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Archive for February, 2012

The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (2.29.12)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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. Pua Melie (Edith Kanakaʻole’s recording on the album Hiʻipoi i Ka ʻĀina Aloha)

I love the this album.  I love listening to Aunty Edith’s voice.  I love how she speaks an introduction (in Hawaiian!!) for each of the songs.  I love that the recording has the “down home” kind of feeling.  Authentic to ‘da max.  Like you’re sitting right there in someone’s living room or backyard and basking the amazing music and spirit of Aloha.

Written by Aunty Edith, the song is a beautiful tribute to the plumeria flower.

I love that she says pua melie.  I have only ever heard it called pua melia.  Love the differences!!  Celebrate each island (and sometimes each island’s individual districts) and the linguistic diversity!

(Mahalo to Ms. Marian for reminding me about this beautiful song!)

*Please click HERE to visit the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation’s website.

2. Ikona (Nathan Aweau’s recording on the album The Hawaiian Classics Series Vol. 2-Hula)

Does it get much better than Nathan Aweau interpreting a hula classic?  Um… nope.  Pretty awesome, if you ask me!

And I love this song.  It’s a favorite!

And listening to his voice (so smooth!) glide effortlessly is just so very inspiring and soothing to the soul.   Yes.

*Please click HERE to visit Nathanʻs website.

3. Nani Kamakura (Uluwehi Guerrero’s recording on the album Uluwehi Sings Nā Mele Hula Aloha)

I was reminded of this song by my friend, Kumu June Kaililani Tanoue, this week.  It had been a while since I’d listened to it.  So when she mentioned it in an email, I immediately went to my music library to look it up and listen to it, again.

This awesome song, composed by Uluwehi Guerrero and Barry Pono Fried, combines lyrics in both Hawaiian and Japanese.  But the beautiful thing is that you don’t need to know how to speak either of the languages in order to enjoy it.  Trust me on this one:  it will delight your ears!   (And the melody is a lovely fusion of east and west.)

It’s easy to imagine a hula being danced to it.  I’d love to see that…

*Please click HERE to visit Uluwehi’s website.

4. Diamond Head Daydream (Olomana’s recording on the album Come To Me Gently)

I woke up this morning with this thought:  I NEED TO LISTEN TO SOME OLOMANA TODAY.

And I reached for this classic album.  With my iPod on shuffle mode, this was the first song that played.

Written by Jerry Santos, it was the perfect song to listen to this morning.  Love it.  A great, chill and super-relaxing late-70′s vibe. (I think the album was released in 1980.)

It started me daydreaming about Diamond Head and being back on Oʻahu.

Right on.

*Please click HERE to visit Olomana’s website.

5. Pua Mae ʻOle (Byron Yasui’s recording on the album Anahola)

I’m only a simple strummer with the ʻukulele.

Byron Yasui is a master in the truest sense.  When I listen to what he can do with the ʻukulele, I think my mouth is open in amazement the whole time!

And to top it off, he’s a kind an gentle man, too.  I loved the time I spent with him.  So very warm–and willing to share what he knows, too!  Auē!  If only I was a stronger player…

Love this song and his fantastic recording.  I found it to be so inspiring this week.

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!  I’m DEFINITELY thankful for that!

**Wanna be the first to know when Crooner News/Updates are posted?  You can subscribe by clicking HERE!**

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Strummin’ in the City (#54)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

kamaka ukulele, 'ukulele, kamaka, soprano ukulele, lion king, jason poole, strummin' in the city, urban strummer

Kamaka standard (soprano) 'ukulele & a poster for a well-known Broadway show. (NYC 2.28.12)

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!)


In November of 2011, my friend Lisa asked me to come to O’ahu in January to be a part of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi‘s New Year’s ʻOhana Festival.  She knew my story and wanted me to come share and sing as part of the festivities.  

A chance to sing at a major festival in Hawai’i.  An opportunity to leave wintery NYC for a few days and head to the warmth of O’ahu.  A chance to be seen as a Hawaiian musician in Hawai’i.  All of those things made it an easy decision:  I HAD TO SHOW UP AND SAY, “YES!”  

I arranged a trip so that I could be on Oʻahu for the festival and then planned to head to Molokai to spend some time with Pops and the ohana.   

Once those plans were in place, all sorts of additional opportunities presented themselves–including opportunities to do some press for the festival as well as a chance to sing on Pakele Live!  

The trip turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime.  Here’s the story:

(Please click HERE to read Part 1)   (Please click HERE to read Part 2)   (Please click HERE to read Part 3)  (Please click HERE to read Part 4)

molokai burger, jason poole, accidental hawaiian crooner, talk story

This is the announcement about the talk-story hanging on the door of Molokai Burger in Kaunakakai, (Molokai, HI 1.10.12)

Immediately after the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi’s New Year’s ʻOhana Festival, I boarded a plane bound for Molokoai.  The short flight proved to be uneventful and I was greeted by Mom and Pops at the airport.  As soon as I’d loaded my bags and my ʻukulele into the truck, we headed to the Valley.

Pops was aware that I had been singing for the past few days on swollen vocal cords.  We didn’t do too much talking that evening.  We all hung out and just enjoyed being in each other’s company.

The following day I rested my voice some more.  It was a holoholo day–a day of walking and learning. (Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about that!)

And then it was time to head out of the Valley and into town.  My period vocal rest had come to end.

Pops had asked me to do a talk-story/presentation while I was on Molokai.

What’s a talk-story?  Well… In Hawaiʻi, that’s what it’s called when folks get together and “shoot the breeze”–they talk-story.

But Pops was really asking me to share my story.  Maybe talk about the things that had lead me to Molokai in the first place.  Maybe share some of the things I was learning from my times down in Hālawa Valley.  Maybe share about the things that I was doing back in NYC like working with the kids in the public schools, sharing Hawaiian culture and teaching ʻukulele basics.

And , of course, I had to have my ʻukulele with me to share a song or two–that’s part of “walking the talk.”   He often reminds me, “You  need to be prepared to sing at all times, to share the mele (songs) that have been shared with you.  E hoʻomākaukau!

And, most importantly, I would have the opportunity to express my deep love and appreciation for the island of Molokai and her people.

The crazy thing is that I didn’t know what to expect.

I didn’t know WHO to expect at the gathering.

Would it be a group of locals/elders who’d come to hear what this haole guy from New York City  had to say?  Would it be malihini (outsiders/tourists) on the island that wanted to know more about the island’s culture?

Or (gulp!) what if NO ONE showed up?

I’d mentioned that to Pops, but he wasn’t concerned.  ”Just show up, Iakona.  Don’t worry about that kind of thing.  The folks that need to hear you will be there to hear you.  That’s all you need to think about.”

Ha!  Easier said than done.  I tried to explain that I still have a lot of “baggage” left over from my theater days.  It would be like putting on a show and having an empty audience.

“This isn’t a show.  This is you sharing your manaʻo, your ideas.”

And I knew that it would also serve as a way for him to watch me in action.  To see me as a teacher.  To see WHAT I presented.  To watch HOW I presented it.  To see what I truly understood.  And to see where big gaps lay in my knowledge and understanding.

Nothing like speaking/presenting in front of your teacher, right?  Just a little bit of stress.  And add that to the laryngitis, and you’ve got a scary evening!  Ha!

The talk-story was being done at Molokai Burger–one of my favorite places on the island.  They’d so generously donated the space for the event.  And they even set up a tent with chairs outside!

I felt like a rock star, for sure!

And… to make it even easier, they provided me with a microphone and an amplifier!  I didn’t need to ruin my voice! (Which was a huge relief as I was scheduled to head back to Oʻahu to sing on Pakele Live! two days later!  Mahalo, again, for that, Molokai Burger!)

Molokai Burger, talk-story, jason poole, Kaunakakai, Molokai, Hawaii, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

Talkinʻ story at Molokai Burger in Kaunakakai (Molokai, HI 1.10.12) (Photo by Manuwai Peters)

The evening unfolded in an effortless way.

Pops opened the talk-story with an oli, a chant.  In Hawaiian, in the same tradition his ancestors done for centuries, he welcomed the guests and introduced himself and gave his genealogy.  I took a deep and calming breath.  It was going to be OK.  By the time he’d finished and was speaking English, again, I was ready to show up and say, “Yes!” to this opportunity.

The folks that attended were a great mix of local residents as well as tourists who were visiting the island.  One topic seemed to lead naturally to another.  We laughed.  We shared music.  I was able to talk about how much the island of Molokai means to me.  How wonderful it is to feel so at home on an island 5,000 miles away from the home I have in NYC.  How wonderful it feels to be accepted and loved like a son by a family that does not share my DNA.

AND… I was able to listen to those that came.  Listen to the stories that the local residents felt inspired to share.  Listen to the stories of how the island had changed the lives of the visitors that were there.

It was an opportunity to share.

And looking over at Pops’ face, smiling and laughing, let me know that I was doing OK.  That I hadn’t put my foot in my mouth too badly.  That I may still have a long way to go–but I’m on the right path.

And my voice lasted through the whole evening.

Right on!

Bu would it last through one more BIG SHOW commitment when I headed back to Oʻahu for Pakele Live?

To be continued… 


Aloha kākou!

Here’s this week’s question:

The song UʻILANI is a Hawaiian classic and much beloved by falsetto singers.  Who composed this gem?

A.  John Piʻilani Watkins

B.  Lena Machado

C.  Dennis Kamakahi

D.  Alice Namakelua

• 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:

You guys rock.  True story.

The answer is B. Lena Machado.   (I love her music!)

And this week’s winner, chosen randomly from all of the correct answers, is… (Drum roll, please…) DERREK RUBINA!  Congrats, Derrek!  You are a Trivia Superstar!

A giant MAHALO to everyone for playing along this week.  I hope you’ll play along next week, too!

Happy weekend, gang.

A hui hou…



Two weeks ago, I wrote about how I’d been noticing my posture and breathing when I was playing the ‘ukulele.

(Please click HERE to read that post.)

And I recognized that my posture and my breathing could use some attention.  In short, I wasn’t happy with what I saw.

I woke up this morning with a bit of a stiff neck.

I sat down at the computer and worked for a while.  And instead of subsiding, the headache only got worse.  It felt like it was developing into one of those blinding, migraine-esque headaches that leave me sick and laying in the dark on the bathroom floor.  I couldn’t afford to take the day off.  I needed to press on and work.

So I paused for a moment and observed how I was sitting.

My head and neck were tilted toward my right shoulder.  And my left shoulder was moving closer and closer toward my left ear.  (Note:  This is the position I often find myself in when I’m strumming the ‘ukulele–with the left shoulder raised and the head tilted to the side.)

Um… hello?  Maybe this was ADDING to the headache that I was experiencing!  What a wake up call!

Instead of forcefully correcting my posture, I did something new.

I just said to myself, “I need to give my head, neck and shoulders more space.”  Somehow, that translated to a shift in my body.  Instead of JAMMING my shoulder down, it was like it “let go” of the tension necessary to hold it up by my ear.  Instead of FORCING my head back to a more neutral, centralized position in the middle of body/ribcage, it more or less corrected itself.

It was like my body instinctively knew how to fix the problem–and how to do it without adding to the stress.

And almost instantly, I noticed some of the pain in my head had subsided.  Cool!

I would love to tell you that I’ve maintained this newly adjusted posture ever since that moment.  Ha!  Only a few minutes later, I paused, again, and checked in.  And I had resumed that twisted, contorted posture all over, again.

So, I began–again!–and repeated what I’d said before.

And–once again!–my body responded and shifted to a more neutral position.


I realized that I’m going to need to be persistently gentle in my observations.  And persistently gentle about releasing of tension in my head, neck and shoulder.  Like a child who needs to be reminded.   That’s the key–like a child who needs to be reminded.

Instead of beating myself up and adding to the stress, I’m simply beginning, again.

Starting new.  Observing.  Reminding.  Shifting.

Each time.  Every time.

In my last post, I used the words sad, shocked, horrified, and hopeful.

Now the words I’d add are curious, persistent and gentle..

Observing my posture with curiosity.  What IS my body’s position?  Why do I keep going back to a posture that adds to the stress?

And I’m curious to see what happens with persistant and gentle reminders instead of forceful and demanding gestures.

I’m reframing how I look at things.  Even the language that I use with myself.

And it’s helping.  Slowly.

Awareness.  Curiosity.  Gentle persistence.

Right on.

How about you?  Have you taken notice of your posture and breathing?  What have your experiences been like?  Drop me a line!  I’d love to hear from you.


The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (2.22.12)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

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. Kamalani (Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s recording on the album In Concert – The Man And His Music)

I love a good live album, don’t you?  If it’s done well, it’s like being there and seeing it happen.  And I love when the artist does things in the live recording that they don’t do in the “studio versions.”

This track opens with the incomparable Braddah IZ telling the audience about the song and the story.

And then he launches into it.  So beautiful and so haunting.

(Every time I hear this song, I think about my musical brother, Tommy Cheng, and how much fun we have playing and singing it.  Tommy!  We need to jam soon!)

*Please click HERE to visit IZ’s official website.

2. Ipo Hula (Genoa Keawe’s recording on the album Genoa Keawe Sings Lūʻau Hulas)

When I find myself  ”down in the dumps,” I know surefire way to feel better:  listen to an Aunty Genoa recording!

Her joy–the joy of singing and sharing Hawaiian music–comes through so clearly!

And her distinctive strumming style makes me grin from ear to ear.  It’s instantly recognizable–even before she sings, you know it’s Aunty Genoa.

Attributed to Aunty Lena Machado, this simple-to-strum (only 4 chords!) is a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

*Please click HERE to visit Aunty Genoaʻs website.

3. Maile Swing (Leinaʻala Haʻili’s recording on the album Best of Leinaʻala)

How much fun is this song?!

Seriously, gang.   Makes me grin from ear to ear.  Attributed to John K. Almeida, this song lives up to it’s name–IT SWINGS!

And with a voice like Aunty Leinaʻalas, how can you go wrong?

Another song that should be a part of every Hawaiian crooner’s repertoire.

4. Naturally (Kalapana’s recording on the album The Best of Kalapana Vol. 1)

When I’m in need of a great 70′s vibe, I turn to Kalapana.

Yup.  They rock my world.  And this song makes me feel like I’m riding around in big ol’ car with the windows rolled down and warm summer wind blowing in my face.

Gets me every time.

5.  Puka Pants (Chris Yeaton’s recording on the album The Stand)

Chris Yeaton has such a magical touch on the guitar.   The sound of sunshine, I think.  Like the sound of light making dancing rings on the water.

And this classic song gets a royal treatment, Yeaton-style!

I think he’s an amazing musician.  And an amazingly cool guy, too.

*Please click HERE to visit Chris’ page on the Woodsong Acoustics Group site.

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!  I’m DEFINITELY thankful for that!

**Wanna be the first to know when Crooner News/Updates are posted?  You can subscribe by clicking HERE!**