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Archive for May, 2011

Strummin’ in the City (#20)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Kamaka ukulele" "jason Poole"

Kamaka standard (soprano) 'ukulele and a bicycle on a sunny spring day (East Village, NYC 5.31.11)

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!)


Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards (2011)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Last night in Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts presented their annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards.

Not familiar with them?  Think “Hawaiian-style Grammy® Awards.”

A lot of fantastically talented folks were nominated.  And a lot of fantastically talented folks won well-deserved awards.

But you know what?

Nominees and winners, I celebrate each and every one of ʻem.

They’re ALL my heroes.  Their music is the reason I get out of bed in the morning.  They are all working hard to ensure that Hawaiian music continues to flourish.

I remember watching an interview that featured legendary Hawaiian musician (and the grande dame of hula music), Aunty Genoa Keawe.  Someone asked her about Hawaiian music—whether it was a dying art form.  In essence, her response was “As long as I’m alive, Hawaiian music will be alive.”  I’m so thankful for folks like her who’ve dedicated their lives—at least in part—to perpetuating this beautiful music.

Congrats to all of the folks who have contributed to the Hawaiian music scene-both past and present.

I celebrate all of you today.  Mahalo for doing what you do!

Right on!


Aloha kākou!

Here is this week’s question:

What kind of nut is used in the traditional Hawaiian condiment INAMONA?

A.  Macadamia Nut

B.  Walnut

C.  Kukui Nui

D.  Coconut

• 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.

Will YOU be this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Aloha Poʻalima! Happy Aloha Friday!

**Crooner Update:

Really?  Not a single wrong answer?  EVERYONE got the CORRECT ANSWER this week!  Right on!

The nut used in the traditional Hawaiian condiment called INAMONA is the KUKUI NUT!  This is one of my all-time favorite condiments in the world.  And Carol is so right–you can really only allow yourself a small taste of it…  Ha!

This week’s winner, chosen randomly from all of the correct answers, is… LOREN! Congratulations, Loren!  You are this week’s Trivia Superstar!

A giant MAHALO to everyone who played along this week!  I know Aloha Fridays can be busy!  And I hope you’ll play along next week, too!

Happy Weekend, gang.

A hui hou…



4:30 AM EST

Aloha, gang.

It’s 4:30 AM here in NYC.  The birds are starting to chirp outside.  That means the sun must be starting to come up.  People will start to get up to get ready for work.  And as soon as I’ve finished writing this, I’ll be putting my head on the pillow and falling asleep.  It’s been a long–but very productive!–night.

Now that my trip back to Molokai has been booked, I’ve entered into full on “prep mode.”  And there are so many elements to it!  I started making a list earlier in the day of all the things I need to do before I head back to Hālawa Valley.  It was TOTALLY overwhelming when I looked at it.  And then I reminded myself that I work best when I concentrate on one thing at a time.  I’m not sure I believe in multi-tasking anymore.  Especially since I left corporate America.  Yes… I managed to “do” more than one thing at at time.  (Sometimes!)  The only problem was I always wondered if I could have done things better devoting my full-attention to ONE task instead of many.  Ah… but that’s the stuff for another blog post.

I decided to tackle a big item on the TO DO list tonight:  formatting a chunk of blog posts so that I can print them out and bring them to Mom and Pops Solatorio.  They don’t have access to a computer in the Hālawa Valley so they don’t have the chance to read what I write every day.  When I was there in November, I brought a few months of posts printed out and bound in little books.  I thought they might enjoy them.  And they did!  So it seemed like a good idea to bring some more!

The original idea was to format them in chunks periodically.  You see, when I prepped for the trip in November, I did it all at once and it took FULL DAYS of accessing the posts, copying them into blank documents, formatting them, printing them, binding them…. You get the picture.  I had this grand plan that I would be proactive and not wait until the last minute so that NEXT time I was heading to the Valley, it would be less painful.  Ah.. a good plan.  A wise plan.

And I didn’t follow it.

And tonight I found myself in somewhat of a panic as I sat–with blurry vision and an aching back–and put myself through the process all over again.  (Note to self:  NEXT TIME you need to learn to be proactive!  For real!  No excuses!)

But I did it.  I formatted a few months worth of text and they’re ready to print and bind.

And I’m ecstatic.

Pops knows that I’m working.  He knows I’m doing my best to honor my commitment to him and to learning and sharing and preserving.  Occasionally, I read him snippets from the blog when we talk on the phone.

But presenting him with bound booklets PROVES it.  And it affords him the opportunity to revisit the posts again and again. It allows him to see what knowledge has been assimilated into my world.  And it also shows him where I’ve got gaps in my understanding.  A win/win situation.

So, dear friends, I’m signing off for the night.  Satisfied with an honest night’s work.  And determined to be more proactive with this process so that I don’t have to do it–again!–next time!

Tomorrow is a new day.  I’ll look at another item on the TO DO list.  Prep will continue!

The birds are getting noisier. That’s my cue to try to catch some ZZZZs.

Snoring Already,



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 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1.  Ke ʻAla Kaʻu i Honi (Linda Dela Cruz’s recording on the album Hawaiʻi’s Canary)

I have fallen in love–again!–with the voice of Linda Dela Cruz this week.  Do you ever do that?  Develop a crush on a singer or band and then play their music non-stop for days?

I love her simple and delicate presentation of this simple and delicate song written by Keʻala Carter and Tom Carter, Jr.  It’s written in a traditional Hawaiian way–4 verses without a chorus or a bridge.  To the western mind, this may sound like the song would be monotonous.  But I challenge the western listener to find the song monotonous.  It’s lovely–pure and simple.

In the album’s liner notes, it tells the story of how Dela Cruz only heard the song right before she recorded it.  That’s amazing–it sounds as though it had been a part of her repertoire for years!

Listening to her sweet voice makes this crooner swoon.

(**Crooner Note: If you’d like to learn more about this wonderful singer, please click HERE to read her obituary from 2007.  She was quite an amazing woman!)

2.  Pua ʻIliahi (Kimo Alama Keaulana and Lei Hulu’s recording on the album Hula Lives!)

This song surprised me this week while I was listening to my iPod in “shuffle mode.”  Surprised me and made me laugh out loud!  I love the fact that this song has so many lyrics compressed into each line!  It’s a challenge for any singer to get ‘em all in!

The song is attributed to Hawaii’s falsetto poet, Bill Aliʻiloa Lincoln, but the liner notes tell a slightly different story.  Apparently, Uncle Bill revised an older song (from the 1800s) to make this version that we know today.  And he gave them an ADDITIONAL verse that’s not often included!  A rare treasure, indeed!

(Note:  It absolutely pays to have MULTIPLE recordings of songs–and even better if you can get albums with liner notes.  You never know what you’ll discover!)

The way they play this uptempo song has classic “happy hula” feel to it–and that alone might make you smile.  However, when you hear all of the words compressed into a single line, I’m pretty sure you’ll be smiling and/or laughing.  It’s great! To sing it, you would need to have a real command of the language!

I need to learn this version–a fun way to study!

3.  Kauaʻi Nani Lā (Robi Kahakalau’s recording on the album Sistah Robi)

This is one of my favorite songs that Robi sings… It’s haunting.

The song, written by Wade “Aukai” Oshio and Kahikāhealani, describe the island of Kauaʻi’s natural beauty.  Is there a deeper meaning?  A hidden meaning?  Perhaps.  Only the composers would know that.  However, the beauty of the lyrics–with verses written in Hawaiian and an English chorus–will stay with you long after the song has ended.

Sistah Robi’s voice, with its gentle “raspy” quality in places, is one of my favorites.  I can’t get enough…

(**Crooner Note: I want to send a special “Aloha!” to my friends on Kauaʻi.  Big Aloha to you from your pal in the Big Apple!)

4.  Lei Nani (Cody Pueo Pata’s recording on the album He Aloha…”)

I love Cody Pueo Pata’s voice, don’t you?  His flawless falsetto!  Wow!  I could listen all day.

And this classic song is one of those wonderful mystery songs:  Who wrote it?  I’ve seen it attributed to Charles Namahoe and Charles E. King.  I’ve seen that the copyright belongs to Johnny Noble.  So what’s the REAL story?  I’m not sure!  Does it really matter?  Yes… but… As a listener, I know I love it.  So I’m thankful to ALL parties who might have contributed to its composition.  As a student of Hawaiian music, I love the mystery of it all.  (I’ve also heard that folks sometimes refer to it as Lei Lani, too.  The mystery deepens…)

It’s a classic love song for a reason–it speaks to the soul.  (And it’s also one of my favorite songs to watch when danced as a hula.)

5.  Wai Ulu (Keola Beamer’s recording on the album Soliloquy: Ka Leo O Loko)

I love kī hoʻalu (slack key guitar) music.  It’s no secret.

And I love the gentle–and instantly recognizable!–stylings of the contemporary master, Keola Beamer.  The way he makes the notes dance.  The harmonies… The textures… Ah!

This is a classic song, recorded by many.  But Keola’s version is the favorite this week.  When I hear it, I feel like I have to close my eyes.  (Note to Self:  Do NOT listen to this song while driving a car!)

In NYC, we are surrounded by loud noises and throngs of people.  This is one of my favorite albums to listen to when I need an escape.  Like a gentle salve for my frazzled nerves.

(**Crooner Note:  It’s also one of my favorite albums to give to new parents.  I’ve been told that rocking a newborn to sleep in the middle of the night is a tough thing to do.  Especially if you’re forced to listen to albums of nursery rhymes set to music.  This album soothes babies AND parents!  Right on!)

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 (#19)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jason Poole Kamaka ukulele

Kamaka standard (soprano) 'ukulele & the Water Wall with cliff divers (Rosa Mexicano at Lincoln Center, NYC 5.24.11)

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!)