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Posts Tagged ‘kaumakaiwa kanakaʻole’

The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (10.12.11)

Wednesday, October 12, 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. Na Ka Pueo (Joe Keawe’s recording on the album Hawaii’s Falsetto Returns)

I love this song. And I love the amazing voice of Uncle Joe Keawe.  And I love this whole album.  Yup.  It’s a triple love.

The song is classic, upbeat Hawaiian tune that is one of the most-requested songs when I have the chance to strum/sing for hula dancers.  (And I LOVE it when they dance it with an ipu, a Hawaiian percussive instrument made from a gourd.)

It’s also a great song for leo kiʻekiʻe, Hawaiian falsetto, singing.  Rock on, Uncle Joe!  What an amazing voice had.

Interesting to note that he sings the lyrics as “Na ka Pueokahi” which means “Love from the Pueokahi” instead of “No ka Pueokahi” which means “Love for the Pueokahi.”  If you listen to a lot of Hawaiian music, you’ll hear both of these versions–it depends on the artist.  Interesting, right?

2. Pua Lilia (Nathan Aweau’s recording on the album E Apo Mai )

Nathan Aweau has one of the smoothest voices I’ve ever heard.

And when he presents the songs on this album (and some of his others, too!) he puts a very contemporary spin on some very traditional Hawaiian songs.  I’ve seen kūpuna, elders, roll their eyes when they hear his recordings.  And I can understand them–he takes a classic in a very new direction.

And most of the time, I might be tempted to agree with them.  Why “fix” something that isn’t broken, right?

But Nathan is a musician of the highest caliber.  He presents these classic songs in a new light.  He totally respects the original composition.  When I listen to him, I don’t hear anything that smacks of “arrogance.”  In fact, it’s like he’s paying homage to the songs’ original composers by bringing them into the contemporary spotlight.

The more I listen to it, the more I love it.  I love the fusion factor–all of the instruments (is that a marimba?!) and percussion he uses in this song.  I’m blown away.

New directions for classic/traditional paths.  Interesting to explore, for sure.

*Please click HERE to visit Nathan Aweau’s website.

3. Anahaki (Amy Hānaialiʻi’s recording on the album Generation Hawaiʻi)

Another upbeat, uptempo song that has been rocking my little corner of the world this week!

This song, written by Amy Hānaialiʻi (with the Hawaiian translation by Kaumakaiwa Kanakaʻole!) makes me smile.

I don’t want to reveal too much–buy the album and read the liner notes!–but the song details a love affair and references the famous ʻiwa bird that resides on Molokai.

It’s a contemporary song that feels like a classic hula written a long time ago.  Amy, as always, delivers.  Love it!

*Please click HERE to visit Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom’s website.

4. Waikaloa (Peter Ahia’s recording on the album Peter Sings)

I love this hula classic!  I have so many recordings of it.  And this week, it’s Peter Ahia’s version that has won me over.

I love the sweet quality in his voice.  I love his enthusiasm.  And I love his interpretation of this mele.  (And according to the album’s liner notes, Aunty Genoa Keawe loved his singing, too!)

It makes me smile when I hear it.  (And it makes me think of my good buddy, Ms. Marian, who loves this song.)

5. Pua Sadinia (Ray Kāne’s recording on the album Punahele)

I love kī hōʻalu (slack key guitar) music.

And this song, handled so deftly in Uncle Raymond’s masterful hands, is a true treasure.  Wow…

NYC has a way of beating a person up at times–physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  And when that happens, I turn to recordings like this.  A gentle salve for the wounds.  And it helps to recharge the battery, too.

Uncle Raymond Kāne’s recordings are to be listened to–and enjoyed–over and over, again.

*Please click HERE to read the album’s liner notes.

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!


Last Thursday evening, I literally ran to the subway to head to Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium.


KAUMAKAIWA KANAKAʻOLE was in NYC and giving a performance!

(And it was FREE as part of  the Target Free Thursdays program!  Mahalo for that, Target!)

It’s not every day that we have the chance to see a member of the legendary Kanakaʻole family here in the Big Apple!

I was only familiar with him via his recordings.  His most recent collection, KAUMAKAIWA, is incredible.  The song LĀNAʻIHALE is one of my favorites–it’s one I listen to all the time.

But nothing prepared me for how POWERFUL his presence is in person.  Wow!

I arrived a the venue late–about 3 minutes into his performance.  A security guard met me at the door and told me that he wasn’t sure if I’d be able to enter–the space was near-filled to capacity.  Then he noticed the shell that I wear around my neck.  ”Are you Hawaiian?” he asked.  ”No,” I answered. “Not by blood.”

And then, as if it was planned, Kaumakaiwa’s voice filled the room and spilled out through the open door and onto the street where I was standing.  The security guard looked at me and said,  ”If you sneak in and sit over here, out of the way, I’ll let you in.”  Done deal!

Yes, Kaumakaiwa has an incredible voice that moves from low baritone to soaring falsetto.  Yes, Kaumakaiwa is an acclaimed ʻolapa (hula dancer).

But his performance was so much more!

The Hawaiian language (ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi) is his first language.  It pours of of his mouth effortlessly.  We don’t get many chances in NYC to see a young person who speaks Hawaiian so fluidly.   It was like listening to the songs–even familiar “standards”–for the first time.  (And how often can you say that?!)

His hands spontaneously hula as he sings, illustrating the lyrics with movement.  He comes from generations and generations (and generations!) of hula and Hawaiian music.  He was raised for part of his life by his grandmother, the legendary kumu hula, Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele of Hālau O KekuhiAnd his mother is the famed Kekuhi Kanahele-Frias. (And that’s only two generations of famed Hawaiians he’s descended from!)  It’s in his blood.  It’s in his bones.  I think he would feel like he was suffocating if he couldn’t move his hands.  They move like his breath.

His oli, his chant.  Well… I don’t really have words to describe it.  Like the ancient ancestors are heard, again, through his voice.  It’s so powerful that even thinking about it gives me chicken-skin.  Goosebumps.

And OH! the stories!  Yes!  He shared stories about the composers.  He shared stories about people and the places mentioned in the songs.  He shared stories from his own life experiences.  I was in heaven.

(**Crooner Note:  When my teacher sings, he always shares a story–either about the song’s origins or a story about the song and how it has come to life for him personally.  That’s the tradition that I’ve learned.  That’s the tradition that I am hoping/trying to perpetuate.  Sadly, I’ve seen more and more people just deliver song after song with very little storytelling in between.  As a Hawaiian music lover and musician, I would rather sacrifice some of the songs and offer the stories–it’s what helps to bring them to life!  Especially for those Hawaiian music “newbies” in the house– and especially when the song is in Hawaiian.  If you give them a chance to have a point of reference–something they can relate to while they’re listening–they won’t be lost.  Ah… but I digress.  That’s the subject of another blog post.  I was so grateful to see Kuamakaiwa keeping that tradition alive.)

The audience sat–mesmerized–throughout his entire performance.

(And that’s not something you see very often at a show–especially a free show–in NYC.)

At one point in the evening, I took a moment to watch some of the folks sitting near me.  A family with young kids sat to my left.  The kids laughed and danced while Kaumakaiwa sang, proving that one doesn’t need to know Hawaiian to appreciate a masterful performance.

And when it was all over, he greeted the fans who lined up to meet him.  He posed for pictures.  He greeted everyone with Aloha.  And he spent time with everyone who waited to see him–he didn’t rush them along as if he had a “better place” to be.  Instead, he made everyone feel like they were special.  He seemed to be truly grateful that they had attended the performance. (Mahalo for that!  And mahalo to those who taught him to be so gracious.  I’m suspecting it was some of the powerful women in his life–the women he thanked throughout the show.)

It was an incredible evening.  One of those nights that only comes along once in a lifetime.

However, as Kaumakaiwa proved by his “new” versions of “old” classics–first times can happen, again, in new and exciting ways.

I look forward to his next appearance here in NYC.

(**And a giant MAHALO to his fantastic guitar player/bandmate for the evening.  I’m terrible when it comes to remembering names.  I think it was Shawn Pimental.  Mahalo for sharing your musical gifts with us here in NYC!)

*Please click HERE to visit Kaumakaiwa Kanakaʻole’s website.