Take 5: Noho Paipai

Hello Dear Readers! Iʻm working on the song “Noho Paipai.” Itʻs one of the songs in my critical edition project. The lyrics were published in 1946 in a collection of John Almeidaʻs songs, with translations by Mary Kawena Pukui. Among the earliest vocal recordings, there are at least two different tunes, and one of them in two variant forms in the first phrase. The playlist assembled here includes early vocal recordings I could find on YouTube. The datings of these recordings are based on the incredible research of  Malcolm Rockwell and his award-winning discography Hawaiian & Hawaiian Guitar Records, 1891-1860 (Mahina Piha Press 2007) .

1938:  The earliest recording I could identify is this instrumental medley of “Noho Paipai” and “ʻAʻoia” by John Almeida. It appeared on the Hawaiian Transcriptions label, and Malcolm dated the recording session to 1938. The track was reissued on the 49th State Records Strum Your Ukulele (LP-3423) in the late 1950s. Given the fact that this is an instrumental that invites instrumentalists to take the spotlight, one would be hard-pressed to use this recording as the basis for declaring what Almeidaʻs composed melody is.


ca. 1950: Johnny Almeida with Julia Nuiʻs Kamaainas on 49th State Records (HRC-64). This is NOT the earliest vocal recording; it is simply the earliest vocal recording I could find on YouTube. It was preceded by a recording by Randy Oness in 1945, and Danny Kuaana in 1946. The cool thing is, here is the composer singing his own composition.


ca. 1951: Here is John Piilani Watkins, on 49th State Records, singing a different tune. This tune was also used on recordings by Tommy Blaisdell (1952), Pauline Kekahuna (1958), and the Brothers Cazimero (1998).


1965: Genoa Keawe!! Doing her thing with the final cadence at the end of each verse.


1974: Kawai Cockett. ʻUkulele strumming at warp speed. Pay attention to the tune in the 2nd line of each verse. Compare it with John Almeidaʻs ca. 1950 recording above, and also with Genoa Keaweʻs 1965 recording. See where Iʻm going?


Bonus Tracks

Nothing beats the fun of live performance. Here is Jake Shimabukuro playing with the Makaha Sons at the Songs of Aloha concert, Hawaiʻi Theater, 2000.



Still one of my favorites: hereʻs Manaʻo Company in a 2012 live Pau Hana Fridays performance in Hawaiian Airlines premier lounge. Featured guest performer is Hawaiian Air baggage handler Kaulana Pakele.

This entry was posted in Songs, Take 5. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s