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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 30, 2006

Na Kama serenades in all Hawaiian on standout third album

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainement Writer

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Na Kama's first all-Hawaiian album should emerge as a crowd-pleaser and the group's breakthrough hit.

A new compilation of contemporary tunes is a common and worthy concept but, alas, enlightening liner notes are absent.

A reissue of steel guitar faves by Bobby Ingano explores his unrivaled artistry.


  • Genre: Traditional Hawaiian

  • Distinguishing notes: Na Kama's Danny Naipo, Brian Mersberg and Eric Lee, performing on acoustic bass and guitars, manage to retain a satisfying, nostalgic feel and flavor in their third album and first all-Hawaiian-language venture. The group's soothing, reflective sound is heard in such tracks as "Ka Nani Mae 'Ole," "Nani Wale Manoa," "E Maliu Mai" and "Ka 'Iwa." A new mele by Mersberg, "Ka Nalu Kua Loa," should find broad appeal, thanks to its strong storytelling. The song expresses the joy of surfing off Waikiki with the kind of wistful double meaning that would be at home in the repertoire of other Island groups such as, say, The Brothers Cazimero.

    The chant "Kaulana 'O Kohala" is a timeless soundscape, with the rippling of waves accompanying the piece. Guest appearances by Mihana Souza, Kaha'i Topolinski and Kit Ebersbach add allure, and the Galliard String Quartet brings a shade of classical integrity. Hawaiian lyrics and appropriate translations are part of the savvy, helpful liner notes; the package maintains a sense of dignity and homage to the foundations of the past.

  • The outlook: Na Kama's third album is the charm and should be the group's breakthrough hit.

  • Our take: This one merits applause and acceptance.

    "Ka 'Iwa" by Na Kama. Audio sample available in mp3 format.


  • Genre: World music, contemporary

  • Distinguishing notes: With known talent on the disc and luminaries on the production end, this CD shows substance and polish. The title's "Project 1" leads one to believe this will be the first of an ongoing series of CDs to maximize exposure for budding and established artists. There are some sprightly and even unexpected performances, from a soulful Fiji doing a rockaballad, "No Words," and Sistah Robi Kahakalau also swimming upstream with an upbeat "Do It Twice." Even Sean Na'auao is here in a reggaefied "Zion Train," Ekolu grooves on "Tia," and the band formerly called The Next Generation gets in a revival motif as Next G, on the opening cut, "Know That." Tierra Kekaula ("Akaku"), Mana'o Company ("Roots, Rockin' ") and Bruddah Dan ("Make It With You") provide variety.

    The background circle of talent includes Danny Kennedy, George Veikoso, Dave Tucciarone, Wendell Ching and Na'auao, but the disc falters by neglecting to provide informative liner notes for this gathering of 15 artists.

  • The outlook: A good idea not fully realized; depends on the established artists to lure in the listeners.

  • Our take: A bit more depth might expand the horizon and appeal of future outings.

    "Do It Twice" by Sistah Robi. Audio sample available in mp3 format.


  • Genre: Hawaiian steel guitar

  • Distinguishing notes: On this album, originally released in 1998, Bobby Ingano demonstrates his affinity with his fry-pan lap steel guitar. Ingano, who learned the Hawaiian steel ropes from the late David "Feet" Rogers, makes 'em talk and engage in vivid conversations without words, of course on such oldies as "Hula Blues," "Kawohikukapulani," "Hawaiian Paradise" and "Keaukaha." The steel maintains a classic, territorial "then" sound of backyard or beachfront trios and quartets. When Ingano's in charge, the music is a sentimental journey. And for a non-Hawaiian kick, focus on "Sleepwalk" it's every bit as riveting as Santo and Johnny's 1959 original.

  • The outlook: It's never too late to discover Ingano's unrivaled artistry.

  • Our take: If you savor the nostalgic sounds of Hawai'i, this one's a good bet.

    "Palolo" by Bobby Ingano. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.