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Posts Tagged ‘Ohana’

Tomorrow! Molokai! Tomorrow!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Totally excited!  Why?

I’m heading back to Molokai for some time in Hālawa Valley with Pops and the ʻohana.

Nānā i ke kumu.  Look to the source.

Right on.

Now… where’d I put my headlamp?  Is that a wild boar?

(Stay tuned. Pics and stories to come!)



It’s time for a new Video Blog!  And this week, I’m excited to a quick check-in before I leave for the beautiful island of Molokai to spend some time with Pops and the ‘ohana.

When do I leave?  (gulp!) TOMORROW!

I’d better get back to packing.

Talk with you all soon. (Hopefully from Molokai!)

Happy weekend, gang!


Happy New Year, gang!  HAUʻOLI MAKAHIKI HOU!

I went down to the Hudson River to sound the pū (conch shell trumpet) this afternoon–ringing in the New Year Hawaiian-style!

(Who says you need to be in the islands to sound the conch shell, right?)

May 2013 be a year filled with Aloha for you.  And may we all recognize lots of opportunities to share Aloha with each other.

How did YOU ring in the New Year? Drop me a line.  I’d love to hear from you!

(Note: Sounding the pū on New Year’s Day has become a tradition for me.  Please click HERE and HERE to see previous posts/pictures/videos!)


Family Resemblance

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jason Poole, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, NYC, High Line

Mom, Dad and I on the High Line in NYC (Winter 2011)

Something startled me yesterday morning.

I was looking at my face in the mirror while I was shaving, making sure not to cut myself.  I turned my head slightly to get a better angle for shaving my chin and for an instant, it was as though I was looking at my father.

I mean, it REALLY looked my dad’s face in the mirror.  Something about the angle and the way I had my mouth fixed.  It was kind of surreal.

It made me stop for a minute and really look at myself.  I began moving my face around slightly–and with each move, it was as though I was transforming myself into another relative.  Almost like something you might see in a sci-fi movie.  If I raised my eyebrows, I resembled my mother.  If I puffed out my cheeks like my nephew does, it was like it was HIS face staring back at me and not mine.

I was blown away by the family resemblance.

And it got me thinking:  it’s not really that strange.  We all share the same DNA so we have similar characteristics.  And those characteristics have been passed down from generation to generation.


Same family tree…

Pops and I at Moʻoʻula Falls (Molokai, HI 2008)

But then I started thinking about Pops and how I resemble him even though we DON’T  share any family DNA.

I sound like him when I speak Hawaiian–his voice is the voice I hear in my head.  My reference point for the language.  I gesture like him when I teach.  I use similar examples, similar stories to illustrate a point.  And I’ve picked up his mannerisms over the years, physically resembling him, as well.  I can hear Mom Solatorio saying to me, “You look so much like Pops when you do that!”

(Fun Fact:  Pops and I made a recording one night–really late at night while we stayed up in Kaunakakai–strumming the ʻukulele and taking turns singing lead and harmony on an old Hawaiian song.  Here’s the crazy thing:  when I played it back, we couldn’t tell who was singing which part.  Our voices sounded identical at that point!)

And then I thought about how so many of of my friends who were adopted as children “look like” their adopted families–even though they don’t share DNA, either.

So I thought some more.

Maybe family resemblance is a lot more than just DNA.  Maybe it’s a combination of all sorts of contributing factors.

Maybe it just goes to show you that we’re amazingly adaptable creatures that form families–by blood, by choice.

Like Pops says, “E ʻohana mākou.”  We’re family.

And the family tree continues.

Right on.

What do YOU think about family resemblance?  Drop me a line!  I’d love to hear from you!


red hibiscus

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!

Hawaiian love songs are my favorite. No contest. No other music can compete when it comes to creating a romantic mood.

Maybe the geographic isolation of the Hawaiian islands makes it a fertile ground for romantic thought. Maybe it’s because the composers are surrounded by such natural beauty. Maybe it’s because the sunsets in Hawaiʻi are the best on the planet–and they have a way of creating a romantic mood.

I’m not sure. But…

To honor this day of romance, I thought I’d share 5 MORE of my Favorite Hawaiian Love Songs with you:

1. Kuʻu Pua Mae ʻOle (Kealiʻi Reichel’s recording on the album Lei Haliʻa)

This contemporary ballad is a true favorite!  I first heard this song years ago, before I’d really begun my Hawaiian language studies.  Without even understanding the lyrics, I knew the song was a love song that was DEEP!  Ha!

Years later, after the language began making sense to my ears, I listened to the song, again.  And it knocked my socks off.  The title translates as “My Beloved Never-fading Flower.”  Wow… a love that remains eternally beautiful and fresh.  Even typing these words brings tears tears to my eyes.

Written by Kealiʻi Reichel, it’s a treat to hear him sing it–as he intended it to be sung.


2. Mahina ʻO Hoku (Dennis Pavao’s recording on the album Keiki Kupuna )

Often attributed to Lilian Awa, this song is crooner staple.  Why?

Well, for starters, the lyrics are incredibly beautiful–simple yet lush oh-so-lush imagery about two lovers spending a romantic evening on a deserted beach on the night before the fullest phase of the moon.

And the melody allows a crooner to embellish away–adding all of the crooner dips and flourishes that they love!

And it’s one of the most requested songs I’m asked to play when I’m playing for a hula dancer.  The song is a bit tricky when it comes to playing for a dancer–there are two accepted versions that I’m aware of.  And each version differs slightly, whether it’s a full vamp in between verses or what some of my hula friends call a “cheated vamp”–a variation of the traditional hula counts.

Its complexity is actually a lovely gift because it means that the dancer and the musicians must work together.  No one can go on autopilot.  We listen and watch and move and breathe as one.

(Don’t you think that’s kind of perfect for a love song?)

And Dennis Pavao’s stunning voice makes this song come to life so beautifully.

3. Ka Lehua I Milia (Kuʻuipo Kumukahi’s recording on the album Nā Hiwa Kupuna O Kuʻu One Hānau)

Another staple in the crooner repertoire.  This song, written by the inimitable duo of Mary Kawena Pukuʻi and Maddy Lam, describes a beloved flower, a caressed blossom.

It’s not hard to imagine that the composers might have been talking about a beloved person, as well.  Right?

And Kuʻuipo’s touching rendition reaches right into my heart.  Perfection.

4. Pua Hone (Rev. Dennis Kamakahi’s recording on the album ʻOhana)

One of my all-time favorite songs-to listen to and to sing.

This classic love song was written by Uncle Dennis as a proposal to his bride.  Imagine?!  You can read the story on Huapala’s website by clicking on the link HERE.

It’s been covered by a ton of artists–and all of the versions are beautiful!  But Uncle Dennis sings it the way he sang it to propose.  So special!

5. I Miss You, My Hawaiʻi (Nā Leo Pilimehana’s recording on the album, I Miss You, My Hawaiʻi)

I heard this song playing the other day and it made me get all teary-eyed.  True story.

A love song written for Hawaiʻi.  And sung by the amazingly lovely voices of Nā Leo Pilimehana.  You just can’t ask for more than that.

I love you, Hawaiʻi.  And I miss you…

What romantic songs are making YOU swoon?  Drop me a line and let me know!

**Please click HERE to see The Croonerʻs TOP 5 Hawaiian Love Songs from 2011.

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″ (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!