Island Mele

By John Berger



"E Apo Mai"

Nathan Aweau
(B.P. Music Arts)

Nathan Aweau has been best known in recent years as Don Ho's bassist, but his third solo album proves him to be an imaginative and multitalented artist in his own right. It also shows the creative possibilities of Hawaii's roots music. Many of the songs have Hawaiian lyrics, but most of the arrangements tilt toward mainstream American soft rock. The blending works well.

The Hawaii Visitors and Conventions Bureau should grab Aweau's "A Place Called Hawaii" for its next ad campaign. "Aloha Pumehana," also original, is a romantic cross-cultural gem that would fit perfectly on "adult contemporary" radio formats nationwide. Aweau explores another promising alternative to Jawaiian in rearranging "Kawohikukapulani" in a smooth "urban" groove, and honors tradition with his beautiful rendition of "Akaka Falls."

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet A Place Called Hawaii
Bullet Kaimana Hila
Bullet Kawohikukapulani
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Never Go Away"

Pomai & Loeka
(L&L Morning Star)

Pomai and Loeka Longakit won a Hoku Award with their debut album, "1st Thing's 1st," in 1999, and followed it with a pop album, "Dancing All Night." The duo's third album has a similar commercial mix of pop remakes, Hawaiian standards and songs by their father, Lloyd. J. Longakit.

Pomai and Loeka's version of Barbara Mason's "Yes, I'm Ready" offers no new ideas but suffices as a sweet showcase for Pomai. A formula Jawaiian rehash, "Always," is as vapid as the original, and a remake to boot! "Kaleponi" and "Sweet Memory/Makalapua" add Hawaiian roots music to the collection and give Loeka room to shine.

Of Lloyd's six originals, "Follow Your Dreams" is an expository essay set to music, "It's You" makes an eloquent statement of Christian faith, and "Never Go Away" is one of several exercises in pseudo-Jamaican affectations obviously intended for "island music" radio.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Never Go Away
Bullet Kaliponi (California)
Bullet Follow Your Dreams
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Lest We Forget"

The Patriots
(Island Viking)

Several local artists jumped on the patriotic bandwagon after DisGuyz got national press last fall for "Our Nation in Song," but the Patriots' roots go deeper than that. Gordon Manuel Freitas, Cordell Keith Haugen and Don "Geezer" Humphrey began assembling this tribute to America's veterans while finishing Haugen's "Cordell Country" album in 2000. Some of the songs and poetic readings here are new. Others -- like "Peaceful Arizona," Freitas' definitive requiem for the USS Arizona -- are from older solo projects. Two tracks are from Haugen's 1991 project marking the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

An acoustic remake of "The Ballad of the Green Berets" honors the Army's Vietnam vets. Haugen's anti-war Christmas song, "Cease Fire," adds another viewpoint.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Peaceful Arizona
Bullet Whisper 'Semper Fi'
Bullet Ballad Of The Green Berets
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

See Record Reviews for some 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 Today
section on Fridays for the latest reviews.

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