Island Mele

By John Berger,
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Friday, February 12, 1999

Album pays homage
to Friendly Isle

Molokai'i Now!: various (Monkeypod Productions)

AN assortment of Moloka'i artists has contributed to this recording of original songs about the Friendly Isle. Sterling Kalua and Isaac Kamaile are the primary writers and musicians but they don't restrict the others to a uniform style.

Composer Patrick Hino and Kahea evoke memories of Mo Akana and Kealahou with a jazzy Hawaiian number, "Moloka'i Our Song." Composer Fred Reyes and Pa'a Pono achieve a smoother retro pop sound with "Moloka''i, A Place To Be."

Greg Camara's "Moloka'i Backside" is an instantly memorable ode to rural adventures ("backside" is local slang for the rugged north shore). Kamaile blends rock and reggae in a catchy account of good time living in "Hele On Times," and Sweet & Chrissy add earnest feminine harmonies with "My Island Home." Liko Martin wrote "Kaho'olawe" over 15 years ago; the liner notes explain it was included to honor Moloka'i residents who died trying to end the desecration of the island. "Moloka'i Slide (Take Me Back)" is heard performed by island residents rather than outsiders.

Kalua provides the project anthem with "Song Of Moloka'i (Blessed Damien's Theme)." He teams up with Penny Paleka-Gomard in another standout, "Song From Home." Song lyrics and background information on the songs and artists make this an informative showcase.

Island Treasures: Kohala (Palm)

GUITARISTS Charles Michael Brotman, Charlie Recaido and Kevin Teves return with a second album of island standards redone in a fresh and elegant acoustic instrumental style. The program ranges from "Hawai'i Aloha" and "Paoakalani" to "Hawaiian Hospitality" and "I'll Remember You."

Brotman is again heard front and center as lead guitarist, with Recaido on the left and Teves to the right. This makes great listening on headphones. The carefully crafted arrangements are soothing and romantic.

Hawaii Latino: Rolando Sanchez & Salsa Hawaii (MGC)

NO local musician has been more active or more visible in making contemporary Latino music accessible to people outside the local Puerto Rican community than Nicaragua-born Rolando Sanchez. He is especially active these days. This is his third album is less than a year.

The band is his best since his great Salza Hawaii group of almost 10 years ago. The arrangements will certainly satisfy his fans. Including a synopsis of the lyrics and a line or two on the history of the songs would make this album more interesting and more informative listening for the English-speaking majority audience.

See Record Reviews for some of John Berger's past reviews.
See Aloha Worldwide for locals living away.

John Berger, who has covered the local
entertainment scene since 1972, writes reviews of recordings
produced by Hawaii artists. See the Star-Bulletin's Home Zone
section on Fridays for the latest reviews.

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