'Ukulele Journey' conveys mood, emotion
By Wayne Harada
By Wayne Harada
" 'Ukulele Journey" by Herb Ohta Jr.; Lele Music Productions
He gets winning results with his gentle "Hawaiian Sky," eliciting images of sunshine and warmth; and his strumming creates word pictures of grace and peace in the Okinawan fave "Nada Sousou."
And when he's in the interpretative mood, he goes to town, too, bringing the soul of Lena Machado's "Holo Wa'apa" to life for a new generation of listeners, and retaining the haunting simplicity of Louis "Moon" Kauakahi's "Kaleohano" as it tugs gently at the heart with choral interludes.
"Tsunami" is a wave of a ride — with quiet eloquence; his original, "Sand Castles," also has beach orientation, and trickles with a sunny disposition.
|Sample song: "Sand Castles" by Herb Ohta, Jr.|
"Naha Stone" by King Kekai; Ekahi Entertainment
Most of the tracks are Kekai's originals, a few with collaborative help. Methinks he has fashioned what might be dubbed acoustic rap — the sensibilities of hip-hop without the manic aspects (boom-box volume, staccato tempos). His brand is sedate and accessibly "quiet." Witness "Take a Walk With Me," which exemplifies his message-laden mission and the easier-to-swallow technique. There's form and substance in his raw poetry.
There's also an exotic flavor to the track "Let's Get Down." Hypnotic and attention-getting.
|Sample song: "Naha Stone" by King Kehai|
"Two Guitars, One Heart" by John Bellar and Ron Neilson; Bishop Museum
The duo may have roots in Tennessee but have developed a sense of (Island) place — or at least the suggestion thrives in a number of tracks upon quick listening.
The tone is new-age, not country music; the effect is soothing, mood-evoking music, and the titles tell the tale: "Seven Angels," "Only Love Remains," "Message From the Stars," "Stream of Memories." You can write a mini-screenplay from the tranquil and seductive images Bellar and Neilson pull out of you.
|Sample song: "Stream of memories" by Ron Neilson and John Bellar|
And maybe the two should tackle Island music in their next outing.
Reach Wayne Harada at firstname.lastname@example.org.