Sunday, April 4, 2010



I ran into a very skillful harmonica player the other week, Don Nakama. It turns out that Don, at the young age of 79 has been playing this instrument for over 50 years. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago, though, that he got serious about this instrument and learned from Hoshi Sensei, how to also play by reading music. This stepped Don up into another level as a musician.

Shiro Matsuo, Tony Kawasaki (hidden), Don Nakama and faithful wife Kay in background

Don has been entertaining at senior citizen groups, nursing homes, and adult day care centers for over 10 years. As part of his show, he also sings, tells jokes (he tells me nobody laughs) and even does magic in addition to his great harmonica playing. The day I caught up with him at Pearl City Nursing Home, he even had a celebrity guest playing the ukulele and singing. The dapper Shiro Matsuo, the saimin king. Both were having a ball entertaining the patients there.

Don also brings his wife Kay along, I suspect, to impress her of his skills and sometimes brings his own sound man, Tony Kawasaki to mix his sound. He regularly entertains at Pearl City Nursing Home, Pearl City Hongwanji adult day care, Waipahu Day Care and Wahiawa Hongwanji.

Don is a farmer and still operates his farm every day, Don Nakama Farms, where he grows papayas, bananas and avocados. In fact, he makes his rounds every week at the Leeward Farmer’s markets in Wahiawa, Waipahu, Waiau and Waikele. If you don’t see him there, he likely has sold out his inventory for the day and went home.

If you do see him, ask him to play a few tunes or show you some of his magic tricks. I’ll bet he accommodates you.

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