Island Mele: Gonsalves supports the Mauna, Hanano‘eau celebrates summer, Eli-Mac celebrates ‘roots’
Reviews of the latest Hawaii-based artists’ music by Star-Advertiser critic John Berger.
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Lee Gonsalves (Tin Idol Productions)
The protests against building a Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea confront Hawaii with important questions. At what point may “We, the people” decide that Supreme Court rulings or state laws are irrelevant? Will the protest movement alter Hawaii’s policies?
Veteran island entertainer Lee Gonsalves writes in the liner notes for his new CD-single that he was “sitting on the fence” regarding TMT until he saw kupuna being arrested for blocking the access road. He recorded “Aloha Chant” to show his support for them.
Gonsalves explains in the liner notes that “Aloha Chant” was written in 1962 by Pilahi Paki (1910-1985) and recorded by Moe Keale in 1986. Veteran studio musician David Kauahikaua provided the piano, ukulele, pa‘u and conch shell backing for Gonsalves’ recording.
Gonsalves writes that he sang in Hawaiian because he felt it was important to make the effort even though he doesn’t speak Hawaiian; he sang in English because “with the English words everyone can understand the embodiment of what Aloha means, which is not happening today.”
Ka‘imi Hanano‘eau (HiRiZ LLC)
Island rock musician Ka‘imi Hanano‘eau celebrates the last month of summer with this catchy, up-tempo acoustic Jawaiian original that he composed around a memorable phrase: “Hana hou, time to go, one more song, nothing slow.”
The song describes life as seen from the perspective of a working musician who is one song away from the end of a long night of music-making. It’s easy to visualize Hanano‘eau singing it on stage — maybe in a jam-packed nightclub, maybe at the Waikiki Shell — and everyone in the audience singing along.
The instrumental flourish he adds at the song is a nice bit of melodic detailing.
Eli-Mac featuring Paula Fuga and Nattali Rize (Ray Jr. LLC)
Philippine-born Hawaii expat vocalist Eli-Mac, now living in San Diego, is joined by Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner Paula Fuga and Australian-born Nattali Rize on this professionally crafted single, a celebration of Jamaican culture and Rastafari faith. The trio gets excellent studio support, though credits aren’t listed; a bass player in particular provides an irresistible rhythmic foundation to the arrangement.
Listen to the voices and “Roots Girl” comes into focus as a love song, thanking Jah for the man in her life and for the roots music that unites them.
“Roots Girl” goes on sale Aug. 16. Visit iamelimac.com.