Instant homesick. This is the type of Hawaiian music that brings me back home, and it’s by vocalist Mailani Makainai. The song is from her Manawa album, and is called “Hamama I Ka ‘Iu”. The video was shot on the windward side of Oahu, and as she walks towards the waterfall, we get a chance to see a hint of ancient Hawai’i before we see the beauty of modern hula dancers. Very nice.


VIDEO: Kuana Torres Kahele’s “Waimanu I Ka Lauoha”

Kuana Torres Kahele has been known by fans of Hawaiian music as a member of Na Palapalai, and since releasing his debut solo album Kaunaloa (Mountain Apple), his audience has grown. “Waimanu I Ka Lauoha” is a song from that album, and was shot at Mountain Apple’s studios.

Last week, Kahele released his first Christmas album, Home For The Holidays, which is sure to get him airplay not only throughout Hawai’i (or at least the Hawaiian radio station that still play Hawaiian music), but on all radio stations that enjoy diverse Christmas tunes.


HAWAIIAN MUSIC CORNER/VIDEO: Daniel Ho’s “Kerfunkten (Live)”

When it comes to music, influences can come from any and all sources, and it can also be adapted in many ways too. Check out this live performance from Grammy-winning musician/producer Daniel Ho, as he plays the ‘ukulele to a well known Irish jig. This was performed at Australia’s National Folk Festival last month.


SEPARATED @ BIRTH: Kaumakahiwa Kanaka’ole vs. Cheesa Laureta

Fans of Hawaiian music should be familiar with Kaumakahiwa Kanaka’ole, whose style of music and singing has been moving audiences in the last few years, to where people feel he is part of the current wave of hugely influential artists. Pop music fans may be familiar with another singer from Hawai’i, Cheesa Laureta. She was one of the people to make it onto NBC‘s The Voice in the United States before getting the last week. Thus, I put them together for all to see.

(Mahalo nui to Nettie Bird for the suggestion.)


HAWAIIAN MUSIC CORNER: Brittni Paiva’s “Fusion: West”/”Fusion: East”

Musician Brittni Paiva has been hard at work in 2011, with a documentary being made about her and her music, and love of the ‘ukulele (the DVD for the documentary can be pre-ordered from her website). She recently put together a music video in support of her album Four Strings: The Fire Within, a two-for-one special of her two “Fusion” songs.

Paiva recently announced she will be going into the studio very soon to work on an album with legendary jazz saxophonist Tom Scott. He has been recording and playing music for over 40 years, being involved in songs that since become major staples in hip-hop’s sampled history, including his version of Jefferson Airplane‘s “Today” and the highly used “Sneakin’ In The Back”. Scott’s style of music in the last 30 years has been on a smoother route, so don’t expect any funky grooves on Paiva’s new album but then again, if someone can get Madlib in the studio to do a remix, you never know.


REVIEW: Herb Ohta, Jr.’s “‘Ukulele Nahenahe”

Photobucket Herb Ohta Jr. is one of the more gifted ‘ukulele players out there today, and for good reason. His father is Herb “Ohta-San” Ohta, whose music continues to be heard on the radio everyday with his mainstream hit, “Song For Anna”. Jr. has gained a following for not only following in his father’s footsteps, but for simply playing good music, regardless of genre, and ‘Ukulele Nahenahe (Lele) is a celebration of Hawaiiana.

On the surface, people will hear Jr. play an instrument that has gained a renewed awareness because of the use of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. There are countless commercials that will feature someone playing the ‘ukulele but to my ears, most of them aren’t playing with heart and soul. Jr. is someone who does, there is a big different between someone playing and plucking just to make noise (something I heard countless times by my parents as a kid) and someone who knows how to play, and go in, out, around, and over the music. He’s not an adventurist like Jake Shimabukuro, but what Jr. lacks in flash, he makes up for it in style, his own unique style. For the malihini, these songs may make you want to travel to Hawai’i and hear these songs in person and discover the islands for the first time.

For the kama’aina, what he does with these songs is simplify them to its core and turn them into lullabies that make you feel like they’ve been around for years. The song that moved me the most is his cover of Sean Na’auao‘s beautiful “Ka Pilina”, but along with renditions of Iva Kinimaka‘s “He Aloha Mele”, and The Lim Family‘s “Pua Olena (The Flower Song)”, you may not only remember where you were the first time you heard the originals, but perhaps it’ll take you to the spot where you first heard them too. A good amount of Hawaiian songs are namesake songs, so when I hear “Ka Wailele O Nu’uanu”, I am reminded of one of the areas in Honolulu I used to live (Nu’uanu), how innocent that time of my life was and while numerically it may seem like years, it still doesn’t feel that way. The best Hawaiian songs are very vivid, and even though these arrangements are all instrumental, hearing the melodies and perhaps knowing the lyrics will immediately set you where the songs want you to go. The slide guitar by Jeff Au Hoy in The Brothers Cazimero‘s “Pane Mai” will bring back memories of the days when Gabby Pahinui didn’t so much feel like a king of Hawaiian music, but more like uncle, if not a father. If you are away from Hawai’i as I am, this is an “instant homesick” album.

‘Ukulele Nahenahe is beautiful music played by a musician who I hope will continue do this for years to come, just as his father did since the 1960’s. To Herb Ohta Jr.: mahalo nui for making this transplanted kama’aina feel like I’m home, 3000 miles away.


HAWAIIAN MUSIC CORNER: Patrick Landeza’s “Ku’u Honua Mele (My Music World)”

Photobucket Musician Patrick Landeza has been playing Hawaiian music for years, so it was great to see a new album from him come in the mail. Upon opening the CD, I saw an older photo of him with my uncle, the late Raymond Kane, considered a major influence for a generation of slack key (ki ho’alu) guitarists. It’s the old house out in Nanakuki, the dining room I spent many hours in, with the stereo to my uncle’s right with loads of religious records I had no interest in, but one of my cousins (either Faith or Moana had the first Janet Jackson album on 8-track. Aaah, good times, and that’s exactly what I hear on Ku’u Honua Mele (My Music World) (Addison Street), an album full of music that brings back my childhood, my hanabata days, what I grew up knowing as “da good kine” Hawaiian music. Landeza’s playing here comes from not only a love for the music, but from the countless musicians he has learned from throughout the years, some of which are displayed in the photo collage inside. This is the music you’d play when you made the long journey around the island, this was the music your mom would play as she cleaned house on Sunday, or the music your dad might play when he was fixing his car or bicycle underneath the house, which was really an excuse to get away from your mom for an hour or two, and this was that “relief” music. Songs like “No Keaha”, “Hanalei Moon”, “Nani Ko’olau”, and “Maori Brown Eyes” are sure to bring back memories for those who feel fondly for the originals, or for those who still feel a closeness to the places described in the titles and songs.

If you are a lover of Hawaiian songs, this is “chicken skin music”, at least to me it is. The guitars, the ‘ukulele, the bass, and the vocal harmonies just sound perfect, and I go back to a time when life felt like this, without worry or care. As an older man, I long for a time to be able to feel like that. At least in music form, I’m brought back to a much simpler time, or perhaps it’s a type of music that needs to dominate a much rougher world than it was in our hanabata days. Mahalo nui, Patrick Landeza.


VIDEO: “Together Hawai’i (A Song For Japan)”

A number of artists in Hawai’i have united together to help raise money for relief efforts in Japan following the earthquake and tsunamis. “Together Hawai’i” was organized and composed by Henry Kapono and Amy Hanaiali’i, and they were both able to bring in (Sistah) Robi Kahakalau, Sean Naau’ao, Raiatea Helm, and many others for this song. Some of you may remember that Kapono also participated in the Hawai’i For Africa benefit song in 1985 called “The Way Of Love”, which was organized following the success of USA For Africa‘s “We Are The World”, which in itself was influenced by Band Aid‘s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”.

If you like the song, you can show support by buying the MP3 and/or music video directly from Mountain Apple. 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Hawai’i Red Cross, Japanese Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund.

VIDEO: 380 Nahalea Trio’s “Pauoa Liko Ka Lehua”

My cousin posted this video on Facebook, and seeing the song title, I knew I was going to like it. In a lot of Hawaiian music, there are songs dedicated to areas on each island, as a way to describe that place for the songwriter or artist. In many ways, the songs are also an archive of what that place may have represented before. Growing up in Hawai’i in Honolulu, I lived in a few areas so when I hear songs that represent those places, I go back to a very good time in my life. For me, it’s the area of Honolulu known as Pauoa, and when I hear anyone cover this song, it takes me back to the bus stop on Lusitana, waiting for the #6, or going to a corner store.

I have no idea who these guys are, but they’re called 380 Nahalea Trio, and I’ll get more information. But please, whoever you guys are, please go into a studio and record more music. It’s nice to hear true Hawaiian music. Mahalo nui.

HAWAIIAN MUSIC CORNER/SOME STUFFS : Stream Kainani Kahaunaele’s “`Ohai `Ula” album in full

Kainani Kahaunaele – Ohai Ula by Mountain Apple Company

The full album will be released on June 1st, but Mountain Apple Company are allowing everyone to listen to Kainani Kahaunaele‘s forthcoming album for free through this streaming player. Miss Kahaunaele has one a number of Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards (the Hōkū is the Hawaiian equivalent of a Grammy), and fans have been waiting patiently to hear some new music from her.

The CD is available to pre-order from Mele.com.