Whistling along memory lane


POSTED: Sunday, March 28, 2010

The first commercial recordings of Hawaiian music made in Hawaii date back to 1905, and hundreds of additional “;sides”; were recorded and released in the decades that followed. What is easily overlooked is the amount of non-Hawaiian music that was recorded here from the '50s onward—rock, pop, country and other genres.

Pop music fan Tom Tourville, from Iowa, fills in the blanks with “;Hawaii A Go-Go.”; This exhaustively researched, lavishly illustrated discography covers the subject from many angles.

Some selections will be familiar to people who were living in Hawaii in the '50s or '60s, or who listen to “;Uncle Tom”; Moffatt and “;Sheriff Norm”; Winter on Oldies 107.9. Others will not.






        By Tom Tourville


Publisher: Tom Tourville-Midwest Publications


$16.99 (paperback)




Tourville starts with recordings by Hawaii resident acts, with a list that runs in alphabetical order from Aina to Rod Young. A very short list of local pop and country artists were signed by national labels during the era—Robin Luke, Ronnie Diamond and Sheila Tilton, for example—and they're included along with all the artists who recorded only for Hawaii-based labels.

Tourville also includes recordings by nonresident acts that performed here. The Association, Frankie Avalon, Burgundy Express, Sonny Charles & the Checkmates, Climax, Johnny Green & the Green Men, the Kim Sisters and Bill Wray are representative of a much longer list.

Did Scotland's Alex Keenan ever perform in Hawaii? His recording of “;One Day in Your Life,”; released by a national label, didn't even make Billboard's “;Bubbling Under”; chart, let alone the Billboard Hot 100, but it was huge here in Hawaii. Keenan makes the cut.

Tourville adds heft to the project with two-page essays on Dick Jensen, Ronnie Lewis and James Clark of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Darlene “;Masako”; Yoshimoto, and Bob Bertram and Bertram Records. A wealth of illustrations—artist photographs, advertisements and record label art—also adds to the package.

Attentive readers will find that some groups turn up in more than one category, and it is certainly possible to quibble about Tourville's decision to include acts whose only connection to Hawaii was playing a club date here. A good many of those artists have no connection to the pop and rock music that was being recorded here.

What balances out those questionable choices, however, is the encyclopedic range of Tourville's book. “;Contemporary Hawaiian”; recordings by Don Ho, Hui Ohana, Ka'eo and Olomana are featured, as well as the local rock and pop music of the Royal Drifters, Val Richards V, Dimensions, Society of Seven, the Squids and Shnazz.

Never mind the occasional typos. Anyone with an interest in this topic will enjoy “;Hawaii A Go-Go.”;