Ed Note: Tai Misailidis is a budding steel guitarist, although she is not very public about it. Perhaps 10-year old Tai is better known as one of Ke Kula Mele Hawaii's go-to Next Generation bass players. Her unmistakable fierce playing style and undaunted enthusiasm is evident at all her public performances including Ke Kula Mele concerts and at most HIMELE-produced steel guitar festivals. At a recent steel guitar festival, Next Gen musicians were tasked to interview a professional festival musician to help them gain some insight about that musician's history, musical preferences, playing style and methods to success. Since the bass is at present Tai's primary instrument, she chose to interview bassist Adam Asing. Here is that interview.
Tai: What attracted you to the bass?
Adam: The sound and the people that I watched growing up, they attracted me, they made me want to play bass.
Tai: How did you get started on the bass?
Adam: I was in the ninth grade. I just got home from football practice and my older brother Uncle Puka came home and threw a pair of black pants and an aloha shirt at me and said, "Put this on right now! Grab that bass and load it up in my car. You are going to play with me at a gig." I only knew one song, "Noho Paipai," but I ended up playing a three hour gig. After the gig, Uncle Puka gave me twenty-five dollars and I was like, "What? I got twenty-five dollars just for doing this?" And I was like, "Ooh I want to get some more money!" And that's how I started.
Tai: What other instruments can you play?
Adam: I play the guitar and the ukulele, and I am secretly learning the steel.
Tai: What were your greatest bass related experiences or achievements?
Adam: Playing for Ke Kula Mele and playing for the steel guitar festivals. To me those are some of my greatest achievements, playing with the masters of steel guitar.
Tai: Who are your musical influences?
Adam: Uncle Alan (Akaka), Sonny Kamahele, my dad (Kaipo Asing), Benny Kalama, George Kainapau, (David) Feet Rogers, Lei Mendez, Daisy Halemanu, Darrell Lupin, there's so much I can't even list them all.
Tai: Where would you like to be in five years?
Adam: I want to be playing next to all of you guys (Next Generation musicians) when you guys get famous.
Tai: How did you get your start in Hawaiian music?
Adam: I practiced, I practiced a lot and then I had to learn, I had to learn a lot. I got taught by all the kupuna, and all the old masters. Then slowly but surely, they started to allow me to play with them. And then when other people saw me playing with the masters, then they started to, you know, give me jobs and that's how it went.
Tai: Where did you receive your training on bass?
Adam: At my home. All my family members are entertainers so there's all kinds of music going on at any time in my house. All my uncles and aunties, they all taught me. All my kupuna.
Tai: How long have you played professionally?
Adam: About…I wanna say about almost 30 years.
Tai: What is your most memorable performance, and why?
Adam: My most memorable performance would be on the Merrie Monarch stage.
Tai: How would you describe your style?
Adam: Swing, blues, and jazz.
Tai: What bass recordings would you suggest to a beginner?
Adam: I would say listen to Joe Kaopuiki with Alfred Apaka, Benny Kalama, George Kainapau and Sonny Kamahele. Listen to all the old recordings of all of our Hawaiian masters. They were awesome jazz bass players, that's why. It's still a learning process for me, so I am still a student.
Tai: What advice would you offer to a beginner?
Adam: To keep it up, to keep playing. Play from your heart. Practice every day as much as you can. Always practice, always practice. Do your research and just love what you do.MUSICIANS
February 16, 2019 — Ka Makana Ali‘i Shopping Center, Kapolei
Kaua‘i Steel Guitar Festival
March 1-2, 2019 — Courtyard Kaua‘i at Coconut Beach, Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i
February 28-29, 2020 — Courtyard Kaua‘i at Coconut Beach, Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i
Maui Steel Guitar Camp
TBD — Maui site
Maui Steel Guitar Festival
April 12-13, 2019 — Outlets of Maui, Lahaina, Maui
April 14, 2019 — Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, Kahului, Maui
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Mini-Expo at Windward Mall
June 1, 2019 — Windward Mall, Kaneohe
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall
June 8, 2019 — Windward Mall, Kaneohe
Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Week
July 15-20, 2019 — Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī
Monday-Thursday — Nightly Evening Performances
Friday-Saturday — Festival Ho‘olaule‘a Performances
AISGC Winchester Convention
July 18-20, 2019 — Winchester Towne Centre, Winchester, IN
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Kahala Mall — Keiki Kine
August 17, 2019 — Kahala Mall, Honolulu
HSGA Ft. Collins Festival
September 17-19, 2019 — Hilton Fort Collins, Fort Collins, CO
Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Festival
December 13-15, 2019 (tentative, rescheduled) — Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kohala Coast, Hawai‘i Island.
Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival
October 9-10, 2020 — Nightly Festival Ho‘olaule‘a — Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī
HIMELE is a Hawai'i non-profit corporation that supports music enrichment and education for people of all ages. Our purpose is to educate, promote, and perpetuate Hawaiian music, Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian musical instruments.