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Max’s passions: Ukulele, dirt bikes and fishing

By Staff | Sep 4, 2014

Very knowledgeable on ukuleles, Lahaina Music employee Max, 16, is passionate about music and wants to be famous.

LAHAINA – Shopping for a ukulele as a gift, an obvious place to go is Jason Jerome’s Lahaina Music on the other side of the highway from First Hawaiian Bank. At the counter is a heavyset guy who gives an informative review of various ukuleles.

He introduced himself as Max, age 16. The impressive young man reverses the idea that there is something wrong with the younger generation.

It was quickly clear Max would be one of the youngest ones to be profiled in “Voices of Maui.” Only Kapano Gecko and the little dog Kea Aloha have been younger.

Ask Max about his short life and one is reminded of slack key master George Kahumoku Jr., who was described in this space once as a Renaissance man expert in many things. Max may be on his way.

The ukulele player said he is “passionate about music” and wants to be famous. Lahaina Music owner Jerome agrees, saying “he is passionate about his music, but he is also passionate about teaching others.”

Jerome himself is a teacher, offering free lessons at Lahaina Cannery Mall and resorts.

Max, meanwhile, plays his own gigs, is working on a CD and plans to study agriculture and horticulture in college. He is president of the Future Farmers of America at Lahainaluna High School and carries a 3.7 grade point average toward graduation in 2016.

Max is now serving as a rowdy (set-up man helper) for the awesome Fred’s Garage Band made up of Jerome, who plays base guitar and is lead vocalist; drummer and real estate agent Ray Chin, who pounds so hard his sticks sometimes go flying; and guitar player Mark Jackson.

In Max’s spare time, he rides dirt bikes on the mountain and likes to go fishing in Hana with friends. Born in California, he arrived when he was five. He now describes himself as a “local boy” and eats just about everything local boys eat.

An environmentalist, Max probably feels a little guilty about riding dirt bikes on mountain terrain, but he brings along a bag of seeds of Native Hawaiian plants and sprinkles them ahead of him. He figures his bike tires will push them into the earth.

Max takes inspiration most of all from his mom and offers praise for her that any mother would love. Once when he was too tired to go to a gig, she told him to go anyway – and so he did.

If Max becomes famous, perhaps he will remember the columnist who wrote about him first. By that time, this column may be history… or maybe not.

NEWS BEAT: LahainaTown Action Committee deserves a salute as a cosponsor of the Emma Sharpe Hula Festival in Banyan Tree Park. Kaanapali Grille is open at the Maui Marriott, offering three meals a day with great ocean views.