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Archive for June, 2010

Aloha kākou!

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!

**A lot of my friends are at the Aloha Music Camp this week on the beautiful island of Hawaiʻi. They are on my mind–and I miss them so much! Here are some songs that are TRULY incredible–and they feature some of the master artistry of some of the teaching artists there this week.**

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

1. Hula O Makee e (Keola Beamer’s recording on the album Island Born)

One can always tell a Keola Beamer song by his touch on the guitar. And you can usually recognize it in the opening note of the song. He’s a master in the truest sense of the word. His guitar literally sparkles. And this song, which features his vocals, allows the listener to hear the Beamer ʻohana’s signature musical experience… There’s a reason this family is legendary!

It also features Uncle George Kahumoku, another musical genius, who lends his voice as harmony. A fantastic duet in every way.

This traditional song is one of my favorites. It’s something that Pops and I sing when it’s time for kanikapila–once work in the loʻi (taro patch) is finished for the day. It tells the tale of a ship that gets stuck on a reef–and it’s rich with hidden meaning or kaona.

2. All Pau Now (The Hula Honeys recording on the album Life Just Got Sweeter)

I had the pleasure of hearing this song sung live by the incredible Robyn Kneubuhl a few years ago. And it’s one of those songs that sticks with you. There have been MANY mornings that it echoes in my head when I wake up.

From what I was able to dig up in my research, it was written by Gordon Beecher in 1941–and it SINGS like a true crooner staple. The luscious harmonies of both of these talented women call to mind a different era–an era when dapper men and elegant ladies might have sipped cocktails and danced the night away on a beachfront terrace.

Robyn Kneubuhl and Ginger Johnson (along with their richly talented musical partners, Cliff Collins and Jeff Costello) allow us, as listeners, to step back in time. And that’s so gooooooooood!

**And special CONGRATS to The Hula Honeys on a recent win at the 2010 Nā Hoku Hanohano Awards for their album, Girl Talk ! Jazz album of the Year! Uihā!

3. Beautiful Hula Dancer (John Keawe’s recording on the album Beautiful Hula Dancer)

I’m so honored to know John Keawe and I’m a huge fan of his master guitar and vocal skills. As a composer, he writes contemporary songs that are so very traditional! It’s a treat to know that the rich tradition of Hawaiian composition is alive and well in gifted artists like him.

AND… this song is about the beautiful hula dancer in his life–his amazingly lovely wife, Hope.

Just listen to the lyrics. You’ll know EXACTLY how he feels about her. This song provides a peek into a loving relationship. We should all be so lucky to have someone write a song like this for us!

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

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Plugging In to the Source (Part 2)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Anakala Pilipo and Jason Poole at Moaula Falls in Halawa Valley Molokai

Pops and I at Moʻoʻula Falls in Hālawa Valley (Molokai)

Today, I thought I’d share one of my favorite pictures in the world.

This is a photo of Pops and I in front of Moʻoʻula Falls in Hālawa Valley. It was taken a while ago–back in the days when I still had long hair!

It was a great day. The scenery was fantastic. It was just one of those rare moments when a picture REALLY DID capture the feeling.

Nānā i ke kumu. Look to the source.


Plugging In to the Source

Monday, June 28, 2010

I talked with Pops last night on the phone.

And, wow… I really needed that.

Life here in NYC can be crazy at times.

Who am I kidding–it’s crazy MOST of the time! When I wake up in the morning, the city’s pulse is strong enough to have me outta bed, out on the sidewalk and caught up in the whole NYC momentum. It’s easy for me to lose my focus.

And when I feel like that, I know I need to PLUG INTO THE SOURCE.

  • I need to hear Pops’ voice.
  • I need to stop speaking English and make an attempt to communicate in Hawaiian.
  • I need to hear about life on Molokai.
  • I need to hear about how things are going for everyone down in the Valley.
  • I need to hear how the river and waterfalls are flowing.
  • I need to hear about how the kalo (taro) is growing.
  • And sometimes I need to be reminded of what the heck I’m supposed to be doing with my life!

It’s not like I need an answer to a specific question. (Although sometimes I come prepared with a list of things I’m curious about. I guess that all depends on how long it’s been since our last phone conversation…)

I just need to RECHARGE my personal battery.

I should also point out: there aren’t many days you can catch him on the phone anymore! Now that they live in Hālawa Valley–with fewer trips to town–and that means NO TELEPHONE! Factor in the 6 hour time difference (at least at this time of year) and you can see how these times become more and more precious.

Last night, we talked. We laughed. My “city life” connected with my “island life.”

And for 20 minutes, I PLUGGED IN.

That ought to last me for a little while.

How do YOU plug in to YOUR source? I’d love to hear from you!


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

What is the name of the treasured (and very prolific!) composer of the lovely ballad, MAILE LEI?

Hint: The song was composed for the Kahauanu Lake Trio in 1963.

Interesting Fact: I just read that it was originally titled LOVELY MAILE LEI.

  • 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.

WillYOUbe this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Happy Aloha Friday!

**Crooner Update: You guys are great! Mahalo for playing! And I learned a valuable lesson with this week’s question: I need to be VERY SPECIFIC about the question!

It seems there’s more than one version of a song called MAILE LEI! (I added the Hint and the Interesting Fact after the first two responses came in with different answers!)

So… There are 3 WINNERS this week: Eleanor and Deidre for their answers and KanoeMAILEokalani for getting the answer I was looking for: Maddy Lam! (Note: Kanoemaileokalani was randomly chosen from all of the “correct responses” using

Congrats, gang!

Hope you all had an AWESOME Aloha Friday.

Have a great weekend. See you on the blog on Monday!

A hui hou…



Have Patience: E Ho‘omanawanui

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I woke up this morning with a phrase ringing inside my head: Have Patience. E Hoʻomanawanui .

I remember sitting with Pops in Hālawa Valley on Molokai. I had been pestering him for a week to teach me how he braids the cords he wears around his neck. They look so simple. So elegant. He uses raffia–and after they’ve been worn against the skin, they no longer look like plant fibers. They look like shiny leather.

It should be easy enough to braid, right? Of course! But he uses a special “loop closure” that I’ve only ever seen him do. A way to only use raffia–no need for other materials.

All week, he’d been telling me, “‘Ae. ‘Ae. I know you want to learn. Let’s do that later.” But every time we pushed it off, I grew more and more worried that I’d be heading back to the mainland WITHOUT every learning how to do it. When I knew I was heading back to Molokai to study for a week, I’d added ” Learn how to make Pops’ necklaces” to the top of my TO-DO list. I had searched the internet for instructions, but I’d come up “empty” every time.

And FINALLY the time had come. We were standing, side by side, under the awning by the house. He’d found some twine for us to practice with. He wrapped his twine loosely around a nail sticking out of a post. I watched as his fingers expertly held and simultaneously twisted it. And before I knew it, he had completed a long length of cording–complete with this signature “loop closure.”

“Ok. Now you try, ” he said and I placed my twine upon the nail. In just a few moments, I managed to botch the whole thing up, tying knots in the twine and making a mess. I was frustrated and sweaty.

“Wait! Wait!” he said. “You’re going too fast. And your hands are shaking! Why are you so nervous?”

I explained that I wanted to learn how to do this. (I didn’t tell him that I’d been mildly OBSESSED with the idea of learning how to di it!) I HAD watched him. Very carefully. I wanted to move my hands the way he did it. But I was clumsy. I was “all thumbs.” And my hands were shaking because I was nervous about screwing it up!

He laughed. “E hoʻomanawanui. Have patience. If you go quickly, you’ll end up making knots. If you go quickly, you’ll end up making a mess. Now take a deep breath and try again. And GO SLOWLY!”

Of course, he was right. As soon as I slowed down, I was able to hold and twist and in a few minutes, I had made one end of the loop closure and was making progress with the length of the cord.

“Stop,” he said.

I was shocked. I was doing well! Why should I stop?

He took the loop off of the nail and looked at it. And then he gave me another piece of twine. “Start again.”

“But Pops,” I started, “I was doing well. Look at the loop!”

“It’s OK, ” he said as he looked at my work more closely. “It’s a start. But you need to practice. Here’s more twine. Do it again. From the beginning.”

And even though I was frustrated, I did what I was told. I’m sure he could tell I wasn’t happy. After I’d gotten a short way in, he told me to stop, again.

And–again–he handed me a fresh piece of twine.

“E hoʻomanawanui.” This time he laughed. “Have patience.”

Was this a lesson in braiding? Maybe.

Was this a lesson in learning how to follow directions? Probably.

Was this a lesson in learning how to slow down and have a little bit of patience (and a little bit of fun,too) Absolutely.

I think about it all the time. I see what I want to do. I make all sorts of plans. I want to jump up and “go get ‘em!”


I know that I need to take things slowly. One step at a time.

Remembering to breathe as I work.

And remembering to laugh.

E hoʻomanawanui.


Aloha kākou!

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. Iā ʻOe E Ka Lā E ʻĀlohi Nei (Holunape’s recording on the album He ʻOlu)

A brilliant song that describes the voyages of King David Kalākaua and his voyages. Holunape’s recording opens with sounds that call to mind the opening of so many of Aunty Genoa’s hula recordings… I remember hearing it for the first time and thinking: This as a GOOD SIGN!

And, as usual, the guys in Holunape never fail to delight with their amazing delivery. The arrangement, done in a perfect hula tempo, includes verses sung in leo kiʻekiʻe–Hawaiian falsetto–and that makes it a standout.

Every song I’ve ever heard Holunape do is fantastic. I feel lucky to have both of their albums–they’re always a favorite!

2. Lei Mānoa (Hapa’s recording on the album Māui)

Do you guys have a song that makes you get teary-eyed–every time you hear it?? Well, this song has that effect me. I can’t get enough of it. (Which means I look like a cry baby all the time! Ha!)

Written by Barry Flanagan and sung by Nathan Aweau, this song showcases the team’s musical talents beautifully. The melody is haunting. And Nathan’s voice… AUĒ!

I DARE YOU to listen to it without getting choked up. Even if you don’t understand the lyrics–written in both Hawaiian and Tahitian–you’ll get it. I promise. Yup. It’s THAT good.

3. No Tūtū (Kawai Cockett’s recording on the album Hula! Hula! Hula!)

This song, written by Aunty Alice K. Namakelua, is a gem. I’ve read that she wrote it for young children–a song about stringing a lei for one’s grandmother. But… hearing a gentleman’s voice sing of the love of his grandmother…it’s really, really great.

Tender. Simple. Honest. Perfect.

And it makes me want to string a lei for MY grandmother.

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