Braddah Poki Passes: Entertainer, Musician, and Humble Hawaiian
By Wendy Osher
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hK4zFBYnVk /] A humble home and Hawaiian hospitality is what you would find when entering the studio with Allen “Braddah Poki” Pokipala.
The longtime musician, entertainer, and on-air radio personality, passed away on Friday night, September 30, 2011 at his home in Lahaina.
He had been suffering from failing health in recent weeks and decided to spend his final moments at home among family and friends.
Hours before his passing, his granddaughter Lithe Pokipala-Waiohu performed a hula at his bedside while family and friends played music to lift his spirits.
“He was a natural musician,” said daughters Hulali Waiohu and Roblynne Fountain of their father. “He would come home with all kinds of instruments and just play,” they said, recalling a variety of instruments that had surfaced over the years including a saxophone, clarinet and banjo.
Often dressed in cheerful colors of matching aloha print shirts and pants, Bradda Poki you might say, wore his aloha on his sleeve.
“He was very humble,” said Fountain. “He just does things and creates things, and we find out later,” she said.
Also known as The Hawaiian Cruiser, Braddah Poki would invite listeners to join him every Saturday and Sunday morning for “Poki in da pala (parlor),” a four-hour program dedicated to Hawaiian music and culture on KPOA 93.5 FM.
The program featured standard Hawaiian music from the likes of Alfred Apaka, Genoa Keawe, Gabby Pahinui and the Makaha Sons.
It also served as an educational outlet featuring regular interviews with cultural practitioners versed in Hawaiian plant medicine (la’au lapa’au), a Hawaiian Moon Calendar segment, and updates on weekend events happening on Maui.
In addition to his role on air, Braddah Poki was also an account executive with Pacific Radio Group, and the company’s Cultural Specialist. He provided live commentary for the annual Kamehameha Day Parade in Lahaina, and was the producer of the monthly “Picnic with Poki and Friends” Hawaiian music series in Wailuku.
Outside of radio, Braddah Poki performed music two to three nights a week as a back up singer and musician at the Old Lahaina Lu’au. He was often featured alongside his dear friend Eddie Liliko’i, playing music at a variety of West side events including the Aloha Sunday Brunch at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel.
During his earlier years, Braddah Poki was a member of the popular 1970’s group Na Keonimana, literally translated as The Gentlemen. Other members of the group included Keli‘i Tau‘a, John Kekuku, and Mike Ka‘awa.
“His career has always been in music and sales,” said family members, who recalled his work as a tour escort at Tradewind Tours where he sold everything from tickets to the Society of Seven and Crush to shows with the legendary Don Ho.
While in Honolulu family members say Braddah Poki helped to establish the successful Paradise Cove Lu’au show alongside Kumu Hula O’Brien Eselu. After opening the show, and serving as both musician and emcee, family members say he came to Maui in 1983 with the hopes of establishing the same concept at the Royal Lahaina Resort.
Over the years, Braddah Poki has remained a resident of West Maui, serving as mentor to many up-and-coming musicians.
He also supported various hula halau in their performances and annual trips to the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. Daughter Hulali, recalled her father helping with music for the Kanoeau Dance Academy, a halau of which both she and her daughter were members.
Outside of Hawai’i, Braddah Poki spent some time in Japan, serving a full time mission as a member of the Mormon Church. He also served for two years in the Army, traveling to both Korea and Germany.
Braddah Poki was born in Honolulu on January 2, 1941. He died at the age of 70.
Family members say memorial services will be announced at a later date.