Bron-Yr-Aur is probably my favorite Led Zeppelin acoustic song. Written by Jimmy Page about a tranquil cottage in the Welsh countryside, the song is meditative and bucolic; it always puts me in a different place whenever I hear it or play it. This is an alternate version recorded on my Taylor K22ce.
Like many, my first exposure to Cyril’s solo recordings came through his amazing albums recorded for the Dancing Cat label, including the “6 & 12 String Slack Key” album on which “Young Street Blues” is featured. This particular song was highlighted for me in Mark Hanson’s excellent book of slack key transcriptions, which featured this among other songs by Cyril and other slack key legends.
The liner notes to the album tell a story of Cyril writing the song at a recording studio on Young Street in 1991. I seem to recall another story, told by Cyril at a performance, about Cyril living in an apartment on Young Street and feeling kind of restless. Young Street, starts (or ends) in Honolulu’s Mo’ili’ili neighborhood, running between King Street and Beretania, through Makiki, to Thomas Square Park near the Honolulu Museum of Art. I recall Cyril talking along the lines of how Young Street was sandwiched between these prominent streets and landmarks in a kind of limbo, being neither here nor there. I think the song (and ‘that note’) speak to such a restless vibe… but also a sense of playfulness.
Unusually for his solo work, Cyril uses Taro Patch tuning – the most common slack key tuning, but not one featured as often as the C and D tunings Cyril favored. Cyril’s style is at once both muscular and nuanced, with deep tunings and sometimes the added jangle of a 12 string guitar – it’s a ‘large’ sound. I tried to capture that feel here by tuning down to a lower register. This song was fun to play and record. Hope you enjoy.
Here’s an improv around Nick Drake’s “Horn” I recorded one day between takes of another song I was working on. Appearing as a sort of interlude on the Pink Moon album, Horn is a fascinating little study of a song in its own right. I love the simple, atmospheric melody, and think it translated well to ukulele. Hope you enjoy.
Alternately titled “Paia Morning” or “Paia Kakahiaka,” the song “Morning in Paia” began life as the harmonic laden intro/outro figure and grew into the mellow yet energetic song here. Paia Morning captures some of the mellow yet entrancing vibes of a morning in Paia, Maui: you start out strolling the sidewalks – still sparsely populated this time of day – perhaps pick up some fresh fruit from Mana Foods while catching a little bit of local news at the North Shore outpost, or head up the road a short ways to Island Fresh Café for some breakfast nosh. Next, travel back down the road to grab coffee at Paia Bay Coffee or Anthony’s, maybe taking a meditative stroll along the sand at Paia Bay before wrapping up with lunch at Flatbread Company or Café des Amis. Hope you enjoy.
Growing up in Hawai’i, the classic theme song to Magnum, P.I. still resonates with me somehow. Though my memories of the actual show are filtered through a sort of vague, hazy nostalgia, I always liked the idea of Thomas Magnum cruising around in a Ferrari and solving mysteries. Original Magnum (and later Monica boyfriend) Tom Selleck has been one of those now longtime TV hallmarks, and established the character. The reboot with Jay Hernandez from a few years back also had a great cast that built upon that legacy, and I was happy it featured a remake of the original theme song. I’m not really into recording TV theme songs, but this one is a classic that ended up being fun to record on uke. Hope you enjoy.
“Hualalai Sunrise” was inspired by the morning sunrises in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Much of North Kona – from Kalaoa where I spent much of my early childhood to Holualoa where I later lived – can see the sun shining over the top ridges of Hualalai in the morning, bathing its warm light over the slopes from the summit to the ocean. This is an early version of this song, though I have improvised several slightly different versions since. Hope you enjoy.
Bron-Yr-Aur is probably my favorite Led Zeppelin acoustic song. Written by Jimmy Page about a tranquil cottage in the Welsh countryside, the song is meditative and bucolic; it always puts me in a different place whenever I hear it or play it. This version was recorded on my Taylor K22ce.
Here is an alternate take of “Punahoa Special,” this one recorded with a Telefunken M60 microphone. Punahoa Special is a signature showpiece of legendary slack key master Fred Punahoa. This is a song I was fortunate enough to learn directly from Led Ka’apana, one that Led had in turn learned directly from Fred himself. Though Fred Punahoa never made a full album under his own name, he did make a notable appearance on the Waimea Music Festival album, in addition to fostering amazing talents of the next generation such as Led and Sonny Lim. “Punahoa Special” is an often covered song in the slack key canon, and might also be the most popular song in Mauna Loa slack key tuning. Hope you enjoy.