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Posts Tagged ‘Nona Beamer’

The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (2.8.12)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

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. Wahine Uʻi (Andy Cummings & His Hawaiian Serenader’s recording on the album The Wandering Troubadours)

I needed a good dose of vintage Hawaiian music this week and I looked to one of my favorites, Mr. Andy Cummings.  His style is so classy!  That falsetto of his–wow!  And the sultry sound of the lap steel guitar… so good!

The song, attributed to John K. Almeida, is a favorite, too.  The title says it all, Beautiful Woman.  (Or perhaps the song praises several beautiful women?!)

A classic and a favorite.

*Please click HERE to read Square One’s bio page of Andy Cummings.

2. Hanohano Hawaiʻi (The Sons of Hawaiʻi’s recording on the album The Folk Music of Hawaiʻi)

A classic, traditional Hawaiian song done in a classic and traditional Hawaiian way!  And who better to do that than Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawaiʻi?

The song sings of four of the main/major Hawaiian islands (Hawaiʻi, Maui, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi) and tells of the flower associated with that island.

I needed this song this week.  Something simple that I could strum and sing along with.

Right on.

*Please click HERE to read a tribute page about the Sons of Hawaiʻi.

3. Ā ʻOia (The Kahauanu Lake Trio’s recording on the album He Aloha Nō ʻO Honolulu)

I love this song, don’t you?

Attributed to John K. Almeida, this song’s title proclaims, “That’s it!”  The uptempo classic bounces along and compels the listener to smile.  The singer tells his/her intended that they will win them over.  (Or that they already have won them over!)

And when it’s done by Uncle K. and the Trio, you know it’s being done by the best.  Triple love their recording of it!

I love to see this hula, too!  I’ve seen many hula groups use pūʻili, split bamboo, when they dance this song.  Fantastic!

*Please click HERE to read a classic article about Uncle K. from the Starbulletin archives.

4. Haleʻiwa Hula (Aunty Genoa Keawe’s recording on the album Hulas of Hawaiʻi)

If I’m ever feeling down or depressed (or suffering from “winter blues”) I know that Aunty Genoa’s voice will pick me right up and help me find my smile.

Her unmistakable haʻi (female version of Hawaiian falsetto sings) is the best there is.  And I’m convinced you can hear the smile in her voice when she sings!

This song, written by Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom’s grandmother, Jennie Wood, is a hula classic.  And it’s a song every Hawaiian musician should know!


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

5.  ’Neath One Big Tin Roof (Aunty Nona Beamer & Keola Beamer’s recording on the album The Golden Lehua Tree)

This story and song brings tears to my eyes when I hear it.  I love it, for sure.  And it brings such wonderful memories to mind.

I first heard this song at Aloha Music Camp when I attended it in 2007 when it was on the island of Molokai.  Aunty Nona, Keola, Moanalani and Kaliko all presented it one evening after the classes and workshops had finished for the day.  Seeing them all together, singing and laughing and telling this charming story of a giant family–comprised of all sorts of creatures!–is an image I’ll hold in my heart forever.

Aunty Nona has left an amazing legacy.  And it’s inspiring to watch her family carry on her work.  And to see all of the seeds that she planted in folks over the years taking root and flourishing.

I’m so thankful for this recording.

**A giant “ALOHA!” to everyone at Aloha Music Camp this week.  I’m there strumming and singing with you in spirit.**

*Please click HERE to visit Aloha Music Camp’s official website.

*Please click HERE to visit Keola’s website.

*Please click HERE to visit Kaliko Beamer-Trapp’s website.

*Please click HERE to visit the Mohala Hou Foundation’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 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!

Nauapaka, Caren Loebel-Fried, Nona Beamer, Keola Beamer, Kaliko Beamer-Trapp, book club

The Crooner's Book Club's Reading Selection for September 2011

Aloha, gang!

I’m hoping you all have enjoyed savoring Nona Beamer’s NAUPAKA during the month of September.  (I sure have!)  How many times did you read it?  I read it at least a dozen times through and listened to it about a bazillion times.

Yup.  A bazillion times.

(I have the book open on my lap, right now, as I’m typing this blog post.  It’s a joy to read it every time!)

Here are my thoughts:

The Story:  It’s a classic tale of forbidden love.  A princess falls in love with a commoner.  And at that time in their culture, that love is kapu, taboo/forbidden.  Ah!  So tragic!  And while this storyline isn’t uniquely “Hawaiian” it does have some AWESOME points that make it Hawaiian.  A story that deals with a kapu, or taboo.  The lovers consult the kūpuna, the elders, when they need advice.  They eventually consult with a kahuna, a priest, who tells them that the Hawaiian gods must decide.  And then they receive the tragic “verdict” via a hōʻailona, an omen/sign–and this one was found like so many signs in Hawaiʻi–via the natural elements..

And the story, itself, helps to explain the naupaka flower–the flower found in 2 complete halves, one on the beach and one in the uplands.  I love a legend that explains something in nature. One of my more “scholarly friends” subscribes to the theory that people see things in nature and then create stories/myths/legends to explain it.  I appreciate his scientific approach.  And I still enjoy the romance of the story and the traditional legend that surrounds the flower’s origins.  I love it all.

The Language:  I love how Aunty Nona tells a rather “mature” story with complex themes in language that wouldn’t alienate a child.  I love that her voice is the voice of beloved teacher–both on the page as well as the recording!  It’s got a nice mix of English and Hawaiian–much like one would hear when talking with Hawaiian kūpuna (elders).  The two languages are so often lovingly braided together in a conversation.

The Hawaiian translation, provided by master linguist (and Aunty Nona’s hānai son!) Kaliko Beamer-Trapp, makes the book a valuable resource for both Hawaiian language speakers and students, alike.  Having the text in both in English and Hawaiian on the same page has given me an opportunity to read (and reread!) the story–each time in a different language.

The Art: Caren Loebel-Fried is one of my all-time favorite artists.  And we share a love for our beloved teacher, Aunty Nona Beamer.  When I read Aunty Nona’s words (and listen to her voice via the recording) I immediately picture Caren’s stunning artwork.  Her style compliments Aunty Nona’s words and presence.  It’s strong–yet still feminine.  It’s powerful.  It’s got stong mana.  A perfect combination.  (I hope to interview my buddy, Caren, in an upcoming blog post.  Please stay tuned for that!)

The Recording:  Ah.  This is the part that has been the most difficult to write about.  Why?  Well, I miss Aunty Nona so much.  She passed away in 2008 and I miss hearing her voice.  However, thanks to this recording, I can bask in her golden tones, again.  Simply by pushing PLAY.  The recording was originally made for her story album The Golden Lehua Tree.  It’s been a favorite for years.  Aunty Nona’s voice, her distinct style of storytelling AND the music of her son, Keola Beamer, makes a perfect listening treat.  So I listen to it and I’m happy.  And I’m equally sad that she’s no longer here.  But mostly, I smile… her voice is delicious to my ears.  And Keola’s musical accompaniment provides the perfect “soundscape” for the stories.

So… that leads to the final question:  Is this a children’s book?

My gut says NO.  At least, not exclusively.  Could a child listen to the story and appreciate it?  Absolutely.  Could an adult “see more”/have more insights into the story?  Absolutely.

I can think of a more fitting question:  Is this a book that should be treasured by people of all ages?

And instantly, my heart says, “YES!”

What are YOUR thoughts on the book?

**Note:  Due to a research project that is taking up an incredible amount of time, I’m taking a brief break from The Crooner’s Book Club.  I look forward to selecting another title soon.  And I’d love to hear suggestions for the next selection from YOU!  Please drop me a line to let me know what you think we should read next!

* Please click HERE to visit Kaliko Beamer-Trapp’s website.

* Please click HERE to visit Caren Loebel-Fried’s website.

* Please click HERE to visit Keola Beamer’s website.

* Please click HERE to visit the Mohala Hou Foundation’s website.