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.
This song was born of my desire to improvise around some familiar ideas and possibly discover some new ones. Using familiar shapes and runs, perhaps I would come to appreciate them from a new angle, or juxtapose them in a way that I hadn’t before. I wanted to explore textures, try to accent some of the notes in a different way, give the strings a staccato strum or two, play some lush harmonics. Sometimes rather than trying to come up with something totally new, you want to explore the familiar ground of existing templates, maybe change them just a little – not to the point they’re unrecognizable, but to explore how they can be tweaked and see if it suits.
In addition to trying out some musical ideas, I wanted to see how they would sound with a microphone I hadn’t used lately, recording with a different sound. The mic I chose sounds crisp, picking up all the harmonic details and giving clear note separation. It’s quiet, and also good at gathering room ambiance. The bass is not as bold and the mid-scooped rosewood sound isn’t as prominent as another mic I had been using lately, but this mic would provide a nice, hi-fi, detailed sound – one I might now want to explore even more. Anyway, sometimes it’s important to try something a little different with your sound, to record an improvisation and see what happens. 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.
From the vaults, here is an old recording of a slack key medley performed during an informal kanikapila at what was then the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort Hotel (it has since changed hands from Sheraton). The medley starts out with a rendition of Little Grass Shack, followed by the classic Pua Tuberose. Hope you enjoy.
Here is a version of the classic Johnny Noble song “Hula Blues” recorded on nylon string guitar. Hula Blues is a steel guitar and slack key staple – a quick check of my iTunes library shows over a dozen versions by everyone from Sol Ho’opi’i to Sonny Chillingworth, Led Ka’apana, Leonard Kwan, Bobby Ingano, as well as separate versions from Gabby Pahinui and his son Cyril. This song is fun to play and captures a certain energy that many find appealing. Hope you enjoy.
Here’s an isolated track that I recorded for a collaboration a few years ago. That particular collaboration didn’t end up coming together, so I thought I would release this track as a stand alone piece. 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.
The restless crowd. The slit in the speaker cone. The distortion. The rock glory. One of the most influential guitar songs ever, the story of Link Wray’s “Rumble” is the stuff of legend. I’ve always loved the song, and have covered it on guitar (and taught it as a guitar teacher), but something made me want to try it on uke to see if some of the attitude would still filter through – regardless of the instrument. I think it does. Hope you enjoy.
The Bantry Girl’s Lament is a traditional Celtic song which dates back to the early 1800’s. The ‘lament’ is for the soldiers who were called off to fight in the Napoleonic wars, but I find the melody is more wistful than maudlin. My fingerstyle version is based on Martin Simpson’s version from his fine album “Leaves of Life.” While Martin used a Drop D tuning for the song (or rather its equivalent on Baritone guitar), I play it here in open G6: (D-G-D-G-B-E). To me, this is a peaceful, meditative song that gives pause. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded with a Taylor 912ce (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD Light strings) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.
This video features a collection of Ki Ho’alu a/k/a Hawaiian Slack Key guitar instrumental covers I have performed, recorded, and assembled here for your listening pleasure. These are songs by various slack key legends such as Gabby Pahinui, Ray Kane, Leonard Kwan, Keola Beamer, Fred Punahoa, Sonny Chillingworth, Atta Isaacs, Dennis Kamakahi, and Ledward Ka’apana – all slack key guitar masters who have been influential to me as well as many others. This compilation includes both energetic and relaxed tunes, though I’d say the overall vibe is relaxing. I like to listen to some of those longer “relaxing music” videos while working on the computer and became inspired to produce some videos featuring my own performances. Hope you enjoy.