Gems derive inspiration from the past
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Wayne Harada
"Ka Lehua 'Ula" by Weldon Kekauoha; 'Ohelo Records
Through it all, Kekauoha has maintained a keen interest in and commitment to traditional Hawaiian music, and this outing, in which he sings, writes and arranges the music, furthers those admirable goals.
There are gems galore here. "He Mele No Kaua'i Kuapapa," a composition by Ipolani Vaughan, is a nostalgic place song that speaks of historic Garden Isle haunts.
"Ka 'Aina Kaulana 'O Hana Nei" is an atmospheric contribution by Kaiolohia Smith about a favored Maui spot, enabling Kekauoha to get into falsetto mode.
His original song "Ka Lehua 'Ula," about the lehua blossom, sounds like a hula fave in the making, with Hawaiian lyrics and tempo begging choreography.
The classic "wind" tune, Matthew Kane's "Ka Makani Ka'ili Aloha," stirs fresh breezes in Kekauoha's hands. And the little island stands tall with Kekauoha's nahenahe delivery of Val Kepilino's "Mele O Lana'i."
An enviable musical crew — Bobby Ingano (steel), Chino Montero (lead guitar fills), Zanuck Kapala Lindsey (lead guitar fills), Aaron Sala (piano) and Wendell Ching (drums) — helps provide the wonderful wrap-around sound to Kekauoha's uke, guitar and bass riffs.
|Sample song: "Ka Lehua 'Ula" by Weldon Kekauoha|
"Kahikina" by Keale; Rhythm & Roots Records
Keale takes a slightly rhythmic stance to update "E Ku'u Morning Dew," and puts a solemn stamp and English branding (and laments of "auwe") on "Hawai'i '78." "Uncle Moe" is a reach into the family vaults — a Del Beazley composition paying homage to Moe Keale, who is heard here along with nephew Walter in a technological trick. Other mele emulate Moe: "Mele O Hauwahine," "Mele Tutu," "Eia No Makou Nei." The omnipresent 'ukulele, played by Keale (along with native instruments), is another Moe aspect retained here.
"Ua Nani Ni'ihau," a Keale composition with lyrics by Auntie Emalia Licayan, is a homage to the Keale home, the Forbidden Island, where natural and historic secrets still thrive, and stories of love are enhanced by hidden meaning. The tune, the final one of the disc, is fused with a tribute to na kupuna, members of the Keale 'ohana, rendering of "Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World," performed by Keale in the spirit of Iz, complete with lyrics and verse errors and mispronounced words. No mention of Iz, however, on the CD lineup or liner notes — a gaffe.
The gallery of musicians includes David Kahiapo, Chris Lau, Kris Lee, Dwight Kanae, Paul Togioka, Mike Kaawa and Ledward Ka'apana.
|Sample song: "E Ku'u Morning Dew" by Keale|
"Island Lion" by Pau Hana; Island Lion Publishing
The inner grid of graphics would have made a far better cover to lure potential fans; so in this case, don't judge the book by its cover.
|Sample song: "Party Going On" by Pau Hana|
Reach Wayne Harada at firstname.lastname@example.org.