E Walea (Kalani Pe’a Music) by Hawaiian artist Kalani Pe’a is the winenr of the Best Regional Roots Music Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
The other finalists were:
Broken Promised Land (Swallow Records) – Barry Jean Ancelet & Sam Broussard
It’s A Cree Thing (Canyon Records) – Northern Cree
Gulfstream (Octavia Records) – Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars
I Wanna Sing Right: Rediscovering Lomax In The Evangeline Country (Valcour Records) – (Various Artists); Joshua Caffery & Joel Savoy, producers
Widely recognized as the world’s top ukulele player, Jake Shimabukuro (shee-ma-BOO-koo-roh) is internationally renowned for lightening-fast fingers and revolutionary playing techniques. He views the ukulele as an “untapped source of music with unlimited potential.” Jake’s virtuosity defies label or category. Playing jazz, blues, funk, classical music, bluegrass, folk, flamenco, and rock, Jake’s mission is to show everyone that the ukulele is capable of so much more than only the traditional Hawaiian music many associate it with.
At just four years of age, Jake’s mother gave him his first ukulele lesson. “When I played my first chord I was hooked,” says Jake, “I fell in love with the instrument.” That love grew into a deep passion to create and innovate. Experimenting with various techniques allows Jake to create sounds never thought possible on the tiny four-string, two-octave instrument.
A spectacular showman, his performances captivate audiences with intricate strumming and plucking, electrifying high-energy grooves and smooth, melodic ballads. His covers of tunes by The Beatles and Led Zeppelin are interpretations that have dazzled and delighted audiences worldwide.
From a modest beginning performing at a local Honolulu café, Jake has gone on to play famous venues such as the House of Blues and The Knitting Factory (Los Angeles), The Birchmere (Alexandria, VA), Tipitina’s (New Orleans), Joe’s Pub and B.B. King’s Nightclub (New York City), The Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle), The Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) and many others. Occasional tours with Jimmy Buffett since 2005 have given Jake the experience of a lifetime, regularly exposing his virtuosity and amazing stage presence to crowds of over 50,000.
Jake toured with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (2002, 2005, 2006) and recorded on the band’s Little Worlds (2003) album. Jake is also featured on Ziggy Marley’s Grammy Award winning album Love is My Religion (2006) and contributed to the soundtrack of the Jimmy Buffett-produced film, Hoot. This was a rewarding experience for Jake and gave him the confidence to score the Japanese independent film Hula Girl.
The album Travels came out in 2015. The recording featured original compositions by Jake as well as modern interpretations of cherished Hawaiian standards and two 1970s’ pop hits, “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5, and “Low Rider” by War.
Also in 2015, Jake returned home to Honolulu to participate in the world premiere of Campanella, the first-ever concerto written for the ukulele. The piece was composed by Dr. Byron Yasui for Jake to perform with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. “It was a great moment for the ukulele, because it was the first time that the ukulele was presented as a classical instrument,” said Jake. “It was, by far, the most difficult piece of music I have ever performed.”
In early 2016, Jake released Live In Japan (Hitchhike Records/eOne), a two-CD set featuring career-spanning musical pieces, including a 10-minute classic reworking of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
A few months later, Jake released Nashville Sessions (2016), his first album of all original songs. what was conceived as studio jams evolved into beautifully structured compositions. The lineup incliuded Nolan Verner on bass and Evan Hutchings on drums.
Alvin Kalanikau “Barney” Isaacs, Jr. was one of Hawaii’s leading steel guitarists. Barney grew up in a musical family that included his father, composer and band leader Alvin Kaleolani Isaacs, Sr., and two brothers, slack key master Leland “Atta” Isaacs and multi-instrumentalist Norman Isaacs.
Barney remembered being exposed to music from the time he was small. “We had a big house and music was there all the time. Our dad had a dance band that rehearsed on the premises. They played all kinds of music, not just Hawaiian.” Alvin, Sr. actively encouraged his ten children to play. He taught Barney, Atta and Norman the rudiments of steel guitar while they were still in elementary school. “When my dad noticed that we were always playing together, he suggested we form a trio,” Barney recalled. When the trio was formed, they had to spread out.
“As the oldest, I got to pick first, so I stayed with the steel.” Atta went to the guitar and Norman played the bass. “We could sing parts and everything. At that time Hawaiian music was very danceable fox trots, waltzes. We were always trying to keep up, learn as much as we could from the older guys and each other. Pua Almeida, Jules Ah See, the Kalimas, they were all our age. Jules’ steel playing probably had the most influence on me. He could really make it sing. He had so many styles and different tunings. He was so adept at picking things up, but he never lost his own recognizable sound.”
Alvin, Sr. was a very popular band leader and composer, and in 1948 Barney accepted a position in his father’s group, the acclaimed Royal Hawaiian Serenaders. “It couldn’t have been a better place to start – in the Monarch Room at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel with that group – my father, Benny Kalama, George Kainapau. They were really terrific.” From the late 194os, Barney was one of Hawaii’s most multifaceted and active performers, and a traveling ambassador of the steel guitar. He spent 25 years with the Hawaii Calls radio show and enjoyed long collaborations with Alfred Apaka, Danny Kaleikini and his own groups at various nightspots.
Also active behind the scenes, Barney served as the musical director for Waikiki Records in the 1950s and even managed his own club, The Palm Tree Inn, turning it into one of the most important musicians’ hangout. Barney’s father was well-known for the large musical gatherings he liked to hold at his house in Kalihi. Following his father’s example, Barney loved to bring musicians together to socialize and perform for their own enjoyment. He also taught and served on the governing board of the major steel guitar societies.
Barney’s recording credits number in the hundreds, including trailblazing electric steel and slack key duets in the 1950s with Gabby Pahinui and Atta Isaacs, accompanied by a rhythm section on Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Volumes 1 and 2 (Waikiki Records 319 & 320) that were the spiritual predecessors for Barney’s Dancing Cat release Hawaiian Touch. During the recording sessions, Barney said that he felt a special aloha for that project. “The acoustic steel is the instrument I started on,” he said. “Believe it or not, this was the first time I ever recorded on it.”
Discover Music from the Pacific with ARC Music gives the listener an opportunity to learn more about the music from the various islands of the Pacific Ocean. The compilation combines field recordings by David Fanshawe, including recordings of surf and other natural sounds as well as traditional music chants; along with contemporary studio recordings.
The best known act on the album is Te Vaka, an excellent band representing Tokelau and other Pacific Islands. They have traveled throughout the world, showcasing their mix of pop, folk and spectacular island percussion numbers.
Another familiar name is Hawaii’s Harry Kalapana, who plays the twangy traditional slack key guitar.
Islands represented include Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, and Easter Island.
The CD booklet provides additional details about each track and the islands.
Discover Music from the Pacific is a likeable exploration of the vocal and percussion styles in the Pacific Ocean island communities.