Raiatea show on DVD


POSTED: Friday, November 27, 2009

'Raiatea Live!'

Raiatea Helm
(Raiatea Helm)

; Anyone who sat through Raiatea Helm's 25th birthday concert at the Hawaii Theatre and had seats in the upper level will find her first DVD a beautiful “;better than being there”; version of the show. The air conditioning wasn't working in the theater that night, the atmosphere was especially stuffy in the upper levels and the best view of the show was from the seats downstairs. Director Kenneth K. Martinez Burgmaier has captured the highlights of the show from perspectives better than those enjoyed by the people downstairs. He covers the dead spots in the performance with interview clips recorded elsewhere.

It still seems odd to hear anyone other than Genoa Keawe sing “;'Alika,”; but Helm does a beautiful job with it. And although Stevie Nicks' original recording of “;Dreams”; is still the definitive version, Helm's rendition of “;On a Tropic Night”; is a good choice as a song that shows her ability to stretch beyond Hawaiian and hapa haole standards.


'Before My Last Breath'

(Rubbah Slippah Productions)

; These are tough times for indie producers, and fewer of them have the confidence for put their work out as traditional CD albums. Big Island resident Ryan Hiraoka is one of the few, and his work deserves to be heard.

Hiraoka opens with four Jawaiian songs that demonstrate both his feel for the genre and his skill as a lyricist. On one he thanks his parents for their sacrifices, and comments that “;haters can't stand the way I'm still the same.”; Another speaks for the many victims of Hawaii's frail and fragile economy who are “;working 9 to 5 just to find a job.”; If any local radio stations are looking for original songs by island artists who creatively blend Jamaican rhythms with catchy lyrics, well, those stations will find them here.

Hiraoka also has a good handle on the genre once known as “;slow jams.”; Here, too, his knack for writing memorable lyrics stands out. OK, so the idea of love being a condition requiring medical attention isn't new. He uses it to good effect in designating himself a “;broken-heart surgeon”; ready and willing to help a female patient. We're several months away from Valentine's Day, but the emotions conveyed in “;Player in Love”; will be appropriate for many young men in love as V-Day approaches—“;If I'm a 'player,' call me a player in love. ... I'm a player in love for the first time.”;

Fans of “;Christian music”; will appreciate the feelings expressed in the final songs. Hiraoka describes the search for salvation in vivid terms with “;Crying Out for Help”; and expresses the emotional strength his faith provides him with “;If I.”;


;» ”;Forever”;
;» ”;Fighting For Love”;
;» ”;Crying Out For Help”;

'Ultimate Collection—Songs of Love'

Various Artists

; Almost simultaneously with the release of Shaka Records' elaborate 21-song anthology honoring Uncle Tom Moffatt comes this low-budget recycling project. Readers who have the hardware, software and technical skills to buy individual songs as legal downloads can stop reading here. Everyone else, read on. Music lovers have been buying anthology and “;greatest hits”; albums for more than 50 years—just to get a song or two or three—and although the marketing concept is obsolete, it isn't dead. Yet.

And there is the possibility that some of the more obscure songs here are not yet available as legal downloads.

The highlight here is Hui Ohana's recording of “;Pua Carnation.”; Moffatt, who happens to be executive producer of this project, brokered the reunion of Hui Ohana—Ledward Kaapana, Dennis Pavao and Nedward Kaapana—in 1987. He released “;Pua Carnation”; as a 45-rpm vinyl single, and it won the Hoku Award for Single of the Year in 1988. The vinyl single is one of the rarest Hawaiian releases of the decade, although the song has been available on the Hui Ohana album.

Keola & Kapono Beamer, the Aliis, Danny Couch, Loyal Garner, the Kasuals, Marlene Sai, Brittany Anelaikalani Jennings, and Ledward Kaapana and Keola Beamer as solo artists, have all recorded for one of Moffatt's labels over the years. Their work constitutes the bulk of the selections here. A vintage recording by Jesse Kalima and Jeff Rasmussen's remake of “;True Love Ways”; complete the collection.

;» ”;Punahou Special”;
;» ”;Pua Carnation”;
;» ”;Nanea I Kou Nani”;