"Evening in the Islands," Vol. 1
The Essential Resophonics
The Essential Resophonics are Buck Giles (acoustic steel guitar), Eric Dyrenforth (acoustic guitar), Jack Fire (acoustic bass) and Ryan Potes (ukulele). The band's album is sure to please fans of old-style nahenahe (sweet, melodious) Hawaiian music. Two selections are vintage pop hits rather than island classics, but they also capture the romantic image and ambience of Hawaii in the 1920s and '30s.
Giles' steel guitar is the lead instrument and the sweetest of the sweet, but Dyrenforth and Potes get their licks in as well. Fire adds a perfect, unobtrusive foundation throughout (James Ganeko adds snare drum to "East," the one original song; Bill Tapia plays ukulele and guitar on "Mood Indigo").
The Resophonics are indeed essential listening for anyone who enjoys nahenahe Hawaiian music sweetened with an occasional dash of jazz.
Sol Ho'opi'i & His Hawaiians
No Hawaiian steel guitarist had more influence on the worldwide popularity of the instrument in the 1920s and '30s than Ho'opi'i. His recordings inspired a generation of would-be steel masters in locales ranging from England to Indonesia and from Canada to Australia. This collection of digitally remastered recordings captures Ho'opi'i near the end of his career but playing with a force and dexterity that few have matched.
The highlights for steel fans are the tracks that display Ho'opi'i's brilliance as a soloist. Most of the other cuts are transcriptions of mid-'30s radio broadcasts he played as a band leader. The vocal arrangements reflect the pop sound of the era, but Ho'opi'i's technique is timeless.
Concise annotation explains Ho'opi'i's importance as a musician and includes information on the tunings he used.
Maila Gibson and Ben Vegas have been partners in music for several years, and her album is a triumph for both of them. Almost all the songs are originals; a couple are potential hits. Think mainstream pop slightly slanted toward country, but with occasional detours into contemporary hapa-haole and Jawaiian-pop. It's a great calling card.
One particularly notable original is "Behind," a stark look at a failing relationship, that is musically reminiscent of Carlene Carter's "Strawberry Wine." Another, "Back in the Good Old Days," finds Gibson equally appealing on a swinging hapa-haole number. A straight remake of Linda Ronstadt's "When Will I Be Loved," itself a remake, serves only to demonstrate that Vegas is an underrated guitarist.
The title song is enigmatic -- is it about a lover or expression of Christian faith? Two other songs are straight Christian testament.
P.O. Box 894479
Mililani, HI 96789
John Berger, who has covered the local entertainment scene since 1972, writes reviews of recordings produced by Hawaii artists. See the Star-Bulletin's Today section on Fridays for the latest reviews. Contact John Berger at email@example.com