So I realized just a few days ago that I have been blogging for over a year. Check out the Index–the first post went up on August 19, 2009. I reflected on this for a little bit. Then I decided to mark the “anniversary.” On September 4, 2010. Yeah, Hawaiian time.
Iʻve learned a lot in this year of posting on different aspects of Hawaiian music. I‘m really grateful for all the support and feedback that has come in, some online but much much more offline. All positive. Wow. And the shoutouts all contribute to bringing more readers. Mahalo to Punahele Krauss at www.mele.com . . . Aunty Maria Hickling who I will always associate with mele.com . . . Lynn Piccoli at Pakele Live! and Me Ke Aloha at http://www.mkaloha.com . . . Aunty Wanda on TaroPatch.net . . . Keola Donaghy at UH Hilo and Nahenahe.net . . . and to countless others who retweet when posts of interest go up . . .
Looking back: My objective remains to promote knowledge about Hawaiian music. One of the original sparks for starting this venture was to invite discussion on what CDs could be recommended to “newbies”. On re-reading early posts, I was thinking aloud on how to choose from the range of available choices–and hence early recommendations that privileged compilations of multiple artists–birds-eye views no ho‘i. Sure I have my favorites (Hi Uncle Sonny Lim and Raiatea Helm; props to chanter Lokalia Montgomery). But how would I actually go about introducing Hawaiian music? Hence the turn to song types–hula kuʻi songs, mele Hawai‘i, hapa haole songs, etc; then to songs–‘Alika and Kawika so far. Then the lightbulb moment of realizing that I didnʻt have to wait until I had “finished” gathering my thoughts into a polished piece, but instead I could talk story about things as they unfolded–and hence “Adventures in Archives.”
Some reflections: there is no one list of CDs that will be the IDEAL “Top Ten Hawaiian CDs for Newbies.” This is always going to evolve as new artists come onto the scene and new music puts new perspectives onto how we can see things–see, for example, the post right before this one, on LOCAL SONGS. Also, every artist has strengths and . . . oh darn, canʻt call ʻem weaknesses . . . but many artists are known for doing certain things really well, and not necessarily being frontrunners in other kinds of things. Reggae artists are not known for ancient style chanting; exemplars of hula ku‘i songs are not the first I would recommend for listening to hapa haole songs . . . that kind of stuff. So, unless a list focuses on a dimension of performance, like “Top Ten Slack Key Guitarists” or “Top Ten Divas of Ha‘i,” any introduction to Hawaiian music and Hawaiian music history needs the flexibility to recommend the best possible examples that will draw in listeners, and interest new listeners in discovering and further exploring Hawaiian music.
Being back in Honolulu for a year of teaching at University of Hawai‘i (donʻt forget that my regular gig is teaching at University of Michigan!!) is nothing short of amazing. Energizing in a “my cup runneth over” way. Over July and August I immersed myself in the rich array of live performances–festivals, concerts, radio shows, Waikiki . . . and I spent time talking to musicians in person and on facebook . . . and coming to realize that there is so much more to share on this blog. So much more for a blog like this to raise awareness and encourage dialogue.
The recording industry and the retail marketing of CDs are imploding right before our eyes. (Props to the first person who reports sighting Napua Makua‘s new CD Mōhalu in a Honolulu retail outlet, despite its release over two weeks ago.) Nobody knows what the future will be, but everyone is pretty sure that the days of the CD are numbered. The live music industry is also scrambling to survive, caught up in industry machinations that remain mostly invisible to Hawaiian music fans. The ecosystem that sustains Hawaiian musicians in economically viable gigs is eggshell thin. For musicians starting out, what opportunities are there to be tutored and mentored in all aspects of being a Hawaiian musician? With the passing of every elder, how much knowledge goes with them? What we take for granted and fail to document now is knowledge that will not be available in the future when our grandchildren and their grandchildren ask questions. And what can Hawaiian music fans do to support the conditions of possibility for Hawaiian musicians to continue perpetuating the old and advancing the new?
So much to do. Let‘s continue to talk the talk AND walk the walk — together!! Stay tuned.