at Palama Settlement. And I think the first teacher was named Mrs. Leong. I think. But I didn’t really like ‘em. And I was like, Oh, really? You know, really like boring music, and River keep on rolling. You know. I just didn’t get it. And then, when was ten, we still had the piano in the, you know, attracting dust. And then, the song Hey Jude came out from the Beatles, and it had that cool piano intro. I was like, wow, that’s cool. I was like, wow. And then, oh, it’s sort of like that instrument that’s in our living room. So, I was like, huh. And it was really easy for me, and it was really fun. So, I thought, well, this is great, I’m gonna keep doing this. You know.

 

Then you learned other songs.

 

And then, I learned the entire Beatles catalog, practically.

 

By yourself, or with a teacher?

 

No, no; by myself. Yeah. You know, then I was hooked. And it was like, this is fun, I don’t want to do anything else. And I was just on my way. And then, I met my cousin, the guitar player in Topaz, or calabash cousin, actually, Fred Schreuders. And he was slightly older than me, but he was already playing music. He was, you know, playing guitar, and his dad also played music. So, I was like, wow, cool. And we met, and we jammed, you know, tried to play songs together.

 

You were on the piano?

 

Yeah; and then, I branched out to drums, and then a little bit of bass. And then we started, you know, playing. Hey, let’s do a band, you know. And so, yeah, we put together a band. So, when I was about twelve, I was playing in these dances at, you know, Star of the Sea.

 

And that was kind of the beginning of that. So, you know, I met the guitar player for Topaz way back then.

 

You were just picking it up as you went.

 

Yeah; yeah. ‘Cause it was easy.

 

And you were playing for high school dances at age twelve, or middle school dances?

 

Yes; yeah. My parents were really worried. ‘Cause there were some situations where sometimes we’d play a party, and and more like a high school kids’ party. And so, there may have been some illicit drugs.

 

And it was nighttime.

 

And it was nighttime.

 

Driving.

 

Yeah. So, my parents, you know, lost a lot of hair.

 

And you gave them reason to.

 

A little bit. But, you know, I wasn’t that wild.

 

And where were you on instruments? ‘Cause right now, you’re a confirmed bassist.

 

Yeah.

 

How did you pick the bass, or did the bass pick you?

 

Well, yeah. This is the joke. Usually, the bass picks you. It’s usually because you don’t know anyone else who plays the bass. So, you’re like, oh, you play the bass. So, what happened to me was, I was playing drums in this little dance band, and our bass player left. So, we didn’t know any other musicians, but we knew one drummer. So, it was like, well, what do we do? You know, so we’ll just get him, and you play bass. So, that’s how it happened. But I kept playing guitar with Joe the Fiddler, because, you know, it worked better for chords and stuff, and I kept up on piano playing. You know, I just like always was interested in all of that stuff. But you know, I started getting kinda good on the bass, which is easy to do.  Yeah; so that was that. It just happens like that, you know.

 

What schools did you go to?

 

I lived in town mostly, and I went to McKinley High School.

 

You had a band director who is legendary.

 

Yes, legendary; Henry Miyamura. He’s like one of the big musical mentors of my life, and of Noel’s life, and of Allen Won’s life, too, the other guys from Topaz. He was … amazing. He was like that Mr. Holland guy. I mean, just deeply, deeply committed to the real essence of music performance, which goes beyond, you know, the notes and stuff, but the actual conveyance of the emotion or of the story, or of the tragedy or comedy, or whatever. And to get a bunch of high school kids, half of them who weren’t really gonna go into music anyway, or most of them, and get them to sound as good as he got those bands to sound was really a remarkable feat.

 

How do you think he did it?

 

I think he really loved music, and he loved people. He knew how important it was, you know, even if we didn’t. You know, we were kids then. He knew.

 

While Benny Rietveld was busy playing music through high school, his parents were thinking about his future. They didn’t consider music to be a suitable career path. But Benny was already doing what he loved, and it wasn’t long before his talents took him from the local venues in Hawai‘i to a larger stage.

 

Did you decide consciously, I’m going to be a musician as a livelihood?

 

I don’t think so. The only time it was a conscious thought was like as, you know, graduation from high school was imminent. Then my parents were like, So, you know, what are you gonna do? You’re gonna go to trade school? You should go to trade school, because you know, you learn a trade and make a lot of money. I guess they didn’t see me as the scholarly type, which I wasn’t.  And I said, Oh, I’m just gonna play music. I just assumed I was.

 

Were you already getting paid to play?

 

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Just like, well, I don’t know. You know, I just thought I was gonna be a musician. And they went, What? No, you can’t. And they were very upset for a little while, only because, you know, they just saw their child being an intravenous drug user and being in the gutter, and you know, whatever. So yeah, I totally get why they freaked out. But then after a while, they thought, Well, he seems to be doing okay, and he’s playing, you know.

 

And you went to college right after that, here.

 

Not right after, but yeah, I did.

 

Oh; so you graduated from high school.

 

Graduated from high school. I was living on my own. I think for about a year, I was living on my own, then I got a scholarship for UH, through Mr. Miyamoto, who suggested I do that. So, he championed me as far as getting a scholarship.

 

And didn’t graduate.

 

No.

 

Because?

 

‘Cause I was also playing music, and then I got a road touring gig with The Crusaders. It was very short. But with all my other gigs in Hawai‘i, and then going off to the mainland for a little bit, just like I lost the whole momentum.

 

How did you make the transition from having lived almost all of your life in Hawai‘i, to the mainland, to the continent?

 

With scarves and heavy sweaters. Basically, that’s how I made the transition. I went to San Francisco first.

 

And that was, I’m going to go try my luck in the San Francisco Bay Area?

 

Well, because I had a friend there already. And he said, You gotta come here, there’s a lot of good music there. And there was, at the time. Lots of great musicians there.

 

You played with some biggies, fairly early on.

 

No. I mean, I don’t know. Pete Escovedo, you know, I learned a lot from him. Ray Obiedo, you know, he used to play with Herbie Hancock and really good songwriter. And a lot of really great local San Francisco Bay Area musicians.

 

When was the first time you played with someone that you went, Whoa, I’m with so-and-so, I’m intimidated?

 

Well, sort of like Sheila E, because her producer was Prince. So, he’d be around, and I’m like, Whoa, you know, ooh. You know. That was my sort of introduction to the high end pop world.

 

And you went on tour with Sheila E, didn’t you?

 

Yes, yes; for about two years.

 

How did you get along with Prince?

 

He was like kind of a mysterious background guy. So, he didn’t talk much to us, but he seemed okay, you know. But he kinda kept more to Sheila and, you know, just sort of like that.

 

Now, did that tour lead to anything?

 

Then I was playing around the Bay Area for a while, and then, I guess Miles Davis was looking for a bass player, and he kinda wanted that sort of Prince-influenced sound. Then we rehearsed, and I met Miles, and it was crazy. And I think I was too much in shock to be actually intimidated, tell you the truth. It was only until I think a year later, I was on the stage, and I was like, Holy crap, that’s Miles Davis. You know, and then I had that moment. But I think, you know, your body blesses you with the gift of shock, so you’re just, you know, immune.

 

And how was it? You know, you have to feel each other in music, you have to work together. How did that go?

 

It went fabulously. You know, he would, you know, give direction while we’re playing, and sometimes before the shows we’d talk about let’s do this part a little faster, or let’s do this kinda rhythm and, you know. And we would keep trying, and so really, back then it was like a laboratory, you know. Because we would do the same song, and it would just evolve. It was like a petri dish. I mean, the songs would evolve so that if you hear the same song two years apart, they’re almost radically different. You know, the tempo is like way slower or faster, and this part is really loud, you know. It was really, really interesting, and it just demanded that you focus a hundred percent on him and the music all the time. You know. That was the big deal.

 

You had to be really mindful.

 

Yeah; like mindful to an incredible degree, because if you weren’t, then then he’d know, you know, and then those eyes would, you know, turn. You know, zzzz, laser, laser. So yeah, you really had to have presence of mind.

 

So, you had a real sense of what he wanted, who he wanted—

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

–how he wanted.

 

Yeah, yeah. And yet, there was that … still, the challenge was to inject yourself in that, within that framework, you know.

 

And he expected you to.

 

Yeah; yeah, yeah, yeah. And so, that was really intimidating, ‘cause I felt like I wasn’t really mature enough as a musician to inject a lot of myself. I don’t know, maybe I did. I don’t know.  That was another coming of age thing, because I had to, I think, almost completely relearn music. You know, really music and bass playing, and the ethos of what it means to be a bass player and what it means to be a musician.

 

Why?

 

Well, because I hadn’t learned all these really basic fundamental things well enough, you know.

 

So, you were good enough to get in the band.

 

Yeah.

 

And once you were there, you had to up your game.

 

Yeah; yeah, yeah. It was like raw talent is one thing, but to really like hone it is another thing.

 

After two and a half years playing with Miles Davis, Benny Rietveld moved on. Two months later, he met Carlos Santana.

 

Coincidentally, I did a recording session with Carlos Santana.

 

You sound so casual when you say that.

 

Well, no. I mean, because it just happened, you know. It was somebody else’s session, and we met. And that was another intimidating moment, ‘cause it was Carlos Santana, and I grew up looking at that album cover, you know, and all that stuff, listening to all those albums over and over again. And he said, Yeah, you know, I might need another bass player, and you know. Luckily, we lived both in the Bay Area, so I called him and I said, Yeah, I would love to play. Are you kidding? You know. So that’s how that happened.

 

Aren’t you the musical director as well now?

 

Yes. I don’t know, I’m not really the musical director so much as like traffic cop. You know, ‘cause I consider Carlos actually is the musical director, ‘cause he’s very hands-on and he has an uncanny ability to know what he wants. It’s more about during the show itself, when he calls an audible, which he does every time, then I just help direct traffic. Okay, we’re going here now, instead of, you know, how we rehearsed it.

 

How much of the year do you go on tours?

 

With Santana, it’s roughly four to five months out of the year. But it’s broken up. You do get burnt out, you know, no matter what you do. And it’s always gotta be really, really high level, energy, fun. And the minute it’s a little bit below that, then we’re not doing it.

 

Do you ever get sick of being asked to play a song you love, but you’ve heard it and you’ve sung it … Black Magic Woman, so many times before?

 

No; love it. It’s great. I don’t care about all the other times I’ve played it. It’s like, oh, wow, this is the first time I’m playing it. You know. That’s special, and we have to convey that to people every time. That’s the hard part. That’s the higher level stuff. Not playing the music; the notes are like whatever, you know. That’s like hammering a nail; okay? But it’s how to get into that thing, and it sounds so, fluffy and goofy, you know. But that is, to me, the higher level of music.

 

Did working with Santana when you started require a different sensibility than working with Miles Davis? Did you have to shift in any way?

 

Only superficially, actually, with the style of music, the genre, you know. Because it’s more rock-oriented, Latin, which we hardly ever did in Miles’ thing. But in essence, it was actually very similar, because they both demanded passion and fire, and presence of mind, like all the time. And not being afraid, you know. I think that’s another thing. You cannot have any fear.

 

Is there a way to describe how they work musically, and how you work with them musically?

 

With both of those guys, it was about trying to … articulate the in-articulable.  That’s the weird part about music, is that like underneath the hood, underneath all the technique and theory, and all the numbers, which are all useful, underneath it all, I like to say the last thing that music is about is music. You know.  It’s really about feeling and life. And it sounds so, you know … fluffy. You know, like, Oh, it’s feelings. You know. But all the major guys hardly ever talk about nuts and bolts of music, you know. The jazz guys, a little bit more, because it’s more their realm, you know. But all those guys share the predilection for using aphorisms to describe music. It should sound like, you know, red wine streaming through. You know, something like that. And sometimes, it just sounds so bonkers, you know, to the uninitiated. But then, you realize it’s just a personal lexicon and a cosmology. And actually, now that I’ve known Carlos for a while, it makes complete sense, you know. Now when he says something, you know, like really poetic, I’m actually kinda knowing what it means in dry, boring music terms. Sometimes Miles would say—an actual musical thing would be like, Give that part a little lift. Instead of, you know, doong, doong, doong, doong; maybe like doong, ka-doong, ka-doong, ka-doong, doong, ka-doong. You know, all these little things between. I think everyone knows that deep down inside, it’s really silly to talk about music, because it’s the most abstract of all art forms, you know. But we try, anyway. We have to, sometimes. You know, we’re trying to convey what we want, you know.

 

Although Benny Rietveld lives in L.A. when he isn’t touring with Santana, he likes to come to the place he calls home: Hawai‘i. In 2014, he and some of his former bandmates from Topaz reunited for a show.

 

What brings you back to perform with your old high school buddies?

 

Love of music, and love of them. You know. We’ve kept in contact all this time.

 

And tell me what the names are. Who’s your gang?

 

The gang is Noel Okimoto on drums, Allen Won on the saxophones, Fred Schreuders on guitar, and Carl Wakeland on keyboards.

 

That’s a pretty amazing group from McKinley High School, isn’t it?

 

Yeah. Well, me and Allen, and Noel are from McKinley. Carl is from Mililani. Fred ended up graduating from Kaiser High School. We got kind of popular because we were this bunch of high school kids that could play this kind of difficult and technical music known at the time as fusion. And we loved jazz and all that. So, there weren’t many eighteen-year-olds playing that at the time in Hawai‘i. So you know, we got a kind of rep, and we were the little darlings there for a while, and we even played at La Mancha for two weeks. We disbanded ‘cause we all had stuff, and we were doing our lives. And Noel stayed here, so he’d play. And his late dad, unfortunately, George Okimoto, would go to his gigs all the time. And George actually managed us back then, because he was the manager of Easy Music Center, you know, by McCully. And so he was like, You know, you kids really got something. And he got us equipment to use, you know, cool new gear. So he was like our manager, and really championed us. Cut to couple of years ago. We’re at Gordon Biersch, I’m visiting, and I see Noel, and like you know, listening to him, Byron Yasui and all these great local guys. And there was Noel’s dad, George Okimoto, and he goes, Eh, hurry up, you know, get a reunion. And it was like, actually very bittersweet because he actually made a joke. He was like, Eh, hurry up, before I die.  And what I got from that was like, he wasn’t really joking around. He was like, you know, everyone is about to move on here, and you guys should do something, ‘cause it was really special. So, we did a show last year. It was really, really fun. So, this year again, earlier in the year, we recorded a CD. But you know, we all have these other crazy lives, and we’re not gonna like, Yeah, let’s have a band and tour together. That’s not gonna happen.

 

Did you ever conceive, did you ever think in your young life, that you would be in your fifties, and it’s a tour, it’s concerts and crowds, and music, and vans?

 

I had no idea. Who really knows what their thing is, you know.

 

And how long do you see that going on?

 

Playing music, being involved in music for me will go on until either I die, or I find suddenly that I don’t like it. You know. I don’t really see the latter happening.

 

Benny Rietveld has not stopped having fun playing music since figuring out how to play Hey Jude on the piano at age ten. Along with his raw talent, his dedication to his craft, his ability to work with people, his fearlessness and his determination took him to a world stage. Mahalo to Benny Rietveld, a proud graduate of McKinley High School in Honolulu, and longtime bassist for Santana. And thank you, for joining us. For PBS Hawai‘i and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawai‘i.org.

 

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