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Posts Tagged ‘Nanea’

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 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!**


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!

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