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Archive for October, 2011

Aloha kākou!

Here’s this week’s question:

What year did THE BIRD OF PARADISE, a broadway stage play featuring a Hawaiian setting and Hawaiian music (& Hawaiian musicians!), open at Daly’s Theatre in New York City?

A.  1910

B.  1912

C.  1930

D.  1932

• Please submit your answer by posting a reply to this entry on the blog.
• 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:

Right on, gang!  Right on!

We had a variety of answers this week.  Love that!  The correct answer is B. 1912.  A giant MAHALO to Ms. Denise Kelton for her additional information about the show being at the Maxine Elliott’s Theatre, too.  According to the IBDB (Internet Broadway Database) the show played at both venues–opening at Daly’s Theatre.  Shortly after opening, it looks like it moved to Maxine Elliott’s Theatre.  I’ll have to do some digging to learn more!

I found a link to an old NY Times article about the show and some of the controversy that surrounded it.  Please click HERE to see the link.  (Note: To read the full article, you’ll need to follow a link to download a PDF.  It’s so cool!!  I love the language used in the article.  Really indicative of the time. Please check it out!)

And this week’s winner, chosen randomly from all of the correct answers is… (Drum roll, please…) KAWAILEHUA!  Congrats, Kawailehua!  You’re this week’s Trivia Superstar!

A giant MAHALO to everyone who “took the challenge” this week and submitted an answer.  I love connecting with you guys on Aloha Friday!  I hope you’ll play along next week, too!

Happy Weekend, gang!

A hui hou…



Is It Genetic?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

question mark, a question for you

Ok… I’ve got a question for you today:

Is musical taste/musical preference genetic?

No, it’s not a trivia challenge question.  No multiple choice answers.

I’m not looking for a “right” or “wrong” answer.  I’m interested in exploring this more.  Going deeper.

And I’d LOVE what YOU think.

Here’s a little bit of the backstory:

I was lying in bed thinking about the type of music that I’ve been drawn to–from as far back as I can remember.  I grew up listening to and loving story songs.  It didn’t matter if it was an R&B song, a country song, a folk song–as long as it told a story I was hooked.

Yes, there was an “environmental influence” factor in the equation.  My parents listened to this music.  It was what I was exposed to.

But interestingly, my DNA also ties me to those musical legacies.

Years later, Hawaiian music came into my life and turned my world upside down.  I don’t have a drop of Hawaiian blood in my family (at least none that I know of) and yet I took to Hawaiian music immediately.

Was it just the storytelling aspect that I fell for?  Or was it something deeper?  Did something encoded within my body say “YES!” when I heard it?

Is my enjoyment of that style of music influenced–even in just a little part–by genetics?

I’m not a scientist.  Not by anyone’s standards!  (Sadly, the only science I come into contact with these days is what I read in those “pop science” magazines you might pick up in an airport newsstand.)  But a quick internet search this morning showed me that the world of science is researching the role of genetics in preference.

Whatcha think?

I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts.  Please drop me a line or leave a comment!


The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (10.19.11)

Wednesday, October 19, 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 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Royal Hawaiian Hotel  (Steven Espaniola’s recording on the album Hoʻomaka)

A fantastic recording of a classic Hawaiian song by a modern master!

This is one of those songs that has been recorded a million times.  But…

It’s always exciting to see/hear what an artist does with it.  How they make it their own.

And Steven Espaniola definitely seems to have taken some time to really approach the song to see how it speaks to him.  He found a way to put his own stamp–his distinctive sound and style–on it.

I’m hooked on his recording this week.

*Please click HERE to visit Steven’s website.

2. Ka Huila Wai (Nā Palapalai’s recording on the album Ke ʻAla Beauty)

You guys know how much I love the sound of Nā Palapalai.  I’m a huge fan!

And this song, attributed to Alfred Alohikea, is a great example of why I love ‘em so much.  So perfect.  Their voices–wow.


Best way to sum it up for me.  Wow.

*Please click HERE to visit Nā Palapalai’s website.

3. E Mau (Teresa Bright’s recording on the album Self Portrait)

A jazzy rendition of a classic song attributed to Alvin Kaleolani Isaacs, Sr.

You know, I’ve heard people say that Teresa Bright is “too jazzy” or “not traditional.”  But I have to say that I really appreciate her interpretation of some of the classic songs.  It’s different–which is sure to ruffle a few feathers in the Hawaiian music community–but it’s a style that’s definitely HERS.  And how appropriate to to have a very contemporary version of song about perpetuation.  Her version brings new life to it.  I applaud that.

Right on, Aunty Teresa!  Right on!

4. Pane Mai (The Kaʻau Crater Boys’ recording on the album Making Waves)

One of my favorite things to do is to sit in on a jam session (kanikapila) with my friends.

And this recording sounds like a kanikapila, for sure.  I mean, if a jam session could be professionally produced and consisted of two world-class musicians like Ernie Cruz, Jr. and Troy Fernandez.

The song, written by Robert Cazimero, speaks of calling out to one’s beloved–even rousing one’s beloved from a deep sleep.

I love it.  I love how the song makes me feel.  And I love the smile that it produces when I listen to it.

5. Silent Rhythm (Anthony Natividad’s recording on the album Ahupuaʻa)

I love the sound of the ohe hano ihu, the bamboo nose flute.  And Anthony Natividad is a true master of this ancient instrument.

This week, I’ve  needed to his soothing recordings.  They reach deep inside me and take me to “a quiet place.”  And living in NYC, sometimes you just need that.

This wonderful recording features ambient nature sounds in the background.  It reminds me of sitting near the auwai in Halawa Valley.  Ah…

(**Crooner Note: I might be the worldʻs worst nose flute player.  But I hoping that the more I listen to his album–and practice, of course–the better my chances are of actually being able to play it one day.)

*Please click HERE to visit Anthony’s website.

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 (#37)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kamaka ukulele, Rockefeller Plaza, NYC

Kamaka standard (soprano) 'ukulele and Lee Lawrie's ATLAS statue at Rockefeller Center. (NYC October 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!

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!)

Nauapaka, Caren Loebel-Fried, Nona Beamer, Keola Beamer, Kaliko Beamer-Trapp, book club

The Crooner's Book Club's Reading Selection for September 2011

Aloha, gang!

I’m hoping you all have enjoyed savoring Nona Beamer’s NAUPAKA during the month of September.  (I sure have!)  How many times did you read it?  I read it at least a dozen times through and listened to it about a bazillion times.

Yup.  A bazillion times.

(I have the book open on my lap, right now, as I’m typing this blog post.  It’s a joy to read it every time!)

Here are my thoughts:

The Story:  It’s a classic tale of forbidden love.  A princess falls in love with a commoner.  And at that time in their culture, that love is kapu, taboo/forbidden.  Ah!  So tragic!  And while this storyline isn’t uniquely “Hawaiian” it does have some AWESOME points that make it Hawaiian.  A story that deals with a kapu, or taboo.  The lovers consult the kūpuna, the elders, when they need advice.  They eventually consult with a kahuna, a priest, who tells them that the Hawaiian gods must decide.  And then they receive the tragic “verdict” via a hōʻailona, an omen/sign–and this one was found like so many signs in Hawaiʻi–via the natural elements..

And the story, itself, helps to explain the naupaka flower–the flower found in 2 complete halves, one on the beach and one in the uplands.  I love a legend that explains something in nature. One of my more “scholarly friends” subscribes to the theory that people see things in nature and then create stories/myths/legends to explain it.  I appreciate his scientific approach.  And I still enjoy the romance of the story and the traditional legend that surrounds the flower’s origins.  I love it all.

The Language:  I love how Aunty Nona tells a rather “mature” story with complex themes in language that wouldn’t alienate a child.  I love that her voice is the voice of beloved teacher–both on the page as well as the recording!  It’s got a nice mix of English and Hawaiian–much like one would hear when talking with Hawaiian kūpuna (elders).  The two languages are so often lovingly braided together in a conversation.

The Hawaiian translation, provided by master linguist (and Aunty Nona’s hānai son!) Kaliko Beamer-Trapp, makes the book a valuable resource for both Hawaiian language speakers and students, alike.  Having the text in both in English and Hawaiian on the same page has given me an opportunity to read (and reread!) the story–each time in a different language.

The Art: Caren Loebel-Fried is one of my all-time favorite artists.  And we share a love for our beloved teacher, Aunty Nona Beamer.  When I read Aunty Nona’s words (and listen to her voice via the recording) I immediately picture Caren’s stunning artwork.  Her style compliments Aunty Nona’s words and presence.  It’s strong–yet still feminine.  It’s powerful.  It’s got stong mana.  A perfect combination.  (I hope to interview my buddy, Caren, in an upcoming blog post.  Please stay tuned for that!)

The Recording:  Ah.  This is the part that has been the most difficult to write about.  Why?  Well, I miss Aunty Nona so much.  She passed away in 2008 and I miss hearing her voice.  However, thanks to this recording, I can bask in her golden tones, again.  Simply by pushing PLAY.  The recording was originally made for her story album The Golden Lehua Tree.  It’s been a favorite for years.  Aunty Nona’s voice, her distinct style of storytelling AND the music of her son, Keola Beamer, makes a perfect listening treat.  So I listen to it and I’m happy.  And I’m equally sad that she’s no longer here.  But mostly, I smile… her voice is delicious to my ears.  And Keola’s musical accompaniment provides the perfect “soundscape” for the stories.

So… that leads to the final question:  Is this a children’s book?

My gut says NO.  At least, not exclusively.  Could a child listen to the story and appreciate it?  Absolutely.  Could an adult “see more”/have more insights into the story?  Absolutely.

I can think of a more fitting question:  Is this a book that should be treasured by people of all ages?

And instantly, my heart says, “YES!”

What are YOUR thoughts on the book?

**Note:  Due to a research project that is taking up an incredible amount of time, I’m taking a brief break from The Crooner’s Book Club.  I look forward to selecting another title soon.  And I’d love to hear suggestions for the next selection from YOU!  Please drop me a line to let me know what you think we should read next!

* Please click HERE to visit Kaliko Beamer-Trapp’s website.

* Please click HERE to visit Caren Loebel-Fried’s website.

* Please click HERE to visit Keola Beamer’s website.

* Please click HERE to visit the Mohala Hou Foundation’s website.


Aloha kākou!

Here’s this week’s question:

“I MUA” means to move ____________.

A.  backward

B.  to the left

C.  to the right

D.  forward

• 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:

Wow!  You all know your “Hawaiian directionals!” (as one of my friends calls ‘em.)  Everyone had the correct answer this week!

The correct answer is D.  FORWARD

And this week’s winner, chosen randomly from all of the correct answers, is… (Drum roll, please…) KEKOA!  Congrats, Kekoa!  You’re this week’s Trivia Superstar!

A giant MAHALO to all of you for taking the time to play along in this week’s challenge.  I hope you’ll play again, next week, too!

And don’t forget:  you can sign up to receive an email notice when a new post is published on the blog–or I can even do that for you.  Just drop me a line and let me know if you’d like me to do that for you.

Hope you all have a great weekend!