Archive for June, 2012
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I’m heading out today for a month of study on Molokai! (And yes… you could say that I’m a little bit excited about it.)
I know the blog posts have been less-than-regular this week. I’ve been traveling. We left NYC on Monday and have been on the West Coast for a few day with meetings (and an awesome evening of stories and songs and pre-island craziness last night out in North Hollywood! A giant MAHALO to the Hawker Family for hosting!!!)
And today’s the day for the BIG TRIP!!
Now, you know from my earlier posts that once I’m on Molokai, I’m “off the grid.” Down in Hālawa Valley we don’t have electricity or a telephone. Posting on the blog will be tough, but I’ll post if/as often as I can.
But mostly, I’m going there to study. To IMMERSE myself in the culture and the life of Hālawa Valley. To learn as much as I can so that I can share it all with YOU!
So expect new music and photos and, of course, lots of new stories.
Let’s do this!
Talk with you all soon.
A hui hou…
Friday, June 22, 2012
Here’s this week’s question:
Which Hawaiian recording artist released the (LIVE!) album, FOOTPRINTS IN THE POI?
A. Genoa Keawe
B. George Kahumoku, Jr.
C. Robi Kahakalau
D. Dennis Kamakahi
• Please submit your answer by posting a reply to this entry on the blog.
Will YOU be this week’s lucky winner?
Aloha Poʻalima! Happy Aloha Friday!
Right on, Gang! You all really know your Hawaiian music albums and artists!
The correct answer is B. George Kahumoku, Jr. I love this album. I love a LIVE album when you can really sit back and listen to the artist–raw and “undedited.” And when it’s someone like Uncle George Kahumoku, Jr, you can sit and listen to a true MASTER at work. Wow…
You can check out Uncle George’s website by clicking HERE.
This week’s winner, chosen randomly from all of the correct answers, is… U’ilani Justina Moana Lemanu! Congrats to you! You are this week’s Trivia Superstar!
A giant MAHALO to all of you for taking part in this week’s Aloha Friday Trivia Challenge. It’s always blast to connect with you!
Happy weekend, Gang!
A hui hou…
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Over the past few weeks, I’ve posted that I’ve been attempting to write my first set of songs.
I managed to pull together 2 children’s songs for some of the kids I worked with this spring.
It’s hard work.
Growing up in the musical theater scene, I loved singing other people’s songs. When I sang with the jazz bands in my father’s club, I sang other people’s songs. When I went to school and studied vocal performance, I sang other people’s songs. In the NYC theater scene and cabaret scene, I loved to sing (you guessed it!) other people’s songs.
Singing other people’s songs makes me happy.
I don’t remember a time where I thought, “I could write a better song than this.” I don’t remember sitting in my music theory classes thinking, “One day, I’ll write a song that sounds like…” Nope. It didn’t cross my mind.
So imagine how surprised I was when I felt like I needed to start on this wild songwriting journey! And then to have Pops say, “Iakona, what are you waiting for? You HAVE to write your own songs now. It’s how you can share what you’re learning.”
Um… (gulp!) OK? I guess I can take a stab at it?
So I’ve got a few simple songs started. I mean they are R.O.U.G.H. Not finished. Not polished. Not very pretty at this stage. But they’re coming along. Slowly.
On my long run on the treadmill today, I listened to a great mix of tunes by some of my favorite singer-songwriters.
I am so amazed at what they were able to achieve!
And I want to humbly tip my hat to the songwriters. You all make such a difficult task look easy.
Thank you for sharing your music.
Thank you for letting folks like me listen and learn.
Mahalo for that!
*Do YOU have any songwriting tips you’d like to share with me? PLEASE send ‘em my way! Thanks, gang.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
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. To You, Sweetheart, Aloha (Maile Serenders’ recording on the album Let’s Hula)
Ah! Voices from the past singing out. I love a great vintage recording.
This song, written by Harry Owens, has all of the wonderful marks of the song from the 50s–a beautiful (and somewhat complex) melody with touching lyrics that tug on the heart strings. This “song of departure” wishes one’s beloved ,”Aloha” as they are leaving. Come on–that’s pretty awesome!
The lead is sung by a beautiful female voice–the ever-elegant and lovely Nina Kealiiwahamana. If you are a fan of Hawaiian music from this era, you’ll recognize her voice immediately. And when she’s joined by the harmonies of the male chorus, well, it’s perfection to my ear…
(**Crooner Note: The album was meant to introduce non-Hawaiians to Hawaiian music. I love this collection. It even has photos of “how to dance the hula” for each of the songs. A fun walk down memory lane.)
2. Puanani (The Pandanus Club’s recording on the album Hoʻike)
A fantastic song recorded by a fantastic group. It utilizes the olapa strum–one, two, three–echoing the beats of the ipu heke, the gourd drum used in traditional hula.
The song is sung with such gentleness–and such awesome falsetto! Right on! Makes me want to take out the ukulele and start strumming and singing along. And it modulates, going higher and higher as the song draws to a close.
This is one of those “take your breath away” kinds of hulas. You’ll love it.
My only complaint is that the CD doesn’t come with lyrics or much in the way of liner notes. I love that. And finding out information online has been slow… Maybe someday this album will be reissued with those added bonuses.
3. Nā Puʻu ʻEhā (Kaumakaiwa Kanakaʻole’s recording on the album Kaumakaiwa)
When the song first started, before I even recognized the album (or even the singer!) I knew I was listening to someone from the famed Kanakaʻole family. That style. That presence. That strength.
And then, of course, it hit me–this is Kaumakaiwa! I love, love, love his voice.
Generations of his family come thru when he sings. It’s pretty, well, mindblowing when you think about it.
And I love how he chooses to kāhea, to call out the next verse before it starts. It’s something you might see if you go to a hula performance. Either the dancers or the musicians call out the first line/first few lyrics of the next verse to make sure that everyone is “on the same page” and in sync.
Kaumakaiwa is a master singer/chanter. Floating from high to low and back, again, and taking us all with him on this wild ride.
*Please click HERE to visit Kaumakaiwas website.
4. Gotta Get Away (Ernie Cruz, Jr’s recording on the album Portraits)
It’s been “one of those weeks” here in NYC. I’ve been kind of overwhelmed as I prepare for an upcoming trip back to Molokai next week. I turned to Hawaiian music to help me out–it’s my favorite cure-all!
This song, written by Henry Kapono, was exactly what I needed.
It was like someone had listened to what my heart was saying and then put it to music. All about the need to get away–to get back to the country and get a grip.
The song’s cool island vibe and Ernie Cruz, Jr’s awesome voice make a perfect combination for this weary New Yorker’s soul. Right on!
5. Silhouette Hula (Owana Salazar’s recording on the album Hula Jazz)
I spent my teen years working in my father’s jazz club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Sometimes on stage. Sometimes behind the scenes. Jazz (and that old-school nightclub-style sound) is something that runs through my veins.
This song opens with a smooth clarinet solo over a simple guitar accompaniment. So awesome. So reminiscent of New Orleans.
And then Owana’s voice–those smooth and sultry sounds–breaks over the instruments.
Wow. A great combination, indeed!
The song, attributed to Danny Kalauawa Stewer and Steve Graham, speaks of a love in the shadows…
*Please click HERE to visit Owana’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 www.mele.com for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place! I’m DEFINITELY thankful for that!
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012
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 18, 2012
Does this scenario sound familiar to you:
I set out this morning ready to tackle a huge TO DO list.
I mean, I really wanted to make some progress today! I wrote (what felt like a zillion!) tasks on a sheet of paper. And then I even put little boxes beside the items on the list so that I could enjoy checking them off. (I used to to that when I was still working my “corporate gig.” It helped when we were overwhelmed–allowed us to see that we were making progress even when we felt like we were drowning.)
I poured myself a big ol’ mug of steaming coffee and settled in for a great day of work.
And then I hit a wall. See, I wanted to make a recording of a new song I’m working on–just a rough demo. But a full-on traffic jam formed on my street (which NEVER happens!)–complete with blaring horns and car alarms singing in dissonant harmony. And then sounds of construction/jackhammers/heavy equipment started. Oh well… wait until later….
And then I hit another wall. Putting the ‘ukulele and the digital recorder aside, I went down to the basement to put in some laundry. But when I got to the laundry room, I saw that all of the machines were in use. Oh well… wait until later…
And yet another wall. I headed back up to the apartment to do some admnistrative-esque work. I started to write emails to folks, but I realized I didn’t have all of the necessary information to write the text. I needed to email other people and then wait to get that information before proceeding with my original email. Oh well… wait until later…
It seemed like everything I was doing was destined to either collapse in front of me or be put on the “need to wait until later” list. And that wasn’t what I’d hoped the day was going to be like.
But then I got a hold of myself. I mean,
It wasn’t like the world was conspiring against me.
(Even though it totally felt that way at the moment!)
I just needed to find the “right” task/job for RIGHT NOW.
So I picked up my ever-faithful ‘ukulele and strummed a few chords. (You guys know how much I value a good strum break!) And that lead to a few more chords. And that reminded me that Pops had asked me to learn a song before I head to Molokai later this month so that we could work on it together. Feeling inspired, I dug around and found the song and sat down and plunked my way through it. And, again. And, again. (I’ll need to work on this song a lot before I head to Molokai!)
It was the PERFECT job for the moment.
It blocked out the sounds of traffic jam and the construction.
And it calmed me down.
TO DO lists are cool. But I need to remember that I may need to juggle the items around a bit.
It’ll all get done.
Happy Monday, gang.