Ukulele player wants to share joy of music
Ishta Nupa Paynter will play the ukulele anywhere, “at the drop of a hat”.
Gas stations, supermarkets, ferries, sidewalks — everywhere is fair game to the 59-year-old from St David's.
He taught himself how to play eight years ago, after playing guitar in his youth.
“I carry it with me everywhere I go and I'll play wherever, it doesn't matter to me,” he said. “I've been enjoying learning, playing and writing songs. I just like to play songs for people when I meet them. That's my joy.”
Mr Paynter showed off his skills at the annual International Ukulele Contest and Hula Show in Hawaii this month.
It was his second time competing.
He performed his original song, Bermuda Love, for the audience on February 11 and placed third in the solo artist category. An estimated 40 finalists competed in the event.
First place went to a Hawaiian native; a fellow American took home second prize.
“I don't consider it being a losing or winning thing because I only wanted to play,” said the ferry pilot who spent a week in Waikiki.
“To me it's more about sharing a passion. It's not about how good you can sing or how good you can play.
“I don't consider myself a competitive person or [one who seeks the] spotlight. I just like to play.”
He discovered the competition online in 2015.
“I just threw a video out there and forgot all about it.
“They called me back and said you've been accepted as a finalist,” he recalled.
He loved the camaraderie of the event so much he returned this year, also performing at the Ukulele Concert Picnic the day after the competition. The show began at 9am and finished at sunset.
“It's all day music [with] some of the best ukulele players on the planet,” he said.
“I was really amazed. There are no words to describe the type of talent I have seen. I wasn't intimidated by it, I actually felt honoured to be able to go up on stage with people of that calibre that had been playing.
“It inspired me to keep on playing.”
The trips have given him a “totally different outlook” on music.
“I don't ever want to lose that fun part but I see how the instrument itself can be beneficial for the development of children and adults also,” he said. “I was fortunate to visit Ukulele Hale — hale means house. It's a ukulele school for children and the work that they do is deeply touching. It's a place where children who have been abused or neglected have a very friendly and safe environment. They take the students to play in children's hospitals as part of the programme. Hopefully one day we might have a little ukulele school for children here too.”
The ukulele helped him recover from a difficult period in his life when music was absent.
“Those years were pretty tragic for me,” he said. “I don't want to dial into it too much. I've been a drug addict, alcoholic, but I've straightened up my life and I try to live an honest life today.
“The music helps me. It's my medicine. It's part of who I am. It's my story. It might encourage someone else.
“That's what it's all about.”