This improvisation is named for the beautiful anchialine ponds you find along the leeward coast of Hawai’i Island. These ponds are an ultra rare and pristine habitat (please do not bathe in them) that host rare tiny red shrimp – ‘ōpae ‘ula – and can have a magnificent array of turquoise and opaline colors, like jewels. Some of these ponds are tiny indeed, almost more of a puddle than a pond, and legends tell of ponds that would mysteriously appear to someone only to vanish when visited again. There can be no denying the strange, quiet magic of Hawai’i’s anchialine ponds.
Here is my cover of “Mauna Loa Slack Key,” one of the relatively few surviving original songs from legendary slack key kupuna Fred Punahoa. Though “Uncle” Fred never made a full album, he did make a notable appearance on the Waimea Music Festival album which features Mauna Loa Slack Key along with another of Fred’s originals, “Punahoa Special.” Uncle Fred’s legacy also includes fostering amazing Big Island talents of the next generation such as Ledward Ka’apana and Sonny Lim. Like the Punahoa Special, Mauna Loa Slack Key is an often covered song in the slack key world. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 10/11/07.
Here’s a recently found cover I did of Leonard Kwan’s signature tune, Opihi Moe Moe. One of the most popular songs in the slack key repetoire, this song has been covered perhaps most prominently by Led Kaapana; in fact, Chet Atkins even recorded a version after hearing it from Leonard on a visit to Hawai’i. Notably, Leonard himself recorded several versions of this song including variations such as Opihi Bounce. Opihi Moe Moe is a fun song to play that lends itself to little variations, and everyone seems to bring something different to this deceptively simple song. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 1/4/2008.
Today’s post is a performance of “Hula Medley,” which pays tribute to Gabby Pahinui’s hugely influential recordings of the same name (both the early solo verision, and the version found on Pure Gabby). Many have covered this over the years, with one of my favorite versions appearing on Sonny Chilingworth’s Sonny Solo album. Per below, my recording of the medley here includes a slightly different lineup of songs. Hope you enjoy.
Intro / Nani Wale Li’hue
Recorded with a Taylor 310ce (Elixir Polyweb 80/20 Bronze) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM141 microphones in Holualoa, Hawai’i, in fall of 2007.
Demo recording of original song Bumble Bee Slack Key, inspired in part by the nalo meli, honey bees buzzing about their business. I wanted a song that was both lively and mellow and think I achieved it. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 12/16/07.
“Green Tea” is a fingerstyle improvisation based on the idea of toying with certain oft used open tuning tropes and seeing how they could be morphed. Listening back, I enjoy the sound of the dreadnaught guitar I recorded it on, even though I have been using predominantly smaller bodied guitars for the last 4-5 years or so. While small bodied guitars have a great balance that is perfect for many situations, sometimes there’s just something nice about the sound of a big boomy acoustic box. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 12/14/07.
Today’s song from the vaults is an ukulele improvisation dubbed “Sunny Afternoon in My Ohana,” after the ohana unit where I recorded it. The unit centered on a large tile floored room with great acoustics that I kept mostly empty of furniture for recording purposes. People think of tile as producing a bright, harsh sound, but I never found the room to be that way at all. At any rate, it complemented the sound of ukulele nicely and though I only have a handful of uke recordings from that time, I recall playing uke a lot while living there. Anyway, this is one of those recordings; I hope you enjoy this music.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 3/1/08.
Today’s tune from the vaults is a recording of a slack key song I wrote and called “Kailua Bay Blues.” I spent a lot of time as a kid swimming in the waters of historic and majestic Kailua Bay, the waterfront area of ‘downtown’ Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. The bay is surrounded by historic residences once occupied by the Hawaiian Monarchy, hotels, restaurants, and usually someone fishing off the seawall. The area also hosts the swim and finish line for the Ironman World Championship triathlon. The waters of Kailua Bay, as well as the sky above, can have many different shades of blue – thus a double meaning for this bluesy slack key song’s title. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, 9/13/07.
This is a demo of a slack key song I wrote years back called “Pualani Slack Key.” Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, 5/16/06.
Today’s song from the vaults, “Waimea Ride,” is a slack key improvisation that blossoms from a familiar type of descending figure. Though often used as part of a turnaround, this type of walk down has also been featured as a melodic device in a number of songs, most notably Leonard Kwan’s classic signature tune Opihi Moe Moe. I also recall Ozzie Kotani using it in some of his songs. Anyway, I thought the descending figure and overall pace of this improv might evoke the picture of a Paniolo riding downslope on horseback, ergo the title. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 1/11/08.