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Archive for January, 2011

molokai, kapualei, kamalo, moʻo

The Moʻo, Kapualei, is visible along Kamalō Ridge (Molokai, Aug 2008)

Driving from Hālawa Valley to Kaunakakai, Pops pulled the truck off to the side of the road to ask me what I saw as I looked up at the mountain at Kamalō. I had no idea what I was supposed to be “seeing.” I stared at the mountain but saw only rocks.

Ever patient, he let me continue to study for several minutes. And then he smiled. With a sweeping gesture of his hand, he directed my eyes along the ridge. “Do you see the mo’o (lizard)?” he asked.

The image suddenly jumped out at me. “Oh!” and I smacked my forehead.

“Good,” he laughed. And he began to tell me the story of Kapualei, the Mo’o of Kamalō…

Long ago, the ʻaumakua (personal god, guardian spirit) of the people of the district of Kamalō was a moʻo (giant lizard) named Kapualei.

In the East, in Kainalu, lived another ʻaumakua, Kauhuhū—a manō (shark).

Seeking more power, the manō wanted to be the ʻaumakua of Kamalō, as well. So he swam to the district and challenged the moʻo to a battle. The victor would be named the ʻaumakua of Kamalō.

The epic battle took place over three long days on the mud flats of Kalaeloa. In this fight to the death, both the manō and the moʻo were badly wounded. Neither wanted to give up as it would mean losing the protected lands and its people.

On the third day, the mo’o grew even weaker, having lost a great deal of blood.

Gnashing his ferocious teeth, the manō cried, “Give up now and save yourself! Or die here. But know this: I will be the ʻaumakua of Kamalō!”

Slowly, the mo’o raised his head and looked at the manō. Taking a deep breath, he bellowed in a voice that shook the earth, “I will ALWAYS be the ʻaumakua of Kamalō! Even if I should die!” And then the moʻo collapsed.

Thinking he had won the battle, the manō swam back to Kainalu to tell his people about the victory. He boasted he was now the ʻaumakua of all the lands from Kainalu to Kamalō.

After he’d rested and healed, the manō decided to return to Kamalō and claim his victory there. But when he reached the district, he was shocked to find that the great lizard was not lying on the mud flats. All that remained was a long trail of blood.

The manō’s eyes followed the trail as it made its way up to the mountain. He was stunned when he saw that the moʻo had somehow managed to climb back to his home atop Kamalō Ridge to sleep.

The manō had been defeated. The great mo’o, Kapualei, had won the battle of Kamalō—he was still the ʻaumakua of the district.

Kauhuhū returned home to Kainalu and never tried to possess the district of Kamalō, again.

To this day, one can still see the moʻo’s gray body (and red blood) as he sleeps atop the Western side of Kamalō Ridge. By making his presence eternally visible, Kapualei kept his promise and will forever be known as the ʻaumakua of Kamalō.

**Crooner Note #1: A special Mahalo to Alice Hibberd who asked me to share this story.

**Crooner Note #2: The district of Kamalō is featured in Rev. Dennis Kamakahiʻs amazing song, WAHINE ʻILIKEA. Please click HERE to learn more about that mele.



Friday, January 28, 2011

Aloha kākou!

It’s a music-themed question this week! (And it’s a MULTIPLE CHOICEquestion!)

What is the name of the artist (a true living legend!) who released the album ISLAND BORN in 2001?

A. Ledward Kaʻapana

B. Jeff Peterson

C. Keola Beamer

D. Cyril Pahinui

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

WillYOUbe this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Aloha Poʻalima! Happy Aloha Friday!

**Crooner Update: OK… either you ALL really know your slack key albums or I’m making these questions too easy! Ha!

The answer is, of course, KEOLA BEAMER. Although, I want to encourage everyone to check out the awesome albums recorded by the other artists, as well. Every one of them is a master musician. Everyone of them has produced albums that I love–and listen to all the time!

And this week’s winner, chosen randomly by my handy dandy random number generator is… (Drum roll, please…) LEANNA! Congrats, LeAnna! You’re this week’s Trivia Superstar!

A giant MAHALO to each of you for taking the time to play along this week! And I hope you’ll play along next week, too!

Have a great weekend, gang!

A hui hou…



Digging In: Researching Molokai Mele

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I’ve spent a good part of the day surrounded by books and CDs.

I’m in HEAVEN!

In addition to studying the songs I’ve been asked to learn (for upcoming events, hula groups, etc.), I’m embarking on serious exploration.

I’ve been going through my resources to find songs that are specific to the island of Molokai.

And it can be tough to find them! Molokai has remained somewhat “isolated” and hasn’t exported as many well-known songs as some of the other islands. So I have to play “detective” to track down some of this information.

Because of my strong connection to the island, I want to REALLY KNOW as many of the Molokai songs as I can. And not just know how to play and sing them.

I want to know the music of Molokai from the inside out.

I want to see the places, touch the plants, taste the foods, smell the scents, hear the sounds… In order to understand how/why these songs were written, I need to completely immerse myself in them. (Isn’t that awesome?! I’m so excited!!)

I want these songs to become a part of me.

So I’ve been combing through my “stuff” to see what I have.

(And I’m happy to report that I’ve found enough in my collection to keep me busy for long time!)

What Molokai songs are YOU familiar with? Drop me line–I’d love to hear from you! And I’ll add ‘em to my list! Any help you could provide would be MOST appreciated! Mahalo.


The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 3″ (1.26.11)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ukulele Croonerʻs Weekly TOP 3 iPod Jason Poole Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

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. Hōlau (Lena Machado’s recording on the album Hawaiian Song Bird)

For those of you who read the blog regularly, you know I’m a relatively-new Hawaiian language student. But I’ve been a Hawaiian music FAN for a long time!

This song, written by Aunty Lena Machado, is one that is quite familiar–a lot of artists have covered it. I was definitely familiar with its melody. However, I’d never really listened to the lyrics until recently. And I was a little confused. I understood what she was saying, but I didn’t have the context.

I turned to a wonderful book, Songbird of Hawaii: My Memories of Aunty Lena, and found the story behind the song. ( I encourage all of you to read it!) The song was written for a market on Kekaulike Street (Oʻahu) called Hōlau Market. It’s been called a “singing commercial” even though it sounds like a love song.

I love this song EVEN MORE now! And Aunty Lena’s version is outstanding, of course. Nānā i ke kumu. Look to the source, indeed!

2. Wai Hinano (Frank Kawai Hewett’s recording on the album Makalapua ʻOe )

What a beautiful song! Kumu Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett is an amazing composer. The meaning reaches deep. This song is one that you’ll understand, even if you don’t understand a single word of Hawaiian.

He sings the simple verse which is then echoed by a choir while he speaks–elaborating on the text. Wow.

I get choked up every time I listen. (So I don’t usually listen to this when I’m riding the subway–unless I have my sunglasses with me!)

3. Have You Ever Had That Feelin’ (Cecilio & Kapono’s recording on the album Night Music)

We’ve been kind of “snowed in” here lately in New York City. Winter is definitely here! And when I want some of that groovy 70s sunshine, you know I turn to Cecilio & Kapono! I love C&K!

I was reminded of this song at a holiday party when some members of my Hawaiian music family rocked this tune. And it was AWESOME!

Do you have the winter blues? You might need to listen to this 70s jam to help you find your smile!

What are YOU listening to? Drop me a line and let me know!

And, as always, a giant MAHALO to Puna and the gang at for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!


Strummin’ in the City (#3)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

jason poole kamaka ukulele accidental hawaiian crooner

My Kamaka standard (soprano) 'ukulele & East Village graffiti. (NYC 1.25.11)

A lot of folks find it hard to believe that I carry my ‘ukulele with me all the time.

But you never know when you might feel like strumming!

And as Pops is always quick to advise: E ho’omākaukau. Be prepared.

Ah… the life of an urban strummer!

(Do you like the ʻukulele in the photo? Check out for some of the best ʻukuleles on the planet!)


A Day to Show Up and Say “Yes!”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Today has been a day to really “practice what I preach.” Or as Pops says, “walk the talk.”

Today I had to consciously make the decision to Show Up and Say “Yes.”

Let’s face it: Some days it’s an easy thing to do. A no-brainer. You get up and face the day. You jump in without thinking about it.

Today, however, has been a struggle since the alarm clock woke me up.

I pulled back the blankets and put my feet on the floor–it was COLD!

We’re in the middle of what feels like a deep-freeze here in NYC. I wanted to jump right back into bed. But I needed to start the day. I Showed Up & Said “Yes” to the day by getting in the shower and getting dressed.

I sat at my computer–still foggy from a night of very little sleep

(Yup. It was one of those “insomniac” nights.) I wanted to just cruise around the internet–allow myself to “veg out” for a while. But there were emails that needed to be written. And meetings that I needed to prepare for. I Showed Up & Said “Yes!” to the day’s obligations by jumping in and making my way through a rather daunting TO DO list.

Tonight I will take a hula class–even though my shoulder is giving me problems.

(I fell this weekend and jarred my bones! One of my shoulders took most of the impact.) It would be easy to stay home and rest. But I’m going to Show Up & Say “Yes” to the other dancers. I owe it to them to be there–to be a part of the hula line. And I owe it to myself to work the muscles in a deep, concentrated way. Hula has healed my body in the past. It will help it to heal, again.

After dancing, I’ll strum and sing for some of the more “advanced” hula dancers.

I will Show Up & Say “Yes” to my commitment to those dancers by providing them with music. And I will be honoring my commitment to my teacher–every time I share Aloha, I honor him and everything he teaches me.

In my own small way, I will Show Up & Say “Yes!” to the responsibilities of the day.

Some days, we Show Up & Say “Yes” easily. And that’s wonderful.

But on days when we really have to make the effort to Show Up & Say “Yes!”, it makes those activities even more meaningful.

Right on.

And I’m so grateful to everyone that Shows Up & Says “Yes!” everyday. From lawmakers and peacekeepers to parents and teachers–a giant MAHALO TO YOU for having the courage to Show Up & Say “Yes!”

How did YOU Show Up & Say “Yes” today? Drop me a line! I’d love to hear from you.