Steel Trappings

Peering Through the Eyes of a 10-year Old Musician

Peering Through the Eyes of a 10-year Old Musician

June 8, 2018 • Tai MisailidisEduation and Training, Entertainment

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 Misailidis
Tai Misailidis. PC-Don Touchi.
Adam Asing
Adam Asing. PC-Don Touchi.

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 Misailidis at the Hawaii Island Steel Guitar Festival
Tai Misailidis at the Hawaii Island Steel Guitar Festival. PC-Dr. Kris Oka.
Tai and Adam at the Maui Guitar Festival
Tai and Adam at the Maui Steel Guitar Festival. PC-Dr. SooJean Misailidis.

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.

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