Archive for June, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
I’m writing this post while I sit at the airport in Kahului, Maui. I have a bit of a layover here before heading back to Molokai! I’m so excited to be able to go back to my island “home” and be with Pops and the gang. To learn a ton–and, of course, be able to share stories with all of you.
The trip has been long (It will be 18 hours of travel today. Auē!) but it’s been smooth–I’m so grateful for that. I started the day in NYC and then went to Chicago (no weather delays!) and then to Kahului (Maui) and will touch down on Molokai this evening. I can’t believe I’m just across the channel as I type this!
I wanted to remind you guys that I won’t be posting regularly for the next couple of weeks. Hālawa Valley doesn’t have internet. (Or a telephone. Or even electricity–except when we run a generator.) I’ll be posting on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AccidentalHawaiianCrooner ) and Twitter (@alohadudenyc) when we head into town or when I can pick up a signal. Otherwise, I’ll be “off the technological grid” for a while. (Heaven!)
I’ll be taking copious notes (and photos!) so be expecting some great stuff soon!
Hope you all are having a great weekend.
And HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all of the dads out there!
A hui hou…
Friday, June 17, 2011
Here is this week’s question:
Which member of the Hawaiian royalty is credited with writing the haunting ballad, KUʻU IPO I KA HEʻE PUʻE ONE?
A. King Kalākaua
B. Princess Likelike
C. Queen Kapiʻolani
D. Queen Liliʻuokalani
• 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: Y’all ROCK!
Wow! I thought this was a tough question–and this week we had a lot of folks take the challenge! Right on! Mahalo for that!
The answers were varied, but most of you had the correct answer: B. Princess Likelike. This song is one of my all-time favorites. I love to sing it for hula dancers–especially for Kumu June Kaililani Tanoue. (Her hula for this song is achingly beautiful!) This week’s winner–chosen randomly from all of the correct answers–is… (Drum roll, please…) CADIA LOS! Congrats, Cadia! You are this week’s Trivia Superstar!
I am so glad you all took the challenge this week! It’s great to see “old friends” as well as new folks commenting!
I’ll be in Molokai for the next 2 weeks, but I hope you’ll play again in the next Crooner’s ALOHA FRIDAY TRIVIA CHALLENGE! Stay tuned!
Have a great weekend, gang!
A hui hou…
Thursday, June 16, 2011
On Aloha Friday, June 3rd, I boarded a plane bound for Portland, Oregon. I was heading to the World Domination Summit.
The name sounds crazy, right? I thought so, too!
Back in September, my friend/business partner/visionary mentor, Mariko Gordon, said we needed to attend the Summit. My first thought: Nope. It sounds weird. But I know not to listen to my head and make a final judgement. I sat with it for a while. I listened to my naʻau/gut. And I couldn’t think of a reason we should NOT attend. So, in true Crooner-style, I decided to “Show Up and Say YES!” And the plans were underway.
The summit was the brainchild of Chris Guillebeau. Even though I hadn’t met Chris in person before the Summit, I’ve considered him a mentor. Mariko and I used his exercise, HOW TO CONDUCT YOUR OWN ANNUAL REVIEW, to create/conceptualize The Accidental Hawaiian Crooner. (We are TRUE non-conformists and did it completely backwards–instead of a review, we did a forecast!)
The idea behind the summit was a gathering of creative, free-thinking folks who would listen to speakers and engage in conversations and help each other to continue the journey of “leading a remarkable life in a conventional world.”
What did that mean? I wasn’t really sure, either. But it sounded cool. I was in.
At the last minute, Mariko had to give up her spot and sent fellow non-tradional thinker, Tania Luna, in her place. We arrived late on Friday evening–missing the pre-summit cocktail party. At the baggage claim in the airport, I spotted the World Domination Summit logo on a table and met a woman with a big smile and a firm handshake. She told us where we needed to go the following morning and even offered us a cookie! On Molokai, I’ve been trained to look for hō’ailona–signs. I took this a sign of things to come: This was going to be fun!
The next morning, Tania and I arrived at the venue (Not some boring convention center–It was at the Portland Art Museum. How cool is THAT?!) and we received our name badges, a schedule of the planned speakers/sessions and a gift bag. Another great sign! (I’m a sucker for gift bags!)
But as we entered into the Fields Ballroom, I could feel my doubts start to resurface. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the speakers. In my mind, I “wrote their story.” I figured they would be the people who go into a more conventional workplace and help the folks to think “outside the box.” They would probably be accustomed to speaking to folks who needed inspiration to take the leap and move toward a more fulfilling life. And if that was the case, I didn’t want to be there. They would be preaching to the choir. What can you say to 500+ folks in the audience who are all on the “different path?”
Boy, was I ever wrong! Yes, they shared stories from their own experience. But it was like talking with friends. Fellow journeyman.
Ok, I’m pretty sure I was the only “Pittsburgh-born, classically trained singer who found himself knee-deep in Molokai mud” in the audience. I may even have been the only one there who was set on his path by his kumu. (Maybe not, though… You never can tell!) But we were all working on doing something we believed in. Something we were willing to take great risks for. And the folks that I spoke with were all looking to help make the world a better place with their work. An amazing group of people, indeed.
The first session was lead by Pamela Slim. She rocked my universe with her talk. Even though I’m sure everyone in the room probably felt the same way, I know she was talking just to me! Ha!
And she was just one of the many fantastic speakers I had the pleasure to listen to/interact with over the 2 day Summit. Other speakers that rocked my world were: Leo Babauta, Jodi Ettenberg, Jonathan Fields, Danielle LaPorte, Mondo Beyondo (Jen Lemen & Andrea Scher), Michael Silver, Michael Bungay Stanier, John T. Unger & Karen Walrond. They came from varied backgrounds and each brought something different to the table. But every single one of ‘em had something valuable to share. Every single one of ‘em are movers and shakers. Game changers. I love that! (Please click on their names–the links will take you to their sites. You’ll be amazed by them, too!)
A session that TOTALLY rocked my world was with Mondo Beyondo. I can’t say enough good things about these wonderful women. And they totally deserve their own post on the blog–which will be coming soon. I promise. They were so awesome. They got a standing ovation after their session. ‘Nuff said.
And meeting up with the other attendees was FANTASTIC, too! Some folks I recognized from the internet–like Pace & Kyeli from Connection Revolution. And the ever-wise and always inspiring, Jen Louden. (These are some of my internet crushes–folks that inspire me. Folks that I continue to learn from on a regular basis.) And then there were new friends to be made. Every conversation I had was valuable. It was kind of surreal to be able to walk around a talk with like-minded folks. It took some of the “I’m different than the rest of the world”-sting away. We’re all different. And we’re all involved in projects to make the world even better.
I need to give a quick shout out to the city of Portland, itself! I totally loved it. A wonderful, friendly–and ECO-friendly–vibe surrounded us everywhere we went. Yes, I know folks talk about all of the rain in Portland. But while we were there, we were blessed with sunny skies and gentle breezes. (Another sign/hō’ailona!) A giant MAHALO to whoever ordered that rare weather! What a treat!
Did I love being at the World Domination Summit? Absolutely.
Did I learn a lot about dominating the world? Well, I learned a lot from the creative folks I had the opportunity to talk with. Not so much about world domination. More like “global improvement thru doing cool things.”
Click HERE to find out more about the World Domination Summit to be held in 2012. And then start planning your trip. (Yup. It’s that good.)
While you’re waiting for next year’s Summit, be sure to check out Chris Guillebeau’s super-inspriring book, The Art of Non-Conformity. I keep a copy within arm’s reach at my desk. It’ll help get you going!
Wednesday, June 15, 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. Mauna Kea (George Kainapau’s recording on the album Legends of Falsetto)
Want to learn how to sing a beautiful and flowing (legato) line? Studying this recording will teach you, for sure! The song, attributed to Mokihana Fernandez, is a classic Hawaiian ballad that delights in a slow and sleepy tempo.
And WOW! The first time I listened to the stellar vocal talents of George Kainapau, I was blown away! He sings with such control! I’m amazed each and every time. And his falsetto NEVER waivers–it’s strong ’til the end! (There’s a good reason he’s referred to as the “Hawaiian Falsetto King!”) I’m a huge fan–no doubt about it.
2. Lei ʻOhu (Ata Damasco’s recording on the album Paʻina Hou!)
It’s no secret that I love the amazing voice of Ata Damasco. His phrasing of the lyrics, his seemingly-effortless falsetto, his joyful spirit–all of that makes for a wonderful recording. And this song, attributed to George E. Akiu, is yet another fantastic vehicle for Ata’s distinctive sound.
It’s a song that celebrates the islands–each verse honoring a different island. Upbeat and fun, it brings a smile to my face.
And CONGRATS to Ata on his Na Hoku Hanohano Award this year for his album Somewhere Up Ahead! (Best Religious Album 2011)
3. Ipo Lei Manu (Lono’s recording on the album Old Style)
Uncle Lono’s voice is a familiar sound on the island of Molokai. Perhaps that’s why he’s on my mind this week.
I love this classic love song, written by Queen Kapiʻolani for her beloved huband, King Kalākaua. This song has been recorded by so many artists! And I love the way Lono delivers it–straightforward and direct. Haunting and beautiful.
The song’s story (and a brief bio of Queen Kapiʻolani) can be found on the Huapala site–it’s so sad that King Kalākaua never heard its sweet melody…
4. Makaha (The Kaʻau Crater Boy’s recording on the album Making Waves)
I was delighted to “rediscover” this song this week! It was one of favorites when I first started listening to Hawaiian music–and it still is!
Written by the amazing Troy Fernandez, the song describes Mākaha, an area on the island of Oʻahu known for its legendary surf scene, and some of its best-known personalities. (Author Stuart H. Coleman wrote a great book about Mākaha called FIERCE HEART–and it was our first selection in TAHC’s Book Club! Click HERE to read more.)
The song fuses a Hawaiian vibe and a Jamaican/reggae vibe–a sound that dominated the airwaves when the album was released in 1996. Contemporary island style!
When I listen to it, I imagine a great party on the beach. How can you not love that?!
5. (E Kuʻu) Morning Dew (Ray Kāne’s recording on the album Punahele)
I love kī hoʻalu (slack key guitar) music. There’s something almost magical about it–something about the sound relaxes my mind, body and spirit.
And this recording by Uncle Ray Kāne is one of my favorites. The song was written by the legendary Hawaiian musician Eddie Kamae. (Kāne lists the song as simply “Morning Dew” on the album.)
As I’m writing up the TOP 5 list today, the sun is just coming up here in NYC. I love looking out my window at a sleepy street. Granted, I can’t see delicate morning dew from my window–but the song just feels “right” this morning. Ah…
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, June 14, 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!
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, June 13, 2011
I’m typing this while riding in the car.
(Note: No… I’m not typing while driving! I’m just a passenger.)
I’m heading back to NYC from a last-minute, whirlwind weekend trip to see my family in Reading Pennsylvania. My parents are living there at the moment. (My father is General Manager of the Crowne Plaza Hotel.) My partner-in-crime, and I rented a car on Friday morning and joined up with my sister and her two kids. We all converged on Reading for some fun!
It was a blast!
Both of the kids were born in June, so we had a double birthday celebration. We swam in the hotel pool. We “sight shopped” (That’s what I call the type of shopping I do these days—going somewhere new and combining sightseeing with shopping. I never really buy very much–it’s more about the new experience.)
And we ate!!
Boy did we eat! I guess I never really realized how many moments of the day revolve around food in my family. Come to think of it, that’s really quite similar to my experiences in Hawaiʻi. Most things revolve around food!
One evening, the whole gang went to a smorgasbord-style restaurant in the heart of Amish country. The kids loved seeing the horse and buggy “garages” next to the parking lot for cars. A wonderful collision/collaboration of two cultures. (The smorgasbord, however, reminded me that I need to be conscious when I fill a plate of food. Auē! Who knew I could eat so much?)
I made shell necklaces for both my niece and my nephew.
They’ve admired mine for years and I recently came across shells that were similar. They were so excited! And I loved sharing a bit of my “dress standard” with them. While I worked, I shared lots of stories about studying on Molokai and in Hālawa Valley. It never fails—their eyes pop out of their heads when they hear there is no electricity in Hālawa. No computers. No televisions. No video games. Funny how that sounds torturous to them and heavelnly to me.
NYC life–even when it’s filled with a good dose of Hawaiian music–can really wear you down quickly. I write about “Plugging In to the Source” a lot. There are times when I definitely need to recharge my batteries! This weekend, I felt so blessed to be able to “plug in to the source”—to connect with the family that I was born into. The family that I share DNA with. They know me better than anyone in the world.
And next week I’ll be able to “plug in to the source” again with my hānai family on Molokai.
Having so many wonderful folks in my world that I can call “family” makes me feel like a rich man, indeed.
How do YOU plug into the source? Drop me a line–I’d love to hear from you!