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The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (5.16.12)

Wednesday, May 16, 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. ʻEkolu Mea Nui (The Hoʻopiʻi Brothers’ recording on the album Nā Mele Henoheno)

I remember Pops telling me to study this song.  It contained the most important information in it.  My Hawaiian language skills were still in the “super-beginner” phase.  I knew the title could be translated as “3 Important Things” but I needed to see the lyrics to understand it.  Then I recognized the passage from the Bible.  And I realized what Pops was saying: the most important thing is Aloha.  The most important thing is love.

And this recording of the classic song, recorded by the amazing duo of the Hoʻopiʻi Brothers stands out as a favorite.  Their tight vocal harmonies–where even their vibratos match up!–make it sound like one voice instead of two.  And of course, you have to applaud their vocal skills.  Who else comes close when it comes to leo kiʻekiʻe/Hawaiian falsetto singing?

Simple and reverent and vocally outstanding.

The best.

*Please click HERE to read a great bio of the Hoʻopiʻi Brothers via mele.com.

2. Pōhai Kealoha (Leinaʻala Haili’s recording on the album The Best of Leinaʻala)

This is one of my favorite songs.  I think I’ve got at least 4 different versions of it in my collection, each recorded by a different artist.

And this week, Aunty Leinaʻala’s version is the one that has stolen my heart.

It opens with a super-cool 1960′s vibe.  With smooth drums, vibes and steel guitar, it instantly transported me to a nightclub in Waikīkī.

The song is beautiful.  And one of the things I love most about Aunty Leinaʻala’s recording is that she allows it to be just as it is–not adding any unnecessary flash or pizzaz.  (And her female falsetto singing is always a treat to listen to.  She makes it seem like it’s effortless!)

*Sadly, Aunty Lei passed away in 2005.  Please click HERE to read more about her awesome life and career via her obituary.

3. Green Rose Hula (Ata Damasco’s recording on the album Paʻina)

I love this song, don’t you?  One of my hula friends calls it a “hula war horse”–meaning it’s one of those reliable, ready-to-dance-pieces that can suit many different venues, etc.

Most of the recordings I have of this song feature an ipu (traditional Hawaiian gourd drum) in the background, keeping a steady beat.

One of the reasons I love this recording is that it’s different.  Unique!  (And not just because Ata Damasco’s version doesn’t feature an ipu!)  He opens the track with the sound of–well–I’m not sure.  It’s an Eastern-European flavor.  Maybe even Klezmer-inspired.  (I’m hoping my friends who are Klezmer band fans can help me out and tell me more!)  The first time each verse is presented, its done in this “Eastern-Euro” way.  And then he repeats the verse in the more traditional Hawaiian way that we’ve all become familiar with.

It’s so cool!

And, of course, you all know how much I love Ata Damasco’s voice.  Wow!

*Please click HERE to visit Ata Damasco’s page on the Ululoa Productions website.

4. Ke Aliʻi O Nā Lani (Robi Kahakalau’s recording on the album All I Want)

Simple strumming of an ʻukulele.  An gentle, almost ambling rhythm.  An uncomplicated melody.  Beautiful, hymn-like vocal harmonies.  This recording is wonderful!

I was listening to my iPod on shuffle mode this week and this song came on.  I stopped what I was doing so that I could just sit and listen.  Really encounter the song.  Give it my undivided attention.

It’s simplicity is captivating.  And Sistah Robi’s vocals always bring a smile to my face!

*Please click HERE to visit Sistah Robi’s website.

5. Keiki Time (John Keawe’s recording on the album Hawaiʻi Island Is My Home)

I love the sound of the acoustic guitar and the warm colors it brings to my mind.

And I especially love the sounds that John Keawe coaxes from his guitar.

I’ve been trying to find the words to describe the sounds in this song.  I keep coming up with “sparkling” and “golden” and “carefree” “the feeling of childhood” and “running” and “laughter.”

He uses really cool chord progression!  At one point, I thought he was taking a “moody” turn in the piece.  And then I was delighted when he turned it all back around in the next few chords.  Just like childhood–full of ups and downs.

The next time I see him, I hope to remember to ask him about the moment that inspired this piece.  I’m sure there’s a great story.  He paints such awesome pictures with the sounds of his guitar.

*Please click HERE to visit John Keawe’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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