“Hawaii State Of Mind”
July 26 2018
Hi All, I know this is a pretty long blog, but please bear with me! :)My first ever CD “Hawaii State of Mind”, is out now and I just wanted to share a backstory to some of the songs and the initial concept of how it came about.
So to begin with, I started thinking about working on this project about 4 years ago. My lovely wife Debbie, is my biggest supporter and always kept urging me along the way to keep at it to finish it. She’s been there for me throughout my whole career and therefore it was important for me to dedicate this cd to her.
I knew I wanted to do a cd that would reflect my ties to Hawaii, but I wasn’t sure to what extent…how much production it should entail. At first I thought of keeping it very simple, just piano and some ethereal synthesizer colors to enhance the songs that I chose. First I started looking at some classic Hawaiian songs that I’d like to record and put my spin on them. I ended up with 4 that appear on the cd. But, as time went on I started to think that, hey this may be my one and only cd that I do. So, I went with my gut feeling and changed direction…I also started to write my own songs. I let the songs take me where they felt they should go. Hence, a bigger production with the arrangements…real drums, bass, koto, harmonica, sax, flute, etc. More $$$$!...another reason it took about 4 years. :)
I also got more into making a cd that would reflect my Hawaii roots and pay homage to it. The 9 originals that I wrote are very diverse in musical style and tell a story of personal loss, local food eaterys, Hawaiian spirituality, and well known places…AND I finally wrote a song for my wonderful wife…It’s called “Song For Kepola” (Kepola is Hawaiian for Debbie). I think I might have scored some points there!…haha.
The 4 classic Hawaiian covers that I picked are all well known in the islands, and I really tried to bring something different to them. “Pupu Hinuhinu” (means shiny shells in Hawaiian) is from a reveared family of song in Hawaii, The Beamers, and it is usually beautifully performed as a simple lullaby. I turned it inside-out and gave it an agressive jazz-latin sort of treatment. “Nani Waimea” (means beautiful Waimea), which is written for a beautiful place on the Big Island of Hawaii, is given a latin-jazz funk vibe. “Kimo Henderson Hula” was written for a person who owned a beautiful estate above the town of Hilo. A beautful melody and story of appreciation for a dear friend to Helen Desha Beamer who wrote the song to thank him for his friendship. “Akaka Falls” is a song that was written for a well known waterfall on the Big Island. I’ve always loved this song and I give it sort of a jazz-bossa feel.
There are 2 songs that I wrote in tribute to 3 family members that I sadly lost during this project. “She Wore A Haku Lei” was written for my dear mother…we used to call her the ‘energizer bunny’ because of her endless energy. She had a vibrant fiesty personality and a zest for life. She lived a very full life to the young age of 98. “Wave Rider” was written for my 2 brothers who used to surf a lot and I try to give you that feeling of riding a wave.
“Okazuya Time” features the awesome koto playing of June Kuramoto and soulful harmonica playing of “Tex” Nakamura. When I was growing up in Hawaii, Okazuyas were Japanese delicatessens where you could get pre-prepared Japanese food. That eventually morfed to include food from the diverse ethnic makeup of Hawaii…Filipino, American, Puerto Rican, Hawaiian, etc. So “ono” which means delicious in Hawaiian.
“Hawaii State Of Mind” is the title song and is more of an orchestral piece that I worked to convey the visual breath and beauty of Hawaii. It starts off with a simple melody that I keep building upon with the arrangement.
“The Mana Within” is a short piece, sort of a spiritual nod to the power of mana, which in the islands means power, effectiveness, prestige, and is significant in Polynesian culture.
“The Pali” is written for a scenic lookout located in the Koolau mountains of O’ahu. It was the scene of one of the great battles of King Kamehameha where he drove the defenders of O’ahu up to Nu’uanu Pali and over it’s cliffs. The weather at the Pali can be very windy and rainy one minute and beautiful and sunny the next…I try to reflect that uncertainty in this song.
“Back Home” is a melancholy sort of song that I tried to portray a sense of looking back to a simpler time and also look forward to a simpler time when someday my wife and I hope to settle down too.
One last thing…I’m so proud, honored, and grateful to have all the amazingly talented musicians who played on this cd. I used mostly all of my dear musician friends from Hawaii along with my dear Los Angeles friends.
Thank you all for indulging me and this “Hawaii State Of Mind” backstory!