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Posts Tagged ‘Ata Damasco’

The Crooner’s Weekly TOP 5 (8.29.12)

Wednesday, August 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.  Beyond The Reef (The Waikiki Hula Boys’ recording on the album Hula)

I scored a copy of this classic album from 1954 when it was released on CD–complete with Japanese liner notes!–a few years ago.  It’s awesome!

Voices are just “part of the band” in this group with simple “Ooohs.”  The lineup of musicians include: Harry Baty, Pua Almeida, Sam Kaapuni, Danny Stewart, Sam Koki, Bud Smith and Andy Iona!  How cool is that?

Super “period perfect” in sound–like stepping through a sound portal directly into 1954.  I love it.  Dreamy!

And this crooner classic song is given the royal treatment by these amazing musicians.

2. Pupule (Crazy) (Melveen Leed’s recording on the album Melveen’s County Hits)

I love Willie Nelsons’s country classic, CRAZY.  And I love the voice of Aunty Melveen.  Put ‘em together and you get an awesome combination!

But wait! It get’s even better!  Then she sings part of the song in Hawaiian!  Come on–how cool is that?  (Queen of Hawaiian Country, Aunty Melveen never disappoints.)

I always say that Hawaiian music and country music are close cousins.  And with this song, you can listen and see for yourself.

3. Lei ʻOhu (Ata Damasco’s recording on the album Paʻina Hou!)

Ah!  An uptempo, bouncy hula sung by one of my favorite voices, Ata Damasco!

Similar to some other songs, this song names a famous chief and the beloved flower lei attributed to nā moku ʻehā, the four islands of Oʻahu, Maui, Hawaiʻi Island and Kauaʻi.  But this song has a fantastic swing–it’s a standout AND it stands alone.  Right on!

*Please click HERE to visit Ata’s page at Ululoa Records.

4. Lehuaʻula (Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom & Willie K’s recording on the album Hawaiian Tradition)

When I took my first tentative steps in hula, I listened to this album all the time.  And, truth be told, I practiced basic hula hands and hula footwork to this song, too!

It always will hold a special place in my heart.

Amy’s wonderful and soothing voice–and the steady hula rhythm!–makes this an ideal song to play when practicing your steps.

*Please click HERE to visit Amy’s website.

*Please click HERE to visit Willie Ks website.

5. Kamalani (Herb Ohta Jr’s recording on the album ʻUkulele Dream)

This song has been inspiring me to pick up my ʻukulele this week.  To pick it up and PICK individual notes on the ʻukulele instead of strumming it.

I’m a simple strummer–but this song and Herb’s musical genius, makes me want to be able to pick.  To be more versatile on the ukulele.  To become a better instrumental player.

Gotta love being inspired!

(And this song always makes me think of my buddies Tommy and Kbelle.  Cheers, guys!)

*Please click HERE to visit Herb Ohta Jr’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!

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

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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!

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

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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. The Hawaiian Wedding Song (Ke Kali Nei Au) (Alfred Aholo Apaka’ recording on the album Hawaiian Wedding Song)

The golden voice of Hawaiian crooner Alfred Aholo Apaka never disappoints me.

And this song, sung as a beautifully touching duet with Diana Moncado, is–well–it knocks my socks off.  Amazing.  Amazing.  Amazing.  Such control.

Wow.

So beautiful, this song.

Some say it’s not the original Hawaiian Song.  And that leads us to the next selection.

2. Lei Aloha Lei Makamae (Aunty Genoa Keawe’s recording on the album Among My Hawaiian Souvenirs)

Aunty Genoa sings this duet with her son, the amazing baritone crooner, Gary Aiko.  Wow.

I mean it:  W.O.W.

Amazing voices singing an amazing song.

I was told by several folks in Hawaii that THIS is the original Hawaiian Wedding Song and not Ke Kali Nei Au… and who am I to argue, right?  I just keep learning and growing.  That’s my job.  (I think we need to discuss this in more detail, don’t you?  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post!)

This piece, written by the incomparable Charles E. King, has some of the most beautiful lyrics I’ve ever read.

*Please click HERE to visit Aunty Genoa’s website.

3. Kaimuki Hula (Ata Damasco’s recording on the album Paʻina Hou!)

Are you looking for an amazing hula tune with some of the smoothest vocals (and falsetto!) you’ll ever hear?  Well, this is your song!

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the voice (and ʻukulele stylings) of Mr. Ata Damasco.  So smooth.  So seemingly effortless.  I wanna sing like him someday!

*Please click HERE to read more about Ata Damasco on his page on the Ululoa website.

4. Pua Pakalana (The Hula Honeys’ recording on the album Life Just Got Sweeter)

I love the sweet sounds of The Hula Honeys!  And this song, penned by Robyn Kneubuhl, is so dreamy!  I mean it… Heavenly. Ethereal.

According to the album’s liner notes, she wrote the song about the Pakalana flower as it reminds her of her grandmother.

If you close your eyes, I think you’ll be able to see a hula being danced to it.

Sounds that remind of us of “yesteryear” being sung today by a duo of amazing musicians like Robin Kneubuhl and Ginger Johnson.  Yes, please.

*Please click HERE to visit The Hula Honeys’ website.

5. Heʻeia (Rev. Dennis Kamakahi’s recording on the album ʻOhana)

One of my favorite composers/performers is Uncle Dennis.  And he’s such a great mentor for all things Hawaiian.  A true source!

In this recording, he shares the song based on an chant that honors King David Kalākaua.  The recording is like a jam session–including Uncle Dennis’ amazing slack key guitar skills, David Kamakahi’s sparkling ʻukulele stylings and Uncle Dennis’ golden baritone voice.

Wow… imagine what it would have been like to be a fly on the wall in that recording studio when they recorded it!

*Please click HERE to visit Uncle Dennis’ 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!

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

2 Comments

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. Mauna Kea (George Kainapau’s recording on the album Legends of Falsetto)

Want to learn how to sing a beautiful and flowing (legato) line?  Studying this recording will teach you, for sure!  The song, attributed to Mokihana Fernandez, is a classic Hawaiian ballad that delights in a slow and sleepy tempo.

And WOW!  The first time I listened to the stellar vocal talents of George Kainapau, I was blown away!  He sings with such control! I’m amazed each and every time.  And his falsetto NEVER waivers–it’s strong ’til the end!  (There’s a good reason he’s referred to as the “Hawaiian Falsetto King!”)  I’m a huge fan–no doubt about it.

2.  Lei ʻOhu (Ata Damasco’s recording on the album Paʻina Hou!)

It’s no secret that I love the amazing voice of Ata Damasco.  His phrasing of the lyrics, his seemingly-effortless falsetto, his joyful spirit–all of that makes for a wonderful recording.  And this song, attributed to George E. Akiu, is yet another fantastic vehicle for Ata’s distinctive sound.

It’s a song that celebrates the islands–each verse honoring a different island.  Upbeat and fun, it brings a smile to my face.

And CONGRATS to Ata on his Na Hoku Hanohano Award this year for his album Somewhere Up Ahead!  (Best Religious Album 2011)

3. Ipo Lei Manu (Lono’s recording on the album Old Style)

Uncle Lono’s voice is a familiar sound on the island of Molokai.  Perhaps that’s why he’s on my mind this week.

I love this classic love song, written by Queen Kapiʻolani for her beloved huband, King Kalākaua.  This song has been recorded by so many artists!  And I love the way Lono delivers it–straightforward and direct.  Haunting and beautiful.

The song’s story (and a brief bio of Queen Kapiʻolani) can be found on the Huapala site–it’s so sad that King Kalākaua never heard its sweet melody…

4.  Makaha (The Kaʻau Crater Boy’s recording on the album Making Waves)

I was delighted to “rediscover” this song this week!  It was one of favorites when I first started listening to Hawaiian music–and it still is!

Written by the amazing Troy Fernandez, the song describes Mākaha, an area on the island of Oʻahu known for its legendary surf scene, and some of its best-known personalities.  (Author Stuart H. Coleman wrote a great book about Mākaha called FIERCE HEART–and it was our first selection in TAHC’s Book Club!  Click HERE to read more.)

The song fuses a Hawaiian vibe and a Jamaican/reggae vibe–a sound that dominated the airwaves when the album was released in 1996.  Contemporary island style!

When I listen to it, I imagine a great party on the beach.  How can you not love that?!

5.  (E Kuʻu) Morning Dew (Ray Kāne’s recording on the album Punahele)

I love kī hoʻalu (slack key guitar) music.  There’s something almost magical about it–something about the sound relaxes my mind, body and spirit.

And this recording by Uncle Ray Kāne is one of my favorites.  The song was written by the legendary Hawaiian musician Eddie Kamae.  (Kāne lists the song as simply “Morning Dew” on the album.)

As I’m writing up the TOP 5 list today, the sun is just coming up here in NYC.  I love looking out my window at a sleepy street.  Granted, I can’t see delicate morning dew from my window–but the song just feels “right” this morning.  Ah…

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!

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