After tearassing around North Seattle before confirming that house #4 is one we want to bid on, Viv and I, starving, skidded to a stop in front of the oft-passed, always curiously eyed Kona Kitchen at 85th. I’d read good things about the place, and as we walked in, I was a bit surprised to hear the somewhat loud, live slack-key music played by a motley assortment and fronted by a striking, fiftyish soprano. The place was filled with obvious family groups, and a clear majority of the men were, in fact, wearing Hawaiian shirts.

Viv and I were a bit overwhelmed by the volume at first (which really wasn’t that loud, we were just tired and hungry) but I ordered fish and chips and a Kalua pig and cabbage. Watching the musicians, it was clear that we’d walked into a gathering of people who all seemed to know one another and the songs being performed. We had a beer and settled in to watch and listen.

As it happened, the night’s performance was led by one Stephen Inglis, and he was assisted by a semi-rotating cast of musicians, three of whom appeared to be guesting. One of these folks wandered over to our table and asked Viv if she was from Hawaii, and we chatted with him for a bit. He, the woman who had been singing when we walked in, and a bassist all appeared to have played together for many years, and although I enjoyed Inglis’ performance, I was intrigued by the relaxed interplay of the older players. Unfortunately, I did not catch the name of the guy who wandered over to chat with us before working his way around the room – he clearly knew the majority of people there.

At any rate, the food was delicious, the music was relaxing, and watching the room was a hoot. I had the presence of mind to record five of the performances on the phone – theoretically in stereo – so bend an ear. I haven’t proofed or remastered these tracks, so expect warts.