Taimane Gardner

Photo courtesy Taimane Gardner

Thawing out from a recent concert in Anchorage, Alaska, electrifying ukulele artist Taimane Gardner might be a bit more blessed to call Hawaii home now more than ever, but she loves each new place she has the opportunity to visit.

“I’ve never been in that cold of weather before. I went sledding for the first time. The show went really well, and we’re talking about another,” says Gardner, who was featured on MidWeek‘s cover July 14, 2006.

Growing up with an ukulele in hand, Gardner has innovated the ukulele style, adding a flair and ferociousness that few can duplicate. Gardner was discovered as a teen by Don Ho while she was playing on the streets of Waikiki. Performing with Ho, nearly until the day he died, Gardner gained confidence as a musician and entertainer.

With a wandering, artistic heart Gardner finds solace in the creative process and recently has branched out from being solely a musician. She is beginning to establish herself in the art of production, creating theme-based performances at Ong King Art Center.

“I was doing a lot of corporate shows and luaus, a lot of stuff in Waikiki. Then I started going to Chinatown and seeing the art scene there, and found Ong King Arts Center,” she says. “I started making my own music over there, which sort of grew into these productions. Instead of playing a set, I would incorporate a storyline, dancers and other musicians and have a theme.”

Her first themed production at Ong King Arts Center was a circus-based performance, followed by her most recent universe or solar system show, where Gardner wrote a song for each planet and incorporated slam poetry, aerialists and taiko drummers. Currently in the creation process, Gardner is leaning toward an element-based concept for her next production, incorporating fire, earth, wind and water as the centerpieces.

About her recent Ong King productions, Gardner says, “I really am ethereal with the universe theme or I can get really dark and go with the circus or madhouse theme. I guess I pull from those extremes. My art focuses on visual art now, making a visual to music.”

A musician’s musician, Gardner says some of her favorite places to play are at open mic nights.

“All my friends are some type of artist in some way. It’s really fun to collaborate and make something together,” says Gardner, who also warmed up nicely to Paris on her first trip to Europe earlier this year.

“I enjoyed their sophistication, their food. It is very artistic; they are all about beauty.”

Gardner also is thrilled about her new album, Ukulele Dance, which features two songs from her Ong King Art Center solar system production. Ukulele Dance can be purchased at mountainapplecompany.com or itunes.com.