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Archive for March, 2010

Heading to the Islands!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hui! Aloha kākou!

So, tomorrow I’ll be heading to Molokai and then on to Hawaiʻi Island! Can’t wait to get back to the ʻāina! It’s been a while!

But this is NOT a vacation… (although I know it’s gonna be a BLAST!)

I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend some time studying and performing.

Sounds perfect, right?!

I will be posting updates as often as I can. Internet connections can be tough to find in some places. But if you sign up to receive the email updates, you’ll always know when there’s something new to read!

I PROMISE to come back with lots of good stories. Lots of good pictures. (And hopefully, lots of good audio and video, too!)

Talk with you guys soon!

A hui hou…

Jason

p.s. Please check out my friendʻs newsletter! Lynda even shares the recipe for her SUPER ʻONO Carmelized Onion Tart! (My mouth is watering just thinking about it.)

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Aloha kākou! Here’s this week’s question:

What legendary Hawaiian Crooner would have been celebrating his 90th birthday today?

Hint: He’s one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE singers in the world.

Hint: In the book, HAWAIIAN MUSIC AND MUSICIANS , George S. Kanahele said this singer was the “possessor of one of the most remarkable voices to come of out Hawaiʻi.”

  • Please post your answer as a reply to this message.
  • All correct answers will be eligible to win a special email message from me.
  • One winner will be randomly chosen at 11:59pm EST.

Will YOU be this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Happy Aloha Friday!

 

**Update: You guys are GOOD! The correct answer is Alfred Aholo Apaka. The world was blessed with his voice, for sure. The epitome of class…

And this weeks winner is (Drum roll, please…) JENNIFER! Thanks for playing! And be sure to check out the site this weekend. I’ll be posting a special “TAHC Weekend Update.”

Happy Aloha Friday!

Jason

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Are YOU Prepared? E Ho‘omākaukau!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Do you guys remember my first blog post ?

I wrote about the Hawaiian value/quality “ E Hoʻomākaukau .” Loosely translated, it means, “be prepared.”

Sometimes things come up in my world—over and over and over—and that usually means I’m supposed to be paying attention to it . It’s like someone is trying to tell me something.

And that’s exactly what’s happening with this phrase: E Hoʻomākaukau .

I’m in the midst of packing for a two-week trip. For one week, I’ll be on Molokai studying with my kumu (teacher) and hanging out with my hānai (adopted) family. And the next week on the “Big Island” of Hawaiʻi acting as musician (and- gasp!-dancer) with a hula troupe.

Here’s my packing challenge: I’m only allowed to bring one suitcase, a small backpack and my ʻukulele. What things can I bring that will serve me both weeks? I make endless lists. It makes me incredibly anxious.

So … I’ve been putting it off. I’m great at telling myself that I can pack later.

And in my head, I can hear the phrase: E Hoʻomākaukau . Be prepared.

A few years ago, Pops and I attended a wedding reception when I was on Molokai. I was still new to the island and didn’t know many of the people at the gathering.

Pops, being the ultimate entertainer, serenaded the bride and groom with a beautiful ballad. Then he announced that he’d brought a guest with him who would like to honor the wedding couple with a song.

I gulped and lowered my head, trying to hide. I knew he meant me, but I hadn’t known he was going to do this. My ʻukulele was locked in the truck and not with me at the table. I didnʻt know what to sing for them. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the crowd. And most importantly, I didn’t want to embarrass HIM by doing a bad job.

When I looked up at him, he handed me his ʻukulele. And I sang TWO songs. In Hawaiian. For Hawaiians.

After we’d left the reception, he told me that I had done well. (Apparently I had a passed a “test” of some kind.) He was pleased that I had met the challenge placed in front of me. I did it. I played and sang—even though it was WAY out of my comfort zone.

I’ll never forget his words : “And you must ALWAYS be ready. That is part of your kuleana (responsibility). E Hoʻomākaukau .

Talk about intense! Wow …

I was just talking with Pops about the tsunami warning that threatened Hawaiʻi after a recent earthquake in Chile. I told him how a group of us in New York City had huddled around a television—anxiously waiting and watching for the tsunami make contact with the islands. (Thankfully, they were spared any damage.)

I said, “Pops! Weren’t you terrified?”

He told me they’d gathered what they could and went to higher ground. “That’s what you do when a tsunami hits.“ (He vividly recalls the tsunami of 1946 that wreaked havoc on Hālawa Valley.)

Then he said, in a very matter of fact way, “ E Hoʻomākaukau.” Be prepared.

Could I ever be THAT prepared?

I guess it all comes down to the fact that we need to prepare as best as we can. We need to prepare for the big things. We need to prepare for the small things. AND we need to prepare for the unexpected.

HOW do we prepare? Pops would say “By living in a pono (righteous) way.”

Ah … But that’s a topic for another blog post.

Happy Thursday.

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Aloha kākou!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I always have my iPod with me. It’s my personal jukebox.

Living in New York City, I spend a lot of time traveling underground via subway–and those rides can be long and boring! But having a collection of great music with me at all times keeps me from losing my mind. I can escape to a tropical isle with the push of a button. Portable paradise!

Here are the TOP 3 SONGS from my iPod this week :

1. Rainbow Connection (The Brothers Cazimero recording on the album Best of the Brothers Cazimero)

A classic song that I first heard sung by Kermit the Frog! But I have to say, The Brothers Cazimero sing it with such heart and such elegance, it would be easy to forget the original! And they do it in Hawaiian! Mahalo, CAZ.

(And a special “mahalo” to Kate for reminding me about this great song!)

2. Palehua (Amy Hānaiali’i Gilliom and Willie K.’s recording on the album Hānaialiʻi)

This song always makes me smile and brings a tear to my eye. I think I must have listened to it hundreds—if not THOUSANDS—of times already. And it never grows old. That’s a true favorite, right?

3. White Ginger Blossoms (Alfred Aholo Apaka’s recording on the album Hawaiian Favorites)

The song showcases his voice beautifully. Its melody is a haunting one—you can expect to be humming it for days after listening to it. A true crooner classic. And as always, Alfred Aholo Apaka delivers the definitive version.

What have YOU been listening to this week? Drop me a line and let me know!

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I should be preparing for the trip right now. I should be packing. I should be studying. I should be (insert any number of tasks that I should be doing right now).

But I’m not. I’m overwhelmed.

And do you know what I do when I feel overwhelmed?

I strum.

That’s right. I don’t smoke. I don’t touch drugs. I rarely drink. I’m not even an exercise aficionado who works out my stress on the treadmill.

My quick-fix: an ʻukulele.

It does something to me. I have a physical reaction to it.

I was hooked the first time I heard it. I remember watching a television commercial that featured the sounds of an ʻukulele being plucked and strummed. I remember it had been a really lousy day. I remember I was really angry. And the sweet sound of the ʻukulele coming through my television made me cry. FOR REAL!

My shoulders—which had been up beside my ears—dropped and relaxed. My breathing—which had been shallow—became slower and deeper. My anger subsided. I softened.

And I knew this was something that I needed to explore. I needed to find out more about this instrument. I needed to play it. I needed to feel that way again.

Four simple strings …

A guitar teacher once told me I had “clumsy hands.” I felt like I’d never be able to accompany myself while I sang. But there is a “friendliness” about the ʻukulele that makes it easy. I was able to play a chord pressing only one string. Using my “clumsy hands” I was able to make music and prove the naysayers wrong!

I was playing full songs after just an afternoon of study. It was instantly gratifying. It made me want to practice. It made me want to play.

I’ve studied the ʻukulele for a while, but I’m not a “flashy” player. Although, I love what today’s ʻukulele superstars are doing! They’ve been able to show the world that the ʻukulele is not a toy. It’s a serious instrument worthy of any virtuoso. It takes an incredible amount of skill to make the ʻukulele sizzle like Jake Shimabukuro can!

I play “kupuna-style. (Think: “Grandparent-style.”) No fancy riffs. Usually only three or four chords for an entire song. And yet MAGIC can still be produced with simple strumming. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful that can be!

When I was working for a media giant in midtown Manhattan, there were plenty of days where the stress would be overwhelming. I kept an ʻukulele at my desk and was known to break it out and strum—especially after a difficult meeting. Often I wouldn’t even need to play a whole song. A few simple strums would do the trick! And the folks around me shared the benefits, too! How can you be upset when a dude is strumming an ʻukulele as he walks down the hall?

Crazy? For sure!

Did it make people smile? Absolutely!

It was a win/win situation.

Now that I’m writing and traveling, I keep my ʻukulele within arm’s reach at all times. (Being the Accidental Hawaiian Crooner has its moments of stress, too!) I know I can calm myself down with a few simple strums. And I never know when I might meet someone in need of a quick serenade!

No need for me to travel with a medicine cabinet full of remedies. I’m fine with an ʻukulele, thank you very much.

Now … if you’ll excuse me … I need to get back to my strumming so that I can get back to work!

What’s YOUR quick-fix??

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Aloha kākou! Happy Monday!

Can you believe that the website has been live for 2 weeks already? Where is the time going?

Things are getting pretty busy around here! There’s A LOT going on! So, I thought I should bring you guys up to date with the latest news:

1. I need to give a special shout-out to my partner in crime, James: HAUʻOLI LĀ HĀNAU E JAMES! He really keeps this site (and ME) up and running. And I’m beyond blessed to have him in my world. True story!

2. Wanna get the latest Crooner Blog updates delivered to your email inbox? You can! The email subscription feature is up and running on the site! I hope you’ll subscribe! Click here to sign up!

3. This week I’m in full on Preparation Mode as I get ready to head back to Molokai to visit with Mom and Pops Solatorio—and to study my butt off! A visit with Pops is like a four-year college education and every great holiday all rolled into one. Intense and fantastic!

Being back on the ʻāina is chance to heal. It recharges. Refuels. Restores. And there’s a lot of prep that needs to be done before I go! There are gifts to assemble, clothes to find and pack, songs to learn, kukui nuts to string. Thank goodness I’ve already found the flashlights! More on the upcoming trip later this week…

4. I’m also gearing up for a hula retreat with Kumu June Tanoue and her hula school, Hālau i ka Pono! Some of them will be joining me on Molokai for a few days and I’ll do my best to help show ‘em around. (Will Molokai survive the invasion of the malihini?!)

And then we’ll be heading to Hawaiʻi Island where we’ll be performing all over the island. I’m honored to be their musician for the ʻauana segments. But… there is a rumor that I’ll be joining them on the hula mound up in Volcanoas a dancer! True or false? More on that later this week, too!

5. I’ve started reading CLOUDS OF MEMORIES by a beloved kupuna (elder) from Hawaiʻi, Mona Kahele. The opening pages have me absolutely hooked. Have any of you guys read this? Maybe we should start a book club! Hmm…

6. And, as usual, I’m up to my eyeballs with songs to study and learning more on the ʻukulele every day.

Am I super busy? Yup!

Am I complaining? Nope.

It’s awesome.

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