New releases of Hawaiian music . . .

      Aloha Hawaiian music fans, aloha kakou. As new Hawaiian music releases come out, check this page to find out which ones Keith & Carmen recommend. Since Keith still produces and hosts an all-Hawaiian music radio program ("Music of Hawai`i," heard at 9 a.m. every Sunday on KIPO, 89.3 FM, and KIFO, 1380 AM, in Honolulu) we try to keep up on what is coming out in the field of Hawaiian music. And we'll tell you which ones we recommend.

Nationally known pianist George Winston boosts Hawaiian music

   Country guitarist Chet Atkins and Western balladeer Marty Robbins did it when they recorded some traditional Hawaiian songs many years ago. So did pop singer Karen Carpenter, when she recorded the more contemporary "Honolulu City Lights."
   And now, internationally known jazz and New Age pianist George Winston has done it too.
   In a newly released CD, Winston introduces Hawaiian melodies to a large audience, giving Hawaiian music exposure to people who normally might not buy and listen to the music of our Islands.
   The album, called "Plains," was just released by Windam Hill and is being distributed by BMG Music, Inc. While it is much like many other fine Winston recordings, this one includes beautiful piano solos on "Queen's Jubilee" and "No Ke Ano Ahiahi," the latter a traditional tune that has long been popular with Hawaiian music lovers and those who sing, play and record the more traditional Hawaiian melodies.
   "No Ke Ano Ahiahi" (composer unknown) is popular with slack key guitarists and Winston, who has been a major promoter and producer of that genre for the past several decades, is very familiar with the song. It has also been used as a Christian hymn with new English lyrics and is immediately recognized by many churchgoers, who may or may not know the tune as Hawaiian.
   "The Queen's Jubilee" is a long arrangement (at six minutes and 39 seconds, the longest cut on the CD) of one of the best-loved of the hundreds of songs written by Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last monarch. It alone makes this CD worth buying.
   Winston, who sells well nationally and who is best known in Hawaii for his work with the Islands' top slack key guitarists, demonstrates that he has learned well from the artists he has been recording. He has worked with the top performers of the Hawaiian genre and has recorded on several of their albums -- playing with such popular ki hoalu (slack key) artists as Keola Beamer. He has produced and released slack key guitar CDs on his own Dancing Cat label for such greats as Ledward Ka`apana, Sonny Chillingworth, Ray Kane and more.
   So it is not surprising that Winston, a musician's musician, included two slack key guitar cuts on this CD -- as a bonus to fans of his music. Playing a customized seven-string Martin guitar, Winston performs "Sassy," an 1890s Hawaiian song called "Sase" on this release and credited to Joseph Kokolia; and "Muliwai," a 1920 Charles Pokipala composition that has long been a favorite of Hawaiian musicians and those who play Hawaiian music in a jazz or blues style.
   Winston plays with feeling and the finesse that reflects both his aloha for the music of Hawaii and the long hours of practice it has taken to perfect his performance in a genre that challenges even the most Hawaiian of musicians.
   There are 18 songs -- some old and some new -- on this CD, ranging from "Dubuque," a variation on an old American fiddle tune that Winston first learned as a harmonica solo, to "Teach Me Tonight," the de Paul and Cahn pop hit, and "Plains," the title song, a Winston composition which he describes as "Eastern Montana blues."
   Listen to this recording and you'll understand why George Winston performs all over the country to standing-room-only concert crowds -- even in Honolulu.

Makaha Sons new CD a departure from their more traditional style

   For more than two decades, the Makaha Sons have been known for their performances of traditional Hawaiian music, most often sung in the Hawaiian language.
   "We've been singing Hawaiian so long, and we're even beginning to think in Hawaiian," said Moon Kauakahi, leader of the popular recording group. "Could we sing in English?"
   The trio -- Moon and brothers John & Jerome Koko -- had established themselves as promoters of the most Hawaiian sounds, shying away from the more contemporary sounds of so many new groups. Although they are not chronologically that old, it was clear to Hawaiian music fans that the trio chose to be thought of as of the old guard and not of the young Turks.
   So a recording of hapa-haole songs was a major departure for the Makaha Sons.
   But that is what they did.
   Their latest release, "Golden Hawaiian Melodies," includes 18 songs (yes, there are medleys, for which they have become known) and most of them are English-lyric songs, tunes that most will recognize as "hapa-haole." There are the wonderful arrangements of Moon, the group's leader, and the fine musicianship and close harmonies for which they are so well known.
   Most of the songs will be immediately recognized by fans of Hawaiian music here at home and all over the world. There's "Little Brown Gal" in a medley with "My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii" and such big hula hits as "Lovely Hula Hands," "Keep Your Eyes On The Hands" and "Red Sails In The Sunset." Many are songs you would expect to hear from such great Hawaiian singers as Alfred Apaka, Haunani Kahalewai, or Bill Akamuhou from the bygone era when Hawaii's biggest hits were all of this genre.
   The Sons sing "Blue Hawaii," made famous by Bing Crosby in the 1937 Paramount Pictures movie "Waikiki Wedding" and performed here in its complete form, with the verse that few have ever even heard. This may be the first-ever recording of that song in its entirety. "Honolulu" is done in a medley with "Waikiki" and composers Neil McKay and Andy Cummings would have been thrilled to hear this arrangement.
   The Sons' version of "Kaimana Hila," one of the few Hawaiian-lyric songs on this new Poki Records recording, is more like the Andy Cummings version than the original Charles E. King composition, but it is the version known all over the world, thanks to Cummings and other Hawaiian troubadours who traveled the globe introducing Hawaiian music to the world.
   A special treat is their medley of "Ke Kali Nei Au" and "The Hawaiian Wedding Song," written to the same Charles E. King melody. In this cut, they are joined by the beautiful lilting soprano voice of Nina Keali`iwahamana, one of the best known singers in Hawaii for the past 40 years.
   No, when they are singing these old hapa-haole favorites, the Makaha Sons do not sound like a group from those days long gone. They sound like the Makaha Sons of today, giving new life to some great songs of those days. There is a definite "today" feel to their music, even when they sing these timeless favorites of the hapa-haole era.
   The graphics by Brian Onaga of HonBlue, Inc. are certainly worthy of mention, and the recording and mixdown engineers -- D.J. Pratt and Kata Maduli -- are deserving of special kudos. It is a quality recording.


    Here is the most exciting, unusual Hawaiian CD to be released in recent years. It is called "Limited Edition, Volume I" and includes a dozen songs recorded in 1947, but not released until October 1999.
    The CD features Peter Dillingham on steel guitar (he was 26 years old when he recorded these cuts) with the beautiful voice of Bill Akamuhou and the backup musicianship of Bill's Nautical Hawaiians, one of the most popular bands in the Islands in the WWII years.
    The 12 cuts were recorded by Bill Fredlund of Bell Records, but were never released commercially. Peter brought the six unplayed 78s to Keith Haugen, who produced them on this exciting CD. The recordings were remastered by Dunbar Wakayama of Audio Media and sound like something recorded yesterday.
    It is a must for collectors and fans of Hawaiian music, especially those who enjoy good steel guitar. Songs on the CD are: Maui Chimes, Lovely Sapphire of the Tropics, Moon of Manakoora, White Ginger Blossoms, When Evening Falls (recorded here for the first time), Haleakala Hula, Pohai Kealoha, Na Moku Eha, Moana Chimes, Palisa, Maori Brown Eyes, and Kama`aina. The "chimes" songs are instrumental. The remaining 10 songs include a wonderful mix of vocals and steel.


Peter Pam Records also will release a "Limited Edition, Volume II" CD in early November. It is an anthology and includes 22 songs from two LPs produced by Keith Haugen for the Peter Dillingham Band in the 1980s. The CD features such greats as Peter Dillingham, Sol Bright, Simeon Bright, Joe Recca, Jacob Kaleikini, Cy Luidington, Irmgard Aluli & Puamana, Joe 'The Fiddler" Bourque, John Lino, and on one of the BONUS TRACKS, Patricia Lei Anderson Murray.
    Songs on Volume II include To You Sweetheart Aloha, Kai Hawanawana, Old Plantation, Eleu Mikimiki, Hula Breeze, Ka Makanai Ka`ili Aloha, Minehaha, Soft Green Seas, Hawaiian Paradise, Hawai`I Aloha, Sophisticated Hula, My Tane, Nani Waimea, Lovely Hula Hands, South Sea Island Magic, Hawaiian Cowboy, Kaulana O Hilo Hanakahi, Ka Ua Loku, Waikiki, Lei of Stars, Hole Waimea, Lei Aloha, Lei Makamae, and BONUS TRACKS Pretty Red Hibiscus, and Ku`u Pua I Paoakalani.

History of Hawaiian Steel Guitar  . . . a must

If you are a fan of the more traditional sounds of Hawaiian music, there's a new CD from Cord International and Hana Ola Records that is an absolute must. It is called the "History of Hawaiian Steel Guitar" and you'll love it.

Michael Cord and Harry B. Soria Jr. have compiled cuts from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, including such greats as David Napihi Burrows, M.K. Moke, Annie Kerr, Mike Hanapi, Sol Ho`opi`i, Steppy DeRego, Jules Ah See, Walter Wailehua, Tau Moe, and Benny Rogers.

They play some of the "standards" for steel, such as "Sand," "Maui Chimes," "Moana Chimes," "Kohala March," "Hula Blues," "Hilo March," and they do some you may never have heard--including "The Rosary," "Yellow Dog Blues," "Souvenir," and more. There are vocals--including Rose Moe who sings "Punaiki Ea," to Tau's steel guitar.

The 16-page booklet that comes as a part of the package includes tuning guidelines, pictures of all ten artists, color photos of 45 rare vintage acoustic guitars, lap steel guitars and amplifiers dating from the mid-1920s, and wonderful historical liner notes by Soria.

It's a keeper. We devoted a full-hour of "The Music of Hawai`i with Keith Haugen" on KIPO/KIFO to this new release . . . it's our kind of music.

Check out Cord's web site at for dozens of the finest Hawaiian music CDs available. You'll find many of the cuts regularly played on our radio program, music from some of the greatest singers and musicians of all time--all restored and released on CD. 8/29/99 K&C


Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar --- Masters Collection, Vol. 2

From Dancing Cat Records

This Masters Collection is quite simply, one of the best Hawaiian recordings of the year.  It is a MUST for every fan of Hawaiian music, whether you consider yourself an aficionado of ki ho`alu (slack-key guitar) or not. It is that good. And there is a lot more to it than the fine slack-key work you expect from this label.  George Winston has de-voted years to recording and distributing the very best of Hawai`i's many fine slack-key guitarists. In 1995, his Santa Cruz, California-based Dancing Cat Records released a CD called Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters - Instrumental Collection. It included 11 cuts from such masters as Ledward Ka`apana, Raymond Kane, Sonny Chillingworth, Cyril Pahinui, Leonard Kwan, Keola Beamer, George Kuo and Barney Isaacs (on steel guitar),Moses Kahumoku and Ozzie Kotani. It was an award-winning release and the kind of a CD that you would never tire of listening to. It featured the best from 11 CDs Winston had produced in his Masters Series.

Now, four years later, Dancing Cat has topped that with Volume 2.

This new release--in stores everywhere on July 27, 1999--is a compilation of cuts from 14 CDs, plus two bonus tracks that have not previously been released. And again, it is the best of the best. You'll hear Keola, Sonny, Ray, Cyril, and Led. Add to that impressive list Dennis Kamakahi and his son, David, Bob Brozman, Bla Pahinui, George Kahumoku, and more. Winston even plays piano with Beamer on one song. Bob Brozman plays acoustic steel with Cyril on one song, and with Led on another, from the CDs they have recorded together. One cut features Kuo, the Kamakahis and Martin Pahinui together as a band. There is plenty of singing on this CD too. And slack-key masters Leonard Kwan and Ozzie Kotani team up on one bonus track, and George Kahumoku teams up with vocalist Kekuhi Kanahele on one song.

The CD booklet is complete with tuning information, even a Dancing Cat discography of that label's ki ho`alu recordings.  And the biggest problem with buying this Masters Vol. 2 is that you will want to buy the complete set of discs from which these cuts were lifted. So, go for it. You can't go wrong.

Check out and tell them Keith & Carmen sent you.

     Among the recent releases, fans of traditional Hawaiian music should find the following to their liking:

1. "Noelani Kanoho Mahoe and The Leo Nahenahe Singers - Folk Songs of Hawai`i" an anthology CD of songs selected from three earlier albums by Na Leo Nahenahe. It's a keeper. Check these other new Tradewinds Records releases too: "Two Slack-Key Guitars," "Hawaiian Christmas," and "Eia Au `O Noelani."

2. "Makaha Sons of Ni`ihau - Na Mele Henoheno Na Makahiki Mua, helu `ekahi" an anthology of songs from the first three albums by the Makaha Sons. And watch for helu `elua. Poki Records has also released "Puana Hou me ke Aloha" and "Ho`ola," by the Makaha Sons of Ni`ihau on CD. Ask for them at Borders, Barnes & Noble, or on

3. "Sonny Chillingworth . .. endlessly" and "Keola Beamer - kolonahe . .. from the gentle wind" are two new releases from Dancing Cat and should be in your collection if you are fans of Hawaiian ki ho`alu (slack-key guitar). George Winston continues to lead in the production of top quality ki ho`alu recordings.


"Agnes Kimura . . in the Hawaiian Style" is the artist's first release in Hawai`i. Although her earlier recordings were also all Hawaiian, they were recorded in Japan. This Island Viking CD was produced in Hawai`i by Keith Haugen; engineered by Audy Kimura, and includes such talented Hawaiian artists as steel guitarist Alan Akaka, slack-key guitarist George Kuo, flutist Jim Howard, and the great backup vocals of Nina Keali`iwahamana and `Iwalani Kahalewai. Agnes is Japan's top slack-key guitarist and singer of Hawaiian songs and was the first foreign artist invited to perform in the annual Bankoh Gabby Pahinui Ki Ho`alu Concert in Honolulu.

5. "Kawai Cockett, A Traditional Hawaiian" won Male Vocalist of the Year for Kawai in the annual Na Hoku Hanohano awards. Good stuff from Hula Records.

6. "Keali`i Blaisdell, Ka Ulu Mae`ole" is a first recording by a new artist. All the songs are new and its a great start for Keali`i, thanks to Hula.


"Dennis Kamakahi - `Ohana" from Dancing Cat Records is a great package in that it includes Dennis and Robin's son, David, on `ukulele. David also sings with his dad on a couple of songs and its a winner.

May 1999