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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Kaiwa’

Bill Kaiwa CDs

Some CDs from my collection featuring the AWESOME voice of Uncle Bill Kaiwa

Last week, Bill Kaiwa, a great Hawaiian musician, passed away.

(Please click HERE to read an obituary to learn more about his life and his legacy.)

He was (and still is) one of my favorite voices to listen to.

I remember finding a few of his albums at one of those chain “mega-stores” on Oʻahu a few years ago.  I was so excited!  At the time, I was more familiar with female Hawaiian singers.  I remember seeing his face on the album cover of This Is Bill Kaiwa, how it inspired me to pick the CD from the racks.  I remember thinking, “I should get this.  I’ll bet I could I learn a lot from this man.”  Little did I know!  I bought the two Bill Kaiwa discs they had in stock based solely on the feeling in my naʻau, my gut.

They were my favorite “souvenirs” from that trip.  I  have listened to them a million times.  (Or at least it feels like a million times.)  And every time I listen to them, I learn something more.  Something new.

As a supporter of Hawaiian community radio, I purchased the Talk Story Collector’s Edition–a collection of CDs featuring interviews with legendary Hawaiian musician–from KKCR, Kauai Community Radio.  In that bundle was an interview (about an hour long!) with Uncle Bill, talking about his music and his life.  (Please click HERE to learn more about that series.)

Even though we never met in person, I consider him to be one of my teachers.  A great source.

I’ve highlighted his recordings several times on the Weekly “TOP” lists.  So this week, instead of doing a standard list, I want to repost those highlighted songs.

And I wanted to encourage you all to go out and find his music.  Listen to it.  Learn from it.

You’ll be so glad you did.

His voice was gentle and moving and masculine and rugged and hauntingly beautiful.  A crooner of the highest caliber.

We’ll miss you, Uncle Bill.  A giant MAHALO for sharing your gifts with us.

A hui hou…

=====

* Wai Ānuenue (Bill Kaiwaʻs recording on the album This is Bill Kaiwa) (Originally posted on 5.26.10)

Ok… I’m not usually a fan of a waltz. That 3/4 time can feel so rigid to me! But there are some beautiful Hawaiian waltzes–and this one is one of my favorites. Bill Kaiwa, a staple of the radio show Hawaʻii Calls, delivers this with his signature sound. He’s gentle and sensitive while still sounding like a rugged Hawaiian cowboy.

If I close my eyes while I’m listening to it, I can picture myself sitting by the radio on Molokai, hearing it come across the airwaves while a cool breeze rustles the lau niu (the leaves of the coconut tree) outside the window. I keep Bill Kaiwa’s recordings in constant rotation on my iPod. I study his style… a perfect mix of masculinity and sensitivity.

* Waimanalo (Bill Kaiwa’s recording on the album This Is Bill Kaiwa) (Originally posted on 7.21.10)

This classic song–written by King David Kalākaua under his pen name, Figgs– ambles along like a paniolo (cowboy) style tune. It never fails to make me smile when I hear it.

Bill Kaiwa is a master of sounding equally rugged and tender when he sings. I listen to him and study his style.

* Kīpū Kai (Bill Kaiwa’s recording on the album Nā Mele Paniolo: Songs of Hawaiian Cowboys) (Originally posted on 10.13.10)

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.

* Sweet Lei Mamo (Bill Kaiwa’s recording on the album Nā Mele Paniolo: Songs of the Hawaiian Cowboy) (Originally posted on 3.16.11)

Bill Kaiwa’s voice is one of my favorites.  One of my musical heros.  I love listening to his interpretation of classic Hawaiian songs.  And this track features him “unplugged”–just his voice and an ʻukulele.  It’s so simple!  And so wonderful.

The song speaks of a “lei mamo”.  Bright yellow feathers of the mamo bird were often used to make lei for the Hawaiian royalty.  However, various sources indicate that this song speaks of the yellow lehua blossom being made into a lei–I’m sure it’s reminiscent of the mamo feathers.

The song has been recorded so often.  In my own collection, I have several versions.  But Uncle Bill Kaiwa’s recording will always be a favorite.

**Crooner note:  Sadly this double CD set, which was produced by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (HSFCA), is currently out of print.  If you should happen upon a copy of this gem, please pick it up.  It’s fantastic!  (And let’s hope they make it available again soon!)

* Holoholo Kaʻa (Nina & Bill’s recording on the album Hula Hula Lūʻau Style) (Originally posted on 4.27.11)

A hula classic–and for a good reason:  IT’S FUN!  This is one of the songs you’re bound to hear at a hula gathering or backyard paina or luau.  Attributed to Clarence Kinney, the song tells about young lovers out on a joy ride–and the things they encounter along the way.

Nina Kealiʻiwahamana and Bill Kaiwa really bring a sense of delight to this recording.  I love hearing it sung as a duet!  And these two masters of Hawaiian music help a listener to understand the song’s lyrics–even if the listener doesn’t speak Hawaiian!

* Kamakahala (Bill Ka’iwa’s recording on the album This Is Bill Kaiwa) (Originally posted on 6.1.11)

I was riding on the subway the other day and this song began to play on my iPod.  I’d heard it before because–well– Bill Kaiwa is a favorite musician and I listen to his music a lot.  I was familiar with the song’s melody.  And this week, I decided it should be part of the Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5.”  Whenever I hear it, with it’s bouncy tempo, I can’t help but smile.

I wish I could tell you what this song was about.  But to be honest, I can only make guesses.  This is one of those songs that’s full of allusions to things.  For example, I’m sure the choice of the ʻāhihi flower was deliberate–it symbolized something.  The lyrics were probably easy for folks to understand–on many level–when it was composed.  However, even as a language student, I can only make educated guesses.  The song’s lyrics can be found on the Huapala website by clicking HERE.

(I’ll be asking my teacher about this one when I’m back on Molokai later this month!)

* Hanohano Hanalei (Nina Kealiʻiwahamana & Bill Kaiwa’s recording on the album Hula Hula Lūʻau Style) (Originally posted on 8.3.11)

A friend recently asked me to learn this song.  So this week, I’ve spent some time studying the different recordings that I have of it.   It’s one of those classics that always makes me smile when I hear it.

Another recording made by the song’s composer, Alfred Alohikea, made The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 3″ list back in October of 2010. (Click HERE to read more about that recording.)

But this week, I wanted to spotlight the recording made by Aunty Nina and Uncle Bill.  I think it’s so great!  They sing it as a duet–with Uncle Bill singing the first half and Aunty Nina singing the second. (And their phrasing is so different!  Uncle Bill sings it short and sweet–and Aunty Nina rocks that legato line!  Sweet!)  And then they join together for a final repeat of the first verse.

This recording is FAST!  It clocks in at just 1:51!  Phew!  I’m tired just thinking of singing/strumming it that fast.  I can’t even imagine how fast one would have to move to dance it as a hula!  Love it!

* Pua Pīkake (Bill Kaiwa’s recording on the album Na Halia) (Originally posted on 11.23.11)

I love the voice of the baritone crooner, Bill Kaiwa.  You know, I was familiar with his older albums–the ones from 1960s.  However, I was so excited to find this album, released in 2008.  He sounds so good!

He sounds like I HOPE to sound as I grow older.  Such a gentle voice–and so strong.

This song, attributed to Charles E. King, has become a favorite.

Hula dancers take note:  There is an instrumental pass (paʻani) in this recording.  But his tempo–and the stunning lyrics–practically BEG for a hula!)

Do YOU have a favorite memory of Bill Kaiwa?  A favorite recording?  Please drop me a line.  I’d love to hear from you.

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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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. My Rose of Waikiki (Andy Iona’s recording on the album Hawaiians in Hollywood)

I love this hapa haole tune!  It’s not one that I’ve heard a million times before.  In fact, the first time I heard it was fairly recently–right after I bought this compilation album.  The song is attributed to Andy Iona and Louis Herscher–and it was recorded somewhere between 1934-1936.

The interesting thing to note is that it can be called “hapa haole” (at least in my humble opinion) because of the inclusion of the Hawaiian-named place, Waikīkī.  However, all of the other lyrics are in English.  It’s also interesting to note the possible use of kaona, or “hidden meaning.”  Is Andy Iona singing about a flower of Waikiki?  A woman named “Rose?”  Or is rose just a poetic reference to a lover that he misses?

Typical of the era, the song has all of the wonderful flourishes that make a crooner swoon.  I need to learn this one!

2.  Kamakahala (Bill Ka’iwa’s recording on the album This Is Bill Kaiwa)

I was riding on the subway the other day and this song began to play on my iPod.  I’d heard it before because–well– Bill Kaiwa is a favorite musician and I listen to his music a lot.  I was familiar with the song’s melody.  And this week, I decided it should be part of the Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5.”  Whenever I hear it, with it’s bouncy tempo, I can’t help but smile.

I wish I could tell you what this song was about.  But to be honest, I can only make guesses.  This is one of those songs that’s full of allusions to things.  For example, I’m sure the choice of the ʻāhihi flower was deliberate–it symbolized something.  The lyrics were probably easy for folks to understand–on many level–when it was composed.  However, even as a language student, I can only make educated guesses.  The song’s lyrics can be found on the Huapala website by clicking HERE.

(I’ll be asking my teacher about this one when I’m back on Molokai later this month!)

3.  Kaimana Hila (Darlene Ahuna’s recording on the album Classic Hula)

I love this song!  It’s about a group of folks that go out “cruising” on the island of O’ahu and some of the places they visit.  One of the reasons I love Darlene’s recording is because she includes so many verses!  Most of the time I’ve sung it (and seen it danced) it only includes 3 places.  But her version includes 6!  Double the fun!

It’s got a great uptempo beat and it begs for a hula.

And if you learn the lyrics to the song, you’ll know some of the most famous places/sights on the island of Oʻahu.  What a great way to learn geography, right?

4.  Ain’t No Big Thing (Kui Lee’s recording on the album The Extraordinary Kui Lee)

Wanna listen to something groovy?  This is it!

I first heard a much-beloved version of this song as recorded by the Brothers Cazimero.  (And you guys know how much I love the CAZ!) But then I picked up the CD–and heard the song as recorded by the composer himself.  It’s got all of the cool 60s sounds including a swingin’ organ and a tambourine!  Right on!  And it delivers the awesome “No worries” vibe that Kui Lee was trying to share with the listener.

It’s a lot of fun crammed into 2 minutes and 22 seconds!

5.  ʻOpihi Moemoe (Chris Yeaton’s recording on the album Kīkaha Mālie)

I love kī hoʻalu (slack key guitar) music.  It’s no secret.

And I love it when it’s played by my “brother from another mother,” Chris Yeaton!  This song is playful and fun and full of joy.  He really makes the guitar sing!

He’s  a great musician–and a great guy.  It’s a treat to celebrate the music of someone you admire and respect.  Check out his awesome album.  Love it!

(And a big “ALOHA!” to the gang on Hawai’i Island right now.  NYC is in ‘da house!)

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!

 

2 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!

1 Comment

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. Northshore Serenade (Nā Leo Pilimehana’s recording on the album Anthology I: 1984-1996)

Listening to this song takes me back in time. The music of Nå Leo was one of my first taste’s of Hawaiian music—I bought this CD after listening to my friend’s collection.

And… this was one of the first songs that I learned to “strum and sing” with my ʻukulele! Ah… those were the days!

Their lush harmonies rival those of any mainland-based “girl groups.” And their Aloha spirit comes through loud and clear in their music. It’s been a pleasure to remain a fan over the years—and to watch these wonderful ladies continue to bring us all great music.

2. Ka Lehua I Milia ( Kuʻuipo Kumukahi’s recording on the album Nā Hiwa Kupuna O Kuʻu One Hānau)

I love this tender ballad. And Kuʻuipo Kumukahi’s version is one of the finest. (I wish I was allowed to quote song lyrics. But being that I don’t want to anger the copyright lawyers, I can only tell you that the poetry, written by Pukui and Lam, is absolutely INCREDIBILE!)

I dare you to listen to this without swaying your hips in a gentle hula. (I think it’s impossible NOT to do it!) It makes me feel like I’m walking along the beach at Waikīkī…

3. Waimanalo (Bill Kaiwa’s recording on the album This Is Bill Kaiwa)

This classic song–written by King David Kalākaua under his pen name, Figgs– ambles along like a paniolo (cowboy) style tune. It never fails to make me smile when I hear it.

Bill Kaiwa is a master of sounding equally rugged and tender when he sings. I listen to him and study his style.

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

2 Comments