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Posts Tagged ‘Accidental Hawaiian Crooner’

Video Blog: Vertigo? Really?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Aloha, gang!

I thought it was time to do another video blog.  This one is about a new-ish development in my world.

I’ve got vertigo.

What?  Really?

Yup.

Happy Aloha Thursday!

6 Comments

Teachin’ Tales (5.10.12)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

jason poole, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, NYC, teaching, Teachin' tales

Sharing Hawaiian stories, music and culture with kids here in NYC!

Sharing Hawaiian music and stories with kids is one of my favorite things in the world.

Telling them about my experiences in Hālawa Valley on Molokai–and all of the trouble that I get myself into–is just plain fun!  And at some schools I have the pleasure of teaching some basic strumming skills on the ʻukulele.

(I know, right?!  Yes!  Sharing Hawaiian culture, music and stories with school kids here in NYC!)

I promised Pops I’d find a way to share what he’s been sharing with me.  And I feel like I’m honoring my commitment to him.  (And having fun at the same time.)

I can honestly say that every time I step into a classroom to work a group of kids, something memorable happens.

Like earlier this week…

I was teaching in school out in Queens.  I have the pleasure of working with some amazing kids at this location–and they’re learning to play the ʻukulele, as well!  Double bonus!

We started the class with some stories.  And then we added some songs.  And then we began to explore the magic of the ʻukulele.

One  of the first things I share with them are the parts of the ʻukulele.  No one ever did that with me and so I felt like it was some kind of mysterious and magical thing that I’d never understand.  Kids have no problems jumping in and asking–and they seem to love learning not only the parts of the ʻukulele, but also HOW the sound is made, how it travels through the air, etc.

I always explain how the tuning pegs work.  AND I ask them to please refrain from twisting/turning them as I spend a good amount of time before the first class making sure that all of ‘em are tuned up and ready to go.  For the most part, the kids respect my wishes and we make beautiful music (in tune!) together.

I’d just finished the class and was putting the ʻukuleles back into the cart and bag that I use to transport them from room to room.  I had my back turned toward the class and their teacher had them lining up at the classroom door to go to lunch.

All of a sudden, I heard “Hey, Mr. Jason?”

I turned and saw one of the little guys standing at my side.  He looked like a young version of a grown up with a serious expression on his face, a wrinkled brow and his hands in his pockets.

“I wanted to know how long it takes you tune up those ʻukuleles.”  (Note:  I LOVE that he pronounced it Hawaiian-style: oo-koo-leh-leh!  Awesome!)

“Well,” I said, “it takes me a little less than an hour to get all of ‘em tuned up and ready for you guys.”

“Is it hard to do?  I mean, is it hard to get ‘em all to sound the same?”  (When he asked me this, he reminded me of a man talking to another man working on a car.  Like he was asking, “What kind of engine you got under that hood?”)

“Nope.  I like it.  Every time I do it, I sing the little song about ‘My Dog Has Fleas’ and that always makes me smile.  It takes a while, but it’s fun.”

He stood there quietly for minute and then he said, “I think I might want to do what you do when I grow up.  I think the ʻukulele is pretty cool.”

Yup.  True story.

I have an awesome job.  And I’m so very grateful for that.

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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)  (Please click HERE to read Part 5)

Jason Poole, Pakele Live, The Willows, Honolulu, Hawaiian music, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

Honoring the songs on Pakele Live! (Honolulu, HI 1.12.12) (Photo courtesy of Jon Yamasato)

At the airport on Molokai, I’d looked at Pops and said, “Do you really think I can do this?  My voice is still shaky.  I don’t know if this is…”

“Iakona,” he interrupted me.  ”I don’t think you can.  I KNOW you can.  Remember, you are doing this for the kupuna–those that came before.  You’ll be honoring their memory.  Make them proud.”

I got my nervous self (raspy voice and all) on the plane and headed back to O’ahu

After I’d arrived at the little hotel in Waikīkī where I was staying, I unpacked my bags and I started to get really, really nervous.  Tonight I’d be joining the legions of Hawaiian musicians that have sung on the streamed/televised Hawaiian music show Pakele Live!

Back in NYC, I enjoy watching their show LIVE on the internet.  I have done it for years and have seen the best of the best of Hawaiian music thanks to this show.  (When I can manage to stay up, that is!  The show is broadcast live on the web beginning at approximately 6:00 PM HST–that is either 11:00 PM or 12:00 AM in NYC, depending on Daylight Savings time.)

As I ironed my Aloha shirt for the performance, a beautiful green Aloha to honor the island of Molokai with very traditional looking kapa cloth designs, I tested my voice.

“Heeeeeey!”  I sang from high to low.  Then, “Heeeeeey!” from low to high.

There was a voice, yes.  But it was still a bit gruff.  Still a little raspy.  Was I about to go on stage and make a fool of myself?

I had to take a deep breath.  I had to get a grip.

I’d been over-the-moon excited I was when Lynn Piccoli asked me to be a part of the show when she found out I was going to be in the islands!

And then to find out that my good buddy Andy Wang was going to be there, too!  And that he’d accepted my invitation to join me on stage…

Well, it seemed like it was meant to be.  Too many wonderful “coincidences” to be overlooked.

This was what I like to say is a “no brainer.”   It had to be done.

And I had to trust.

Andy picked me up to take me to the venue later that afternoon.  Like we’d done at the JCCH’s New Year’s ʻOhana Festvial, we’d decided not to finalize a set-list for the show until right before the performance.  It would allow the night’s performance to feel fresh.  I would be able to select songs that I knew I could sing–which was still up in the air as my voice was proving to be unreliable.

And… I like the idea of deciding on songs right before the show because that’s how rock stars d0 it. Using a black marker, they scratch out a list on a piece of plain white paper just before they take the stage and rock everyone’s world.  (At least, that’s how they do it in the movies. Ha!)

We sat in the green room/artist’s hang-out-room behind the stage at the the legendary restaurant, THE WILLOWS,  in Honolulu and put together songs that worked.  Developed our flow.

And outside, folks were coming in for dinner and to see the show.

Lynn Piccoli and the Pakele Live! gang are the tops! I mean, we were working with some of the best in the biz.  Pali Kaaihue, DJ Pratt and Tony Solis–names that are instantly recognizable in Hawaii.  (*Embarrassing Crooner story:  I admitted to DJ–who is a member of the legendary Hawaiian band, Kalapana–that his music was a favorite.  ”I think I’ve even used Kalapana’s music as make-out music,” I said.  Inside, I gave myself a big slap on forehead.  Um… Jason?  There is such a think at TMI!  Ha!)

There was some commotion happening outside the green room.  They were having some problems getting the internet connection/feed up and running.  What does that mean?  Well… that meant that only the folks that were sitting at The Willows would be able to see our show.  No one would be able to see it who was attempting to stream it on the internet.

For a brief moment, my heart sank.  How could this happen?  We’d worked so hard.  I felt like I’d overcome insurmountable odds–singing with laryngitis for a week!– only to find to find out that our “big moment as Hawaiian musicians in Hawaii” wasn’t going to be broadcast.  I had people all over the world ready to tune and watch.

And then I remembered:  THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU, JASON.  It’s about honoring the songs.  Honoring the people that came before.  Allowing those songs to be heard again.  Honoring your commitment to share Hawaiian culture.

That was I had been telling myself all along.  And it was no different now.  We’d go out there and honor the songs as best as we could and trust that we were doing the right thing.

And that’s just what we did.

Pakele Live, Jason Pole, Andy Wang, The Willows, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, Hawaiian Music, Honolulu

Jason Poole & Andy Wang sharing songs & stories on Pakele Live! (Honolulu, HI 1.12. 12) (Photo courtesy of Jon Yamasato)

We took the stage and we sang and laughed and told stories.

We were surrounded by love from friends and family.  (Even some folks from the NYC gang!)  I was so moved by the smiles and Aloha everyone shared with us.  And all of the beautiful lei!

We were blessed to have hula dancers share their gift of hula.  (And some lovely “hula hands” from our friends at a table–which totally helped me to remember the song’s lyrics!  Mahalo for that!)

And we honored the songs as best we could.  We shared from our hearts.

And my voice was there!

Unbelievable!  (Yet, after all of these other “near misses” it was becoming more and more believable!)

And here’s the coolest part:  It turns out that something wacky happened with the internet connection that night–which was a shame as folks had hoped to tune in via their computers.  BUT… Pali did something quite extraordinary:  HE EDITED IT IN RECORD TIME AND POSTED IT ON VIMEO!   (I think that was the first time Pakele Live! has ever done that.)  (A super huge MAHALO! to Pali for all of his hard work.)

What does that mean?  It means YOU can watch it anytime you want!  EVEN IF YOU WANT TO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!  Ha!  Just click on the links below:

It was such a blessing to be a part of that evening.  And to be a part of the Pakele Live! family. 

And to have my buddy, Andy, there by my side.  Awesome.

Phew!  Still grinning from ear to ear jus thinking about it.  A real rite of passage!

2 Comments

Hawaii Five-0 & My Grandmother

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sounds like a wild combination, right?

But Hawaii Five-0 and my grandmother go together beautifully. At least in my mind.

You see…

The very first time I remember seeing the show, it was at my grandparents’ house when I was a kid.

I can remember hearing the awesome theme song and being hooked instantly–watching reruns on their television. The only color I remember is BLUE. (Was it because of the colors or Hawaiʻi or the color mix on their television set?)

I don’t remember understanding the plot. In truth, I don’t really remember much about it.

However…

When the classic show was released on DVD, I started at the very beginning.

Starting with Season 1 I was hooked immediately–although THIS time I was hooked on the show and not just the theme song and the color blue. (Come to think of it, the show really DOES feature the color blue a lot. Especially Season 1. Check it out!)Yes, the acting is dated. Yes, the plots are kind of silly. But it’s kitschy and fun (and a fantastic visual time capsule of Oʻahu during those years!) and it makes for a great evening of classic television viewing! Throw in a pizza and some friends and you’ve got the makings of party.

So…

In my mind, the television show and my grandmother are inextricably linked.

The other day, I was talking with my grandmother on the phone. And she wanted to know what I thought of this new version of the show.

SHOCKING UPDATE: I haven’t seen it yet!

I know… I’m embarrassed. It’s terrible for a Hawaiʻi-phile like me to not have seen a new network show about it. Especially because I loved the original series–at least when I watched it again on DVD.

I think my grandmother was both shocked and horrified that I hadn’t seen it. She thought I would have not only VIEWED it, but also ANALYZED it.

But it gave us an opportunity to do some talking.

And you know, my grandmother is one smart lady.

Her thoughts: even if the show is not a commercial success, it will be a good thing. It will bring Hawaiʻi to the forefront of pop culture, again. Just like the original television series did. It will make people AWARE of it–and that has the potential of being a great thing. Because when people are aware of something, it’s harder to ignore it.

I mentioned that I had my doubts the show could really convey what Hawaiʻi is all about–that it was still a cop show that was FILMED in Hawaiʻi, but not really about Hawaiʻi or her people.

My grandmother thinks that it’s still GOOD for the islands. It will raise awareness.

So smart, right? Go, Grandma! (I love having a hip tūtū!)

So…

I’ve got a few episodes recorded on my DVR and ready to go. I heard they even mentioned Molokai in a recent episode! How cool is that?!

I’m curious to hear what YOU all think about this new show. Do you like it? Do you hate it? What kind of effect do you think it will have on the islands–positive or negative?

**Fun Crooner Factoid: I have had the Hawaii Five-0 theme song as my ringtone on my phone for years. I totally LOVE it. Iconic.

9 Comments

The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 3″ (10.13.10)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

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 3 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Kīpū Kai (Bill Kaiwa’s recording on the album NāMele Paniolo: Songs of Hawaiian Cowboys)

I love this song. And I think I only have 2 recordings of it in my collection. This is one of my all-time favorites because it’s done by a man very familiar with the Kīpū Kai ranch, Mr. Bill Kaiwa.

There’s something that’s so very genuine in his delivery… simple with just an ʻukulele to accompany him. I can’t stop listening to it.

The lyrics, written by Mary Kawena Pukui, describe the beauty of the ranch, the proud peacocks that strut around the property (a veiled reference to the cowboys themselves, perhaps?) and the warm hospitality of Mr. John (Jack) Waterhouse, the owner of the ranch. And the melody, composed by Maddy Lam, is one of those that will stick with you long after the song has ended.

The Hawaiian mele (song) class has been learning it here in NYC. I’ve had lots of opportunities to strum it and sing it lately. And every time we sing it, I fall in love with the song more and more.

2. Niʻihau (Nā Palapalai’s recording on the album Nanea)

This song, as with all of Nā Palapalai’s songs, makes me feel like I’ve been instantly transported to the islands. (And by islands, I mean the Hawaiian islands, of course!) Done in their signature style with soaring falsetto and lush harmonies, the song surrounds me and makes me feel warm–even in the autumnal chill that we’re having here in NYC. I love ‘em. Plain and simple.

This piece, written by Peter Kai Davis and John Kameaaloha Almeida, describes the beauty of the island of Niʻihau. Because Niʻihau is essentially a private island, getting to visit it is a rare treat, indeed. Something I hope to be able to do someday. (sigh)

I love this song. I know you will, too.

3. (For You) I’d Chase A Rainbow (Kalapana’s recording on the album Kalapana II)

Ok… those of you who have been reading this blog know I have a soft spot in my heart for the sounds of the ’70s. I can’t get enough of ‘em! And THIS SONG (which opens with the sounds of saxophone!) is so awesome! It’s moody with great chord changes and brilliant moments of both bright and dark. Hard to understand what I’m talking about? Listen to the song! It’ll make sense! I promise!

I love the group Kalapana. Their music will always be in constant rotation in my world… Their sounds make me want to ride around in a van. What?! Ha!

What are YOU listening to? Drop me a line and let me know!!

**Crooner Update: I just re-checked my iTunes and I have 3 different recordings of Kīpū Kai. And all 3 of ‘em spell the title a little differently: Kīpū Kai, Kipu Kai and Kipukai. Gotta love it!

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TAHC’s ALOHA FRIDAY TRIVIA CHALLENGE!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Aloha kākou!

Here’s this week’s question:

What is the name of the novel, written byAlan Brennert, about a girl named Rachel Kalama who was exiled to Kalaupapa after being diagnosed with leprosy?

  • Please post your answer as a reply to this message.
  • All correct answers will be eligible to win a special email message from me.
  • One winner will be randomly chosen at 11:59pm EST.

WillYOUbe this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Happy Aloha Friday!

**Crooner Update: Wow! You guys sure know your books! The answer is MOLOKA’I!

And these week’s winner (chosen randomly thanks to www.random.org) is… (Drum roll, please…) JANNET!!

Mahalo to all of you for playing this week. And I hope you’ll be playing along NEXT week, too!

Have a great weekend, gang.

A hui hou…

Jason

11 Comments