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Archive for March, 2012

Aloha kākou!

Here’s this week’s question:

Which one of these 4 Hawaiian words means FAMOUS?





• 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:

Look at you all–rocking the Hawaiian language!  Right on!

The correct answer is C. KAULANA.  That’s a word that a lot of hula dancers are familiar with–it’s in a lot of the hula songs/chants repertoire.  I’m glad to see thatyou all had the correct answer!

And this week’s winner, chosen randomly from all of the correct answers, is… (Drum roll, please…) JAN TAPLEY!  Congrats, Jan!  That makes you this week’s Aloha Friday Trivia Challenge Super Star!

A giant MAHALO to all of you for playing along this week!

With warm Aloha,


In my mind…

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Halawa Valley, Molokai, Jason Poole, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

Hālawa Valley, Molokai (January 2012)

In my mind I am in Hālawa Valley

on the island of Molokai.

Drinking in the sweet air that smells green and lush.

Listening to the sound of the waterfalls and the ʻauwai

that brings water to the loʻi kalo.

And the laughter of Mom and Pops

while we talk-story by lamplight.


My heart is full.


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. Hiʻilawe ( The Aloha Pumehana Serenaders’ recording on the album Hula Gems)

From the opening strumming of the ukulele, I was hooked.  100%  (The strum reminds me of a strum one might hear on an Aunty Genoa Keawe recording.)

The classic song about the waterfall known as Hiʻilawe on Hawaiʻi Island gets such royal treatment by the Aloha Pumehana Serenaders.  Smooth. Crooner-ific.  And yet totally danceable!  Right on!

2. Mālama Mau Hawaiʻi (Amy ‘s recording on the album Hānaialiʻi)

Another song with a super-catchy, infectious strum!  And this one also has moments of Flamenco guitar!  Give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean.

This song really features the stellar voice of Amy Hānaialii Gilliom so beautifully–highlighting her middle-to-low range.  Showcasing the emotion she brings to a piece.  Like a friend of mine says, “Her voice is like butter!”

And it bears the unmistakeable stamp of Willie K. and his fantastic musicianship.  Those cleanly executed/articulated fast strums.  Such power and control!

*Please click HERE to visit Amy’s website.

*Please click HERE to visit Wille K’s website.

3. Blue Lei (Bill Akamuhou’s recording on the album Hukilau Hulas)

This is a classic hapa-haole tune!  Crooner-ific to ‘da max!

The first time I really remember hearing it–I mean really listening to the song and its lyrics–was when my friend, Liko, sang it at a party at Aloha Music Camp when it was still being held on the island of Molokai.  He jammed this sweet vintage tune and strummed the ʻukulele and melted everyone’s hearts.

It’s a tough one to strum, though!  Not a beginner’s tune on the ʻukulele–it’s got some complex chords.  (But totally worth the effort to learn it!)

*Please click HERE to read more about Bill Akamuhou on

4. Nightbird (Kalapana’s recording on the album Kalapana)

You guys know how much I love a good ’70′s vibe.

And this song OPENS with jazz flute!  Are you kidding me?  Awesome!

I mean this song just begs to be listened to while cruising along in a car with the windows down and warm trade winds blowing your  (feathered?) hair around.

Ah… Kalapana… Mahalo for the gift of this song.

*Please click HERE to check out Kalapana’s page at

5. E Kuʻu Morning Dew (Instrumental) (Steven Espaniola’s recording on the album Hoʻomaka)

I was listening to this song today and my heart said “YES!”–it’s so good!

This classic song, written by Eddie Kamae, is given the royal treatment by Steven Espaniola with beautiful (and complex!) ʻukulele playing.  Right on.

After the song had finished playing, I played it, again.  And again.  Yup.  Three times.  It’s that good.  Trust me.

*Please click HERE to visit Steven’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!  I’m DEFINITELY thankful for that!

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


Strummin’ in the City (#58)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kamaka ukulele, urban strummer, jason poole, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, Strummin' in the City

Kamaka standard (soprano) 'ukulele & the neighborhood bodega. One stop shopping! (Washington Heights, NYC 3.27.12)

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!)


Notes From a Recording Studio in NYC

Monday, March 26, 2012

Jason Poole, recording session, accidental hawaiian crooner, nyc, musical theater

The recording studio. (3.20.12)

I am standing in a recording studio in Hellʻs Kitchen—a trendy neighborhood in midtown Manhattan.  Just blocks from the Broadway theater district and Times Square.  I hear the engineerʻs voice through the giant (but very cushiony!) headphones on my ears:

“Are you ready?  Let’s do this as a practice run.”

The music fills my head and heart and I take a deep breath and open my mouth and I sing!

It’s heaven.  Heaven!  I feel like I’m dreaming—a little boy dreaming about being in a recording studio, recording an album.

Except this isn’t a dream.  It’s real.  Very real.

I hear my voice coming back at me, cutting through the music.  I hear my mistakes.  I flub a lyric.  I hear myself starting to run out of air.  I tell myself, “Just stay with it, Jason.  You can do this.”  And then the trial run is over.

“Ok!” the engineer’s voice comes back over the speakers.  “That was great.   How did it feel?”  I can see him and the music director/composer through the thick glass that separates the recording booth from the control booth.   I smile and give them a thumbs up sign as I grab my water bottle and take a gulp.

I’m having flashbacks to another time in my life.

Before Hawaiian music became my world.  Before I’d visitied Molokai for the first time.  Back when singing musical theater songs was what I did daily.


See, I’m not in the studio to record a Hawaiian album.  I’m there to record some vocals for a character in a new musical that’s being developed.  My friend, Don, is one of the composers/writers of the show and he’s asked me to be a part of the conceptualization of the project.

He is a major figure in the musical theater world.  I met him  years ago at an open call for a Broadway musical—he was the musical director.  We became fast friends and he booked me for a couple of workshops for new shows.  Shows being developed for the stage. And they were my favorite experiences in the theater.  Ever.

So when he called an asked me to be a part of this new project, to record the vocals of one of the characters for a demo/concept album to showcase what they’ve been working on, of course I said YES!  (Showing up and saying YES! Is easy to do when you trust the person who is asking!)

But now that I’m standing here with the incredible musical score in front of me, I’m wondering if I still have it in me.

And I’m kind of surprised.

Yes, I sing daily.  I mean multiple times a day.  In fact, I’m probably guitly to signing ALL DAY LONG while I go about doing my daily chores, while I’m out walking on the street, etc.

But I’m mostly signing Hawaiian music these days.  It’s the music that I’m most familiar with now.  Pops has been teaching me proper phrasing for Hawaiiain music—how to sing the lyrics so that they make sense.  And along with that, I’m learning how to breathe in order to sing those phrases, how much to inhale, how to conrol my diaphragm to execute the Hawaiian song well.

Yes, musical theater uses these same elements.  But musical theater requires that you do these things a little differently.  I’m still trying to determine what the differences are in my mind.  I just know that it feels different.  I breathe differently.  I use my voice differently in order to project the clear, bell-tones that are required. (Especially for this character.)  Fatigue sets in quickly.

I remember the first time I sang Hawaiian music with Pops.

I remember him telling me, “This isn’t New York music.  This is HAWAIIAN music.  You’re here now.  Let Hawai’i speak through you.”

And now, here I am: back in New York and singing Musical Theater music with an old friend.

I tell myself exactly the same thing I’d told myself when I’d sufferred from laryngitis in Hawai’iThis isn’t about YOU, Jason.  It’s about the song.  It’s about expressing the music.  Let go.  Let the music speak.

We do what feels like a million takes.

I try singing the lines/lyrics a million different ways.

And somewhere in the mix, there will be a version that allows Don to realize his vision of the character.  To hear the character’s voice come to life.  (At least I hope there’s a version that works for him!)

It is such an honor to be even a small part in this new show’s journey from an idea to a staged production.

And so much fun to sing like this, again!

And it’s exciting to see that even though Musical Theater and Hawaiian music have their differences, they are similar in one major way:

It’s about the music.  We singers are the lucky folks that help bring that music to life.

Right on.


Aloha kākou!

Here’s this week’s question:

What is the name of the recording artist who released the album SELF PORTRAIT in 1990? 

A.  Raiatea Helm

B.  Darlene Ahuna

C.  Kuʻuipo Kumukahi

D.  Teresa Bright

• 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!

I’m really impressed with your knowledge of Hawaiian music!

The correct answer is D. TERESA BRIGHT.

I love the album, SELF PORTRAIT.  And so do many of my hula friends!  One of them calls it “Teresa’s Brown Album” (a nod to Gabby Pahinui’s legendary album, GABBY, which is often called “The Brown Album”)  And another calls it “The POLIAHU album” because it has that awesome track on it.

This week’s winner, chosen randomly from all of the correct answers, is… (Drum roll, please…) MOUNTAIN ANNIE!  Congrats, Mountain Annie!  You’re this week’s Trivia Superstar!

I’m so happy that you all took the ALOHA FRIDAY TRIVIA CHALLENGE this week!  And I hope you’ll play along next week, too!

Happy weekend, gang!

A hui hou…