still here . . . still listening

Aloha Dear Readers! Iʻve been kinda scarce here this semester. Okay, okay, Iʻve actually been M.I.A. this semester. So I thought I would ease back in here with some miscellaneous thoughts.

Lots of new CDs. Over the past few months, Iʻve especially enjoyed Danny Carvalhoʻs Ke Au Hou, with its fresh approach to letting musical influences shine. The shredding on “Heʻeia” is worth the price of admission by itself. . . not to mention Jamaica Osorioʻs spoken word contributions.  Kaiholuʻs long-awaited CD Swaying Sea is finally out and generating positive comments across Facebook. Solo CDs from newcomers:  Nicholas Jon Navales, Elias Maulili Kauhane, Jr., Chino Montero, Daryl Gonzalez, Norman DeCosta Danielle Bradbery . . .  oh wait, that came from somewhere else! Second CDs from Mark Yamanaka, Faith Ako, Steven Espaniola, The Hula Honeys; Christmas albums from Napua Makua, Mailani, and Kalei Gamiao. Waipunaʻs EP Nāpili is another outing of excellence by the group that is now a trio. Bryan Tolentino, weʻre all waiting breathlessly . . .

Over the years Iʻve relied on mele.com and more recently mkaloha.com to follow new CD releases. But yesterday I was exploring CDBaby, and came upon two digital releases that were totally news to me:  Komakakinoʻs CD O Keia Ka Manawa, and Rolinda Beanʻs Pili Mau.  And I have vague memories of seeing at least two other CDs on Facebook posts that I have not seen for sale in my usual haunts (which includes the iTunes Store). So naturally I wonder how to track new releases comprehensively in one place. Food for thought.

The sensational news?  Kahulanuiʻs nomination for a GRAMMY award in the category “Best Regional Roots Music.” Since Hawaiian music has been combined with numerous other musical traditions in this mixed-bag category, Hawaiian music has remained visible with one or two nominations among the five nominees each year. This year voting members of the Recording Academy gave a thumbs up to Kahulanuiʻs 2012 CD Hula Kuʻi, a big-band / jazz-band approach to old-school / new style (or is it new-school / old-style?) Hawaiian music. Hula Ku’i was the topic of a detailed review posted here last year on Dec. 24, 2012.   This is truly a well-deserved recognition for the band, and for Charles Michael Brotmanʻs gold-ribbon Palm Records label.

This semester my colleague Susan Najita (Associate Professor of English) and I had the honor and privilege of hosting a two-day residency as King / Chaves / Parks Distinguished Visiting Professors here at University of Michigan by no less than Kekuhi Kealiikanakaoleohaililani and Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole, ably accompanied by Shawn Pimental. On an icy Monday evening on Thanksgiving week (as in, people were already beginning their Thanksgiving travels), the concert drew nearly 600 people–and at least 18 dancers from maybe five different halau-s who joined Kekuhi to dance “Ka Uluwehi o Ke Kai.” The following day they blew the tops off our minds with two lectures on the Papakū Makawalu methodology they have been developing at the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation. Just amazing. You just had to be there.

Kūlia i ka Pūnāwai (Kumu Hula Association of Southern California) has launched preparations for its fourth mass concert, targeted for early 2015. The kumu hula are mining the 1895 Buke Mele Lahui for stories to share and enlighten the haumana and community about the tumultuous events in Hawaiʻi in the 1890s that were entirely written out of English-language sources. The mele are a significant vehicle for the preserving of that history, along with the Hawaiian-language newspapers of the time.

And pehea la ke kākau ‘ana a ka’u puke mo’olelo mele Hawai’i? Pehea la! Oh well, step by step.

Take care and stay warm, dear readers. Even in Hawaiʻi where temperatures of 66 bring out sweaters and second blankets.

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