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Island Mele: ‘Pilialoha’ celebrates Hawaiian music
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
This Grammy-nominated album by Weldon Kekauoha celebrates the richness of Hawaiian music, with classic compositions by Helen Desha Beamer and Lena Machado, and a larger collection of newly written songs by Kainani Kahaunaele and ‘Iliahi Paredes.
Weldon Kekauoha (Mountain Apple)
Kekauoha has won multiple Na Hoku Hanohano Awards both as a member of the Mana‘o Company and as a solo recording artist. His latest solo album was picked as a finalist in the regional roots music album category by The Recording Academy. (The Grammy winners will be announced Sunday, Feb. 10.)
The instrumentation is traditionalist; Kekauoha accompanies himself on acoustic guitar, Alexander “Alika Boy” Kalauli IV plays bass and sings harmony, and Bryan Tolentino is the primary ukulele player. From the opening bars of “Mahai‘ula,” arranged as a medley with ”Kona Kai ‘Opua,” Kehauoha and his musicians honor Hawaii’s musical traditions and bring them forward.
Among the stand-out numbers is a beautiful arrangement of “Ho‘onanea” that features steel guitarist Casey Olsen and also captures Kekauoha’s talent as a falsetto vocalist. Kekauoha’s zesty rendition of “E Ho‘i Ke Aloha Maunawili” is a nice change-of-pace piece that also demands attention.
Kekauoha’s commitment to perpetuating the Hawaiian language is underscored by the fact that with the exception of a few phrases the lyrics here are all Hawaiian. Kekauoha and producer/arranger Dave Tucciarone document the music with a liner notes booklet that provides the Hawaiian lyrics, English translations and important background information.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.