Bill Tapia’s Birthday Hana Hou Party
Photo by John Berger
Bill Tapia, right, closed his “102-1/2 Birthday Party” entertaining his guests with support from Benny Chong, left, Byron Yasui and singing emcee Jimmy Borges. Jeff Apaka, far left, looked on from the audience.
By JOHN BERGER
Bill Tapia had such a good time celebrating his “102-1/2 birthday” at Mihana Souza’s Kailua residence late last month that he persuaded her to keep the tent up in her spacious backyard for another week so he could have a smaller “hana hou” party last Saturday for a short list of friends.
Guests were treated to a Hawaiian jazz jam session featuring improvised lyrics by Jimmy Borges, Melveen Leed and Shari Lynn, and the solid instrumental work of Benny Chong, slack-key master George Kuo, and Byron Yasui.
Borges, 75, got a big laugh from the crowd when he quipped that it was a rare experience for him to not be the oldest entertainer performing.
Jeff Apaka arrived with Regina Kawananakoa and Borges called him up to sing.
Kanoe Miller danced a hula in Tapia’s honor, and Souza joined the musicians for an improvisised hula about the peacocks in Makaha.
Tapia finally took the stage to close the show with several of his favorite songs and a couple of his favorite stories. One of his tales, told in Apaka’s honor, was how he introduced Apaka’s father, the late Alfred Apaka, to bandleader Don McDiarmid Sr. in the late 1930s.
Tapia said he was ready to celebrate his birthday again this weekend. Souza said they had to take down the tent.