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Posts Tagged ‘John Keawe’

Hawaiian Christmas Music? Right on!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, Molokai, Halawa Valley, Anakala Pilipo, Hawaii, Jason Poole, Christmas Music, Christmas Music Playlist, Hawaiian Christmas music, kealii reichel, amy hanaialii, john keawe, keahiwai, slack key, eddie kamae, sons of hawaii, hookena, willie k.,

Aloha Kalikimaka!

Hui!  Aloha mai!

Christmas is right around the corner.  And that means that everywhere I go, I hear Christmas music Piped in over the loudspeakers at stores, at holiday parties, on television and the radio, my world is filled with the sounds of the season.

Here in NYC, we hear a lot of the “traditional” recordings.  The standards, recorded by the greats like Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Julie Andrews, Nat King Cole, Burl Ives, Brenda Lee et al. (You know the ones I’m talking about, right?)

And please don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE those songs.

But as a Hawaiian Crooner, I need some holiday tunes with an Aloha-infused, Hawaiian vibe to help ring in the holiday spirit.

And I’m guessing YOU do, too.

So this year, I thought I would share a list of some of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE HAWAIIAN CHRISTMAS ALBUMS.  Culled from my personal Hawaiian Christmas music collection–which is far from complete–these albums are in constant rotation in our home during the holiday season.  Each of ‘em are full of great tracks that will make you smile.

(Note: Click on the title for a link to Mele.com–a fantastic online Hawaiian music source.)

The Crooner’s Hawaiian Christmas Music Picks:

A Hawaiian Christmas (Amy Hānaialiʻi)

Maluhia (Kealiʻi Reichel)

Hilo for the Holidays (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Christmas ʻUkulele Style (Daniel Ho)

Christmas Time (Eddie Kamae & The Sons of Hawaiʻi)

Huliau (Hoʻokena)

Santa’s Gone Hawaiian! (Various Artists)

Christmas Day in Hawaiʻi Nei (Mākaha Sons)

Kī hōʻalu Christmas: Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar (Various Artists)

Willie Kalikimaka (Willie K.)

Christmas Is… (John Keawe)

Merry Christmas (Keahiwai)

What are some of YOUR FAVORITE Hawaiian Christmas albums?  Drop me a line and let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

 

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The Crooner’s Weekly TOP 5 (9.12.12)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ukulele Croonerʻs Weekly TOP 3 iPod Jason Poole Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

I LOVE HAWAIIAN MUSIC!  True story.

And I listen to it all the time!  Especially when I’m on the move–either walking along NYC’s crowded sidewalks or riding the rails on the subway through the tunnels under the concrete.  (I’m convinced that it helps to keep me sane in this crazy city!)

I love a really wide variety of it: vintage, traditional, contemporary, instrumental…

And I love sharing some of my favorites with you.

Here are the TOP 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Nani (Aunty Genoa Keawe’s recording on the album Genoa Keawe Sings Luau Hulas)

One of my favorite classic hulas!  It opens with the typical “Genoa Keawe” opening–steel guitar and her unmistakable strumming of the ʻukulele.

The song, written by Alice Namakelua, describes someone’s beauty.  I’d always assumed it was a love song.  Only recently, I read the story that she’d written it for a group of young girls–her hula students–imagining their beauty as they grew older.  (How great is that?!)

The song has five verses and each one is rich with descriptive language–words that beg for a hula to illustrate them.

There’s a reason Aunty Genoa is considered to have “set the standard” when it comes to hula music.  She’s simply one of the greatest.  Ever.

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

2. Tewe Tewe (The Brothers Cazimero’s recording on the album The First Two Albums)

Wanna dance?  This classic (and rascal!) hula will make you want to jump up out of your chair!

The song seems to be describing the slipping and sliding and arching of the ʻoʻopu (goby fish).  And wrestling a fish like that can be a lively thing, indeed.

However…  when I’ve heard the elders sing the song and seen them dance the hula, they indicate that there may be a more–well–”rascally” interpretation.  I’ll let you listen to the words and decide for yourself.

The Caz do an awesome job with this song.  Master musicians to the max.  And even though the song has been covered by so many artists, I can’t help but think of The Brothers Cazimero when someone mentions its name.

*Please click HERE to visit the Brothers Cazimero’s page at Mountain Apple Company.

3. Puaʻala (Kainani Kahaunaele’s recording on the album ʻŌhai ʻUla)

There’s something special about a hula that opens with the sounds of piano, right?

This song was written as a mele inoa or name song.  A precious gift, indeed.  According to the album’s liner notes, it was presented to Aunty Aileen Puaʻala Enos on her 70th birthday.

Kainani’s rich voice and smooth delivery knocks my socks off.  Classic and contemporary at the same time.  Traditional and jazzy.

And even if you don’t speak Hawaiian, I’ll wager you’ll be able to feel the spirit of Aloha that emanates from this beautiful song.

*Please click HERE to visit Kainani’s website.

4. Brother’s Got A Problem (Olomana’s recording on the album And So We Are)

The group, Olomana, is a favorite.  And in this song, they’ve captured the sounds of the time (the late 70s) perfectly.

It’s an English language song.  Contemporary.  Some might argue and say that it’s not a Hawaiian song but more of a pop song.  Being that it’s done by Olomana, it’s Hawaiian to me.  And there is that unmistakable-yet-impossible-to-describe “island sound” to it.

When I first went to Molokai, I was singing in a kanikapila (jam session) with the amazing Kevin Brown.  He asked me to sing another Hawaiian classic and then inserted this song–a verse of each at a time–making a medley.  Right there on the spot.  It was one of the most magical times of my musical life.  Jamming with a Hawaiian legend.  And making music on the spot.  A moment that can never be repeated–but one that plays over and over in my mind.

*Please click HERE to visit Olomana’s website.

5. Safe Passage (John Keawe’s recording on the album Hawai’i Island Is My Home)

I’m hooked.  It’s still on my list this week.  Can’t stop listening!

New Yorkers aren’t the only ones who feel stress.  You get stressed out, too, right?

One of things I love to do when I’m stressed out is put on some amazing kī hōʻalu, slack key guitar, music.  It soothes me.  Reaches down inside me and acts a pressure release.  Seriously.  I can feel my shoulders drop away from my ears…

And when it’s played by an amazingly gifted and skilled musician like John Keawe… wow!

This is one of those instrumental tracks where you are completely transported–the voice of the guitar tells the story.

Ah.

*Please click HERE to visit John’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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The Crooner’s Weekly TOP 5 (9.5.12)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ukulele Croonerʻs Weekly TOP 3 iPod Jason Poole Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

I LOVE HAWAIIAN MUSIC!  True story.

And I listen to it all the time!  Especially when I’m on the move–either walking along NYC’s crowded sidewalks or riding the rails on the subway through the tunnels under the city.  (I’m convinced that it helps to keep me sane in this crazy city!)

And I love a really wide variety of it: vintage, traditional, contemporary, instrumental… I love it all!

And I love sharing some of my favorites with you.

Here are the TOP 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1.  Beautiful ʻIlima (Aunty Agnes Malabey Weisbarth and the Makaha Serenaders’ recording on the album Sunset at Makaha)

Aunty Agnes opens the song with the chorus–which is in English–and then launches into the verse–which is in Hawaiian.  A wonderful combination of the two.  And a great way to introduce this beautiful mele written by Princess Emma Alexandria Kanoʻa De Fries.

Her voice is one of those voices that carries.  I mean, it would be the voice you’d hear coming down from the mountains or over the waves.  Vintage?  Maybe. Timeless.  Absolutely.

The simple structure of the song reminds me of a church hymn.  Lovely and uncomplicated.

2. Laupahoehoe Hula (Kimo Alama Keaulana & Lei Hulu’s recording on the album Hula Lives!)

A classic hula!  And one of my favorites.

I love that track opens with the paʻi/rhythmic beating of the ipu.  And then ʻukulele, steel guitar and voices join in.  Love it!!

The recording has a great “homegrown-feel” to it.  Nothing overproduced.  There are no bells and whistles.  Why?  Because you don’t need ‘em.

This is one of Pops’ favorite hulas, too.  (You should see him dance!)

3. Hanohano ʻO Maui (Uluwehi Guerrero’s recording on the album Nā Kumu Hula: Songs from the Source Vol. 2)

A beautiful hula that celebrates the island of Maui.

And this recording features the soothing, honeyed voice of kumu hula, Uluwehi Guerrero.  Right on!

This is one of those recordings that pretty much begs for a hula dancer to illustrate the song and its lyrics with movement.  Why?  It’s simple.  Unaffected.  Edited down to its bare bones.  And absolutely stunning.

Yes, please.  More like this!

*Please click HERE to visit Uluwehi’s website.

4. Pūpū ʻO Niʻihau (Darlene Ahuna’s recording on the album Bridge Between Generations)

I don’t know many songs about the island of Niʻihau.  Perhaps it’s because Niʻihau is a private island.  Maybe it holds its music tightly like a precious jewel?  Maybe because of the island’s seclusion–things just don’t travel away from its shores?

But this is a well-known classic.

And Darlene Ahuna does a lovely job with it.  I love that the album is called Bridge Between Generations.  It is!  Her voice and her amazing haʻi (female falsetto) is a throwback to another era.  A treat for the ears, for sure.

5. Safe Passage (John Keawe’s recording on the album Hawai’i Island Is My Home)

New Yorkers aren’t the only ones who feel stress.  You get stressed out, too, right?

One of things I love to do when I’m stressed out is put on some amazing kī hōʻalu, slack key guitar, music.  It soothes me.  Reaches down inside me and acts a pressure release.  Seriously.  I can feel my shoulders drop away from my ears…

And when it’s played by an amazingly gifted and skilled musician like John Keawe… wow!

This is one of those instrumental tracks where you are completely transported–the voice of the guitar tells the story.

Ah.

*Please click HERE to visit John’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. Coconut Island (Andy Cummings & His Hawaiian Serenders’ recording on the album The Wandering Troubadours)

Vintage Hawaiian music rocks my little piece of the world. Listening to those voices from the past (both distant and not-so distant) is so rewarding! I learn something every time. Something from every song and every singer.

I was talking with a fellow musician recently about this song–and songs like it. She said she hated this kind of music. She felt it made Hawaiʻi (and the other Pacific Island nations) sound like a cliche. Something you’d see in a postcard. Not realistic. An oversimplified picture of “tropical paradise.” And I understand what she’s saying–to a certain extent.

But to HATE a song like this is such a shame. I mean, it was written by Andy Cummings!  (Note: Please check out the album’s liner notes for the story behind this song.  It’s great!)

While I’m all for painting a realistic portrait of Hawaiʻi, I think it’s important to honor this tradition.  There were moments where this particular place mentioned in the song truly WAS a tropical paradise. And when I’m hanging out and singing with the kūpuna/elders on Molokai, it’s not unusual to hear a song like this… It is full of references found in songs of that time. It’s sweet. It’s nostalgic. It’s an important part of Hawaiian musical history. To ignore it or even dismiss it is a shame.  I love it!  (Ok… I’ll get off of my soapbox now.  Ha!)

And the song has all of the fantastic earmarks of the era!  Andy Cummings is one of my favorite Hawaiian crooners.  He can make you swoon when he croons.

2. La ʻElima (Diana Aki’s recording on the album Troubled Paradise)

A famous song that’s been recorded by many folks. But this week, it was Aunty Diana Aki’s version that stole my heart.

The song talks about a tidal wave that struck the fishing village of Miloliʻi on February 5th, 1898 (La ʻelima o Pepeluali.)

There’s something magical in the way she sings the song. A simple accompaniment helps to bring it to life–and doesn’t diminish the song or the story.  And Aunty Diana’s voice…WOW!  Folk-style and refinement married beautifully (seamlessly!) in one voice!

For another great telling of the story, please check out the book CLOUDS OF MEMORIES by Aunty Mona Kahele.  It’s an outstanding book full of great stories and information by an elder from the island of Hawaiʻi.

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

From the spoken introduction by a beloved kupuna/elder to the last note, this song R.O.C.K.S!

In their signature harmonies, Nā Palapalai soar into the stratosphere in modulation after modulation with amazing falsetto!  The song feels like a traditional hula–and yet it’s “amped up” by a piano–something my ear isn’t used to hearing in many Hawaiian recordings.  What a wonderful addition!

Triple love it.  Start to finish-they take you on a journey, for sure.  Amazing!

*Please click HERE to visit Nā Palapalai’s website.

(Their new album comes out at the end of the month!  Uihā!  I can’t wait!)

4. Hele on to Kauaʻi (Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s recording on the album E Ala Ē)

When I listen to the voice of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, I’m instantly transported back to a different time.  His voice helped introduce me to Hawaiian music.  His voice acted as a touchstone for me when my world was dark and cloudy.  An anchor keeping me grounded and steady.  And HAPPY!

This song always makes me smile.  Love it.  Love the bouncy ʻukulele that accompanies his gentle voice.  Love the echo/reverb that’s used–it almost makes his voice sound like it’s coming from so far away.  Love the song’s lyrics–how it describes the magical “Garden Isle” of Kauaʻi.

A great song + an amazing singer = a winning combination.

*Please click HERE to visit the official IZ website.

5. Beautiful Hula Dancer (John Keawe’s recording on the album Beautiful Hula Dancer)

Today is the birthday of my friend, Hope Keawe.  (Hauʻoli Lā Hānau e Hope!)  So it only seems fitting to close out this week’s TOP 5 list with a song written about her!  (She really IS a beautiful hula dancer!)

Her husband, the amazing John Keawe, wrote this song about his wife–she’s his beloved companion and his muse!

And the song is awesome.  Listen to it.  You’ll see what I mean….  (And have a tissue handy to dry your eyes!)

*Please click HERE to visit John’s website.

*Please click HERE to visit Hope’s page on John’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. Heavenly Hana (John Piʻilani Watkins’ recording on the album Songs To Remember: Hana-Maui)

Ah!  The soothing sounds of this vintage recording has been rocking my world this week.

And such a fantastic falsetto!  Auē!  Someday… Someday…

This English language song is one that will delight listeners of old-school Hawaiian music.  Sung by the composer himself, John Piʻilani Watkins’ recording of Heavenly Hana is a favorite, for sure.

*Please click HERE to read a great bio via HawaiianMusicHistory.com

2. Kuʻu Pua Pakalana (Natalie Ai Kamauu’s recording on the album ʻĀ)

Ok.  This song is my obsession of the week.  I mean it.  Seriously.  I’ve been listening to it non-stop.

It’s contemporary and timeless at the same time.

According to the album’s liner notes, she says she wrote it to honor her son, Chaz.

It brings tears to my eyes and warms my heart.

*Please click HERE to visit Natalie’s website.

(** Crooner Note: A special MAHALO to Kbelle for introducing me to this song.  Wow.)

3. Kalāhuipuaʻa (Nālani Olds with Kaimana’s recording on the album Hawaiian Classics)

This song came on my iPod this week while I had it on shuffle mode.  I was amazed at the beautiful and clear voice I was hearing thru my headphones.  I had to stop and listen.  A melody that I wasn’t familiar with.  Absolutely lovely.

When I got back to my apartment, I went to my CD collection so that I could look up the album and read the liner notes.  That’s when I really started to learn about the artist, Nālani Olds and this haunting song, attributed to Larry Lindsey Kimura.

LOVE THIS!

Her voice is so clear and clean and I want to learn more.  To listen to more.  I guess I’ll have to be a real detective to track down some more of her recordings.

*Please click HERE to read an article (from 2000) about Ms. Olds.  Fascinating!

4. Summer Lady (Cecilio & Kapono’s recording on the album Elua)

Oh!  I was craving some 1970′s goodness this week!  Something with a good groove and maybe some moody chord progressions–as long as it was still sparkling and fun.

And I found it in THIS song!  (And kinda fitting, too, with Memorial Day weekend coming up.  Summer is fast approaching!)

Yup.  A favorite.  I’ve had it on the TOP 5 lists before.  And I’m sure you’ll see it, again, someday.  Why?  Because it’s a favorite.

1970′s goodness.  Right on.

*Please click HERE to visit C & K’s website.

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

Yes… this song was on last week’s “TOP 5″ list.  And I’m including it on this week’s for a good reason:  it’s still playing in heavy rotation for me this week, too!  Mahalo, John, for sharing a song that delivers such a smile.

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. 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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