Archive for March, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
This month, TAHC’s BOOK CLUB has been reading A HAWAIIAN LIFE written by the incredible George Kahumoku, Jr. (and Paul Konwiser).
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending the month with this book! And I hope you’ve been enjoying the book, too…
Although I’ve read this delightful memoir several times before, I was excited to read it, again–and to share it with the TAHC community. Yes… I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I LOVE THIS BOOK!
Here are some of the reasons why:
Uncle George Kahumoku’s book is so approachable!
When I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think that it read like a “conversation.” I wondered if the chapters/stories in the book were edited versions of recordings that Uncle George had made. It really felt like I was sitting and talking story with him!
There is a wonderful mix of stories included in the book.
When I first read the book, I was fairly new to the whole Hawaiian “scene.” On one of my first trips to the islands, I picked it up at a bookstore on O’ahu. I was familiar with the name, George Kahumoku Jr.–and I knew he was a musician. But I wasn’t very familiar with him as person. I didn’t know that he is such a fantastic storyteller. I wasn’t aware that he is such a gifted and generous teacher.
I remember the first time I read it: I gravitated toward some of the more “accessible” stories–at least to my uninitiated mind. I loved the story about how he “busted” his first ‘ukulele, the story of creating songs with his buddies, the story of performing with his son for the first time.
But with every subsequent reading, different stories have taken the spotlight for me.
As I read it this time, the stories about his grandparents as well as the stories about the traditional Hawaiian ways were the ones that jumped out and grabbed my attention.
How wonderful to be able to read a book many times and have it appeal to you–differently–every time!
I love that language in the book!
Here’s what I mean: I’m currently reading a book that takes place in the Smoky Mountains. The author uses more “mainstream English” for some sections of the text. For others, she utilizes the “local speak”/dialect spoken in the region. Personally, I love that. However, I’ve read harsh criticism from some folks who claim it’s “too difficult to understand” and that it ruins the story.
In this book, Uncle George masterfully combines the more “mainstream English” along healthy doses of “local speak”/Pidgin–especially when he quotes conversations. It adds to the flavor of the piece without using conversational speech exclusively. It appeals to those who’ve spent a lot of time in the islands as well as those who may be “unseasoned.”
It’s short–but the stories are RICH with details and flavor.
I like to carry a book with me in my backpack when I make my way around the city. One the best parts about this book is that it wasn’t heavy to carry! And… too often, a book that’s got so few pages is lacking in substance. Well, have no fear! This book is RICH! Each story is packed with details–and the perfect length if you’ve only got a short time to spend reading. It was my best friend on the subway!
I learned so much! (And I didn’t feel like I was sitting in a classroom.)
As a kid, I loved being in school. But there were times when I couldn’t wait to get out of the four walls of the school building. And some of my teachers were less talented than others when it came to presenting material to the students. Uncle George is master storyteller and master teacher. His stories are vibrant and full of flavor. And he has a way of delivering solid dose of information without making the reader feel like they’re sitting at a school desk, staring at a blackboard.
If you haven’t picked up a copy of this book to add to your collection, I want to encourage to do so.
It’s a book that I’ve read over and over. And I know that I will CONTINUE to read it as the years go on. I learn more from it every time.
A friend of mine once boasted that he’d read A HAWAIIAN LIFE in a single sitting. Yes… one could absolutely do that. But why? I think it’s a book that should be savored!
What did YOU think of it? I’d love to hear from YOU!
Please check out George Kahumoku Jr’s website to learn more about him. Take a peek at his calendar to see if he’ll be performing near YOU sometime soon! He’s amazing!
And stay tuned for a special “weekend edition” of the blog where I’ll reveal TAHC’s BOOK CLUB’s reading selection for April!
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
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 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:
1. He Wahine Uʻi (The Kalima Brother’s recording on the album Hula Hawaiian Style)
This recording really surprised me. The song was familiar to me, but I’d never heard it done this slowly before. Not that it’s S-L-O-W but it has a more “laid back” feel to it than other recordings I’ve heard. (Like the “bouncy” recording of the song by Braddah Smitty, for example.)
I love this version! And it’s got an interesting beat–like an extra count or something in between the verses. I can’t quite figure it out… Maybe this version is more sympathetic to a particular hula’s choreography?
In any case, this classic recording features the Kalima Brothers and amazing falsetto. It’s vintage in the best sense. The song’s composer is somewhat of a mystery. I’ve seen it attributed to James Kahele and John K. Almeida. (Songs being attributed to different composers is one the “challenges” when studying Hawaiian music. But it keeps things interesting, for sure!)
I hope you’ll check this one out!
2. Kilakila Aʻo Keʻanae (Pekelo Day’s recording on the album Holoholo Mai Maui)
According to the album’s liner notes, this song was written by a young Pekelo Day at age 15. A song written about his beloved home, Keʻanae. How cool is that? (I don’t remember writing any “classic songs” when I was 15!)
This song describes the beauty of the land–and how verdant it is! Apparently, it rains there a lot! Ha!
In this recording, you can hear the delightful voice of one my favorite singers, Ata Damasco, singing in the background. It has a very “traditional” feel to it. The accompaniment is simple and it fits the song beautifully. (It sounds like Pekelo may be strumming an 8-string ‘ukulele!)
Maybe someday I’ll be able to sit down and write a song about a place that I love. Maybe…
3. Kaʻena (Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom & Fiji’s recording on the album Puʻuhonua)
Im a HUGE fan of Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom. No sense in trying to hide that! And this vocal duet that she recorded with Fiji–wow!
Very contemporary and still so very Hawaiian.
The way each of them use utilize the natural break in the voice–it epitomizes the sound of their longing. Expertly used!
I get a little teary-eyed every time I hear it. True story.
4. The Water Song (Kalapana’s recording on the album Walk Upon The Water)
Sometimes you just need to feel “groovy,” right?
Well… Kalapana is a band that represents that “groovy” sound–at least to me! I love ‘em!
This song makes me think of Molokai and Hālawa Valley–it talks about the waterfalls flows to the ocean–glistening on valley walls. It brings to mind the wonderful hikes up to the falls that I’ve taken with Pops and the fascinating stories I learn as we walk.
And it also makes me think of the “great cosmic metaphor” of how we’re all waterfalls–returning to the source. (Is that too deep for this blog post today?)
I believe this album was released in 1989, but the song still has the classic ’70s vibe that Kalapana does so well! Right on!
**Note: The song is also available on the album Best of Kalapana Vol. 2
5. Hanauma Bay (Cyril Pahinui’s recording on the album 6 & 12 String Slack Key)
I love kī hoʻalu (slack key guitar) music. And this is a song that was featured on one of the very first slack key albums I purchased.
I was going to see Uncle Cyril Pahinui and Uncle Led Kaʻapana in New York City at the Knitting Factory. I’d never heard slack key guitar before so I went out at lunch and bought this album. I was hooked.
I love the instrumental version of this song–originally written by Mary Kawena Pukui and Maddy Lam. In fact, I was ONLY familiar with this version for a long time. It wasn’t until much later that I learned the song had lyrics! (For a wonderful vocal version of the song, check out Kawai Cockett’s recording on the album A Traditional Hawaiian)
Uncle Cyril plays a 12 string guitar in this recording. I think it sounds like sunlight dancing on the water. Perfect for a song about Hanauma Bay on Oʻahu, wouldn’t you say?
**Note: This song is also known simply as Hanauma.
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 www.mele.com for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
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!
(I’ve had the flu since Saturday and I’ve spent a lot of time resting in bed. My ‘ukulele is never out of reach!)
Ah… the life of an urban strummer!
(Do you like the ʻukulele in the photo? Check out www.kamakahawaii.com for some of the best ʻukuleles on the planet!)
Monday, March 28, 2011
Hi, gang. Aloha~
Today is a “sick day” for me. I managed to catch a bug/virus/cold/flu “thing” this weekend and I’m doing my best to rest and recover. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new post on the blog.
Hope you all had a great weekend.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Here is this week’s question:
Hawaiian musical legend, Kahauanu Lake, received HARA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in what year? (HARA = Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts)
• Please submit your answer as a reply to this blog post.
Will YOU be this week’s lucky winner?
Aloha Poʻalima! Happy Aloha Friday!
**Crooner Update! Trivia Superstars, gang! Y’all are AWESOME!
This week’s question was a little tricky, I guess. We had 2 different camps: those who voted 2004 and those who voted 1989.
Here’s the scoop: According my to sources, Uncle K. was honored with HARA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989. (He was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 2004. )
And this week’s winner (chosen randomly from the correct answers) is… (Drum roll, please…) LIKO! Congrats, Liko! You’re this week’s TRIVIA SUPERSTAR!
I am so glad you all took a moment to play along with this week’s Trivia Challenge. And I hope you’ll play again next week, too!
Hope you have an awesome weekend!
A hui hou…
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Today felt like “one of those days.”
You know the kind I’m talking about, right? It felt like I was hitting one brick wall after another.
I knew it was going to be a rough one when even the things that bring me pleasure became frustrating.
For example: I picked up my ‘ukulele to learn a new song and struggled with it. AARRGGHH! Even Hawaiian music was frustrating today! (Note: In hindsight, I can see that attempting to learn a new song when I was already frustrated was probably not the wisest decision I’ve ever made. That endeavor was probably doomed from the start.)
Old habits die hard. I started a downward spiral…
And then I stopped.
I remembered that I had a choice:
I could continue in the “downward spiral”
Well… I couldn’t just “wish all the bad stuff away.” This is real life, not a cartoon.
I could take a moment to sit quietly. To just exist in the moment without trying to change anything. Accepting it for what it is.
I could do a simple practice that “opens my heart.”
Here are my 5 Gratitudes for the Day:
1. Being able to look out the window while I work. (Today in NYC, I woke up to a snow on the cars and trees–and now it’s sunny with beautiful blue skies.)
2. A cup of strong black coffee. (Ok… maybe strong black coffee isn’t the HEALTHIEST thing in the world, but I love it.)
3. Connecting with family and friends on the phone and via email. (Always great to connect with folks that you love.)
4. A gentle walk around the block. (Something this simple has such a profound effect on my mood. Hooray for fresh air!)
5. Looking over and seeing my cat “snoozing” on the couch. (He’s a great barometer of how things are in the immediate environment–especially the microcosm of the apartment. When he’s peacefully snoring away, it’s a good sign that we’re all OK in our little corner of the world.)
What are YOUR 5 Gratitudes today?
**Crooner Note: You know I’ll be sitting down to take a “strum break” later today. I can’t stay away from the ‘ukulele all day!