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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 2, 2006

Haugens compile 'Lifetime' of Hawaiian favorites

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

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Keith and Carmen Haugen, a husband-and-wife duo that has been performing Hawaiian songs and hula for three decades, reassess their career with a 22-tune anthology album culled from six previous discs. It's a tidy document of their artistry.

Two reggae albums reflect the ongoing appeal of the Jamaican sound in these parts. One marks the solo debut of Maka, whose musicianship is impressive; the other is by Kohomua, bridging a three-year gap since its first release.


  • Genre: Traditional Hawaiian, some hapa-haole

  • Distinguishing notes: Keith and Carmen Haugen have been a Waikiki fixture for years, he singing and strumming guitar, she dancing hula and singing. This "Lifetime" collection punctuates their recent Music Foundation of Hawai'i Legacy Award, celebrating songs that have been the fabric of their Island quiltwork. While they've performed tunes apart from the Hawaiian repertoire, this CD isolates the Hawaiiana to mark their recent award. The combination of voices and the nahenahe delivery make for gentle listening, recalling simpler times and old Hawai'i. While there are some hapa-haole items like " 'Ukulele Lady" and "In the Royal Hawaiian Hotel," the traditional fare is what is especially appealing "Kalena," "Ainahau," "I Kona," "He Punahele No 'Oe," "Manu Pu." Haugen, a composer, adds his masterful Hawaiian brand, too, on "He Makana Mai Ke Ali'i," "O Ka Lei La'i/Pua Karauna," and "Ho'omaika'i."

  • The outlook: Call this "The Best of Keith and Carmen Haugen, Vol. 1." Surely, a companion follow-up is in the cards.

  • Our take: Memories live anew through the voices of the Haugens.

    "I Kona" by Keith and Carmen Haugen. Audio sample available in mp3 format.


  • Genre: Reggae, world music

  • Distinguishing notes: Maka has been doing journeyman work with several reggae acts in Hawai'i and California in recent years; this marks his solo debut. This Rasta man has a crisp sound, with songs that have catchy riffs, and while Rastafarian elements abound, songs don't sound alike. "Dub On" is skillful instrumental with appealing hooks; Steve Culture joins Maka on an uplifting "Ride the Riddim"; "Pay Day" has dance appeal; and there's an Island spin on "Ku'ulei," not commonly part of the reggae repertoire.

  • The outlook: This is an auspicious solo debut; Maka's trained well and now executes a top-tier journey.

  • Our take: Maka does the usual reggae trip here and there, but his sound has musical merit and listenability. In other words, he's hardly run of the mill.

    "Trod On" by Maka. Audio sample available in mp3 format.


  • Genre: Reggae, world music

  • Distinguishing notes: Kohomua's second album introduces female singer Kona Pokipala to a lineup that focuses on lead vocals by David Bailey and Tano Haupu. "Don't Fall Down," the opening track, quickly sets up the framework of the six-member ensemble, but eight originals and two covers enable them to demonstrate their griphold on the genre. "Used To Be Better," "Only Love" and "Billy Brown" should satisfy Kohomua's fans since the first album three years ago.

  • The outlook: Plenty of variety, nice harmonies and an effort befitting the group's name, which translates to "first choice."

  • Our take: A worthy transition, from freshman debut to sophomore level.

    "Unconditionally" by Kohomua. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.