Hula La brings islands to Walpole

Hula La performs Harry Belafonte’s ‘Banana Boat Song.’ Photo by James Kinneen.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

The problem with most kids’ concerts is that no matter how good your music is, a child’s attention span isn’t long enough to keep them from squirming, getting bored, asking for your phone, or lashing out.

But on Tuesday at the Walpole Library, Hula La had the answer for that. Virtually every song the band played in their “tropical island party” gave the kids something to do, from a response to yell back to a dance to perform or an instrument to play.

Billed as “bringing their blend of Hawaiian, Calypso, and reggae music for a taste of the tropics right here in Walpole,” every song originated from a different island, about which a band member would tell the crowd.

For example, when the band played “Zombie Jamboree,” they explained: “You know how we dress up for Halloween? Well on the islands, they do the same thing for Carnivale.” They then had the kids walk around like zombies as the song played.

When they played “The Hukilau Song,” the band explained that in Hawaii, a hukilau is a celebration of a great day of fishing.

Trinidad’s “Jumping the Line” had the kids doing a conga line around the space, while “Tiny Bubbles” saw the band blowing bubbles around the room to the kids’ delight.

But when they pulled out a pole and set up a limbo contest to the tune of “Limbo Rock,” the band had to be forthcoming.

“We told you all the songs are from the islands,” they explained, “but this one’s from Chubby Checker. So I guess we’ll just say it comes from Long Island.”

Adults got into the action, as well. A couple of adults waved the fans they were given, after the smaller children weren’t able to really make them catch the wind to fully unveil their colors.

And a few songs like “Coconut Woman” had the band looking to the crowd for musical help in the form of singing. Many times, the lead singer would hold her microphone into a child’s face, looking for the kid to sing “coconut” - only to find that the child was too shy and clung to his or her parent. Rather than waste the opportunity, she would quickly put the microphone in the parent’s face and have the adult get in on the action.

The library was able to afford the band, and all the fun they brought with them, due to a generous gift from the Harding family in memory of their mother, Eleanor “Soosie” Harding.

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