Island Mele: Duncan Kamakana’s ‘Atherton’ worthy of airplay
Singer/musician Duncan Kamakana, son of Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning songwriter Jon Osorio, decided years ago to make his own way in the entertainment business without using the family name. He’s succeeded.
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“LIVE AT THE ATHERTON”
Duncan Kamakana (Mo‘olelo)
Singer/musician Duncan Kamakana, son of Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning songwriter Jon Osorio, decided years ago to make his own way in the entertainment business without using the family name. He’s succeeded, and this economically packaged CD is a memorable and impressive calling card.
Seven of the songs are mementos of an acoustic show Kamakana played with two other musicians, Blayne Asing and Ian O’Sullivan, who are also songwriters, at Hawaii Public Radio’s Atherton Performing Arts Studio in 2014. Guitars were the primary instruments; on one song Kamakana switched to piano. Most of the program was the songwriters’ original work; a remake of Jerry Santos’ musical signature, “Ku‘u Home O Kahalu‘u,” demonstrates Kamakana’s feeling for modern hapa haole classics. Bailey Matsuda and Milan Bertosa served as producer and engineer respectively.
The album’s final three songs were recorded at another session, and reveal another part of Kamakana’s repertoire. Imua Garza, producer and engineer for these tracks, backs Kamakana with a studio band that includes percussion, electric guitar, electric bass, a horn section, a new group of backing vocalists and assorted keyboards. Kamakana fits well in that context too.
Kamakana’s voice is the common denominator that knits them all together. The songs may bring to mind the voices of several big time hitmakers, but Kamakana never sounds like he’s trying to be anyone other than himself. His music is worthy of a national audience.
Ray Gooliak (Silver Sidewalk)
Ray Gooliak first surfaced as a Hawaii recording artist in 1977, when he earned a place on Ron Jacobs’ second KKUA “Homegrown” album with an original song titled. “Maui On My Mind.” A self-produced full-length album, “Home Away from Home,” released two years later, showed that Gooliak had more to say.
Two subsequent albums came and went, but with “Virtual Rayality,” Gooliak is back in the spotlight and rightly so. The album is a one-man project — Gooliak wrote all the songs, did all the arrangements, sang all the vocal parts, and, with the exception of a few percussion parts, played all the instruments.
“No need to broadcast what you ate,” sets the mood as Gooliak rebukes self-absorbed denizens of social media with a song titled “Fingers on the World.”
With “Aloha Aina,” Gooliak calls on the listener to “take good care of this land” and decries some recent changes he’s seen.
A third memorable entry, “Blues Ain’t No Color,” delivers an inspirational message with an irresistible groove.
Gooliak wraps things up by going back to his beginnings with “Maui on My Mind/Reprise.” Welcome back, Ray!