Mon, 1 December 2014
Host Webley Edwards brings down the tempo a little bit from Haunani’s Tahitian aparima for the more romantic “Blue Hawaiian Moonlight” which features Barney Isaacs on the steel guitar played softly enough to feature Barney’s duet partner, the waves of the great blue Pacific lapping at the shores of Waikiki Beach. Fans of Hawaiian music are likely familiar with the iconic recording of “Blue Hawaiian Moonlight” by Gabby Pahinui from the 1970s – one of the few recordings in circulation on which the slack key guitar folk hero plays his first instrument, the steel guitar. So it is an interesting contrast to hear the song played here nearly 20 years earlier by Barney. (We have actually now heard the song by two Hawaii Calls steelers – if we include the previous version by Jules Ah See with Haunani taking the vocal lead.) The ladies and gentlemen of the chorus finish up the song from the bridge. In this typically Hawaiian arrangement, it is difficult to believe that this hapa-haole tune that is a favorite of all Hawaiians was written by the Nashville songwriting duo of Al Dexter and James Paris.
Barney Isaacs is featured once again on a number popular among steel guitarists, “Hilo March,” with help once again from the chorus. The song – originally titled “Ke `Ala Tuberose” – was composed at a much slower tempo by Royal Hawaiian Band member in 1881 in anticipation of the band’s trip to the Big Island accompanying the princess (not yet queen) Lili`uokalani. But bandmaster Henri Berger didn’t feel it was regal enough and arranged it instead as the march we know today. Residents of the island of Hawai`i largely consider this to be their theme song (despite that it only speaks of the Hilo side of the island).
Finally, some of the greatest comic hulas were written by songwriters from the mainland. Perhaps the songs were so funny because the composers were completely out of touch with Hawaiian culture. But a song like “Mama’s Mu`umu`u” is perfect for Sonny Nicholas who takes the lead on the first verse and then trades leads with Jimmy Kaopuiki and Benny Kalama on the second. Like “Blue Hawaiian Moonlight,” the song was composed by a country-western songwriter, Gene Burdette.
Next time: The conclusion of the December 1, 1961 episode of Hawaii Calls…
(Click here to listen to Part 1 of this program.)
(Click here to listen to Part 3 of this program.)