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Posts Tagged ‘Rev. Dennis Kamakahi’

What are your “GO TO” songs?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Here’s a question for YOU:

What are your “Go To” songs?

Know what I mean?  Those songs that you love so much–either to sing ‘em or to play ‘em or both! 

Those songs that when you pick up your instrument, you automatically sing ‘em because they make you feel good.  Or maybe it’s because they sound  really good.  Or maybe they are a real workout for you and you use ‘em like a warm-up to get you loose and limber.

What are your “GO TO” songs?

For example:  When I first tune up the ʻukulele, I often strum/sing the Israel Kamakawiwoʻole arrangement of KA PUA UʻI that he sings on his album, Facing Future.  The song’s chord progression allows me to hear the ʻukulele in all of its glory–and I can quickly tell if I’m in tune!

When someone asks me to sing a Hawaiian song, I usually ask ‘em if they want a fast(er) song or slow(er) song.  

If they choose fast(er), I’ll often strum/sing Aunty Edith Kanakaʻole’s KA ULUWEHI O KE KAI.  It’s fun to listen to.  It tells a story and it’s not toooo vocally demanding so that I can have fun singing it.

If they chose a slow(er) song, I’ll often strum/sing something like the hula classic, ALOHA KAUAʻI.  I think the song allows for a lot of cool crooner-isms and I love exploring it.  Simple and challenging all at the same time.

And when I’m at a party and someone asks me to share a song in a song-circle, I usually call out Rev. Dennis Kamakahi’s WAHINE ʻILIKEA.  It acts as an immediate touchstone for me.  It takes me to the island of Molokai in my mind.  Takes me to Hālawa Valley.  It grounds me.  And it instantly takes away any nervousness that I may be feeling.

What do YOU sing and/or strum when you’re asked to share a song?  What songs do YOU sing in the shower or in the privacy of your car (with/without the windows rolled up!)

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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. Kaʻu Nui ( The Kahauanu Lake Trio’s recording on the album At the Halekulani Hotel)

Oh!  That’s the  song!

This song is familiar to many people.  I’d certainly heard it before, but I wasn’t aware of the title.  (Too often, that’s the case:  I listened to so much Hawaiian music before I started to understand the language.  Unfortunately, that meant I was familiar with a song’s melody, but had no way to look it up!  Ah–another benefit to knowing even a little bit of Hawaiian!)

The song, written by Mary Kawena Pukui and Maddy Lam, celebrates the district of Kau on the island of Hawaii.  It describes the amazing land and it’s beauty.  I love songs that teach me about an area!  The best way to learn!

And the Kahauanu Lake Trio’s rendition has got a “swing” to it that will get into your bones!

(A special “shout out” to the students at Molokai High School who sang this Nā Mele O Maui song competition earlier this year, which honored the music of Uncle Kahauanu Lake.  Right on, gang!  You all sounded FANTASTIC!)

*Please click HERE to read Uncle K’s page on the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame’s website.

2. Rain Liʻiliʻi (Mark Yamanaka’s recording on the album Lei Pua Kenikeni)

Listening to my iPod on “shuffle mode” this week, this song caught me off guard. When it first started,  I thought it was Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawaiʻi.  (That ʻono steel guitar!  Sweet!)  And then I heard Mark Yamanaka’s distinctive voice.  What a treat to be surprised!

Wanna know why it might have that “old-school” kanikapila-style sound?  Well, it was written by one of my favorite composers, the one and only Rev. Dennis Kamakahi!  And Uncle Dennis wrote and recorded many of his compositions while he was a part of the Sons of Hawaiʻi.  Turns out, it’s no coincidence, at all!

I love the song.  And I love Mark’s wonderful rendition.  Right on!

*Please click HERE to visit Mark’s page at Reverbnation.

3. Aleamai (Kuʻuipo Kumukahi’s recording on the album Nā Hiwa Kupuna O Kuʻu One Hānau)

I can’t get enough of  Kuʻuipo Kumukahi’s voice.  Gentle yet powerful.  When she hits those low notes, wow… it resonates deep in my body.  My naʻau–my gut.  I can feel it!

A song to celebrate where her family home is, not too far from Hilo on Hawaiʻi Island.  It’s got that distinctive hula-feel.  I wonder if it’s been danced as a hula!  If I close my eyes, I can see one, for sure.

Her music inspires me to try to write my own song.  And her voice inspires me to sing.  Mahalo for that!

*Please click HERE to visit Kuʻuipos’s website.

4. Hawaiian Eyes (Jon Osorio & Randy Borden’s recording on the album Hawaiian Eyes)

You guys know how much I love a good ’70′s vibe.  And this song–complete with some killer jazz flute!–rocks me to my core!

This is an instant “feel good” song for me.  I can’t help it–I start swaying and my neck starts swinging.  Awesome!

And the “hand claps” section that comes in on the chorus = over the top awesomeness!

5. Kāʻanapali Sunset (solo ʻukulele version) (Herb Ohta Jr’s recording on the album ʻUkulele Dream)

Herb Ohta, Jr. playing a solo ʻukulele with his amazingly skilled hands.

Perfection.

For realz.  Check it out.

(For a simple strummer like me, I can’t even imagine ever being able to play like this… Wow!)

*Please click HERE to visit Herb Ohta Jr’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 www.mele.com 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!**

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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.

Wow.

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

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The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (12.14.11)

Wednesday, December 14, 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. The Hukilau Song (Alfred Aholo Apaka’s recording on the album Hawaiian Favorites)

It’s no secret that I love the golden-voiced crooner, Alfred Aholo Apaka.  His music is like a textbook for me.  I study his recordings and learn something new every time.  Wanna swoon?  Check out any of his recordings.  And this one is no exception!

The Hukilau Song, attributed to Mr. Jack Owens, is often dismissed as a “kitschy classic” or a “hula song for tourists.”  However, I got SCHOOLED (aka “educated AND scolded!”) for making that comment in front of Pops.  I’d been asking him about how Hālawa Valley residents fished in the bay when he was little boy.  He told me the significance of this song.  And it changed me forever!  Now I view the song through “fresh eyes.”  And I’m amazed at how important it is! (I’m writing a blog post about that.  Stay tuned!)

*Please click HERE to visit a tribute page for Uncle Alfred Apaka on Facebook.

2. Aloha ʻOe (Amy Hānaialiʻi and Willie K’s recording on the album Nostalgia)

This classic Hawaiian song has been calling to me, lately.  I mean, sometimes I hear it when I first wake up.  No… not in a “ghostly” way.  But in my mind, I hear it playing.  And the funny thing is that I never really had any kind of feeling toward it.  Yes… it’s a beautiful song.  Yes… it has an incredible story.  Yes… it was written by Queen Liliʻuokalani.  But I never really reacted to it. (And in the spirit of full disclosure, I used to feel guilty about that.)

The strange thing is that NOW it’s like I can’t stop listening to it.  I’m kind of–well–obsessed with it. I love it.  I love the imagery.  I love the melody–simple but tugs at the heart.  And I can’t get enough of the language–the poetry of the lyrics.  It blows my mind.

I’ve heard that the song is copyright free.  Public domain.  That means I can record it, right?  I’m seeing a new mele  page in the works… Stay tuned.

This may be one of my favorite songs of all times.  And Amy’s voice–as always–is fantastic.  There is something almost ethereal about her voice in this recording–like it’s calling from the past.  Wow. And when she collaborated musically with Willie K, it was magic!

*Please click HERE to visit Amy’s website.

*Please click HERE to visit Willie K’s website

3. Pua Hone (The Brothers Cazimero’s recording on the album Hoʻala)

The Brothers Camizero have a sound that takes me instantly to Oʻahu.  It’s like being teleported to the islands via the touch of a button.  How cool is that?  (And so much cheaper than airfare these days!  Auē!)

This classic love song, written by Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, is given the royal treatment by The Caz.  So loving.  So gentle.  So nahenahe.  And their signature sound–and the measures of “loo loo loo” that say “Hey!  This is a Brothers Cazimero song!” make me smile from ear to ear.

Triple love it.  And this version is a hula dancer’s dream–no instrumental verses.  Perfect!

*Please click HERE to visit the Brothers Cazimero’s page at Mountain Apple Company.

4. Constellations (Kaukahi’s recording–featuring Jack Johnson–on the album Life In These Islands)

Ok.  This song rocks my world. And Kaukahi’s recording (which features the one and only Jack Johnson!) is fantastic!!  I love the sound of the amazing Hawaiian group accompanying Jack on this now-classic/neo-classic song.

Like many folks, I first heard the song on Jack’s album, In Between Dreams.  I remember thinking there was something different about the song.  The story that it told stood out.  It felt like old-style Hawaiian storytelling.

And then, when I saw it pop up on Kaukahi’s 2006 release, I thought, “RIGHT ON!  This is a good thing.  This is gonna be GOOD!”

I was delighted when I first heard their collaboration. And I remain delighted with every listening.  It tickles the ears.  The guitar.  The harmonies.  Trust me.  This is ono-licious!

*Please click HERE to visit Kaukahi’s website.

*Please click HERE to visit Jack Johnson’s website.

5. Kuʻu Ipo Onaona (Ledward Kaapana’s recording on the album Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar)

You guys know that I love kī hōʻalu (slack key guitar) music.  It soothes this New Yorker’s often-frazzled nerves.

When Uncle Led plays this slack key classic–ah! The tension that holds my shoulders up by ears drains away.  So good!  It moves along with intention and purpose, yet never loses its sense of playfulness and fun.

(*Note:  This album, featuring some of the greatest living slack key players and entertainers, won the Grammy Award in 2008 for Hawaiian Music Album of the Year.)

*Please click HERE to visit Uncle Led’s website.

**Christmas Bonus Song:  Kanaka Christmas (Lucky Luck’s recording on the album Santa’s Gone Hawaiian!)

This one makes me laugh.  For real.  Good family fun for the holidays.  And you can’t go wrong with Uncle Lucky Luck and his antics and his awesome Pidgin’-kine holiday story.  This track, while it’s spoken word, is extremely musical.  The music is in the rhythm and the sound of the language itself.

I’m so glad this recording has been preserved and released on CD for new generations to listen to it.

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 www.mele.com 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!**

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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. Lei ʻIlima (Mahi Beamer’s recording on the album Hawaiʻi’s Mahi Beamer)

A stunningly beautiful song written by Charles E. King. Mahi Beamer makes the song his own! His soaring falsetto and delicate touches make my head spin. A crooner of the highest caliber.

This recording sounds like a duet, yet I can’t find other artist mentioned in the liner notes. This leads me to believe that Mahi was singing both parts! Give it a listen and let me know what YOU think!

He is a constant source of inspiration. He delivers Hawaiian songs with the passion and subtlety that they require. Wow…

2. E Kiss Kāua (Sons of Hawaii’s recording on the album The Best of Sons of Hawaiʻi – Vol. 1)

I talked with Pops on the phone this week. The whole time we were speaking, I was picturing the ride from Kaunakakai town to Hālawa Valley and the wonderful winding road that follows the coastline. There’s something magical in the rural-ness of it all. With every mile we travel, I can feel my city-ness falling away.

This song, written by the incredible Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, has fun “country” vibe to it. I love the way it bounces. And I love that The Sons of Hawaii feature a harmonica in this version! Come on! It doesn’t get much better than that!

When I listen to the song, it brings images of that ride from Kaunakakai to the Valley to my mind’s eye. (And I love that!)

3. Rhythm of the Falling Rai n ( The Kaʻau Crater Boys’ recording on the album Tropical Hawaiian Day)

Ok… this song may not be Hawaiian in origin. It’s a pop song from the mainland. But if you didn’t know better, I’ll bet you’d think one of the Kaʻau Crater Boys had written it. They bring their own unique–and very Hawaiian–vibe to it. The way the ʻukulele is featured knocks me out. It’s not just an instrument. It’s a distinct VOICE in the song!

The Kaʻau Crater Boys were one of the first Hawaiian groups I listened to. Their music evoked a feeling in me that I hadn’t felt before. I was hooked. I wanted to know more. That lead me to listen to more traditional Hawaiian music. And the rest is history.

I love what they added to the Hawaiian musical scene when they were still working as a group. And I love what they’ve added to the scene as solo artists. Thanks, guys, for helping to “hook” me into the music!

What are YOU listening to? Drop me a line and let me know!!

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Aloha kākou! Here’s this week’s question:

The legendary singer/composer/all-around cool guy, Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, wrote a beautiful song called KŌKEʻE. It’s one of my FAVORITE songs in the world. Where is Kōkeʻe located? (What island?)

  • Please post your answer as a reply to this message.
  • All correct answers will be eligible to win a special email message from me.
  • One winner will be randomly chosen at 11:59pm EST.

WillYOUbe this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Happy Aloha Friday!

**Crooner Update: KŌKEʻE is on the island of Kauaʻi. And this week’s winner is (Drum roll, please…) Sheri Rau! Congrats, Sheri!

I hope you guys have a great weekend. See you on Monday!

A hui hou…

Jason

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