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Posts Tagged ‘kanikapila’

When folks know you as “The Accidental Hawaiian Crooner(and you tell people that you carry your ʻukulele with you everywhere you go), it’s not uncommon to be asked to share a song or two.

I mean sharing a song between friends, kanikapila-style/jam session-style–not breaking any of the copyright laws!  (That would NOT be a good thing.)

And because I’m a believer of Showing Up and Saying “YES!”, I’m happy to honor a request.

When the holidays come around, I know to expect to be asked to share a song at the parties we attend.

Of course, there’s the hapa-haole classic, “Mele Kalikimaka.”  In fact, that’s what most people request.  And I’m happy to strum and sing it for my friends.  Written by Mr. R. Alex Anderson in the late 1940s, the song has become somewhat synonymous with Christmas and the ukulele.

However, I wanted to expand my repertoire a bit.

Jumpin’ Jim Beloff has compiled a great book of Christmas songs called Ukulele Christmas. (He doesn’t use an ʻokina in the spelling.)  It’s got 30 songs and they’ve all been arranged for the ʻukulele–complete with chord charts and everything you need to get you up and strumming quickly.

And to help me out with Hawaiian translations of some “traditional” Christmas carols, I looked to the book NĀ MELE O HAWAIʻI NEI (collected by Samuel H. Elbert and Noelani Mahoe.)  There’s a whole section devoted to Christmas songs at the end of the book.

And then I started combing through my CD collection to pull songs that I love.  Classics like “Christmas Lūʻau” and “Christmas Island” need to be added to my repertoire, don’t you think?

Now, I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas.  But I’m happy to have a few songs in my book, ready to strum at a friend’s holiday gathering.  Just in case…

What songs are YOU strumming and singing these days?


The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (11.16.11)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

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. Kalalea (Ed Kenney’s recording on the album MY HAWAII)

Another legendary Hawaiian crooner, that I listen to all the time (and study his every vocal move!) is Ed Kenney.  A giant MAHALO to a very kind and generous Hawaiian woman at a picnic in NYC a few years ago.  She said I needed to track down some of his recordings and listen to them.  No need to tell me twice!  I tracked down a few of his albums and quickly understood why she’d recommended him to me.  His voice is smooth and graceful and oh, so elegant.  A treat for the ears!

This song celebrates the island of Kauaʻi–and the cliffs that overlook Anahola.

I first heard this song at a “backyard jam session” kanikapila.  It was delicious and oozed island flavor.  And then I heard Ed Kenney’s version which is totally different.  It has the same melody, but none of the roughness.  It’s smooth.  Polished.  Orchestrated.  It totally celebrates the era it was recorded in–the late 1950s.

Both versions are great.  This week, I swooned as he crooned.  Right on.

2. Lei Lokelani (The Kahauanu Lake Trio’s recording on the album At the Kaimana Beach Hotel)

I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of listening to the amazing recordings of the Kahauanu Lake Trio.  I mean, come on!  Does it really get much better than that?

This song, attributed to Charles E. King, describes a lei made of the lovely lokelani or Maui rose.  It’s not difficult to infer that perhaps the kaona–or “hidden meaning”–might be the comparison of the flower to a beloved.


Even though the song is about the Maui rose, this recording takes me to Waikīkī instantly, sitting oceanside and listening to Hawaiian music while watching the sunset.  Ah!

*Please click HERE to read a great article written about Uncle K. from 2003.

3. Honolulu Blue and Green (Melveen Leed’s recording on the album Melveen’s Hawaiian Country Hits)

Aunty Melveen’s voice rocks!  I love its texture–kind of rough and playful and smoky and sultry–all at the same time.  I’ve tried to describe it to friends and the closest comparison I can come up with is that it’s similar to the sound of Dusty Springfield.  But Aunty Melveen’s voice is totally unique.  Totally beautiful.  Totally hers.

This song, sung entirely in English (except for the Hawaiian place names) is a great tune that Aunty Melveen brings to life so beautifully.  I’ve heard stories about how she went to Nashville–and I imagine her singing this song while she was there and homesick for her beloved islands.  Wondering why she’d ever left and dreaming about her homecoming.

It’s got a great 1960s feel is both country and Hawaiian at the same time.  (I always say that Hawaiian music and country music are close cousins!)

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

4. Keawaiki (Keola & Kapono Beamer’s recording on the album Hawaii’s Keola & Kapono Beamer)

From the opening notes of the guitar, you can tell this is a Beamer family recording–their distinctive style comes through loud and clear.

And what’s most exciting about this recording is that it takes an old classic song like Keawaiki and puts a somewhat contemporary spin on it–with modern (at least for the time!) instrumentation and phrasing.  The album was originally release in 1975,  during a time when Hawaiʻi was undergoing a huge renaissance and re-claiming a sense of cultural identity and pride.  How exciting to see a duo of young brothers recording a classic song and releasing it for broad/wide audience.

When I pulled this CD from my collection and looked at the cover, my heart “squeezed” a little bit.  When I look at the faces of Keola and Kapono, I can see the face of their mother, Aunty Nona Beamer.  I miss her.  But seeing her in her sons’ faces makes me smile, too.  Like she’s not really gone.  Her line continues… not only in her family, but in those that she taught and in those that she touched.

*Please click HERE to visit Keola’s website.

*Please click HERE to visit Kapono’s website.

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

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

And I love the music of Uncle Dennis.  (That’s also no secret!  Ha!)

This week, I wanted to close my eyes while I listened to this song.  We used to do that in music classes when I was in elementary school.  It allowed for deep listening.  And sometimes, it allowed us to “see pictures” in our minds–creating scenes that followed the sounds we were hearing.

When I closed my eyes to listen to this song, the image that came to mind was a group of people having a conversation.  A dialogue.  With activity happening in the background.  Pretty interesting that the song is called ʻOhana Slack Key–ʻohana being the Hawaiian word for family.

Pops tells stories about growing up in Hālawa Valley on Molokai.  When the family was done eating, often times there would be a kanikapila, a music session.  I imagine conversations happening, music playing and activity like cleaning up after the meal–all happening at the same time.  Peaceful yet active.  Just like this song.  Different voices and different energies moving together.  Weaving together.


*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 for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!


The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (10.26.11)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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!

**And I wanted to send a special birthday shout out to my buddy, Grace!  HAU’OLI LĀ HĀNAU E GRACE!!

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

1. Lei Aloha  (Chick Daniels’ recording on the album A Beachboy Party)

I am so obsessed with this song!  (Ok, I’m so obsessed with this whole album!)

Are you guys familiar with it?  The album is like a little peephole into the past.  In 1963, Waltah Clarke threw a party for some of the legendary beachboys of Waikīkī (no… not the California band, the Beach Boys!) and recorded music from the event–and produced this album!  And its billed as “Duke Kahanamoku presents: A Beachboy Party with Waltah Clarke.”  The legendary Duke Kahanamoku!  True story!  The album makes me feel like I was one of the privileged folks in attendance that night.  And YOU can feel that way, too, just by listening!

This song, written by one of the most famous Waikīkī beachboys, Chick Daniels, rocks!  A great hapa-haole tune that makes me grin from ear to ear!  The beauty is in the simplicity of the arrangement.  Vocals, ‘ukulele, steel guitar, bass–and maybe a guitar?    I don’t have the names of all of the musicians that played that night, but it must have been a stellar lineup.

Chick Daniels’ vocals–and his stylistic choices–provide a shining example of the style of music that was being presented during the “golden days” of Waikīkī’s beachboys.  A rare glimpse.  A treat!

*Please click HERE to read more about Chick Daniels and the Waikīkī beachboys.

2. Ka Pua Mohala (Kūpaoa’s recording on the album English Rose)

This song came on while I was cooking dinner the other night.  And I had to stop chopping vegetables and just listen…

Written by the Hawaiian langauge master, Puakea Nogelmeir, it’s not a piece for someone looking for a song with just a few lyrics!  In fact, after listening to it, I had to go find the album’s liner notes–which, thankfully, include the lyrics!–and I was amazed at how complex they are.  Complex, but so rich!  And so wonderful!  The sound of ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi delights my ears.  And Puakea’s compositions are among my all-time favorite.

And when paired with the stunning harmonies of Kūpaoa, it’s a guaranteed win!  Their voices dance around each other, weaving in and out and creating a beautiful tapestry of sound.

I love this mele.  And I love their recording.

*Please click HERE to visit Kūpaoa’s website.

*Please click HERE to read more about Puakea Nogelmeir.

3. Kauaʻi Beauty (Lono’s recording on the album Old Style II)

I love Lono’s voice!  It takes me to Molokai instantly–he’s a pillar of the musical scene there!  And I love the “old style” he brings to the songs.

This classic mele, attributed to Henry Waiʻau, describes the beauty of the island of Kauaʻi.  Is there perhaps another meaning to the song?  Could the kaona (hidden meaning) be about a beloved?  One can only infer, but it’s not hard to imagine…

It’s awesome.  Lono’s recording makes me feel like I’m sitting at a kanikapila–jamming with other musicicans at sunset on Molokai.  Mahalo for that, Lono!

*Please click HERE to visit Lono’s website.

4. Bring Me Your Cup (Pure Heart’s recording on the album Pure Heart)

A blast from the past!

When I bought this album, I was just learning to play the ʻukulele.  This was one of the songs my friends and I learned so that we could jam together.  This music warmed many cold NYC nights.

So awesome!   So much fun!

So many memories come flooding back when I hear the fantastic talents of these young guys!  A favorite track from a favorite album.

5. Haunani Kī Hoʻalu (Kuʻuipo Kumukahi’s recording on the album Nā Hiwa Kupuna O Kuʻu One Hānau)

Kī hoʻalu (slack key guitar) music soothes my weary body and soul.

And this week, I’ve been delighted to by this recording.

According to the album’s liner notes, she wrote the song for her friend, the one and only Haunani Apoliona.

*Please click HERE to visit Kuʻuipo’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 for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!

**10.31.11 Crooner Note:  Please note the correction!  The friend that inspired Ku’uipo Kumukahi’s composition is the one and only Haunani Apoliona and not Haunani Apolima as I’d originally posted.  A giant MAHALO to Auntie Maria for catching that!   Please see Auntie Maria’s comment below for more information.  (Auē! No wonder I didn’t recognize the name when I typed that!  Ha!  Now I do!)  


Hawaiian Picnic in Central Park!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Annual Hawaii Potluck Picnic in Central Park 2010

Kanikapila and Hula in Central Park at the Annual Hawaiʻi Potluck Picnic 2010

Yesterday, we had the Annual Hawai’i Potuck Picnic in Central Park here in New York City.

And, as usual, it was a blast!

I’m told the picnic tradition started over 20 years ago.

Attendance varies year to year–usually depending on the weather forecast. We had a great turnout yesterday–despite the ominous reports of an impending storm (and possible HAIL!) But there are always a TON of beautiful smiles… And not just Hawaiian smiles! The picnic attendees are folks from all over the Pacific. It’s a great opportunity to meet up and hear about what’s happening all over that region of the world. And, of course, there are a number of us that are “Hawaiian at heart.”

And a there’s always a TON of ‘ono-licious food!

We used to set up a buffet “table” (which was really just a long row of plastic tablecloths on the ground) that stretched for what felt like miles–all piled high with great food. And it seemed like the line never ended! I’m not sure if it was people making their way through the line for the first time–or the 5th time. Or maybe the line was full of hungry New Yorkers who were in the park and came upon our buffet! We’ve “graduated” and we use real tables now, but the lines seem to get longer and longer every year. And the food gets better and better, too!

The first year that I went, I thought I’d bring something that would please the whole crowd: a veggie-filled brown rice salad. How could that go wrong, right? Well… there was just as much brown rice salad in the bowl at the END of the picnic as there was when I placed it on the buffet! Auē!

I learned my lesson and have switched to a slam-dunk version of mango bread which seems to please the local folks–both local to NYC and Hawaiian locals that are either living here or visiting. Can’t go wrong with mango bread!

But the highlights of the picnic (for me, anyway!) are the music jams and the hula.

Musicians come from all over–and as a Hawaiian musician in New York, it’s ALWAYS a treat to meet new folks, play some new songs and learn some new “tricks” on the ‘ukulele. Hula hālau and hula hui from all over the area come out to perform. The musicians form a makeshift “band” for the day and play for the different groups. It’s a chance to really share the Aloha spirit. There isn’t room for ego in a place like that… We are all ʻOHANA. We are all sharing in the music and hula. And we are all blessed for it!

And you never know who might be stopping by…

We’ve been honored to have music and dancing from all over the Pacific islands. One year, we had an ‘ukulele orchestra from Japan AND some of the cast from Hawaiʻi Calls! They had given a performance at Carnegie Hall the night before and stopped by to jam (and eat!) the next day. It was so wild to have a legendary vocalist like Nina Kealiʻiwahamana on our lineup at the picnic!

From kupuna (elders) to keiki (children), everyone gathers to meet-up, talk-story, jam some tunes, dance some hula, and–of course–EAT some delicious food.

So if you guys are ever in town the first Sunday in June, you’ll know where to find the best in Hawaiian food, music and hula– in Central Park, of course !

**Crooner note: A giant MAHALO to everyone who helped to make the event yesterday such a success! And a special MAHALO to Hālawai for all of their constant support. You guys really help to keep us all in the loop! (