j a n u a r y 2 0 1 6 A L I V E E A S T B A Y 15 from gospel, ragtime, pop, rock, soul, hop-hop and even reggae. These popular styles brought subtle nuances to the traditional island music. If you visited Hawaii in the past you may remember the fabulous Kodak Hula Show. It began in 1937 and ran for quite a few decades. A great tourist attraction, it was a group of local musicians, singers and hula dancers who performed on Waikiki beach. Hawaii Calls One of the most remarkable and influential events that brought fame and depicted the romance of the islands, was the radio broadcast “Hawaii Calls.” Millions of listeners across the United States (including me) tuned in every Saturday night. As a young boy I listened to Hawaii Calls and dreamt about the wonderful and enchanting land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. (Little did I know that many years later I would visit the islands and meet my “Dream Girl,” Jan, who later became my wife.) Jerry Byrd, the legendary steel guitarist, said, “Hawaii Calls did more for Hawaiian music than anything ever could.” This program became the longest continuing radio program in America, reaching over 600 stations until it ended in the early 1970s. The band leader was Harry Owens, who was known as “Mr. Hawaii.” For over 30 years his band was known for its unique sound. It produced a sweetness of melody, new appealing rhythm and an enchanting, soft charm. One of the most famous pieces Owens wrote was Sweet Lailani, composed for his daughter, Leilani, right after she was born in 1934. It became his theme song and was an enormous hit, not only in Hawaii, but on the mainland as well. Hawaiian Instruments The Ukulele is, without a doubt, the instrument most identified with Hawaii. Ukulele, in Hawaiian roughly translates as “Jumping Flea,” perhaps because of the players fast moving fingers. The ukulele, a small four-string instrument that is strummed and plucked, appeared in the islands in the 1870s. It became a national fad and sold by the millions across the nation. The instrument has origins in Portugal and was introduced to the islands by Portuguese sailors. The Hawaiian Steel Guitar was invented in Hawaii by Joseph Kekuku around 1889. It is an instrument with metal strings and has a very distinctive sound that has a wavering or glissando effect. It is played using a steel bar held in the player’s hand and slid along the strings. The instrument is laid across the performers knees while playing. ‘Ohe Hano Ihu is the traditional Hawaiian nose flute that is made from bamboo. It is played by expelling air from the nose into the flute and has one to four fingering holes. In early times men used it as a courting instrument to romance a woman. It is often used to accompany chants, songs and hula dances. Other popular Hawaiian instruments previously mentioned, are the Ipu or gourd drum and the Pahu ( Pa’u) or shark skin drum, made of breadfruit tree wood or from the wood of a hollowed-out coconut palm tree. Another Hawaiian instrument is the Uli Uli, a feather gourd rattle used in pairs while dancing hula. The Pu’ili, bamboo sticks, are percussion instruments used to enhance the rhythm of the Hula performance. Hawaiian Musicians Liliuokalani, 1838-1917, the last reigning queen of Hawaii, was a noted musician and composer of Hawaiian music. She published many songs but Aloha Oe’ was her most famous. Henry Berger, 1844- 1929, was a Prussian band leader who came to Hawaii and brought his native German music that had a great influence on local island music. He established the “King’s Own Band” that later became “The Royal Hawaiian Band” at the turn of the century. Berger wrote and arranged many songs that became popular in the islands and are still played today by the band. Don Ho (1930-2007), was a very popular entertainer of locals and tourists. His songs were basically from traditional music but with a modern style and form. He used the “easy listening” format and became an international aficionado of the music and culture of Hawaii. The Brothers Cazimero, Robert and Roland, are accomplished, talented musicians on acoustic guitar, string bass and piano. They sing and perform chants, early and modern Hawaiian songs. They entertain the audience with Hawaiian history and many humorous stories. In the 1970s, Hawaiian music began its revival after it had declined for many years. The Cazimeros have contributed enormously to the perpetuation of traditional island music. They created their own sound, mixing the old with the new. Hawaiian music would not be the same without their influence. Music in Hawaii is an essential part of island living. The Hawaiian people, from young to old, are very talented and very musically inclined. Hawaii, indeed, is an enchanting place. To walk the beaches of Waikiki at night with the lights dancing on the waters, the gentle trade winds blowing the wonderful scents of the Plumeria and other tropical flowers, you’ll know this is Paradise. The beautiful music of the islands will stay with you as you return home. If you have been there, even for a short visit, you will undoubtedly be humming the lovely tunes you’ve heard and remember these pleasant memories for the rest of your life. Aloha Oe’ Please submit questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org Visit our website at www.danvilleband.org for up-to-date information about the Danville Community Band.
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